Way way way back when, in the far off time before the children I used to drag H to the International Quilt Show each year. Well he might say drag, he’s as much of a magpie for colour and pattern as I am so I’m pretty sure he came happily and willingly even if he’d never admit it.
And when we’d had our fill of the exhibition quilts we’d turn our attention to the very important task of perusing the mile upon mile of gorgeous fabrics and trimmings and patterns and ideas and enough lovely things to fill my house twice over and three times on Sundays. We were sort of restrained though, at least I’d try to be restrained, and then H would find something he rather liked and add that to the pile, and then we’d both see something that just had to come home and, ah well, it was in the days when our bank balance could quite happily survive a degree of frivolity and I always tried not to bring home more than I could realistically make before the next year’s show.
I never did quite manage that though, and there are still things sitting in the cupboard from the very first year we went, just waiting for the perfect moment.
But one of them is in the cupboard no more. It started life as a Bali Pop of Hoffman Batik fabrics called Sherbet Dip and despite being buried in the stash for mumble-mumble years it pretty much fell at me when I went looking for a little fabric panacea earlier this year.
I was having cravings to make a quilt (that’s totally normal isn’t it?), something easy, something without too much cutting, something that I wouldn’t have to think about too much, something in short that would give me all the bliss and relaxation from the sewing, without once wanting to hurl it at the wall; not that I’d ever do that of course!
I think as soon as it landed in my lap I knew what I wanted it to be, and I knew that it was going to be for Kitty.
There are recipes for lasagne quilts all over the Internet, but the basic premise is the same;
- take a jellyroll, put five strips to one side for the binding and join the rest end to end, setting the ends at 90° to each other and sewing diagonally across the corner;
- Cut 18 inches off one of the ends of your very long strip and add it to your pile of binding strips;
- fold the very long strip end to end right sides together and sew what feels like the world’s longest ever 1/4″ seam down one side.
- Carefully cut along the fabric fold at the bottom.
- Repeat the last two steps until it looks quilt shaped, then quilt and bind as normal.
Perfect for thinking-free quilting. And perfect for Kitty, and not just because the predominant colours are pink and purple, though I knew that was always going to help my cause.
The first quilt I made for Kitty was her handmade present for her second ever Christmas. At fifteen months it was the perfect size for wrapping up in and snuggling down, but she’s just not that diminutive any more and while it still covers her nicely (it’s throw size on an adult) I wanted her to have something that was really deeply snuggly and cozy, but not too big that she couldn’t drag it around after her or escape from underneath it.
And so a birthday quilt plan was hatched. The mindless sewing did its trick in restoring whatever good mood was missing in the early summer and as soon as Pip’s blanket was finished I made full use of the remaining pre-Pip days to find backing and quilt and bind it.
The backing is actually the result of another bit of diving, only this time into my chest of drawers rather than the fabric stash. I had another length of beautiful fabric planned but when it came to the crunch the colours just didn’t quite work and both front and back we’re far too nice to be paired up as a nearly-but-not-quite so I had a rethink. This is a length of fabric that I used to wear as a sarong in the 90’s (if you were only in primary school in the 90’s trust me – batik and sarongs were really cool), but it’s essentially a big rectangle, perfect for a quilt back.
Well almost perfect, it was just a smidge too narrow so I added a little strip of a brilliant turquoise green batik print leftover from some plan or other just to brighten things up. It’s not the most orthodox backing but as I’m unlikely to wear it as a skirt again, and it can only be nostalgia and psychic abilities that had me keep it this long, I’m glad to see it in use, and there’s something rather lovely about handing down to my daughter a fabric imbued with so many happy memories for me.
The wadding is actually the only thing that I needed to buy, it’s Quilter’s Dream in the Request weight which is probably my favourite wadding; it’s warm and cozy but light too and makes for lovely ripply quilts that you can really tuck up around you.
One of these days I might branch out and try something a little more adventurous than straight lines or my handful of variations on simple stippling but that day is not when you’re nine months pregnant and aren’t too sure how long you’ve got left to finish a quilt so loop-de-loop it is in a gorgeous pink yellow and red variegated thread (YLI thread in Mango).
And for the finishing touch I left off my usual name tape labels and went for something a little special
(The weird smudgy bit in the middle is where her real name is).
And the verdict?
I’m always a little bit nervous about the reception a handmade present will get; I might know how much work, effort, thought, love, time and pin pricks has gone into it, but Kitty’s four and there’s no guarantees about anything when you’re four.
But perhaps all this early exposure to handmade has paid off, or it is the all conquering power of pink and purple. She snuggled up in it to look at her new books on her birthday afternoon, she curled up under it to watch a film and it now has pride of place on her bed. In short, it’s a hit.