Thursday, 13 January 2011

A Year in Quilts

For me, 2010 was the year of the quilt! I actually made my first quilt at the very end of 2009 so that one isn't included in this retrospective (though you can see it here or here should you wish).

The first quilt I made in 2010 is the one you can see below which I tended to call the "Picnic Quilt". I was inspired by a vintage quilt atop a bed in the glorious book Perfect English Cottage (as seen bottom row middle, below). Because it was very horrid weather when I finished this quilt, I don't have a full view to show you as it's very large, over 84" square, so I wasn't able to lay it out outside (must rectify that!) The quilt has 9 large panels which are made up using a kind of crazy patchwork technique and they are then surrounded by a ditsy print cotton. I used a very sturdy cotton on the back and bound it in my favourite red. A little child labour was involved in the pinning (young knees)! This quilt was quilted in the ditch but because it was so big and heavy, it was quite a task. I finally made a quilted carrying handle so we could roll it up and carry it with us on our outdoor adventures. And there I am, relaxing in the evening outside our Airstream trailer on our Summer holiday on the Isle of Wight!





Later in 2010, I decided to have a whirl at selling some quilts through my blogshop. I made three quilts and launched them onto the unsuspecting public all at once! They were made to a similar formula, alternating four-patches with full squares. The first incorporated squares of plain Moda Bella Solids, which I thought were too prominent once the top was pieced, so I appliqued on some hearts which I finally tied through the middle: the "Happy Hearts Quilt". The second used vibrant primary colours and reminded me of camper vans, hence becoming the "Happy Camper Quilt". The last one was my personal favourite, putting it on the bed for a photo shoot almost led to that one not being re-homed! It had my favourite sugary pastel colours with very pretty prints, the "Sweet Retro Quilt". All of the quilts were quilted in the ditch and used "Dream Puff" batting which is a little tricky to work with but deliciously high loft. I was able to take them all to the cottage for some pretty photos. They all found homes within days!





Somebody else had also taken a fancy to the "Happy Camper Quilt" but wanted to incorporate some more of her favourite colours, so a second similar quilt was born with some more aqua fabrics and some pinks and went off to its fabulous new home in Oz.

The photos show you some of the steps I go through in making a quilt. I lay out all the patches on the spare bed and once I am happy with the placement, I take a photo of it. I pile up each row of squares and number them to keep them in order. I take these through to piece together, using the photo on the screen to remind me of the original placement if I get muddled (and I invariably do!) The last stitch, joining the binding, is always a happy one leaving me just the hand sewing of the binding to do which can be done on the sofa in front of the telly! N.B. Note obligatory furry friend (or three) on the table. Sorry but my quilts do not come from a pet free home!





Onto this fun quilt then. I purchased some vintage fabric squares depicting Rupert the Bear. The squares obviously lent themselves well to a log cabin design. I even used a fancy backing fabric on this one and quilted lines either side of the seams, with a Dream Cotton mid-loft batting inside. This quilt now hangs at the top of the stairs on our half landing, just outside my Den. I enjoyed making this one, the "Rupert Story Quilt". N.B. No floral prints were used in the making of this quilt, it's a miracle!




With a divine piece of vintage embroidery as my inspiration, I made some gorgeous vintage fabric cushions for a lovely lady with a green and purple colour scheme and as I had some squares of fabric left over, it seemed natural to continue the quilt obsession and make a purple and green quilt: "Purple Haze" was born. "Natural" was in reality not very sensible as I needed to cut lots more squares! I incorporated some vintage embroidered cloths and a mixture of modern and vintage fabrics and this time, added a polka dot border. This quilt went to a deserving young purple-loving lady in Oz who received it for Christmas... and then I happily made another for the cushion lady, too!




Fast on the heels of this, another lady asked me to incorporate some Cath Kidston fabric squares she already had into a vintage-style quilt. I added lots more Cath K designs of my own along with lovely modern and vintage floral prints and vintage embroidered cloths. I'd grown fond of that polka dotty border, too. Some Dream Puff batting and in the ditch quilting, some Cath K pink rosebud binding and "Fancy Flowers Quilt" went off to its new home.





By September, it was finally time to get started on a quilt for my boy, for his birthday to be precise. I'd been collecting bright boyish fabrics for a while (this not being a feature of my usual stash!) and worked on this during the day whilst he was at school. I decided on a pinwheel design as I thought this would be fun for a young Munchkin and teamed the fabric bearing cowboys, trains, cars, dogs, Spitfires and so on, with a variety of bright polka dots. I tried out a different quilting style, using an elongated serpentine stitch on the machine and this looked groovy but did use up an awful lot of the width of the fabric. I was excited for him to receive his quilt! He opened it on the morning of his birthday whilst we were staying in Pickering and "Munchkin's First Pinwheel Quilt" seemed to go down quite well and is on his bed to this day.





At the marvellous International Festival of Quilts in August, I was able to buy a jelly roll of fabric from the new Oliver + S line. I finally settled on a Dutch Windmills design for this quilt and spent many an hour piecing the blocks. This quilt was a long time in the making as I had to wait for the full release of the fabric line to purchase yardage for the borders and binding. This one has a Dream Cotton batting and was quilted in the ditch on my new Pfaff Expression 3.0 machine. I soon found this machine was not my favourite for quilting (which sent me off on a hunt for the perfect quilting machine!) "A Weekend in Amsterdam" is a pretty quilt though, with an unusual colour scheme and cute fabrics.





A generous lady then asked me to make a cot-sized quilt as a gift for a baby boy using mainly Cath Kidston fabrics. I teamed all Cath's best boyish fabrics with a polka dot border, a cosy blue flanelette backing and pure cotton batting for a lovely and usable quilt for baby. Working on a quilt of this size is a joy!






I must have been feeling very indulgent, the day I decided to give in to my love of pink and make a truly PINK quilt! You will not be surprised to know that I had quite a selection of fabrics from which to choose, both modern and vintage. I loved this one, so girly and gorgeous and so cosy with that pouffey batting! "Pretty in Pink" happily went to a very good customer in Oz and I'm so pleased to hear it is bringing her comfort during the hard times her country is sadly experiencing right now.







Somewhere along the line (I'm getting lost now!), I was seized by the desire to make myself a cute, country-style quilt using ditsy print calico cottons. I settled on a colour scheme based on red and blue with cream/yellow and a hint of pink. I really enjoyed making this "Calico Country Quilt" and while I was waiting for an enormous piece of batting to arrive to finish it, I used the left over blocks(and many more!) to make a similar, throw-sized quilt which went off to help keep someone new warm. I finally finished our own quilt, used Dream Cotton batting inside and for the first time, a pretty floral brushed cotton backing. I cannot deny that it feels gorgeous but boy, was it a challenge to quilt! I found using a smaller needle and lower thread tension helped (quilted on my new Pfaff Grand Quilter which did an admirable job) and quilted a quarter of an inch either side of the seam lines. I do like that simple style of quilting. This was a popular quilt such that on request, I made yet another and I still have a few more blocks so I think a fourth is a possibility! This quilt is on our bed now, I love it.






Phew, before I knew it Christmas was fast approaching. I had been quite organised though, ordered my fabrics from America (where the choice is greater) in good time, and started making star blocks several months before. I teamed these with big colourful squares of funky modern festive fabrics for my first "Jingle Dangle" Christmassy quilt which just beat the snow to keep a lovely lady in Dorset warm! I carried on, making some pine tree blocks which I found in a book my sister gave to me, and managed to complete a Christmas quilt for ourselves about two weeks before Christmas. A poorly Munchkin (and Jacky Ginge) found it a comfort whilst the cold snow lay deep and crisp and even outside.






Did somebody mention Christmas? With Christmas comes the need for gifts and parents I find especially tricky to buy for. There are only so many years you can give bath salts and socks! For Mr HenHouse's parents, I settled on this pattern from my favourite McCall's Quilting magazine, in Civil War fabrics. Here I had to eat my words, all those years of teasing my sister for her sludge obsession, and here I was, a veritable sludge convert! Well, in fact it didn't turn out so sludgy after all! This was probably the most work of any quilt I've made. Each block had 29 pieces and it was the first time I had made a quilt with setting triangles. I started this quilt way back and as I was waiting for fabric from America to finish it, I was not sure it was going to make it under the tree by 25 December (but it did)! I "upgraded" to Dream Cotton deluxe weight batting, oh truuuuly scrumptious, and went the whole hog with a co-ordinating backing. I tried freezer paper quilting which I won't be going back to in a hurry! I was proud of this one, "The Dreamcatcher Quilt", and glad it went to an appreciative home. I'm looking forward to seeing it in situ in a few weeks.





Last but not least, at the last minute, I decided I'd make a quilt for my parents too. I chose some fabrics from a co-ordinated palette which I thought would suit their home and made the best use of the layer cake to make nine-patch and heart applique blocks. I hand quilted round the hearts using bright perle cottons and for the first time, I made a scrappy binding (mainly from necessity!) I used a lovely wide soft cotton backing, the yummy ultra-cosy batting again and popped "Memories of Home" in the post, arriving up North just in time for the big day!





Phew! I have so loved my quilting adventures over the last year. I've learned a lot, making twenty quilts (I can't believe this number myself!) and am looking forward to learning even more in 2011. I have armed myself with seemingly many of the books, machines and notions available to quilters so you can be certain I hope to have lots more quilts to show you this year. I was overwhelmed by the support from my readers and customers for my little quilty enterprise and I can't tell you what a lovely feeling it is, thinking of those quilts being enjoyed in homes all over the world. Thank you.

35 comments:

  1. You're a quilting sensation!
    I'm LOVING the new CK stuff!
    Such a yummy lot of clothing!xx

    ReplyDelete
  2. Mmmm Pretty in Pink is my favourite I think... or could it be the Christmas one...? Honestly they all look fantastic. What aproductive year you've had!
    Ellie
    x

    ReplyDelete
  3. A jolly good read indeed! You're a really talented quilt maker and your quilts are beautiful. Its the colour combinations that really stand out. My fave is the 'Pretty in Pink', I love the square with the cottage print on it.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I could not believe it when you said its only been a year, what a year!

    ReplyDelete
  5. wow.wow.wow.Amazing quilts.You have such talent.I am so envious!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Oh my goodness, all that in one year?!! I love your pretty quilts. I'm a fan of squares myself so really enjoyed seeing your fabric choices and style. May this year be just as wonderful for you.

    ReplyDelete
  7. what a great post to read. Im planning on having a quilting year this year also, and I loved reading about what battings you used, do you prefer the dream cotton deluxe to the dream puff?. I have only used cotton as the synthetic stuff i got from my local shop was messy and would melt under my iron! what is the dream puff like?
    Dana danaandlee@hotmail.co.uk

    ReplyDelete
  8. I´m loving your blog, very nice!!!! very cosy.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I can't believe you only made your first quilt in 2009! They are all stunning. Xx

    ReplyDelete
  10. Lovely work - but how many months do you have in a year?!?! You have achieved so much over the last 12 months, and they are all beautiful x

    ReplyDelete
  11. Clever lady! They are all beautiful x

    ReplyDelete
  12. Clever lady! They are all beautiful x

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hen, when do you sleep?
    Hugely impressive set of quilts. rather like the purples and in particular the way you incorporate vintage embroidered bits into your work.
    I never cease to be amazed how swiftly my ginger cat finds and claims any quilt project.

    ReplyDelete
  14. All I can say is phew, your sewing machine must be steaming!!! Love the Rupert one especially

    ReplyDelete
  15. very inspirational hen.......this is my new love

    ReplyDelete
  16. What an amazing quilting journey you have had. Your quilts are absolutely gorgeous. Pam x

    ReplyDelete
  17. Wow just a year to make and create all that beauty you are one talented lady, I hope this year is an even better one for you with your little quilting aventure. Well done you. Dee x

    ReplyDelete
  18. Phew! I'm exhausted just reading your blog, Hope 2011 is as great for you.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I've enjoyed looking at all your quilts Hen, and I can't get over just how fast you make them! They're all beautiful, I imagine you've got a waiting list for your quilts by now, and I suppose the joy of quilting is the never-ending variations in designs that can be done, so it never ever gets repetitive, I know how you like to keep doing different things to keep your enthusiasm fresh. Well done on your massive quilting achievement last year! Love Vanessa xxx

    ReplyDelete
  20. Wow, all those in a year, do you not sleep? They are beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Amazing stuff! All that in just one year. Wondering what you might accomplish this year. I love the pink quilt, its soooo girly xx

    ReplyDelete
  22. Just wanted to let you know how much we're enjoying our quilt - I think it's very happy in its new home! You made such a lovely selection of quilts last year, I'm really looking forward to seeing what you make in 2011.

    ReplyDelete
  23. So inspiring! Every single quilt is a gorgeous work of art. I can tell they were made with a whole lot of love in them, too. (Which makes it all the more difficult to part with them, no doubt.) I especially liked the Purple Haze quilt, the blue quilt for the baby boy, and the heart quilt for your parents. But all are equally fabulous! Thanks for the review of your year of quilts. I know that post took a lot of work and time, too! Looking forward to seeing your lovely creations forthcoming in 2011. Bess

    ReplyDelete
  24. Wow, you're one busy bee! They're all fab!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Oh,Hen,they are all so beautiful but they must be soooo hard to part with them.I would want to keep them all.I loved looking at your photos.You are very talented and have a great eye for colour.Anne x

    ReplyDelete
  26. I am glad you havE discovered the Dream cotton waddings! I like my quilts to look old and it shrinks just a bit after the first washing to look that way..also warmer than polyester.I think new quilters tend to get high loft waddings in polyester at first...lynda from PA (USA)

    ReplyDelete
  27. Wow, you are a quilt making machine. You should be really proud of yourself± I wish I had the time and the patience.

    ReplyDelete
  28. You're an inspiration! So many lovely quilts, can't wait to get started on another one myself now!

    You maybe interested to read retromummy.blogspot.com who is asking for donations of quilt blocks to make quilts for the folks in Queensland who have been affected by the floods.

    I always enjoy reading yr blog & look forward to more quilting tales in the future. J x

    ReplyDelete
  29. I have your 2011 challenge Hen! I have worn my quilted coat at the Shepton Flea today & have had an embarrassing amount of lovely compliments about it. Everyone wanted to know if it was for sale! I think you are the girl for the job to make similar.. you would have a LOT of willing customers. Lizzie x

    ReplyDelete
  30. Wow, the quilts look lovely together. You combine the colours and designs beautifully.

    ReplyDelete
  31. I think I am in love with "Memories of Home" :)

    ReplyDelete
  32. Hi Hen,

    I am the very proud and privileged owner of the Sweet Retro Quilt. I love it and it looks very at home on my bed in Norwich. I can't believe you have only been quilting for a year !

    It's been lovely reading your blog though 2010. You are very talented and I look forward to reading many more of your tales of quilting, cats and travel (amongst other things).

    Kathryn. x

    ReplyDelete
  33. I'm in awe of the speed at which you work! What a productive year you've had! :)

    ReplyDelete

You are warmly encouraged to leave a comment here. Your comments are emailed directly to me so rest assured I read and treasure every one. Thank you for supporting my blog with your comment. X