I finished a quilt top on Sunday. Once again, I seem to be at my most productive during a summer heatwave, when it is too hot to go outside or even move, and sitting still and sewing, inside in the air-conditioning, seems like a good plan.
This quilt started when my husband bought me a copy of Jane Brocket’s The Gentle Art of Quilt-Making for my birthday in September. I have to confess that her book, as lovely as it is, is not one I would have bought for myself. I buy quilting books mostly for difficult-to-master techniques or unusual block designs, and Jane really uses only the most basic of techniques and nothing but squares and triangles. However, what she really does well is play with colour. Lots of colour. Bright colour. Beautiful colour.
I was particularly drawn to Jane’s ‘swimming pool quilt’ so I too started to collect blue fabrics, many similar to those she used in her quilt. A disproportionate number are blue Philip Jacobs prints.
I have to say a particular thank you to Gail at Gail’s Patchwork Emporium in Ballarat for helping me with my fabric collection. A friend (coincidentally also called Gail) travelled to Ballarat and at Gail’s shop she bought some gorgeous fabrics, just what I wanted, including the Philip Jacobs brassica (cabbage) print. When I contacted Gail and explained what I was trying to do, she dug around her shop finding other blues to suggest. She was so very helpful. I love that I was able to buy fabric and receive personal service from a shop more than 3000 kilometres away.
Earlier this month, I began cutting up my fabric collection into squares, a bit at a time to see what they looked like.
I started with a plan similar to Jane’s: lighter blues on the inside with a darker blue border.
Then I had an idea: what if I used the light and dark tones to create a pixelated design?
I used Photoshop to pixelate a picture of a flower and separate it into light and dark pixels. I then arranged some of my squares on my design wall.
It just looked blobby and no one could see any sort of pattern, flower or otherwise, in the chaos.
I forced a lot of people to check.
‘Can you see a pattern emerging?’
‘No. What am I supposed to be looking for?’
I then tried using a simple two-colour cross-stitch flower design.
I forced the same people to check again. Still blobby.
The only way the pattern would have shown is if I had stood a hundred metres away and squinted a bit. It would have been great for a quilt hanging on a wall in an exhibition space, but I wanted the quilt for a bed, in a room no bigger than 4 metres in any direction.
So, I went back to plan A.
This is the sort of quilt you do not need a pattern to create. You just find fabrics you like, cut out squares and sew them back together. Easy!
My squares are 5 inches finished (5½ inches cut size). I have 400 squares: 144 dark and 256 light, I think I used about 30 fabrics, but I have not bothered to count properly. I found buying 30 centimetres (12 inches) of each fabric gave me about 14 squares and was a good amount. From a fat quarter, I could cut only nine squares and had a lot of waste.
The quilt top is a very generous 100 inches square. Again, this is a calculation that assumes I have used a perfect ¼-inch seam as I have not bothered to measure the finished quilt top properly either.
I like the flashes of pink and other warm colours that pop out. Some fabrics I used were really more green or purple than blue, but you would never know unless you look closely. This quilt has almost every colour in it – red, pink, purple, green, white, grey, yellow – but it reads as a sea of blue.
I could not find a backing fabric I liked locally, so I have ordered a large blue floral print online. I hope it looks nice when it arrives; I have ordered a lot of it. I will keep you updated.