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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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Knitting Bag (detail)
Some days I wake up in a fever of creativity, and clamber over a sleepy R. at ungodly hours of the morning to reach my sewing machine.

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Present

My mother-in-law is a thoughtful and creative woman: she crafts, knits, sews and bakes wonderful things. Unfortunately, she has been burdened with three sons who don’t really think to facilitate her hobbies by taking her to fabric shops or showing an interest in vintage buttons!

She has made every effort to welcome me to the family, and I’m glad to be able to repay her by sharing some of her interests. She recently mentioned that she wanted to try her hand at crochet, so for her birthday tomorrow I’ve sewn this crochet case to keep her hooks in.

Crochet

I’ve included a couple of metal hooks (sizes 3.5mm and 4mm), and a Brittany (5.5mm) with a lovely turned handle. I’ve also made her some stitch markers out of shell and glass beads, and included some ceramic buttons. Three balls of RYC Bamboo Soft in Cambria (she’s allergic to woollen yarns) should start her off on an easy crochet project.

That’s all we’ve seen here in the UK for two weeks now, and an already drippy country will get another soaking this weekend. We’ve been lucky not to see any flooding in our area, but others have been sorely affected. So, summer weekend plans have been shelved, and instead we are shopping for food and returning home to hibernate. I’ll be finishing a project (below) which is to become a birthday present for my mother in law. Other than that I’ll be drinking hot chocolate and trying to keep dry!

Project