I’ve finished the first pieced block for “quilt one” and I decided to use the most difficult to match fabric (so that way if I wasn’t happy with how it looked I could always unpick it and still have the full range of fabrics to team up with it)……oddly it’s the fabric that as soon as I saw it thought “yes yes yes, though not quite in a Meg Ryan eating that sandwich way…… yes it’s that sweet little bunny fabric….the yellow is quite bright and the pink bunnies aren’t really for the mild of heart, but I’ve used brighter prints before quite happily.
For whatever reason though I just found it really hard to team this print with that many other prints….the only fabrics that I felt happy with was this teeny tulip print or some pink fabric that started life as an Ikea duvet cover.
As I knew the twin’s mum isn’t big on pink I decided to go with the tulip print and actually was still having doubts ’til about half way through the piecing, however once it’d all been sewn and smoothed out I felt a lot happier, (I also laid out some of the other pieces of patchwork around it and then it really seemed to settle down and not get a frown when looked at.)
These star blocks are 10 inches wide (plus seam allowance) and it’s quite nice sewing this size after sewing the 6 inch blocks for “dear ethel”…… of the chosen star blocks this is the most complicated and even then it’s not that hard, just a bit fiddly getting the star points to match up…but the prints chosen don’t really have an up or down to the pattern so I was able to sew and pretty much zone out while listening to some music……..
As with nearly all my patchwork, I like to sew by hand, and while I know that using a machine would be quicker, I prefer the softness that hand stitching gives, there is something about the feel of the fabric in my hand and the repetition of the tiny stitches made by the needle and thread that I find incredibly relaxing…..it gives my mind a chance to wander, to think about who the patchworks are for, and also to think of ways patchwork and quilting has been a part and necessity of women’s lives for so many years…..
I’m all too aware that hand-sewing like this is now seen as a luxury item (why not just buy something in one of the shops in the town…it’ll be heaps cheaper) when in previous years it was not only a source of extra income for the household, but also meant if you were making it for the home then you could have something pretty (creative…I’ve seen enough vintage scrap quilts to know quilting and patchwork was a rare outlet for creativity and self expression…) and warm to sleep under.
The majority of fabric I use in my quilts is new (some is vintage but it’s still “on the roll” as it’s left over from Sylvia’s dress making days), very rarely do I use clothing from charity shops or things I’ve out worn, and generally the reason is that the quality of fabric for clothes over the past few years has become so poor (fabric that in Victorian times would have been called “shoddy”…….”shoddy” was a particular wool fabric made from recycled fabrics and rags, it wasn’t a very good quality fabric. But it was also used used to describe other fabrics that were also of inferior quality and wear.) that it doesn’t have a lot of wear and doesn’t tend to stand up to a lot of washing and rubbing……although my quilts are made as heirloom quality pieces I don’t want to think they’d just be hung on a wall, saved for best (like when the doctor used to make house calls)…..
I want to know they’ve been cuddled and snuggled, thrown in the wash (I suggest a gentle wool wash and they always come out fine…just don’t tumble dry them…let them dry flat and keep them away from the iron…and they’ll look lovely)….the best compliment is being told “she won’t go to bed without her quilt” or “she wraps it round herself and gets herself all cosy and settled”…I fully expect baby quilts to get sicky and wee’d on, to soak up dribble and be thrown on the floor in a tantrum….but they are also there when a little security is needed, something soft and warm is needed to be pulled round shoulders and helps make the world feel a nicer place….
Over the years I’ve sewn and made various things, somethings to sell, somethings as gifts, swopsies, spontaneous presents…. (I even made a little tweed coat for Susan Calman’s cat Oscar when I saw her do stand up last Christmas,, she’s incredibly funny and lovely and even better than Helen Mirren….and whenever I hear her on the radio I’m always happy and think “yay, it’s Susan Calman”…her stand up show was just brilliant and the little coat was a thank you for all the times she’s made me smile when I’ve heard her on various radio 4 programs)…but always quilts are my favourite, (it’s really hard because I love making Christmas stockings and being told how people’s children’s faces light up when they see a stocking with their own name on it, all filled with presents under the ftree or at the foot of their bed, never fails to make my nose go all tickley and then I feel silly and have to go and blow my nose…..but that is just one day a year and quilts are forever, so quilts win but it’s a photo finish)…and baby quilts like these give me the greatest pleasure to sew…..
It’s always incredibly special being commissioned to make a quit, and even more so when it’s for someone’s baby….it did feel a bit overwhelming this time with making the two quilts …..with no real design restrictions or preferred colours given but I had to keep telling myself “they trust you to do a good job” so after fretting and fpaffing and fannying about the patchwork is slowly but most surely and steadily coming along…..one and a half blocks in and I’m already thinking of this pile of patchwork pieces as a quilt rather than fabric in a work-basket.
I don’t know yet whether this will be for Pearl or for Peggy but whoever’s name is embroidered on the back I hope they have a lifetime of sunshine and smiles, warm ones with picnics and the sound of laughter, bunny snuggles and the whole world of cuddles…….it’s the greatest compliment thinking my little quilt will be part of those memories they’ll look back on when they are older, even if it ends up to line the dogs basket…………