I was in a quandry, as usual, as to what to get them for Christmas and only decided a few weeks before Christmas that the obvious answer was of course, a quilt! I scoured the web for some fabric suitable for my parents' home and decided on the Fresh Cottons collection by Moda. Of course, the snow meant that my parcel took an age to arrive, it didn't land at HenHouse central until about the 13 December, the exact same day as the civil war fabric from America which I had also been waiting on to complete a Christmas gift. Aaarrgghh!!!
I had seen a quilt design way back on a blog somewhere (apologies that I have no idea where) and mentally kept an image of it in my head. It seemed simple enough to recreate: nine patch blocks combined with heart applique blocks on a white background. I bought a layer cake of the Fresh Cottons fabric (this is a pack of 40 10" squares) which is a good and easy way to get a co-ordinated palette of fabrics. It's not the way I usually work, piecing miscellaneous fabrics together, but it was very refreshing to have the colour and design leg work done for me, especially at such a late stage! And so began a very busy week. Up working on the quilt at 7am, sometimes hand quilting at 11pm at night!
Thank you, Mr HenHouse for your very-long-quilt-holding-arms!
I drew out the design on paper, I needed 24 of each type of block to reach the desired size. The quilt can be a throw on the sofa (my intention I suppose) but I made it large enough to go across the foot of a double bed if desired. I was aware I needed to be careful in my cutting to get the most out of the limited fabric. So I first cut out 24 hearts using a handmade cardboard template using the more vibrant coloured and patterned fabrics (as these were to be appliqued onto a white cotton background). I was then able to cut the remaining 10" squares into 3" strips. I strip pieced these and cross-cut them for the nine-patch blocks. I also cut out small 3" squares from the fabric left after the hearts had been cut and laboriously pieced these individually too until I had the correct number of nine-patch blocks. Phew!
I used spray baste to temporarily position the hearts on the white background squares. I then used the blanket stitch on my machine to secure them, using co-ordinated thread. Once the quilt "sandwich" was together, I hand quilted round each one with a simple running stitch in different shades of Perle cotton.
I used for the first time, the deluxe weight of my favourite Dream Cotton batting. This has a thick loft and it did feel very pleasingly snuggly! It did make the quilting a bit heavy going due to the weight but as this was only simple "in the ditch" quilting, it was no big deal once the machine was adjusted to the correct tension.
Once all that was done, my quandry was what to use to bind the quilt. I hadn't bought any yardage of the co-ordinating fabric and there was nothing in my stash in a large enough piece as these were not really my usual colours (I usually find I need about half a metre to bind a quilt, depending on the size, of course). I decided therefore to make a scrappy binding. This was the first time I had done this and I absolutely loved the result! I used any tiny little bits of fabric I had left from the layer cake and cut them all to a uniform 2.5" wide. I added in two dotty fabrics in suitable colours from my stash and simply end-pieced all the strips together before making double-fold binding in the usual way. I think it suits the homely, folky feel of this quilt and wasn't actually that time consuming.
I backed the quilt with a 108" wide backing fabric which I did still cut in half and piece to save on wastage. I was really pleased with this. It was a gorgeous fabric that had a really soft feel to it. A vintage embroidered patch was the finishing touch.
My mum and dad seemed to be very pleased with it. Phew!