Milk churn patchwork quilt

What do you give someone when you want  something that says “you’re special”, something that says “thank you”, something that says “I love you”?  For me, the answer is usually always a handmade quilt (sometimes it is cake but that is another story).

Earlier this year, it was my privilege to make a custom order quilt for a couple who have a jersey cow stud.  When I showed my client a  fun quilt pattern featuring rows of milk churns (remember those?) we knew we’d found the perfect design.  I mean, dairy farmers and milk churns, what could be more appropriate?

Milk cow kitchen patchwork quilt

Milk churn patchwork quilt

The fabric collection is Milk Cow Kitchen by Mary Jane Butters for Moda.  Nostalgic, a bit kitsch, the collection features tiny jersey cows, vintage cars, kitchen utensils, milk bottle tops and my personal favourite, lots of moos!!.  There is even a recipe for strawberry jam.

Milk Cow Kitchen patchwork quilt detail

Milk churn patchwork quilt detail

To make the quilt I used this free pattern from the Fat Quarter Shop.  I did change the pattern slightly by  adding an extra column of milk churns to make it wider and I changed how I added the sashing.  The milk churn lids were made as larger strips that are then cut down making it much quicker and easier to put together than it first looks.

Milk Cow Kitchen patchwork quilt detail

Milk churn patchwork quilt detail

The finished quilt was professionally long-arm quilted with an overall pattern called Cloud Nine.

Milk Cow Kitchen patchwork quilt backing

Milk churn patchwork quilt backing

And for the backing, I chose this green Lulu fabric from the Up Parasol range by Heather Bailey.  It is one that I wish I had been able to buy more of as it really is the most lovely light olive green.

The 100% cotton wadding in the quilt makes it irresistibly soft and warm and gives the quilt a beautiful drape.   At 70 inches by 64 inches, it is a very versatile size and perfect for a bed or a sofa.

Today I received the good news that Royal Mail and Australia Post did their bit and delivered the quilt safe and sound to its new home.  And I’m very pleased to say that it was a very welcome present that will be much loved for many years to come.  A special gift for a lovely couple.

Bluebird Park quilt – a tutorial

This quilt I made was one of the most popular at my recent exhibition for Bucks Open Studios.  I have to confess, it is one of my favourites too.  
 
Bluebird Park quilt

Bluebird Park quilt

A number of people have contacted me since asking for the pattern. The world definitely needs more quilts so here is a tutorial to enable you can make your own version.
 
What you’ll need:
1 layer cake* (I used Bluebird Park by Kate and Birdie for Moda)
0.5 metre fabric for binding
3.5 metres backing fabric (more if you need to match patterns)
Wadding or batting approx. 60 inch by 66 inch (I used 100% cotton Quilters Dream Select)
Co-ordinating cotton thread
 
Cutting instructions:
To make the quilt top, cut each of the fabric squares from the layer cake into a 6 1/2 inch square, a 3 1/2 inch square, and two rectangles, each 3 1/2 inch by 6 1/2 inch.  The picture below will make it clearer as to how to cut your fabric.
 
Cutting diagram for Bluebird Park quilt

Cutting diagram for Bluebird Park quilt

 
You don’t need to always cut the largest square from the top left if the design placement would work better if, for example, the large square was cut at the lower right.  You just need to ensure that you get all four shapes.  Before cutting, I also checked that my layer cake squares were exactly 10 inch square.  It is probably not essential to do this so if you’re more of a “let’s get stuck in” kinda gal, then just get cutting.
 
Whilst you have your rotary cutter to hand, from the binding fabric cut 6 strips, each 2 1/2 inch wide, across the width of the fabric.
 
Sewing instructions:
Once you have cut up all your layer cake squares, you can start to have some fun. You now sew your layer cake squares back together using a different fabric design for each of the four positions in the cutting diagram.  
 
Using a 1/4 inch seam, sew a rectangle to a large square and press the seam toward the square.  Then sew another rectangle to a small square, pressing the seam toward the small square.  Finally sew the small square strip to the large square strip, nesting the seams where the points of the two squares meet.  This large square forms the block for the quilt.   
 
The quilt is comprised of 42 blocks which means you will use all of the layer cake.  If you wanted your quilt to go on a single bed, then I would make it as 7 rows with 6 blocks in each row.  If you wanted your quilt as a sofa throw like my version, then lay it out as 6 rows with 7 blocks across each row. 
 
Here is some printed card that I cut up to show the layout for the blocks.  
 
Bluebird Park quilt block layout

Bluebird Park quilt block layout

I couldn’t show the full quilt layout however there is enough that you should be able to see the repeat of the pattern.   The first four blocks in rows one and two form the repeat.  So row four would have the same block placement as row two.  This means your first block on row four would have a small square in the bottom left, the next block would have a small square in the top right, the third block would have a small square in the bottom right and so on.  
*Update:  the block orientation of the first two blocks on the second row is not correct.  The large square and small squares should be diagonally opposite each other.  The small squares in the first two blocks on the second row are in the correct position however the large squares in these blocks need to be moved from bottom to top and top to bottom respectively.  Many apologies for the error.
 
If you are using a directional fabric, such as Bluebird Park, you might want to lay out your quilt design before making up your blocks so that you don’t end up with bikes riding sideways or rabbits standing on their heads (unless you don’t want your quilt to have an obvious up or down).
 
Once you are happy with your block placement, sew blocks together for each row and then sew the rows together.  You will now have finished your quilt top, yay!
 
Sew your backing fabric so that it makes a piece at least 4 inches bigger on all sides than your quilt top.  Baste the backing, wadding and quilt top together then quilt as desired.  Finally sew your binding strips together to make one long strip and attach it to your quilt.
 
Congratulations!  You now have a lovely soft and cuddly quilt.
 
I hope you enjoy making your own version of my Bluebird Park quilt.  If you have any questions regarding the instructions, please do contact me.  Have fun!
 
 
 * layer cakes are produced by Moda and comprise 42 10 inch squares from a single fabric collection. 

Bluebird Park quilt completed

Here it is.  The quilt I made from the Moda Bluebird Park layer cake is now finished and I am so pleased with the final result.

Bluebird Park really is a most charming fabric collection  featuring  whimsical animals (I love the rabbits), balloons and bicycles.  And the colours are so pretty too with a lovely mix of teal, yellow, tangerine, grey and green.

The hydrangea fabric in teal from the same collection was used for the backing fabric and I chose the textured yellow for the binding.  Dancing hearts seemed the perfect choice for the long-arm quilting design and it shows up so well after washing – that little bit of shrinkage producing a lovely vintage puckered look.

The finished quilt measures 150cm by 130cm, the perfect size for a lap quilt or for throwing over a sofa.  It is currently on display at Fabric HQ in their fabulous new shop at Layby Farm, Stoke Mandeville, HP22 5XJ.  

Layer Cake quilt

Recently I have been experimenting with some of the many pre-cut fabrics available.  Moda is the king of pre-cuts and my latest quilt is made from one of their layer cake fabric collections.  

Layer cakes comprise 10 inch squares of fabric cut from one fabric collection with 42 fabric squares in each pack.  They are a great way to try an overall collection as there is at least one square of each of the designs with multiple squares of many of the plain or small patterned fabrics.  I chose to use this one called Bluebird Park by Kate and Birdie Paper Co. which features whimsical designs of bicycles, rabbits and birds.

One downside with pre-cuts is that you may find that a favourite image on the larger designs has been cut through the middle.   I find this the most frustrating aspect as it is these designs that I find myself itching to fussy cut to pick out a particular part of the design.  However this is a minor quibble.

Before cutting, I squared up each fabric swatch to ensure that it was 10 inches square.  It is probably not really necessary to do this however I find it helps ensure accuracy when cutting and sewing the blocks.  Initially I had planned to use the layout for the Basic Math quilt on the Moda Bakeshop and cut my squares accordingly.

But then I changed my mind, mainly because I couldn’t decide which fabrics to leave out (the Basic Math quilt only uses 40 fabric squares), and decided on a variation of what I have since found out is called Disappearing Nine Patch.  Basically the original layer cake square is reassembled with different fabrics in each of the four positions and then neighbouring blocks are rotated.  

After much fiddling about with the layout, the quilt top is now finished and ready to go to the long arm quilter.