I just missed submitting my quilt to the annual Richmond Fair and that was going to be the name I entered it under- fits my feisty little girl perfectly! I was inspired to make this when I fell in love with a quilt on Etsy but it was out of my price range. Never mind that I easily spent that amount in fabric, batting, shipping costs, a rotary cutter, and cutting mat! At least they are investments in my continued learning and growing as a sewist (sewer sounds too much like the pipe attached to a toilet)!
Working on the layout with my little helper
The fabric came from Weave and Woven Textiles, a shop based in Hamilton that I found on Instagram one day when I was about to head back to work after mat leave, and was feeling a bit sentimental about the time I had spent with my daughter. I wanted to make her something special, and what better keepsake is there than a quilt? My husband still has a quilt that his great-aunt made him and it’s one of our favourite blankets to cuddle up with. The passing years have made it super soft and there is just something so special about a tangible item that has been with you since childhood.
Pinning and piecing the fabric into larger strips
I also wanted something for my daughter’s room to bring in some colour; I loved our “neutral nursery” when we didn’t know the gender of our baby, but she is so full of personality that we needed to bring in some pizzazz and (pardon my French) badass-ery to her space! Unicorns are having a bit of a moment right now and to me, they embody everything my girl is- strong, kind, unique, fearless. So naturally, the first fabric I chose was the awesome turquoise unicorn pattern from Sarah Jane for Michael Miller fabrics. There is also a hint of metallic gold for that je-ne-sais-quois bit of sparkle that she has (I’m sure every mom thinks this but I am just constantly wondering how it’s possible that this little marvel used to be a flutter in my belly).
So much ironing…
The next pattern I picked was a tableau of beautifully decorated cakes and macarons by Patty Sloniger, also for Michael Miller fabrics; this one caught my eye because my husband’s sister is trained as a pastry chef and all the women in our family love to bake. After those two the rest just fell into place, since I knew I wanted a bold black and white stripe for the binding, so I chose other fabrics that just repeated colours from the unicorn/cakes prints without being too bold or busy. At the last minute I decided I needed more white so I added the gold raindrops print after I had already cut out most of the pieces! I also realized that I was a few inches short for my backing fabric, so instead of making it smaller I opted to add a strip of the binding fabric at either end. Now it’s truly unique and will better suit my longer-than-average girl. Choosing the fabrics was definitely one of the most enjoyable parts of this project, and seeing it come together was the motivation I needed to get through the tedious tasks of ironing and pinning!
Had to extend the backing with the binding fabric since I miscalculated
Throughout the process there were some really helpful resources that I relied on. I didn’t follow a pattern so I looked up how to do a somewhat random assortment of squares and rectangles; I used the “magic number” method of repeated 3″, 6″, and 12″ side lengths for the pieces, adding 0.5″ for the 0.25″ seam allowance on either side (meaning I cut pieces that were 3.5×3.5″ squares, 6.5×6.5″ squares, 6.5×3.5″ rectangles, and 6.5×12.5″ rectangles). This made it easier to place the pieces somewhat randomly without a pattern, because the smaller pieces were elements of the larger pieces (ie, 4 of the 3.5″ squares would make a 6.5″ square after sewing them together).
Assembling the “sandwich”: backing, batting, and quilt front
Another great resource was Suzy Quilts for the quilting and binding parts, which I was a teeny bit stressed about, due to the amount of work that goes into the quilt before you even get to the quilting stage! I also referred back to my favourite ladder stitch YouTube video for attaching the binding to the backside of the quilt, which I did by hand. I used cotton thread for the all of the seams because I read that using poly thread with cotton fabrics over time will wear unevenly and could lead to breakage in the fabric; also, I discovered that the thread for machine quilting must be meant for that use, because not all cotton thread is compatible with being machine fed. I picked up some quilt clips which I did find were handy to hold the binding on the quilt while I stitched it.
Machine quilting the sandwich layers together complete
Hand-stitching the binding on the backside of the quilt after machine sewing the front side
[Side note- if you regularly purchase notions from a larger fabric store (like in Canada we have FabricLand and Joanns in the US) you may be paying more than you have to. The Sewing Machine Hospital on Merivale Rd in Ottawa that I took my machine to had stuff like buttons, needles, and blades for my rotary cutter that were 50% less than the same items at FabricLand!!! The man who I spoke to there is also an independent shop owner so I’d much rather support him and his ability to find the missing piece for my walking foot! He said it’s totally common for larger stores to triple the cost of items since they get people in with big coupons and sales and have to make up the money somewhere. So, support your local sewing machine repair shop!]
Action shot! Tried to get one of her gazing lovingly and full of admiration at it but it didn’t happen
Overall this project was really enjoyable and I’m glad I took the plunge! It definitely took a lot of hours and the hand stitching part at the end was pretty time consuming, but I didn’t want a visible seam around the perimeter so it had to happen.
Done! Proud of my hard work!
Have you tackled a quilt project? Now that I’ve finished this one I must admit, I want to do another!