Monday, 31 March 2014

Lessons in the Sunshine!

When I originally started this quilt (almost two years ago), it was going to be called the Birthday Quilt as the fabrics to make it were birthday gifts from three different friends.

Seeing the happy cheerful fabrics all sewn together, I quickly changed my mind and renamed it the Sunshine Quilt.

But these days I'm thinking it should be called the Learning Quilt. You see I have learnt loads and loads during the sewing of this quilt.

Some of my lessons were more straight forward than others:

  • Don't stress about finding the perfect backing. You'll never find it if you look too hard! Choose something and get sewing, a finished quilt is better than half finished top lying dejected in a pile.
  • Free motion quilting takes A LOT of thread! Make sure that you have enough thread in the colour of your choice before you start quilting (This quilt is quilted using three different colours of thread and it really should be done with one colour!)
  • That said, I shouldn't be too hard on myself for the changes of thread as some were done out of necessity. This quilt taught me that my machine is a thread snob. It skips stitches and misbehaves like anything if I try to free motion quilt using anything except aurifil or a similar high quality thread.
  • Another thing that I learnt is that if you have a long term Work in Progress lying basted in a corner, its not a good idea to steal safety pins away from it to use on other projects- you WILL regret it!!!
See all those ugly puckers in the backing fabric?! I'm pretty sure I could have avoided them if the quilt had kept all its basting pins until it was quilted!
 Now before I go any further, I really want to make sure that you understand that I am really happy with this quilt. It will stay in our house so we (no lets be honest, I) am probably the only one who will notice these imperfections. In years to come I really look forward to seeing this quilt as a testament to how far my quilting has come!

I really do love it already!

I used it to prove to myself something that I have known for a while: Free motion quilting is possible and not as scary as I thought. I just had to stop looking at the finished result with my nose inches away from the sewing. Look at the finished result from a decent distance (the way that you are supposed to) and you will be amazed by how good it looks!

I also had to stop expecting perfect results from a beginner. It takes time, practise (and possibly a better sewing machine than I possess) to turn into an expert free motion quilter!

I still have a long way to go until I will regard myself as a competent free motion quilter, but this project has encouraged me to stop being scared and to give it a go. I tried out a whole load of different quilting designs (spirals, feathers, wavy lines, pebbling, spirals, stippling, rainbows etc...), some I liked, some I didn't. I think it was important for me to allow myself to learn.

When looking at the quilt top as a whole, I quilted a sort of grid pattern, and left some blocks in the grid empty. If I were to quilt using this idea again, I would definitely stitch the ditch between the blocks before starting on the more elaborate quilting It would give definition the the blocks and also help to anchor everything in place.- see I told you that this was a learning quilt!

I made the binding slightly thinner than I normally do. Again, daring to try something different and accepting that it may be a disaster. I was tempted to buy new fabric for the binding, but decided to just use something from my stash- I think it worked well- I like it!

So there we have it- another long term work in progress knocked off my finish-a-long 2014 list! I can't believe just how well I've done with my list- not everything is finished, but all but one item have made significant progress.
Finish Along 2014

Oh and one final thing that I learnt... Don't try to take photos of quilts with a certain three year old photo bomber around, and I quote:
"but Mummy, I just want to snuggle in it!!!"


  1. It does look lovely and bright.

  2. Your learning sunshine quilt is a great show of effort & stickablity! Free motion does take many hours of practice & like soooo many things in life there is always more to learn! Looks like you tried out some different styles & sounds like you learnt a few things too. A fantastic book I recommend to my students is a book by Harriet Hargrave called "Heirloom Machine Quilting". There are some wonderful tips & techniques, you might find helpful, try your local library for a copy. Keep up the three "P's".....practice, practice, practice!

  3. Congratultions on a fabulous finish Juliet! It will help to brighten the winter days :-) If we waited till we could do everything perfectly we would never start these things!

  4. Wahoo, yay for finishing! it looks bright and happy and will definitely be super snuggly! You wont get there without trying and practise so well done on persevering! And tick tick tick that list - will be a good feeling to get things done!

  5. Juliet this is incredible !
    I haven't even begun to even think I could free motion and wow look at you !! !!
    Love this happy sunshine bright colourful learning quilt and your wee man snuggling

  6. This is such a happy quilt! LOVE the colours x


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