Well here it is, my first quilted patchwork cushion. I have absolutely loved making it and can’t wait to get started on my next one. It’s been an interesting experience though as this is the first time I have quilted using my sewing machine rather than by hand. This has meant that the cushion came together much more quickly than it would have done (I still have two hand quilting projects ‘on the go’!!!) which is very satisfying.
I used a combination of traditional machine quilting (stitch in the ditch) and free motion quilting (for the hearts and swirls). Although I am very used to free motion stitching, using it on this project has been a bit of a challenge. It felt strange going from the very precise and neat process of patchwork to the completely free and almost messy flow of free motion stitching3. But it works….I think….
I have fallen in love with all things patchwork. This will come as no surprise to those who know me as there is perhaps no other form of sewing more suited to my obsession with neatness. Not only is a multitude of beautiful fabrics, in rows and rows of pretty baskets filled to the brim with perfectly proportioned fat quarters, readily available in my favourite shop (Coast and Country Crafts & Quilts); but once purchased, these fabrics need to be cut into mathematically precise squares (or triangles or hexagons etc). Heaven!
And there are so many gorgeous patterns and designs to choose from, which leads to hours and hours spent deciding which fabrics to use, for which project, and in which configuration. Bliss!
Once the project is planned neat and precise sewing is called for – as is my trusty 1/4 inch sewing machine foot. Having sewn and pressed and sewn and pressed and sewn and pressed some more, the moment of truth arrives where the corners of each set of four squares meet perfectly (or not!!!) in the middle. How much better could it get?!?!
Needless to say, this passion for patchwork is sure to find its way into my products before long. Watch this space.
This week I have been learning how to hand quilt, thanks to my lovely and extremely talented landlady, and some great tips and tutorials on Craftsy.com
It took me a while to get the hang of it, and I have to say I am very much a beginner, but I am getting there. At the moment I seem to be able to manage about 5 stitches per inch although I can’t promise that they are all identical in length. I have found that I do best when I use just one thimble, an in-between needle (these are small quilting needles), and no hoop (although I am only working with a cot size quilt).
The technique that seems to be working for me is to:
1. Insert the needle vertically from the top of the quilt and through the three layers until I can just feel it with the tip of my middle finger on my right hand (I’m left handed!!) which is underneath the quilt
2. Use my middle left finger (with thimble) to gently lay the needle down horizontally on its left hand side until it’s almost lying on the top of the quilt
3. Use my left thumb to create a ‘hill’ in the fabric in front of the needle point
4. Gentle push the needle through using the thimble on my left middle finger
5. Pull the needle all the way between my left forefinger and thumb and repeat the process
So far I am sticking to sewing one stitch at a time until I get the hang of it. My landlady uses a second thimble on the finger underneath the quilt but I can’t seem to get on with that as I can’t feel the needle properly and so don’t have as much control over the size of the stitch. I’m hoping that in time I will be able to get 2-3 stitches on the needle which will speed things up a little.
I splashed out the other day and bought a few stencils so that I could sew a pretty pattern on the border. I’m looking forward to that as much of what I’m doing at the moment is stitching in the ditch and therefore quite hidden.
I will update you on my progress in due course and will eventually post photos of the finished quilt. I’m aiming for something that looks a little like this: