In December, I was flicking through Creative Stash and Scrap Quilts, published by Universal Magazines, and I realised that I could make one of the pretty patterns from stash, so I did.
When I started, I had no other goal than to use up some of my stash in making a happy quilt in fabrics I liked.
I made a sample block after dinner and discovered that my sewing superpower is the ability to sew Y-seams while tipsy after wine. Honestly, I have never figured out what is so frightening about Y-seams!
Later, when sober, I chain pieced my first big batch of diamonds together the wrong way and had to unpick almost 40 seams. Sobriety obviously does not work for me.
The top of this quilt was sewn in December when I was a bit tipsy from Christmas parties, so all my points are marvellously pointy.
When I saw the pattern, I knew I wanted to use my carefully hoarded Bonnie and Camille bundles as they had pretty flowers I could fussy cut, but I deliberately added in as many other fabrics from my stash as I could. I wanted it not to be too coordinated or matchy-matchy and, by adding in other fabrics I liked, I hoped to make it a little bit more personal. I also left out a lot of my Bonnie and Camille prints when they were too pale to adequately contrast against the background.
I am really pleased with the background fabric. I had about half a metre in my stash, but I was able to dash back to the shop for enough to finish the quilt top as they had not sold the rest of the bolt. The spots are exactly the right colours.
I started this quilt with a clean slate. I sucked the fluff out of my sewing machine with the hoover and put in a new needle. I had a new spool of thread, a newly wound bobbin and a new rotary cutter blade.
After the first sets of four diamonds were sewn and pressed, I could turn my iron off, so this was a great project for hot summer days. We have had a fiendishly hot summer this year.
Brigitte Giblin’s pattern says to hand sew the small triangles in the sashing, but I sewed everything by machine with really neat results. I found it easiest to sew the triangles to the end of each sashing piece before sewing the sashing onto each block. The only other thing I varied was that I made the borders to avoid incomplete coloured diamonds in the corners. It is such a minor change that few would even notice it.
In February, while the quilt top was away with Donna being long-arm quilted, my aunt died of breast cancer. The best way I can describe what I feel about cancer at the moment is to point you to Renée’s blog. Renée says it better than I can.
During my aunt’s illness, I wished there was more I could do to help, so I decided to donate this quilt to the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research. Last weekend, they auctioned it at their Purple Hearts fundraising ball, which raises money specifically to fund research into women’s cancers.
Because hand-made things can be hard to price and to help buyers understand they would be getting a good deal, I had it properly valued by the West Australian Quilters’ Association’s capable valuation team. They were marvellous. They met on the same day as the ball, but they assessed mine first so it could get to the ball on time (a bit like Cinderella).
Luckily, I had the binding all finished in February so it was finished in time. If February was not bad enough, I have had a disaster of a time so far in March. Among other things, a computer glitch meant I had to redo two weeks’ work (my back-up back-up now has a back-up), my sewing machine needed repair and my dentist told me I need all four of my wisdom teeth out. Not much sewing or social media happened as I spent all hours catching up on work! I really do hope I am through the worst now, even though I have postponed the teeth extraction until April.
My family has lost my father and his sister to cancer in less than a year. Weirdly, donating this has been a helpful part of the grieving process for me. I feel slightly less powerless in the face of cancer. Slightly.
My dad’s ashes and my aunt are now buried beside each other, with their parents, who also died from cancer, and my dad’s brother, who was killed by a falling tree. I do not hate trees.
The quilt is cheerful and feminine. I am absolutely thrilled with how it turned out. It is one of the prettiest I have made, I think. Pretty and bright is good: I want whoever has it to feel happy. Cancer itself brings enough gloom into the world.