Wednesday 20 November 2013

Friends, Sewers, Quilters: Lend me your ears

I don't usually post about works in progress but I'm a little bit stuck and I'm asking for opinions here. Tell me what to do next...

To keep ahead of the pack in the Little Things to Sew Challenge and to try and stick to some sort of schedule I've started making the Travel Quilt. And because I think it will make a nice Christmas present for P.

Here's a picture from the Oliver + S blog:

I've sewn my quilt top just like this one, only with a little twist regarding the colours and fabrics. It's a nice, easy quilt to piece together with all those straight lines. I think cutting the strips took longer than sewing them together.

But then some ambitious quilting gene escaped it's normal suppression and burst forth and I got all fancy on the backing.

And I confess I actually sewed the back before I sewed the front. Can you do that with a quilt? Does the back then technically become the front if you did it first? What happens if you like the back better?

Anyway, I made my first ever quilt block using freezer paper and the instructions from Bright and Breezy Patchwork by R. Norum & H.A Krohg

I think this is the most inappropriately titled book I own. What puts me off patchwork quilts more than anything is their "brightness" and let's face it, tackiness. This book is full of the most tasteful, muted and beautiful quilts. They are all made from shirting materials, and seemingly random bits of leftover quilting fabric and every single one just works.

Apart from being incredibly inspiring, the instructions for how to make quilts are first rate. So I let that ambitious quilting gene have free rein and made a "Star Boat" block.

Admittedly I paid no attention to which way my triangles pointed as I sewed them together, so the pinwheel in the centre looked more like a plus sign and the seam allowances were pretty tights at some spots. But it worked.

And here's the completed back of my Travel Quilt (to be)

My questions to you, dear reader(s) are:
  • Do I quilt in straight lines as per the Travel Quilt pattern?
  • Some other quilting pattern? Please make suggestions. Remember I'm a total novice at this but that one little quilting gene is up for anything you can suggest (you just might need to link to an explanation cause I probably won't know what you mean)
  • Should I bother changing the quilting thread colour as suggested by the Travel Quilt pattern so the thread blends with each coloured fabric? If so how do I deal with all those stopping and starting threads? (I'll be machine quilting it for sure) Maybe just a neutral mid grey thread that will blend with everything? (that's the lazy gene expressing itself loudly)
Any suggestions you have will be greatly appreciated.

And now I'll leave you with a picture of the little doll's cradle sized quilt that I made this time last year for a Christmas present for A. Over the last year it's become so lovely and soft and crinkly as it's been played with. As an exercise in doing something new, I made this one entirely from leftover fabrics and it was pieced, quilted and bound all by hand sewing. Every section had it's own quilting pattern all with a love heart/flower theme. Maybe I am a quilter after all?.....


  1. Your quilt back is fabulous! I'm a simple girl so straight lines would get my vote and they are both effective and easy. Plus there is little chance that straight lines will disappoint you. I would suggest you take a look at Elizabeth Hartman's blog for quilting ideas though.
    I can't believe you hand quilted the little doll's quilt. It looks great but time-consuming. I don't have the patience for hand quilting so good on you.
    Oh, and have you considered using a variegated thread for the quilting?!?

  2. Thanks for the link, I'll go take a look. The hand quilting was kinda fun and since it was small I could take it on the train or anywhere else. It turned into quite a conversation started.
    I have three seemingly never ending reels of variegated thread that I just can't seem to use up but none match the colours of this quilt. I'd be loathe to buy more but it is a good suggestion if the colours were right

  3. I can't wait to see the front! I have to admit, the quilt is the one project in LTTS that makes me nervous. I absolutely love it in the book, but I'd like it in different colors. And as far as I can find in blog-world and the various flickr pools, no one has posted a completed quilt yet. I'm not sure I'm brave enough to tackle it without a reference picture. I'm thinking rainbow - my 2yo is obsessed. Or cupcakes...

    I think it's totally cool to do another "top" for the back. Just call it reversible! I can't wait to see it completed :)

    ~ Jenny (

    1. Here's a search of the Oliver + S flickr group that shows a few:
      and there is a nice bright one in there too.

    2. Thank you! I'm not sure how I missed them...

  4. I have no suggestions for but I can't wait to see the front! The "back" looks great, and I agree with Jenny, just consider it reversible.

  5. It recommends you change out the thread as the color changes...seriously. Ok Not happening. You would need to do a bunch of pulling through and knotting to hide all those ends no? I'm excited to see the front based on your back fabrics!

    1. Glad I'm not alone in thinking that's too much work!

  6. Replies
    1. Gee thanks but I still feel like a pretender. I guess it's cause I don't actually really like quilts. I mean I wouldn't have one on my bed or hanging on the wall. Designing and making them on the other hand is quite fun!

  7. Use a variegated if you want to have an interesting look like its meant to be a bit colourful, but I would just go one colour. I second the straight lines as it will work well with the design of the front and back - just start working in the centre of the quilt! I also like to use a wavy stitch - which is number 4 on my Bernina and increase the size of the stitch. If you are interested I will email you a link from one of my blog posts - good luck!

    1. Do I really have to start in the centre if I've basted or used lots of pins. I'm pretty lazy you know. :)
      I'm intrigued by that wavy stitch, and love dhow it looked on your quilts (on the blog) off to see if my machine can do it....

  8. I'd quilt in straight lines, or an alternative is to use your walking foot and use (if your machine has it) the long wavy stitch that looks like ric rac. Look at Camille Roskelley's 'Juggle' quilt to see this ( Just like rachelmp said. It's easy. I would NOT change thread colours - if you are using an off-white or other neutral it should blend fine. Try 50wt thread (ie Aurifil) as its thinner than sewing thread.
    How could you ever doubt that you are a quilter! Gorgeous doll quilt. :-)

    1. Yep I'm intrigued by this wavy titch. The problem with straight lines is that there's no way the block on the back will line up with any of the strips on the front such that the straight lines would look good both sides, so a wavy line or other pattern appeals more.
      Am I being absurdly ambitious looking at tutorials on how to do Baptist fan type things?
      thanks for the doll quilt compliment.

  9. wow, oh wow. this is amazing. i'm not much of a quilter so i don't have any advice for you. but i love this so much. well done! (and what an awesome pack you have, too, by the way!) :)


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