I saw an exhibition in a gallery a few years ago where an artist had taken photos of himself over a long period of time and turned it into a ‘collage of him’. That planted a small seed of an idea in my head. It took a long time to grow but this is what it turned in to…
I love the idea of free-motion embroidery; it’s like drawing in reverse where you move the paper rather than the pencil. I wasn’t an experienced sewing machine user but there aren’t really any rules (other than keeping your fingers out of the way of the needle) for this type of sewing. I bought a batch of quilting cotton fat quarters- all white but in different patterns. With hindsight they may as well have all been plain white since you can’t really see the patterns on the finished quilt. I wanted a simple design of squares for the quilt with each square representing something about me- who I was, where I came from, what was important to me…..(it does include one for poo).
I kept the line drawings for each square quite simple so they would be easy to recognise (as well as sew). I wanted quite a graphic effect so I stuck to black thread other than a very few red accents. I began with a big square for the middle and the words “How I got to where I am today” and a long wiggly line coming from the ‘y’ of today with a figure waking on it.
Then I made all the smaller squares which were sewn together in 6 blocks of 6 and 2 blocks of 4. I did most of these in one go over a couple of weeks and then had enough so it sat unfinished in a cupboard for almost a year at this point.
Once it had come back to the top of the pie on unfinished projects it went quite quickly. I added white borders to the panels to join the front together.
I wanted a soft drapey finish to the quilt so I used Quilter’s Dream batting which is made from bamboo, silk, tencel and cotton and is gorgeous to use. It does cost a bit more but the finish was just what I was looking for. I quilted the top to the batting by taking the wiggly line and figurefor a walk all round the white border pieces. It took a bit of planning to work out the best path for this without overlapping or missing sections out. I stitched in the ditch around the squares too.
I used a lovely soft red and white striped jersey for the back and didn’t want to quilt it all the way through so I used tiny buttons in black, turquoise and red at the corner of each block to join all three layers together. I finished it with hand made, turquoise, cotton bias binding.
This quilt is so soft and warm it is probably my favourite blanket. It took a long time though and I think I’ll be hanging up my quilting ruler for a while after this one.