I did hint a while back when I made the calico quilt (this post) that my colour preferences had undergone a little change. I think this is not necessarily permanent nor does it mean I have turned my back on my beloved sugary colours and florals, maybe it was the onset of Autumn, but I was feeling well, Autumn-y. I see it as more of an expansion of the palette and design of fabrics I love. Yikes, expansion?
And so with a nod towards the big 25th December, I started to think of what gifts for our nearest and dearest I might be able to make myself. Trouble is, not everyone likes the same stuff as me, of course. Indeed both parents and in laws tend to have a love of what I would term sludge. Herein then, a story about hitherto loathed sludge...
I decided I would make a quilt for my in laws, I can say this on here because I don't think they know what the internet is! Thinking about the colours in their home, there was no doubt in my mind that sludge was called for. Now might I say that sludge is not merely the concern of the middle aged for my dear quilting sister has tastes in fabric and colour nothing like my own and it is a long standing joke between us that she is indeed, one of the sludgies, too. At the Knitting and Stitching Show then, my mission was to purchase sludge fabrics with which to make a quilt. This was back in early October so you really are not allowed to say now, "Hen, you're soooo quick at quilting"!
So things in the den have been looking a tad different. Unbelievably, I found a tiny little space to dedicate to my burgeoning sludge collection, squeezed in between the Kaffes and the errm, miscellaneous scruffy pile.
The other thing I must confess is that I had started to admire sludgey type quilts in magazines and books. At this point, I think I have to stop referring to sludge and get professional (!) and start talking "civil war" for this is the term given to this type of fabric I am now talking about, the types of fabrics, both designs and colours, found in quilts dating back to the American Civil War. This is a huuuuge area of interest to quilters.
The quilt I loved in particular, was this one... (Mc Calls Quilting magazine, Sep/Oct 2010)
This was quite an intriguing quilt, unlike any I'd made before, quite possibly more complex too. Although each block is made to the same pattern, the use of varying fabric designs and colour placement within the blocks can actually make them look really rather different. I've never studied a photograph so much! I've even made notes in the margin!
Now to the fabrics. I have found civil war type fabrics much harder to find here in the UK but there were a few stalls with good stocks at the Knitting and Stitching Show (notably American Quilt Store - their website appears not to be working? - and Village Fabrics). I wanted to buy my first selection of fabrics in person as I was (am!) a novice at this type of fabric and sometimes, when fabric arrives in the post, it's not always exactly what you expected.
I think we can still safely say these are sludge so I went for the jazziest patterns!
But there are some surprisingly bright ones, too.
Even some rather pretty ones, I think.
What I love is that they all have historical backgrounds, some ranges have super names, I have one selvedge that reads "Civil War Dressing Gowns"! I am currently reading a book all about quilts and the civil war and I can tell you, it's jolly good stuff!!
What these blocks definitely needed were "shirtings". I have come to understand that these are the fabrics you can see in the photos below which look as if, funnily enough, they could have come from shirts! So they tend to be pale in colour with itsy bitsy patterns.
Quite cute though, don't you think? (Most of the shirtings came in a bundle from the brill Nauvoo Quilt Co on Etsy, cut to my exact specifications and arrived all the way from America in 5 days! My sister kindly bought me some too, thanks dear; hold the sludge, though!)
There's quite a lot involved in making each block. There are 21 pieces to cut out to start with and then you cut some of the squares into triangles so each block is made of 29 pretty small pieces. There are lots of points to match up (the parts where the patches meet), I've even ripped out a couple of seams along the way (something I loathe doing but which is more likely on projects like this to get things just right). And pressing, lots of pressing of all those seams is needed so I've been up and down to the ironing board like a yo-yo (this is what we quilters term "exercise", you know).
And in fact, I'm pretty pleased with how they're turning out, technically speaking. Not convinced of some of the colours but then, it's not for me, is it and I do think (hope!) that once it's all assembled, it will all come together nicely.
I'm just waiting on the final fabrics to arrive from my beloved Fat Quarter Shop to get on and finish the quilt. I'm making a throw/lap sized version so I have made enough blocks (I think!) and now need to assemble the setting triangles and sashing and so on. How many days until Christmas Day? Aaarrgghhh...
P.S. Sorry about the photos, the light in Winter, you know how it is for us amateurs...