More simple living skills - patchwork and quilting

28 October 2010
When Tricia was here and madly hand stitching her red quilt, a number of readers asked to see the quilt. Well, I'm slow but I generally get there. No quilt looks as good in a photo as it does having it right before you, but you can see the work that's gone into it. This quilt started off with the supper cloth in the centre. Tricia attached the various shapes, then added borders to that and worked outwards. There are many pieces of appliqué on the large borders, my favourites being the two rabbits and the many pieces of old lace I remember from our childhood. On all four corners, she's hand stitched each of her sons' names.

There are many forms of patchwork, this one is, I think, a memory quilt. If you're new to sewing and would like to try your hand at patchwork, don't think you have to stick with the traditional patchwork patterns, there are many other forms as well. I didn't "get" patchwork for many years and wondered why Tricia bothered with it. I remember her husband saying that she was cutting up pieces of fabric and then sewing them back together again. Well, of course, that is what patchwork is, but it's much more, there is a greater significance in this simple craft. I see it now as a beautiful and meaningful way to put off-cuts and left over fabric to good use. There is something about providing a meal to a hungry family and providing warmth with scraps of fabric, that fills me up. It must be one of our primitive instincts to provide food and warmth for our family and I feel it most when cooking from scratch and piecing together random pieces of fabric. I love how it starts as nothing more than scraps but ends up being a beautiful object, often holding memories of clothing made, or the people who wore those fabrics.

The other quilt featured here is another one Tricia made with French fabrics. She brought it with her to have it machine quilted by my DIL Cathy. Cathy ended up not doing this quilt but handed it over to one of her friends. Tricia was really thrilled with the quilting, which is called stippling. Both these quilts might be featured in a magazine soon. I think it's part of the Homespun group, called Country Collections. They were at Tricia's home yesterday taking photos.

If you want to try your hand at patchwork and hope to make a quilt, start off with a smaller project, work out your techniques, then move on to a bigger project. Basically, you would cut up all your shapes, sew the shapes into long strips, then sew the strips together. But look here at these links, there are some very good instructions here.

When you have made the top of the quilt, you layer the top to some warm wadding and attach them both to a backing. The backing can be any large piece of material that suits the top or provides additional warmth. When you have your three layers, you quilt them together. In the old days every quilt was hand stitched, now there are sewing machines that can handle quilting. The quilt above was quilted on one of those specialist quilting machines Tricia's red quilt is hand stitched. If you're never sewn anything like this before, using recycled fabric or scraps, I hope I've inspired you to give it a try. Let me know if you give it a go and remember to start small and work up to a larger project.

Happy sewing everyone!