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Coin Stack Quilt

You may have noticed a link in my sidebar to the Coin Quilt Piecealong Flickr group. Organised by two inspiring bloggers, the aim is to piece together a coin stack style quilt in 2009. I had been gathering quilting fabrics haphazardly for about a year, and using them in small projects, but I hadn’t taken the plunge into piecing and making up a quilt. With no fixed pattern, and a generous deadline, this quiltalong was just the push I needed get started.

I decided to make a cot quilt (c. 80cm x 120cm) for some friends who are expecting a firstborn soon. I wanted a simple design with bold colours, and not gender specific. I picked some fabrics from a Tabbycat charm pack, and arranged them in colour groups (I may have overdone the green column. I have a weakness for green). I pieced three columns of 5″ x 3″ strips of fabric together, then spent about two days deciding in which order they should sit on the quilt. I cut and sewed cream-coloured cotton sashing, and attached the cream border – adjusting for my less-than-straight seams.

I wanted a fairly plain backing, but I also wanted to include a little bit of interest in case the quilt had to be reversed. I pieced a thin stripe of blues-to-greens and placed it a third up from the bottom edge. I chose some Warm & Natural cotton batting for the middle of the quilt. This makes a it a lightweight coverlet, perfect for the summer heatwave that is supposedly around the corner. Besides, I was worried how my temperamental machine would cope with something thicker!

The quilting itself was nerve-wracking. I marked out the diagonal lines with masking tape, and sewed along the edges, removing the strips as I went. I had thought about quilting a cross-hatch in the other direction, but found that I liked the dynamism of parallel diagonals as they were. Finally, I added a plain green binding (using this tutorial), and washed the quilt to give it a slightly crinkled look.

Some things I have learned while making this quilt:

  • I’m constitutionally incapable of designing asymmetry. Although I love the idea of offset stacks, irregular sashes, or other design quirks, I can’t bring myself to incorporate them into my plan. For my next quilt I really want to break this habit and try experimenting with asymmetric designs.
  • I find sewing a lot more stressful than knitting. One of the things that makes me a confident knitter is the ability to go back and fix mistakes, or even unravel a whole garment, without losing any of the raw materials. I’m a more nervous sewer because I worry that a mistake in measuring, cutting or sewing will waste the fabric. I’m still thinking about how to get over this mental hurdle.
  • Curved safety pins are a godsend for holding the fabric-batting sandwich together during quilting. Also, I have discovered the importance of a good iron.
  • Although machine piecing/quilting is much faster, I think I’d like to try to hand-stitch a quilt soon. I think the slower pace might give me greater control over the stitching, and be more suitable to my temperament.
  • There’s something very satisfying in the look and feel of a finished quilt. The arrangement of colours, the texture of seam and shrunken fabric have a very particular effect on the psyche. I think there must be a cultural memory that is triggered by quilts, making them instantly recognisable objects of comfort.

I’d like to try another coin stack quilt. I like the simple design and the importance of the colour and pattern of the fabrics. So I’m leaving the Flickr Piecealong button on the sidebar in the hopes that I might manage another one before the end of the year…

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I’m almost certainly not the only sock knitter to have thought of it, but I post this tip in case someone can make good use of it.

There are plenty of devices and gadgets that aim to keep your stitches from falling off your dpns while you transport your sock-in-progress: this is a popular one, and this is a beautiful wooden number. Having none of these tools, I improvised using some things from my stationery box.

DPN keeper
DPN keeper

Materials

  • 1 document binding comb, like these. (c. 7mm in diameter for 2.25mm dpns).
  • 1 craft knife or small pair of scissors.
  • 1 double pointed needle from your project.

Directions

  • Measure your dpn against the comb, and mark the length. The idea is that the length of comb is measured so that a ring is sitting inside the needle length on either end. This is what will keep your stitches from falling off.
  • Cut the comb after the last full ring of your measurement. In my case, this was after 8 rings. (Or 11cm of comb for a 12cm needle).
  • Using the craft knife, cut away all the rings in between the first and last rings, making sure to trim any sharp edges. Leave the first and last rings intact.
  • Insert dpns with project safely restricted between the edge rings.

Go forth!