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Just got to stitch this lot together now

Ready to sandwich

Ready to sandwich

Almost ready to quilt…

All I need now is my 9 metres of backing fabric to arrive, a friend with a really big wooden floor (check) and hundreds of safety pins (check).

Finished quilt top 3

Cheeky, pleased “I’ve made a quilt” smile and a bag of cotton batting
Finished quilt top 2

You can see the colours really well in this shot

Look what fell out of my quilt

Leftover block
When I pinned all of the patches around the quilt ready to sew as the border, I found I had a gaping hole. This was intensely annoying as I had counted and recounted and then counted again all of the patches as I was making them. I KNEW I hadn’t made a mistake. But, as quilting is basically all about counting and ironing, and I am not much good at either, I accepted that I would have to cobble together a replacement patch from my poorly cut leftovers. Then this fell out of the thing while I was sewing the border on.

Perhaps I should use it in my next quilt. Or even build another quilt around it. Maybe I should leave a patch from every quilt I make in future to carry on to the next one, sort of like a quilt version of a chain letter.

Anyway, enough of this procrastinating. I have decisions to make:

1. What shall I use as the batting for the quilt – big, fluffy polyester or thin, dense, warm (expensive) cotton?

2. Am I going to quilt it by hand or by machine? There’s no way polyester would fit under the arm of the machine, and I’m not convinced that even cotton will be easy enough to move around. I need to have a practice at quilting something a bit smaller before I let myself loose on this quilt as I have never done anything like this before and I’m not sure how tricky it’s going to be to sew straight or loopy free-hand lines on something so big. I don’t even have the right feet for my machine yet, although I do have an excellent, Textiles-teaching friend who can source them for me and hopefully show me what to do with them. I like the look of hand-quilting and I am ready with a huge embroidery hoop, but I don’t want it take months.

3. Depending on my choice of quilting style, I will need to baste the batting and the quilt back to the quilt top with safety pins or a needle and thread. Both methods are likely to take hours and I have nowhere at home to lay the quilt out for long as it’s a small place with a small boy running around it.

4. What fabric am I going to use for the back and the border? I can’t decide whether I want to emphasise the bright reds of the quilt or give it a really dark border. I think I need to take the quilt top with me to a fabric shop (and a couple of friends) to hold it up against different options.

These are my conundrums. I enjoy having them. I’ll let them fester for a while. But now I’m going to take a day off quilting and watch Andy Murray play his big match. Bet he doesn’t give a monkeys about quilting.

Quilt top is complete

Quilt top is complete!  I skipped into the sitting room to beckon my husband in to see how it looks on the bed.  Now there's just the small matter of actually quilting this enormous object so that it is not just a glorified sheet and keeps us warm this Winter.


I skipped into the sitting room to beckon my husband in to see how it looks on the bed.
Now there’s just the small matter of actually quilting this enormous object so that it is not just a glorified sheet and will keep us warm this Winter.

I’m not even watching Wimbledon this year

Good job the floor's clean

Good job the floor’s clean

I wish I had a solution to allowing my creation to fall on the floor while I’m sewing another line to it. Draping it over a chair doesn’t work, but if it’s on the floor, the weight of it pulls it down and drags my sewing line (at least that’s my excuse if it turns out that any of my lines are not dead straight).

The quilt is growing so quickly now; just two more lines and I’ll be on to the border. I have really put the hours in this week. I’ve watched no Swedish crime drama; read none of my Saul Bellow book; watched absolutely no tennis and have even, in writing this list of what I’ve forsaken for quilting, forgotten what I used to do to wind down in the evenings.

I made a galling mistake a couple of nights ago. I was so annoyed about it that I couldn’t post it on here. I have now relaxed about it, realising that the overall quilt design will swallow it up, and can even bring myself to display the horror:

I know. Awful, isn't it?

I know. Awful, isn’t it?

Stupidly, I put together one of the lines of eleven blocks in two halves. I left half for the next day, believing that my elaborate system of pinning would work to remind me which way round to sew the blocks. But, no. What actually happened was that they were all wrong, and this is the result: One large diamond with two of the same pieces of fabric; one large diamond of medium colour value with a triangle of a dark value;  and (I know the poor quality of the photo makes it difficult to see, but) too many areas for my liking where small squares of the same fabric are next to each other.

Now, I know all of that makes my desire for order and my necessity to control the minutiae of my world sound just a little unhealthy, but… No, there is no but.

Anyway, I decided not to unpick eighty-eight inches of stitching and to move on. That’s got to be healthy.

Quilting really is therapy.

Quilt swiss roll

Image

It’s proving to have been quite effective to pin all of the blocks onto a sheet. In the left of this picture you can see the blocks I’ve already sewn together, and to the right are the ones I am revealing slowly, like some sort of giant piece of confectionery that I am savouring.

Rolling it up and folding it away at the end of the evening to make space for my son to play the next day also turns out to be an unexpected pleasure. It’s like it helps to keep this quilt to myself. A solitary thing I am doing for me. I’ll share it only when it and I am ready.

Sewing the first two lines

Stitching first line

This is nerve-wracking. Is it all going to be straight? Are all the blocks the same size? Did I get a quarter inch seam on every single patch in this line (of course I didn’t)? Will it matter? Can I fix any mistakes as I go along? Erm… I had better.

Perhaps you can see the pins in the two blocks waiting to be sewn onto the long line of eleven blocks. They are there to remind me which way round to sew them.

Even with the pins I was terrified of getting it wrong and sewing it upside down or back to front.

First two lines

PHEW! It’s all fine! My first two lines are (more-or-less) straight. The big diamonds all seem to look right and the main thing is that the thing is going to be big enough. My maths did not fully desert me when I was sizing up the pattern I used.

I am really getting excited about this now.
Pin cushion

Oh, and here’s a close up of my pin cushion. Everyone needs a patchwork pin cushion to match the quilt they’re making, right?

Stay out of the sitting room

Stay out of the sitting room!

This quilt has taken over my life (and my home). It’s not the most practical of hobbies when you have a full-time job, a two year-old and a two-bedroom flat.

Oh, and can you see an ugly, small children’s armchair in the background that’s in desperate need of being re-upholstered? That’s a future project.

Better finish this quilt first, though.

Assembly, at last

Happy happy joy joy! Time to put all of the blocks together and play around with colour combinations. This is what I’ve been waiting months for.

I resisted the temptation to start sewing the blocks together until I had made all of them. This was hard as I got more and more excited about the overall design the higher the stacks of little blocks got. Enthusiastic friends didn’t help much with my resolve, as they demanded that I lay the blocks out before I had made all of them to get a feeling for the quilt. I had to bite my lip so that I didn’t (entirely) display my obsession or pedantry by pointing out that there was no way they could get a feeling for the quilt until the quilt was actually a quilt.

This is what I've been waiting for: assembling the quilt top

This is what I’ve been waiting for: assembling the quilt top

I have pinned it all to a massive sheet so that I can sew a line of blocks at a time and know where they all need to go. It took an hour just to pin it.

Although it feels as though I have progressed at a great pace this week, it will still take me months to finish this quilt. As long as it’s done by Winter, I’ll be happy. Then I’ll have the world’s cosiest bed.

All patchwork blocks completed!

All patchwork blocks completed!

This is what you need for a UK king-sized Jacob’s Ladder quilt: 121 8″ square blocks of 12 patches for the main quilt; 44 half blocks for the border; 4 4″ square patches for the corners.

A few days later – oh dear, I wish someone who knows what they are doing had looked at this photo. I now realise that I shouldn’t have sewn all of my half blocks for the border together as some of them need to face the opposite way to fit into the border correctly.

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