I have spent several weeks, now, making my first mini quilt. This one measures 16 x 20 inches, and by ‘mini’ standards, it’s quite large 🙂 But it’s quite tricky enough for me, considering I haven’t made any mini quilts before. The only quilt I’ve ever made was 35 years ago, when I was 15, and I spent a whole winter hand-stitching a ‘grandmother’s fan’ design for a single bed, then hand quilting it….I ended up getting so bored with doing it, that as soon as it was completed, I gave it away to my cousin.
So, mini quilts seemed more attractive, when I got back into this hobby recently, as I was under the impression that a small quilt might be quicker too do. Maybe.
This design is one from a design pack of nine by Lori Smith of ‘From My Heart to Your Hands’. All the designs are nice, but this one attracted me. I have changed the tonal value placement slightly, but still kept to the basically red tones. (It’s the one on the top right in the image below.)
Considering I felt at times that I didn’t know what I was doing, I am really pleased with how this has come out. The instructions in the leaflet were clear enough, but I am not patient enough to unpick seams when they are ‘off’, and it really shows in the finished quilt.
It’s very squiffy 😛
The points of the stars are often cut off at the tips, for instance. This is because, when I was pairing up the triangles before stitching them, I ‘evened up’ the seam allowances, instead of butting one triangle against the edge that would be fully in the seam allowance, if you see what I mean. Once I realised what was happening, I should have ditched what I had sewn together, re-cut more pieces, and started again – but I couldn’t be bothered, because I wanted to see it finished. So, now I can see it finished for ages…with cut-off points. Hmm. I think I can learn something from this!
Also, if I had made just one block first to check I was doing it right, I could have eliminated some of the problems, but again, no patience! I got all blocks to the same stage before looking at what I was doing, and sometimes what I was doing was daft. However, I’m trying to see this piece as very much a ‘learning project’, not something that I’m going to put on sale, or on display, or anything. OK, so I am showing it to hundreds of people on this blog, but still! And I did really enjoy myself making it.
The fabric was lovely to stitch with – it was from the Fat Quarter Shop, in the USA. I’ve since found a couple of places in the UK to buy reproduction prints from, but these *are* really lovely, if pricey to import to the UK.
This design uses only four fat quarters for the top, and another one for the backing. It was hard to decide which fabric to use for the backing , as I felt I was kind of ‘wasting it’ by putting a good fabric on the reverse of the quilt, but now it’s finished, I’m glad I used a fabric that really tones with the front, rather than just a plain piece of any old kind of cotton that I had as a leftover from something else.
I used Quilters Dream Poly batting, and I think that next time I’ll use 100% cotton – it seemed a bit thick and ‘bouncy’ to quilt through, and several online reviews that I have seen recommend 100% cotton. It cost about £5 for a pack 46 x 36 inches, from cottonpatch.co.uk, so I could get another mini quilt out of the piece if I wanted to.
I loved doing the quilting more than the patchwork. That must be the embroiderer in me, I think! Just sitting with a betweens needle in my hand, doing a simple running stitch for hours was great, and I am getting very tempted to try a wholecloth design next. My quilting stitch is still too large and meandering for my liking, but I’m prepared to work on that.
I encountered two problems with the quilting. One was that I used a pink Clover chalk pencil to transfer the design onto the fabric at first, through a stencil, but I found that the lead kept breaking. So I switched to a ‘dressmaker’s pencil’ instead. Both types are supposed to be able to be washed out afterwards. When the quilt was complete, I hand washed it with Stergene. The pink chalk has come out completely, but in some places, the grey lead of the other pencil still shows a bit. I think, now, that the Stergene has ‘set’ the pencil marks.
The other problem was that I chose a small cable design for the border – on a very busy floral print. Hmm. I have since found out that this is something that beginners often do – they choose a fancy pattern and put it on a fancy fabric, and it hardly shows up at all! But it was fun to do. In the centre of the quilt I just highlighted parts of the design with lines of straight stitching. I couldn’t manage ‘stitching in the ditch’, as I’d pressed all the seam allowances over to one side, so it ended up being quite bulky (pressing the seams open would have been better, but I didn’t plan ahead). So, I stitched ‘near to the ditch’ instead.
In the end, as a first patchwork piece, I am very pleased with how it’s come out, despite the trials I had with it. Several other mini quilts are already being planned, so I can’t have been put off all that much 🙂