Back to The Beginning

Happy New Year, Everyone!

Last year seemed to whizz by and I can’t say that I made the most of it. I am hoping this year will be different.

Here in Scotland we have the tradition of the First Foot at New Year. The first foot is the first person to cross the threshold of your home in the New Year The first foot should come with a gift, which used to be a lump of coal for your fireplace but, with modern heating, this has given way to something more practical like food or a new calendar. The first foot should also bring a bottle as it is not the responsibility of the householder to have a drink ready for you. However, they may have something welcoming to offer, perhaps some oat biscuits and cheese, or some soup. It is considered an honour to be someones first foot and is particularly auspicious if that person happens to be tall and dark. I wonder if there is a similar tradition in other parts of the world. When I lived in Singapore, we would exchange gifts of oranges at Chinese New Year because they symbolised gold and therefore good fortune.

So this New Year, my immediate goal has been to complete as many quilt tops as possible from projects that have been sitting around for years, waiting to get done. When I started my EPP journey about a decade ago, fabric was fairly inexpensive and I planned to make quilts for children. I found designs I liked, bought the fabric to complete the pattern and boxed them all separately. As time went by and my tastes changed I didn’t want to make quilts for children any more. I was more interested in wall quilts, mainly small wall quilts that read as textile pictures and larger wall quilts for bedroom walls. I know I could just put these patterns and the fabrics up for sale on Ebay and get on with what I most want to do in the present, but that’s not me. If I decide I am going to do something I will get it done, even it might not seem remotely sensible to anyone else. So, I have made a start on the first lot of these quilts. I have reduced each of the patterns, so they are not crib or bed sized but small enough to hang on the wall. This should mean I will have the satisfaction of seeing them finished more quickly.

Over Christmas and New Year I began cutting out all the fabric pieces I would need for the first few quilts and collecting the paper shapes required. The plan is to do that for each quilt, so that I can just pick a box and start sewing. This post (rather photo heavy I’m afraid!) is about these first few quilts and where I am with them now.

In addition to these I also have quite a few small quilts (8in/20cm square) sitting about unfinished, the ones I make from scraps, and I finished piecing the top of a few of these over Christmas. The first one is a spring quilt featuring a hare. Isn’t he charming? I think I will embroider him, so that he stands out more. The pattern is a variation of an American block called Prairie Queen.

The second one is a block called Lady Luck, featuring a Great Dane. Unfortunately, the pattern didn’t allow me to lose the cheeky face of another dog peeking in the top left hand corner. I have an idea of how I might disguise this but it needs some thought.

The third was this unicorn quilt. I have a number of unicorn scraps, in blue and in lilac, and I like to find simple patterns to place around them. This block pattern is Salt Water Taffy and is only part pieced, so far. I will probably embroider the unicorn.

Of the children’s quilts the first pattern is ‘Children’s Delight’, from a book by Ursula Reikes called ‘Even More Quilts for Baby’. You will see from the middle picture that I have put a torn paper frame around the upper section to reduce the patten. On the left are the four dogs that will form the larger patches, as well as the fabric I will use in the quilt. The picture on the far right shows the pieces cut and ready to baste around paper shapes. The fabric with bones may become the large outer border.

I have always loved animal quilts so after the dogs I decided there had to be cats. This pattern is ‘Catawampus’, out of a book of children’s quilts called ‘Tuck Me In’ from the editors and contributors of Quiltmaker magazine. The featured fabric is rather a muddy looking design and the cats are bunched together so not very easy to cut out or very clear but I hope it will have a painterly look. Again I have reduced the pattern so that it is just twelve blocks. Photos show the pattern, the cat blocks chosen and the cut pieces along with their papers, ready to sew.

There are more children’s quilts but I will attack them in small groups of three or so, rather then overwhelm myself with too many.

Another of these is ‘Our Neighbourhood’ from a Charm Pack by Moda called Neco. I have mentioned this one in an earlier post as it was about me trying out the use of sashing in a quilt, not easy with English Paper Piecing. Accuracy with long straight strips is difficult, so here I have broken up the long strips into a series of shorter rectangles and squares. There has only been a little more progress with this one, mainly the addition of more cats as cornerstones between the sashing! A delay was caused by having to buy more fabric because I had forgotten that that sashing goes all the way around the outside as well. My dining table is over three feet wide, so this quilt will be about 3 ft x 3 ft 6″ when complete.

Below is a long wall quilt or runner that I started at the end of last year, that I call ‘Little Bothies’. For anyone who is not familiar with bothies, these are small buildings used as shelters, (once used for workers on an estate) left unlocked and available for people to use free of charge, and found in more remote areas of Scotland. You can see from this little quilt how my tastes in fabric have changed from the bright cheerful colours in the children’s quilts to darker, more sophisticated, patterns and shades. All except the top row has been pieced and after I have sewn this on I will add the fabric doors, shown here with bits of white paper and embroider a window either side of it. This quilt will have a double border, a thin solid green one followed by a wider one in a similar fabric to the falling leaves here that represent the skies beyond the rooftops.

Whew! Well that’s it for the moment but there are at least another fifteen quilts to go! What I hope you will take away from the post is: Buy fabric for only one or two projects at a time, however tempted you are, because goals and tastes change and it’s no fun being stuck with fabric and ideas that don’t inspire you anymore. Record what you buy (thank goodness I did this), so if you have to buy more fabric, you can easily look for a match. I was lucky that the ivory solid fabric I was using for ‘Our Neighbourhood’ is always available and that I had just enough cat fabric, otherwise I would have had start again with new sashing.

I am sewing as much as I can this month because our house will go up for sale very shortly and while I show potential buyers around it, I won’t be able to have quilt pieces strewn all over my desk and dining table. They will all be tidied away and I will have to focus on getting us out of here to somewhere new. There will still be time for more posts before I disappear offline for a few weeks, I am sure, and of course I will let you know.

I wonder what you are all doing out there, during the long grey rainy days we have been having this January. Today we have sun and there are signs of snowdrops in the garden, so Spring is not far away!

Til next time…….

The photo at the top of this post is of winter trees in our back garden and beyond. The photo here, at the bottom of the post, is the view from the side of our house across the fields to the hills. These are views I will sorely miss.

2 thoughts on “Back to The Beginning

  1. Vert interesting read ,I wish I could listen to your advice about finishing a project and only buying new fabric for the next project. I’ve at least six boxes of boxes of fabric bought because I liked it with no idea what I would be using it for!!

    One a different note where are you moving to? Your views are to die for but maybe you need to be nearer to a village.


    • Hi Pam, I wonder if there is a difference between collecting fabric you like, in order to select from it in the future, and buying fabric for a specific project which feels like you can’t use it for anything else; where you are sort of stuck with the combination and pattern you have bought. The latter is my problem. But perhaps each is as bad as the other, ha ha. Fabrics and patterns are maddeningly irresistible. I am not sure I’ll be able to follow my own advice!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.