The making of a quilt

There’s a first time for everything!

When I stated making my sidewalk chalk quilt I had no grand plan. For the first time in a long time, I wanted to make a quilt just for the love of the pattern. It felt right to make this patchwork quilt entirely from solid fabrics. I’d never done that before and this became my theme: trying and being inspired by new techniques for the first time.

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I started with a colour palette of Kona solids kindly shared with me by Paula Steel at Sew Yellow. Paula is a brilliant British quilter and pattern designer. She had used these colours in a quilt made with her ‘Peach Kisses’ pattern. It’s a colour combination I could only dream of creating!

I soon realised that the sidewalk chalk pattern would introduce me to half-rectangle triangles. Another first for me! Even as a quilt teacher, I was a little nervous. They seemed tricky and, if I couldn’t get them right, this modern quilting pattern would not work. I needn’t have worried.

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Meghan - the designer from Then Came June - made videos to support the instructions in the pattern which I watched carefully before I started. I think I scrapped one block but the rest of my half-rectangle triangles looked good and were fun to make. With them made, this pattern comes together quickly and easily. Before I knew it, my quilt top was done and then came the procrastination…..

When you first learn to quilt, it’s easy to settle into a creative routine. I tend to make my quilts using the same methods, rarely trying something completely new. I usually hand quilt but I wanted to save some time and show my students that you can machine quilt successfully on a simple home sewing machine. Then I was scared to experiment on a patchwork top that I was really happy with. What if I messed up?

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I got on with pin-basting, as usual, combining my patchwork top with quilters dream cotton wadding and an old remnant of fabric for the backing which is perfect with the Kona solids. I love it when that happens! I planned some very simple straight-line quilting and put it on a shelf where it sat, untouched, for months. And months. Eventually, I accepted that hand-quilting was not what I wanted for this modern quilt. I needed to hook up my walking foot, put on my big-girl pants and get on with it!

Then inspiration struck. Somewhere – probably on Instagram – I saw a quilt with machine quilted straight lines which ran in two different directions. THAT was what I wanted! From there on in, I rolled with the differences. I chose some Aurifil variegated thread (another first) and found a tutorial on Crazy Mom Quilts that would help me start and finish my quilting lines halfway through the quilt, where they changed direction. I was all set except that all my basting pins were in the wrong place. I’d have to stop and start all the time to take them out. So, it was time for yet another first for me: spray basting.

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I’d used 505 spray for small projects before but never a full quilt. Again, I was scared to mess up but I knew that spray basting would make machine quilting easier. I turned to another of my favourite quilt bloggers for a tutorial – this time Cluck Cluck Sew – and got started. It was fine, of course! Not too messy or smelly, pretty fast and I was really impressed with the hold.  Now I could quilt. That was quick too. After all that worrying and waiting, I was almost done.

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To bind this quilt, I made another first-time decision for me and used the same fabric as the backing. I love that fabric and had enough left so, why not? It works perfectly with the solids - I’m so happy with it!

 
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Despite all my indecision and quilting insecurities, this quilt has opened my eyes to new ideas that I’m excited to try again. I’d love to know what you think and whether you have your own creative blind spots. Are there things you want to try but haven’t had the courage to tackle yet? Let me know - I’d love to check in and support you when you do!