I have always wanted to try making an American traditional School House quilt, so, after a brief period of R&R after having my stuff on show in a shop, I am trying a few things like this for fun.
I read somewhere that you should never use fabric that was too representational like brick work fabric for the side of a house but I wanted to give it a try and see what I thought about that. I wouldn’t use it again. It does give a harder, flatter look. The whole effect would be much more natural with a neutral background perhaps with a suggestion of bricks embroidered on, or with just a simple, more unexpected print. It’s OK, though. I can live with it.
There are a number of School House patterns with small differences; I chose the simplest. Here it is once I had wrapped fabric around most of my paper pieces and tacked them. The blue fabric I chose for the background, which I thought was pure cotton had a stretchiness to it which proved to be a nightmare when I used it to back the quilt and will be avoiding anything like that in future. I did consider using the blue in the open window and door to suggest a derelict hut but when I tried a sample it looked rather dull. I wanted the inside of the hut to have a sort of magical glow to it.
I started by sewing all the house pieces together.Here is the back (below) It always looks pretty untidy. You could even up all the folded over edges if you wanted to but the back won’t ever be seen so it doesn’t matter really.
After that I added the sky and then the wide border of butterfly fabric that would frame the house and give the quilt it’s name. (The butterfly fabric is from the ‘The Botanist’ fabric range by Lewis and Irene that was launched this year)I had cut out the pieces of the frame and begun to sew them onto the hut before I realised that I should have paid more attention to the pattern so that none of the butterflies were cut in half. It isn’t a good look. Lesson learned.
I didn’t have any more fabric so I couldn’t start again but I did have an idea that might provide a possible solution to the problem.
I cut out a few butterflies from the scraps of left over fabric and attached them to fusible web, planning to applique them on to the quilt to cover the half butterflies. Perhaps even to have one flying past the window. I though it might give the quilt a 3D look. However, I decided it would be too fussy in the end and didn’t use them.
I always get very anxious about making the quilt sandwich and the quilting because I am afraid I’m going to ruin what I’ve already done but it inevitably ends up being the bit I enjoy the most. I suppose it’s because it’s the most creative. For this quilt I mainly used running stitches, in a reddish brown, around the house and the outer edges of the house and the border. I couldn’t think of what to put in the gap between the outer edge and the hut that wouldn’t detract from the butterflies but felt it needed something. So, why not more butterflies? I added a different style of butterfly to each of three corners, in two colours. I felt that might draw the eye away from the seams and half butterflies. Does it work? I’m not sure.
Here is the finished quilt” It’s thirteen and a half inches square.
So that’s my first ever School House. I have two more in the pipeline as well as some new takes on a Log Cabin, one of which I hope to show you very soon.
Till next time…..