I’ve always been of the opinion that wedding lists (indeed, wishlists in general), are really only for use by people who don’t actually know the couple (or person) especially well. And also to prevent couples from ending up with five identical toasters from well-meaning distant relatives. Thus, when my sister announced she was getting married, I started plotting something a bit more personal, something not stocked by John Lewis – a hand-made Wedding quilt.
There was a stumbling block to this plan, though – my almost total lack of knowledge about patchwork and quilting, bar an afternoon session in a now-extinct patchwork shop in Newcastle Emlyn and a slight history of dressmaking. Being keen is no replacement for being competent, but that’s never stopped me before. I looked up some possible patterns for blocks and this tutorial caught my eye. Pretty straightforward, no tricky curves, definitely do-able. I roughed out an initial design (heart blocks alternating with cream rail fence blocks and surrounded by sashing strips) to get an idea of how big it might be and how much fabric I might need and then, while I practiced my piecing skills on my Bargello, I wildly over-bought red, pink and cream fabrics from ebay and a diverse range of fabric shops, so much so that I am not anticipating EVER running out!
The actual wedding itself loomed, arrived and passed without me managing to even set rotary cutter to fabric. We settled for the Wedding quilt happening once I’d acquired the necessary confidence and aptitude to tackle it, and so my mini-mountain of pink, red and cream was set aside until I started going to Quilt Club in the middle of 2013. When I finally returned to this quilt, I found I’d
lost the original plan changed my mind about the design and been inspired to try the hearts in a Disappearing Nine-Patch design instead:
But with, ummm, less hectic fabric choices. After the comparative success of cutting the squares for my other Disappearing Nine-Patch, I got the bit between my teeth and blazed through a fearsome number of red and pink rectangles and cream squares:
In my excitement, I inadvertently doubled the number of rectangles I needed, so I could potentially make this quilt twice over if I wanted (I don’t want). But at least I have extra if I feel the quilt needs more blocks than originally planned (it might). You can see some completed heart blocks there too, plus squares of cream-and-gold that will end up being rectangles and squiggly biscuit fabric that will be the centre of the nine-patch before it disappears. (If the cream-and-gold seems familiar, that’s because I bought loads of it for this project, cut out the squares I needed and discovered I still had loads so it got used in Christmas presents too. But it’s such a useful fabric that I don’t mind having so much.) I drew diagonal pencil lines on the smaller cream squares to help me sew them straight – there’s not a huge margin for error when assembling the blocks. Each heart is assembled with all corners being the same fabric (different fabrics for different hearts) because I think it looks more elegant than a completely scrappy look.
Piecing the hearts has turned out to be more of a challenge than I expected (and not nearly as quick and easy as advertised, though perhaps they’re just quicker and easier than other heart designs…). Being a good little amateur patchworker, I’d prewashed all my fabrics and they’d all lost the “stiff” feel that new fabric has. It turned out to be a mistake because some of the fabrics are quite flimsy and stretchy on the bias, and look where I have to sew them! After a number of experiments to try and avoid severe bias stretch (starch turned out to be a bad idea), I’ve ended up having to piece them on foundations of tissue paper. This stops the fabric stretching and distorting. It also took me several goes to develop a system for pressing the seams that worked for me. The result of all this is that heart block production is slow and surprisingly wearying. After several Quilt Club sessions in which I’d done nothing but sew hearts and perhaps completed 3-5 blocks in a day, it was becoming disheartening (ha!), so I did this: