June 05, 2013


Applique Quilt

50 hours and approximately 15,240 tiny hand stitches later this quilt was born.

From pen to paper, or rather mouse to Illustrator program, to bound and washed, this quilt was finished in one week & a day. I was in complete power-quilting mode, this quilt was my entire existence. It was crazy. Crazy fun!

I have a short history of quilting, this is my fourth.

I made my first quilt when I was 14 whilst nursing a broken leg through the super boringest summer ever. While listening to Weezer destroy his sweater and spilling tears over Kurt, I stitched a quilt from a discontinued upholstery sample book given to me by my aunt. The quilt was as simple as it gets and consisted of giant 12" X 12" squares sewn together. I was hooked.

I don't remember sewing my second quilt but it must have happened around the age of 21. I made it for a young, single, mom-to-be co-worker when I was making my measly tips at the local White Spot. I ran into the co-worker about 8 years later with her now fully grown child. She thanked me for the quilt, I guiltily had only a vague memory of, and told me her daughter grew up with it and still kept it. I sensed I had really touched her through it. That's when I realised the power of these little blankets, they seem to retain the love that's sewn into them.

I was so excited to make my third quilt which was created just last year for a close friend's first baby. It is an adorable modern chevron quilt and I treasure seeing wee Owen growing and playing on it every time I visit.

Applique Quilt
Applique Quilt
Applique Quilt

To say the least, I had no idea what I had gotten myself into making a hand appliqued quilt. I used the needle-turn method of applique, which is simply cutting out the objects with a 1/8"-1/4" allowance and folding under the allowance with your fingers and needle as you whip-stitch around it. My fingers and finger nails are still recovering.

The only issue I ran into was some fraying on inside corners and skinny allowances so I began the routine of pre-clipping and applying Fray-stop on all susceptible areas and letting them dry before appliqueing. I am actually a little confused why there are so many other applique methods that use time-consuming steps like ironing around freezer paper, using fabric glue or fusible. One tool I could not have done this quilt without was the Clover water-soluble pen. The tip is super-fine and didn't dull and there were no pen marks left on the quilt after the final wash.

Applique Quilt

For the backing of the quilt I chose a lovely seagull print from Birch Organic Fabrics. We have a fantastic little fabric store in Vancouver called Spool of Thread and they have an unbeaten collection of modern quilt fabrics. The seagulls add the whimsy I wanted for this stark quilt as well as a certain kind of timelessness. 

Quilt label

I used Warm & Natural for the batting and machine quilted around all of the objects just shy of 1/4" away. I quilted and bound the blanket in one day. It was another very focused day.

Quilts may no longer be allowed in the crib but they sure are handy on the floor. They are an ideal soft and washable place for babies to spend their day staring at the ceiling or getting cooed over by loved ones. The purpose of a quilt as a play mat was where the design of this quilt started. It was also inspired by my infatuation with two-colour, folk art, civil war era quilt designs.

Designing the quilt was a highlight of the process. The objects I decided to include were inspired by the parents-to-be as well as pulling from traditional folkloric quilt objects. The personal items included are their beautiful character home, dog and their VW van. Some of the traditional quilt items are the fork, swallow, hand, pineapple, elephant and star.

Applique quilt

The image above was the initial "final" design. I originally had a colourful border but decided to nix it because I felt the objects really wanted to speak for themselves. Look at all of those objects that got cut, a Chelsea boot, pelican (I'm currently enamoured with these birds), horse, seahorse, cat and a turnip. All out of there because I realised the quilt wasn't quite to the scale I wanted. I never would have finished this quilt if I hadn't made those changes. Whew!

Applique quilt

8 years ago I started my 9-5 working life and I also began a running list of "Things I will do when I retire". Does anybody else have this?

The "Things I Will Do When I Retire" list in order of addition:

1. Learn to tap dance

2. Become a crazy quilt lady Check!

3. Learn to play the piano

Although I am not sure if I will tackle the other items during my hiatus, I am very thankful I was able to indulge my crazy quilting lady.

xoxo Melissa

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