Checkerboard quilt – a work in progress

Strangely I seem to have a number of half-finished quilts cluttering up my workroom.  I’m not sure how this happened.  Best not to dwell on the how and instead focus on getting them completed.

With this in mind, over the past week I have been working on a checkerboard quilt top that had been languishing on my dining room table for (many) months.   I had decided to use a jelly roll for the patterned sections and then very quickly wished that I hadn’t.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love using jelly rolls.   Sadly this one seemed to have more than its fair share of strips not cut on the grain and many were slightly wider than 2 1/2 inches.   After a bit of judicious cutting, thankfully this wasn’t too much of a problem.

Rather than cut out individual 2 1/2 by 2 1/2 inch squares, I used this strip piecing tutorial by Red Pepper Quilts.  I selected 33 strips from my jelly roll, cut them in half on the fold line and then attached a 2 1/2 inch wide strip of plain fabric  to the long side.   Although not really necessary, I cut the jelly roll strips in half to reduce any potential problems if the strips were wonky.   I really needed only 32 jelly roll strips for the quilt.  The extra one was to allow for any cutting errors (sad to say, there was one) and also ensured I had plenty of options when putting the quilt top together so that similar/same patterns weren’t right next to each other.  The sewn strips were then cut down to 10 1/2 inches long and then sewn to another pair of sewn strips.  Although these strips were slightly shorter than the 11 inches recommended in the tutorial there was more than enough fabric available when cross-cutting the strips.

Ambleside strips for checkerboard quilt

Checkerboard quilt strips

I worked on a quarter of the quilt at a time as I don’t have a large enough space in which to layout the full quilt design.  Making up blocks of 16 squares each as per the tutorial made it much easier to nest the seams together and the reverse stayed very neat and tidy too.

Ambleside checkerboard quilt blocks

Checkerboard quilt blocks

My quilt top is now complete and ready for quilting.

Ambleside checkerboard quilt top

Checkerboard quilt top

I love the colours in this one.  They are so soft and pretty.  And the white squares make it look lovely and fresh.   Here is a close-up so you can see all that prettiness in detail.

Ambleside checkerboard quilt top detail

Checkerboard quilt top detail

It reminds me of meadow flowers strewn across a white sheet and I don’t even mind the greys in this one.  Now I just need to choose the backing fabric and the quilting pattern.  Decisions, decisions.

Oh, and in case you are wondering, I used an Ambleside jellyroll by Moda –  a very pretty, country cottage collection of rose, daisy, gingham and lace designs – and Bella Solid in Off White for the plain squares.

Back with more soon.

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The making of a quilt

A handmade quilt is such a personal thing.  This is the story behind the making of this one. 

It started with the backing fabric, a gorgeous fabric by Cosmo Cricket from their Odds and Ends collection.  I loved it and I knew my niece, who is a big fan of inspirational quotes, would love it too. 

During a recent visit, I took my niece into the local quilting shop and asked her to choose five fabrics for her quilt.  As she lives in Australia and I live in England I don’t get to see her nearly as often as I would like.  Our trip to the quilt shop was therefore a great opportunity to spend time together and for me to get to know more of her likes and dislikes.  

So, I learnt that red is her favourite colour, that she doesn’t like overly flowery fabrics and prefers more quirky designs.   After much deliberation, these are the fabrics she chose and I think they look great. 

Fabrics (left to right): Perch by Timeless Treasures, Rural jardin by French General (Moda), Lost and found red stripe by Riley Blake, Folk tale birdcage by Riley Blake, Velo fleurs by Timeless Treasures.

A few days later I went back to the shop without my niece and, with the help of Merrilyn from Threadneedle Craft, chose a further four fabrics.  This is the final fabric selection, just right for a young teenage girl.
Fabrics (top row left to right): Lost and found red dot by Riley Blake, Perch by Timeless Treasures, Red stripe by Sweetwater (Moda) (middle row left to right): Rural jardin by French General (Moda), Lost and found red stripe by Riley Blake, Folk tale birdcage by Riley Blake and (Bottom row left to right): Daisy (maker not known), Velo fleurs by Timeless Treasures, Folk tale fairy by Riley Blake.

Back home and it was time to get cutting.  For the quilt top, I used a random arrangement of strips eight inches wide, varying in depth between two and four inches.  I first laid out the strips to check that I was happy with the flow of the colours and designs before sewing, rather than relying on chance that the strips would work well when sewn together haphazardly.
The final step, basting and quilting, was expertly done by a local long-arm quilter.  I chose an overall quilting pattern featuring stars as it reflects my niece’s name.

My niece now has a quilt that she loves and uses every day.  She sleeps with it at night, snuggles into it when watching tv and uses the quotes to inspire and encourage her.  Her quilt is soft and warm and lovely.  And it is a true reflection of her.  She can use it throughout her life and have something beautiful to pass on to future generations.  And what could be better than that?

Scrappy jelly roll quilt

How pretty is this fabric collection by Moda?  Called Fleurologie, it is a beautiful mix of aquas, greens, pinks and yellows with just a splash of a dark, bright blue to liven it up.  

I have been having a real thing with jelly rolls recently.  Not satisfied with one jelly roll, I used two of them to make this scrappy style quilt.  

The backing is a bird lover’s delight incorporating images of small British birds.  A small stylised leaf was used for the long arm quilting; with cream thread used on the front and olive brown on the reverse.   


And for the finishing touch, I used my favourite squared elements fabric in yellow for the binding.  

At 173cm by 175cm this quilt is a very versatile size.  It would look fabulous on a sofa or bed and is the perfect partner for snuggling up with a good book or when watching tv.  

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.  

A quilt for Kate

This quilt was commissioned for a lovely girl to celebrate her 14th birthday.  She is a great fan of Cath Kidston and all things vintage.  The fabrics, all from the Petal range by Tanya Whelan, fit the brief for a shabby chic style perfectly and the dancing hearts long arm quilting design complements the romantic theme.

Here is the quilt in situ. I love how the large patchwork blocks showcase the full blown roses on the fabric.  It looks fabulous on the bed but is also the perfect size to snuggle into when reading or watching television.

It was just what she wanted and will be with her for many, many years.  Happy birthday, Kate.  Hope you have a great day.