It’s surprisingly hard to photograph a quilt. Whatever I did, wherever I put it – draped over a chair, over the banisters, on the bed even – it just looked wrong. Finally, I discovered Bea snuggled into it on the sofa. Not especially pleased to have her television viewing interrupted by a photo call, this was all I got (she shuffles around in it in the mornings, but I never have my camera to hand). Anyway, this is a very rambling way of saying hats off to other quilters who manage to capture their creations in full.
The back of the quilt is an old duvet cover which has seen better days. It’s lovely and soft which is probably both a plus and a minus as I’m guessing that it may not survive as many washes as the fabrics I used for the quilt top. But if it tears I’m sure I’ll be able to sew on the odd patch here and there. I’ve bound the edges, very badly, with narrow strips of spotty fabric from Ikea. At some point, attending a quilt-making workshop would probably be a good idea, but as I’m not particularly fussed about perfection (at the moment, anyway) and I’ve already embarked quilt number two, I’ll save that treat for when I want to make something far larger, and perhaps a bit more complicated.
I took lots of shortcuts which are no doubt glaringly obvious to more experienced eyes, and I expect, if I get better at this, they will probably start to annoy me. For now, however, I’m quite sanguine about my slapdash approach, mainly because it was the only way to get the bloody thing finished. I discovered pretty quickly that I have no patience for cutting, so, and I wince slightly as I admit this because I feel certain there are sound reason for NOT doing it, I ripped my long strips before cutting them into squares. I also ripped the lengths I used for binding. They will fray, I know. But better that than not having made the thing at all. And I’m glad that I persevered because Bea loves it (as does Spooky, who assisted at all stages), and orders for two more have been placed.
My unorthodox methods extended to the quilting as well: in order to hold the three layers together, I just pinned it here and there, as you can see, with dressmaker’s pins, which was hopeless and annoying. The glint of Sellotape was my first attempt at guiding my running stitch. It was a hasty substitute for masking tape, which is Jane Brocket’s brilliant method of keeping your stitches straight (she explains it in her book The Gentle Art of Quilt-Making, which I highly recommend). More normal practice is to mark the fabric, which is what Ali did here, and I am completely in awe of her neat and steady stitching. My running stitch is appalling – just about OK on the front, but on the back it’s all over the shop. At school I was rubbish at sewing. Hated it. Bunked it when I could. Funny how things change. Miss Kibble, our sewing teacher, would be quite surprised.
I really enjoyed making this first quilt. The day I spent just sewing up the strips was one of the most relaxing I have ever had – I sat at the machine, utterly absorbed in what I was doing and yet at the same time my mind was able to wander. It was like being in two worlds at once. For a while I sat with the radio on, which I can never do when I write, and rarely do when I garden, and then I sat in silence, apart from the whirr of the sewing machine. I had lots of interesting thoughts about quilts during the process, but as I didn’t stop, couldn’t stop, to write them down, I’ve forgotten most of them. As for the ones that I can remember, they require a little more thought and a little more research. I will revisit them when I am further on with quilt number two, which is for Matilda.