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The Birthday Quilt now known as Stephanie’s Quilt

May 4, 2014

I’d wanted to try quilting for a while but was very nervous about it. I am especially nervous about cutting the fabric. theres no going back if you get that part wrong…

To help me get started my kind friends paid for me to attend a quilting class as a birthday gift in 2012. I made a Log Cabin quilted cushion cover which looked pretty damn impressive. I was very pleased with it and wanted to try my hand at a larger project but wasn’t really sure where to start.

Then I received a quilting kit for my birthday last year. It lay fallow for several months after I realised that one of the fabrics a bright blue faux satin was not going to work. It was far from aesthetically pleasing and offended my eye. I still can’t grasp why the kit designer included it, as it wasn’t just the wrong colour it wasn’t suitable for quilting. Indeed it had already started to fray when I simply laid out the fabrics on the dining room table to look at how they went together.

Thus began the quest for a substitute fabric. This proved to be a slow process. I bought two mistakes both of which only proved to be wrong after I got them home. Then finally I went to the wonderful C&H fabrics in Canterbury in November and found what I needed. (If you are interested the dark green mistletoe fabric is my chosen replacement – I still firmly maintain that bright blue would never have worked.)

I pieced the top quite quickly and it was done by the first weekend in December. It was not a perfect result despite my best attempts. Two of the fabrics had a tendency to fray heavily (If I owned an over locker I would have overlocked them but I don’t.) and the soft fleecy fabric was in polite parlance rather challenging too sew. I said some very very rude words while trying to piece with it.


Then there was another hiatus after I decided that I did not want to make it up the way the instructions said. The instructions told me to just sew the backing on right side to right side and leave a small gap in one seam for turning but I decided I wanted it to be a proper 3 layer quilt with a layer of wadding which meant I had to figure out how to do it. This took time and much rumination.

Christmas and a bit of a wobble intervened…

Then came April and I took it out of the drawer again and reconsidered ways and means. I consulted several oracles – my Mum who sews and two friends who quilt a great deal. The general consensus was I’d never achieve a perfect result because the fabrics were all different weights. I admitted I had noticed the fabric I bought – advised by the quilting lady in C&H had worked best… The quilt designers obviously wanted the quilt top to have different textures and it does feel nice to the touch but it was challenging getting it all sewn up. One of my friends advised me to fold it up, put it away and start again with all quilting weight fabrics then I’d produce something to satisfy my perfectionist nature.

I nearly took her advice but then my small niece visited and implored me to finish the quilt for her. She wanted it to snuggle in while watching TV. Her house is chilly I can completely understand why she might want a TV quilt so I thought what the hell she won’t notice if it isn’t perfect I will finish it for her. After careful consideration I decided that he best method of working with what I had would be to firmly pin the three layers together – backing and quilt top right side to right side with the wadding on top of the wrong side of the top and sew all around four sides leaving a small gap for turning.

This produced a relatively satisfactory result. I then machine quilted it very simply just by hedging and ditching in the existing seam lines. Finally I hand sewed up the gap in the final seam and sewed entirely too many ends in. If I’d gone for binding I wouldn’t have had to do this but considering what I was working with and the recipient I decided simplicity was the best course of action.

I hope my favourite small person will be pleased with it. I can see lots of places where there are mistakes, it is not straight or the squares are not completely equal and it’s been hard letting go of my desire not to finish because it is not perfect (and four people have assured me that with the different weight fabrics an inexperienced quilter could never achieve perfect). However if it makes Steph happy and she is cosy watching TV it will have served its purpose. Next time I will go straight to C&H choose the fabric myself and ensure it is all the same weight. I’ve learned many lessons making this and at least began to overcome my fear of cutting into the fabric.

My next concern is what will happen when it is washed. I have a terrible fear I may end up having to piece her another quilt in washable fabrics.



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  1. It’s beautiful and I’m sure the little person will love it. I agree about the blue – the pink and green work really well together and I think the blue would have broken this up. I’m very impressed!

  2. It does look better quilted and I am sure it will be very snuggly for a small person. I share your fear of what washing will do to it.

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