An oldie for a baby

0ADAF8E4-B452-4A46-BF3F-38722A820613I reckon the fabric for this very long-standing work in progress goes back around four years. When I cut out my first drunkards path quilt (below) I was left with lots of smaller drunkard path pieces. I couldn’t bear to throw them away so they just got stuck in a project bag and put in a drawer.


When rooting around for an empty project bag for some Siblings Together blocks that were coming in thick and fast  I decided It was probably easier to make up the contents of one of the bags rather than make a new project bag.



One of the great things about baby quilts is that they are so very quick to make and finish.  And furthermore they seem to be universally liked as a gift, something I guess to do with the nesting instinct of a new mother.


Yes it really was that messy!

It is perfect  quilt to give to Project Linus as it’s too small for Siblings Together and I know they actively collect for neonatal and paediatric wards. I made a similar cot quilt for them a year or so ago based on the Hungry Caterpiller story.


I don’t know what the general view of the use of baby quilts where you live but here  in the UK the advice is not to use a quilt as a bed covering until the baby is 12 months for fear of cot death. This is on the basis that the baby may get too warm and babies that young can’t regulate their own temperature.

I remember being given a leaflet as I went home with the first of my premature twins with strict instructions that the room temperature had to be around 60°F with no more than two blankets covering them.  I had the thermometre ready to check the temperature and the requisite number of blankets and carefully monitored both for fear that any breach would lead to his instant death. I did worry as I tucked myself up in my 10 tog duvet in the same room and next to his cot that I would have been freezing with just two blankets but so fearful was I that I’d get it wrong I stuck to the leaflet.  Needless to say when the midwife came round the next day she discovered a baby with a  temperature that was so low he was on the verge of hypothermia and had to be rushed off to hospital to be heated up. I have been sceptical about health advice from the NHS ever since and you can see he was very warmly wrapped thereafter!


Interestingly that same child, now 16, always sleeps with his window wide open in all weathers.  The neighbours, who can see his window from their house, were laughing that even when we had snowfall last Spring they could see it accumulating on his open window. So maybe it has had a lifetime effect!

Now whenever I gift a baby quilt to a friend I always tell them what the theoretical advice is and then let them make their own decisions but after telling them my own salutary tale…



Bold and curvy – Quilters’ Guild Challenge



Spot the difference!!

 The Quilters’ Guild here in the UK is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. In some ways it surprises me that it’s only been around 40 years bearing in mind quilting as a tradition and craft  goes back many centuries. However for its’ ruby anniversary there’s been a challenge put out to members of all the specialist sections of the Quilters’ Guild to come up with a mini quilt based on one of the quilts in their  collection. The quilt in question is the one above, the Bloomfield Coverlet  (so in fact it’s not actually a quilt). And to cut to the chase my interpretation is just above.  I think we can say I’ve interpreted it quite radically…. (incidentally this is a wordy post so I have sprinkled in some outtakes of my photos of my mini with my assistants.)

The Guild’s specialist groups include miniature , traditional, contemporary and its most recent arrival modern quilting.


I don’t think anyone could claim that the Quilters’ Guild were rapid in embracing modern quilting given the specialist group was set up in 2014 whereas modern quilting, according to a recent article in the Quilters’ Quild magazine, can be traced back to the early 2000s. And if I’m reading between the lines correctly the founders of the modern specialist group,  Helen Howes and Heather Hasthorpe, had their work cut out to persuade the Quilters’ Guild to set up this new specialist group. But they succeeded.


Needless to say this  acceptance of modern quilting as part of the Quilters’ Guild has been a runaway success. The Modern Quilt  specialist section  has numerous members all thanks to Heather and Helen who still play a huge part.

Another member who was in from the start was Kate Percival, who sadly lost her battle with cancer last year.  It was Kate who put forward the idea that to commemorate the 40th anniversary it would be a good idea if there was a Guild wide challenge. This was taken up and the result will be  a special exhibition of some of these mini quilts from the specialists groups, all with their own aesthetic, hopefully playing nicely together.  It should make an interesting display.

As it happens the Modern Group has always had an annual quilt challenge to make a 20” mini quilt based on a theme.  I’ve always taken part and an example is this one based on the theme triangles  which I can see from where I’m writing. But obviously this year we will follow the Guild challenge.


I don’t know what your reaction to the Bloomfield  quilt is but I don’t think there was universal excitement at the choice of quilt. It’s a bit of a funny one. Helen Howes wrote a very interesting piece about it to spur us on  We were also given access to a high resolution image so you could really go up close and personal.

It certainly wasn’t a quilt that set my pulse is racing. I’m not really a blue and pink person and even after over 150 years these fabrics are very vibrant as you can see from the close ups below. Neither am I keen on sentimental poems and the layout is a strange concoction.


There is very little known about why it was made but because a number of the passages relate to the death of babies and young children it’s been assumed that it was made as a commemorative quilt in honour of such sad losses. But I wonder about that. If you look at the  poems about the passing of babies such as the two below they don’t strike me as being sewn by a grieving mother. They come across as, quite frankly, rather callous! Along with many many women  I have had a miscarriage and trust me even though I have a strong faith I would certainly not be putting my loss in these terms!


I wonder whether they were sampler embroidery pieces perhaps done on a Sunday where sewing had to be religious. I recall going on a family holiday to a Christian Guesthouse  and every Sunday the table tennis room was locked! My brother and I were deeply unimpressed. But it would have been seen as a typical Victorian virtue and maybe in later years the maker came across these samplers and then arrived at this  rather piecemeal  layout. Scattered across the quilt, to fill in the gaps, are appliquéd  fussy cut flowers and birds. Which even with the kindest eye look a little, shall we say, unsympathetically cut. Perhaps there wasn’t much of that material and the maker had to make it stretch.

Coming up with a modern interpretation was surprisingly difficult. In the end I decided to take from the quilt the things that I liked and then try and imagine a more modern  interpretation.


I like the circular nature of the overall design, its symmetrical, I like the darker parts as it gives a bit more depth and I rather like the red and white binding although it’s actually a fringe. I felt I had to stick with the main colours of blue, red/pink and cream as the design was going to be so different but I used a floral pink fabric to echo the flowers in the appliqué pieces between the embroidered passages and a balancing blue. And by sheer luck I had a red and white striped fabric in my stash for the binding. The text print (which replaced that other neutral in the picture above) was in lieu of the embroidered words  and of course what modern quilter doesn’t use text fabrics… I also chose a sentimental text print as you can see from the extract below.


As to the design I love curved quilts and enjoy a bit of freehand curved sewing, in fact in a rather pleasing way it was Heather’s eccentric crosses  that taught me how to do this in the first place!  I had seen a design on Pinterest  that caught my fancy from a Fons and Porter magazine. I had no idea how to get hold of the pattern so just drew some curves….Because I wanted this to be symmetrical  I drew up a template out of freezer paper, cut the curves by hand and used that for the four sections which then got sewn together.

I wondered about introducing more neutrals  to give the quilt a paler background like the original quilt but in the end, taking my lead from the recent entries at Quiltcon, I chose big and bold.


It will have to have a title if it’s going to be submitted for the challenge so I have chosen The Circle of Life.  It struck me that there is a sense of connection with the past quilter and previous lives let alone the rather morbid sayings in the original quotes representing birth and death. And of course it does contain a circle albeit a rather swirling one. I did toy with the rather facetious title  of Spot the Difference. Depending on how wicked I am feeling at the time I may choose that one!

I think Kate would have liked this quilt. She didn’t shy away from colour and as Helen said we should be making these quilts in memory of her as much as this vintage quilt.







Thread House Retreat Bee – March block

Yep another Bee block posted in the same month, this time for members of the Threadhouse Retreat Bee. This is not to be confused with any other Bee…. at least I’ve chosen a different colour way!


Now I hope you like these blocks, they are from a set of block cards given away  in a recent Love Patchwork and Quilting magazine and designed by Lynne of LilyQuilts. Very fitting as Lynne was in on the Thread house team  from the get go before other commitments meant she couldn’t attend the retreats. I rather liked this 12.5” unfinished block.

As you can see it is really very straightforward. To ring the changes I would like shades of pink. No novelty prints please or purple or red. These are perfect for scraps. Please put the darker pink across the middle and lighter pink as the outer pieces like my blocks. When I say darker pink it doesn’t have to be a dark pink!  I have probably thoroughly confused you now. What I mean is when you choose your two pinks  which ever is the darkest of the two put across the middle.  The white needs to be a bright white so no creams and even Kona snow is probably too off white as well. Thank you. I would like 2 blocks please.

You will need the following for one block

From the darker pink

1 x 4.5” square

1 x 5.5” square

From lighter pink

1 x 5.5” square

from bright white  for background

4 x 4.5” squares

2 x 5.5” squares


First make the quarter square triangle (qst) units of both the darker pink and lighter pink .

Use any method that you like for this particular unit but my method is to first make half square triangles (hst) using a 5.5” white square paired up with one of the  pink 5.5” squares.  I ironed the white square diagonally corner from corner and then put that on top of the pink square right sides together and sewed a quarter inch either side of the line. I then cut it up the middle and you have created two half square triangles.


You then iron one of these  two hst  to create a diagonal line and then place them right sides together  ensuring that the two are correctly positioned ( I used a pin as in the picture to ensure they are aligned). Remember the dark side of the hst has to be facing the light side of the one underneath. You may think that’s obvious. However I still got one of mine wrong!!



Then just sew 1/4” either side of the line and cut up the centre. Then trim them to 4.5” square.


Make the other qst from the remaining pink 5.5” square paired with a 5.5” white square. Now assemble the pieces as below and sew together. Please trim to 12.5”.


Quick and easy, no? Many thanks and if there are any problems please get in touch





Bee block for March Siblings Together Bee 7

01FB6A89-91E2-4150-862D-E6B99E09CCEBJust a quick disclaimer to start with. I know it does get confusing for those who follow me on my blog and who are in other Bees but not the Bee for whom the design is intended. Trust me it confuses me as well!!    So to be clear this is just for members of Bee 7.  Obviously if somebody else wants to jump in and add to these blocks I’m not going to stop them after all any block for  Siblings Together is another step towards another quilt .

So dear members of Bee 7 here is your block for March. Frankly it’s a bit of a mash up of a number of blocks but I want this quilt  to be simple and  graphic but not just plain squares.

In terms of colour choice, on the basis that blue/green quilts tend to be the ones that are very popular with this age group I would like you to use any solid or ‘reads as’ solid in those colours. And because I know that many of you agonise over your fabric choices I’ve put some here that I think would be fab and others on the left where maybe it’s too much white and not enough colour.

B2E817DC-9723-45D1-813C-32B82B972E9CFurthermore for the colour element of this block you will need the best part of a fat quarter.

For the secondary colour can you please choose again something bright white, certainly not tan or cream but there could be a light pattern on it but I’d like a good contrast with the background colour.

Hopefully that helps and  I don’t come across too bossily!

So to how to make the block and given it’s a large one I only one block per Bee member  please.

you will need from the coloured fabric

2 x 17.5” by 4.5”

2 x 9” by 4.5”

4 x 2.5” by 2.5”

And then from the neutral

2 x 5.25”  by 5.25” square

Cut each square diagonally making 2 triangles per square and 4 in total from both squares

5 x 2.5” by 2.5”  squares


Use a scant 1/4” throughout.

Using the 2.5” squares make up a checkered square as below.  Please trim to 6.5” square.


Now sew the white corners on this checkered block thus.


Trim this block to 9” square and then add the coloured borders on as follows


Now do a final trim to 16.5” square. I know these larger sizes are tricky to size so feel free to leave the last trimming as I have a 16.5” square ruler for this.  I’ve allowed some wriggle room here so the actual square will be closer to 17”. This is because I find the bigger the block the greater the margin error! That might just be me!

I hope that is clear. Any problems please let me know.