I finished this big project last month but only just got around to taking photos, as it was a housewarming/birthday gift for my little sister. It was also my first quilt, and I jumped into the deep end by designing it myself too. Oh, and I started it with about three weeks to go before her birthday. I never learn…
She’s really into foxes, so I decided to make her a foxy quilt to match all her other fox paraphernalia and the colour scheme of her new flat’s living room. (We made that fox cushion above together, using dashwood studio fabric). It’s totally not perfect at all but I’m still really happy with how it came out, and my sister loves it which is the main thing. Nerdy quilting process post incoming…
This was my first real foray into patchwork and quilting, besides a cushion class at The Make Lounge years ago (which is still pride of place on my sofa) and my recent sewing machine cover. I had some invaluable email advice from my quilt guru Kate before getting started.
She suggested I use Thangles to make all my HSTs (half-square triangles), which were SUCH a timesaver. You just need to cut your fabric into strips, pin on the paper template, stitch and cut where marked, press flat then pull off the easy-tear paper. I used the 3″ Thangles (they come in 1 – 6″ sizes) – you cut the strips a half-inch wider to end up with a final seamed square of your chosen size, keeping fiddly maths and measuring to a minimum. My final quilt is 36″ x 48″ (12 x 16 blocks), which I think is a nice petite size for a throw/lap quilt and was manageable for a first quilting project. Nb. I think it’s best to request skinny rather than fat quarters if you’re using Thangles, so that you can run the full width of the fabric with your strips. You can fit about 24 3″ HSTs into a skinny quarter.
Working methodically, setting up a strip at a time and working production line style, it was really quick to make up all the squares I needed for my design. I did a strip here and there on my working at home days, in between emails and so on (the joys/perils of having a joint home office and sewing room). It only took two days of part-time stitching to get all the basic HSTs made and another two to sew them all up into my quilt top.
I put the fox head blocks together first, edging them all round with a half-width strip of my backing fabric to make the total width of the quilt 12 blocks. Then I sewed the rest of the design together in horizontal strips, attaching each to the quilt as I went to avoid getting muddled. I used my new 1/4″ edge stitching foot to sew all the squares together, which is a pretty essential bit of kit for quilting I’d say. It’s got a groove on the side meaning your stitching stays nicely aligned an exact 1/4″ from the edge.
My points are mostly pretty accurate for a first go…
… some miss the the mark a bit though!
Final step is the assembly and quilting part, which was even more nerve-jangling than getting the top made. I figured out my quilting stitch pattern ahead of time in Illustrator, laid out the layers and used safety pins to tack them together. The most annoying bit was manoeuvring the quilt through my machine and pivoting around. My machine’s quite small, as is my workspace, so I was sending things flying at every turn. It was quite a physical workout! I can’t imagine making a quilt any larger than this without going insane.
The backing is a plain charcoal grey flannel which is soft and snuggly. I was running out of time to finish near the end, so did a ‘cheat’ binding method – just folding the backing over to the front and topstitching – using this tutorial. It was really quick and looks quite neat. There’s a world of excellent quilting tutes out there on blogs which I’m very grateful for!
If you’re interested, here’s my quilt top design in full. You’re welcome to use it, I’d love to see more foxy quilts so please share if you do. The fox block would make an adorable cushion on its own, too.
Here are some of my rejected designs. Hello, can you tell I’m a graphic designer? This part was most definitely my jam: I found it amazing how many designs you can come up with just using HSTs. I dithered for ages about what design to do in the middle but decided on a centred pattern rather than a repeat like the chevrons, which were my original choice. I thought it worked best to have something symmetrical as the foxes on each end are mirrored. The good thing is I have lots of designs for other quilts now – I’m sure there will be more!
Spot the non-deliberate error: one fox’s face is upside down to all the others! Doh.
Here are all the fabrics I used (I have quite a bit of most leftover)
1m Essex Linen in Flax, Robert Kaufman
1/2m Sketch in Orange, Timeless Treasures
1/2m Botanics Line Scratch, Carolyn Friedlander
1/4m Windmarks Mirage, Tule by Leah Duncan
1/4m Dots & Spots in Blue Moon, Cloud 9
1/8m Sketch in Smoke, Timeless Treasures
1.5m Charcoal solid flannel, Robert Kaufman
It looks really at home my my sister’s flat, and she loves it which is the main thing. I don’t think anyone can argue that the actual process of sewing a quilt is particularly thrilling, but there is a such a satisfaction in seeing it slowly come together, and the end payoff of a snuggly handmade quilt made to your exact specs is a lovely thing. Plus unlike a garment, it will always fit and be useful! I’m sure it won’t be my last quilt. Back to the design board…