To sew this cottage quilt was a lot of fun. Instead of sewing with a specific theme in mind, or for someone else, I allowed myself to be completely free. I wandered the isles of the fabric store and only looked for patterns and colors that called out to me, and I tried to not pay too much attention to whether or not the fabrics matched, even though I unconsciously put all the candidate-fabrics through my mix-and-match formula in the back of my mind.
I was trying hard not to give this quilt a specific design or theme, but I guess you can say that in itself became a theme. Because lately I've been thinking of charming, slightly whimsical and well worn patchworks; quilts that feel bright and clean and incorporate the cottage theme. By giving myself the freedom to pick any fabrics that appealed to me (not trying to go for a theme), I naturally chose pastels, small pattern, floral, gingham etc, so I suppose the non-theme became a clearly stated theme anyway.
This was to be my luxury quilt, my guilty pleasure quilt. Before I started this project I was busy with other sewing projects. And whenever I felt a little tired of them I pictured how freeing it would be to make this quilt, to only go for fabric that I loved. I'm very pleased with how restrained I was with the use of blue here. Usually if I allow myself to go to town and pick up fabrics that I love then 8 out of 10 will be on the blue scale, and most will be stripes. So, I must say I'm quite happy with the the way the color scheme came out. And I went with yellow binding. Yellow! It almost felt a little sneaky, a bit bold, to go for yellow binding. Like the cottage concept was coming through loud and clear, because I went with yellow binding. So unlike me.
In terms of the backing, however, I went with blue. I guess I just couldn't stay away from it. It just went so well with all the other fabrics that I couldn't resist going for it. Even though in the back of my mind I was thinking, should I go for red, or maybe green? Or then again, maybe beige would be a good option? And then it just felt like too many options and possibilities so I went back to basics, blue.
I obviously didn't use a pattern of any kind. My plan was just to cut squares up and combine them in some appealing way. I wanted the blocks to be relatively small, the smaller the better really, but then I also had to be realistic and not make them too tiny, or else the quilt would never be made. I know myself too well, and I didn't want this to become one of those dreaded projects that never got finished.
I started out buying 16 different fabrics, 5/8 of a yard of each. First I was planning on buying 1/2 yard of each, but then I got nervous about shrinkage. I pictured the fabric shrinking down to nothing in the wash, completely irrational of course, leaving me with very little to work with. I also wanted this to be a generously sized queen sized quilt. I have always regretted I didn't make my French country quilt a tad larger, so I wanted to make sure this one was comfortably large. Well, I'm happy I actually bought a little extra because I ended up using every single bit of all the fabric.
In terms of size, I cut all the fabrics 6x6 inches. When I sew like this, I go for more of 1/2 inch seam allowance and not 1/4 like most other quilters do, so the finished blocks ended up more like 5x5.
I'm not sure if this rings true for everyone, but the mixing and matching part of making the top, is oh so consuming. It's a very weird, mental activity. I get very focused on getting it just right and I get very frustrated if I get forced to use any fabric too close over again. It's definitely like laying a puzzle; the first row is easy, but then when you add a second, and then a third then it gets so much more complicated. And really, you're just trying to create a relatively random pattern...
Sewing the top definitely took quite a while, and as I was doing it, I was just happy I hadn't gone with any smaller squares as this took long enough!
At first when I was looking for appropriate backing fabric I was trying to find something that was 90" wide. But, since that selection obviously is pretty tiny, I simply went for an ordinary 45" wide fabric that I doubled up on with a seam in the middle.
This time I used Warm and Natural cotton batting, and I rather liked it. It's quite thick and dense and it just feels substantial.
There is so much pinning involved when making a large quilt! I'm sure those more patient than me pin every single square. I settled on every other square.
When quilting all the layers together I used a walking foot for the first time. I realized after looking through my sewing things that my machine actually came with a walking foot. That said, it must not be of the best quality because I had quite a lot of issues with it. At first I liked the walking foot because it did help to feed all the layers through evenly. But then it started acting up; there was jumping and skipping, and my machine wasn't behaving all that great. After re-attaching the foot and re-threading the machine oh so many times, I'm fairly certain the problem didn't lie there, it must be the walking foot itself. Suffice to say, I'm not sure it really helped me out at the end, so next time I'll either go for a regular foot, or pick up a better model.
Here we have the binding. I used the same steps in creating the binding as I did when sewing the French Country quilt, however this time I cut it 3 inches wide instead of 3 1/2 because I wanted the binding to be a tad more narrow. I also decided to machine stitch the binding this time. It was definitely quicker, but then again my machine wasn't exactly behaving perfectly, so I'm not 100% satisfied with the way the binding came out. It turned out acceptible though, so I decided not to make a big fuss over it.
Here you can see the binding on both sides. Of course if I had used a lighter fabric for the backing, then the stitching would be less noticeable which would probably have been a better idea. I did like how quick it was to machine stitch the binding though, and from the front side, it looks great.
So there you have it. My cottage quilt. It pretty much resembles the image I had in my head before starting which is great.
I couldn't be happier with the fabric combinations and the overall color scheme. It feels happy to me. Cheerful, alive.
I had a little bit of an issue with the quilting aspect and some of the fabric gathered at some of the seams. I'm going to blame my walking foot for that as well as the fact that I can't adjust the pressure of the pressure foot on my machine. Also, the binding is acceptible, but not altogether perfect.
But is it dreamy? Yes.
It's also mesmerizing I think. I can get seriously dizzy looking at it for too long. I never in the past realized dizziness might be an issue with quilts! I'm also starting to think that more is more in terms of fabric. So, if I ever create another one of these, with the same kind of theme, then I think I'll go for even more variation in the fabrics and avoid having most of them repeat too many times.
Until then, I'm quite happy with this one. It was seriously fun to make. Relaxing, thrilling and exciting! With this quilt I mainly wanted it to feel light and cheerful and I think I certainly accomplished that. Every time I look at it I get a bright feeling anticipating spring and summer and lighter days. So perhaps it should be called my summer cottage quilt, or maybe spring-is-closer-than-you-think quilt?
Also read: Quilts & Appreciating Traditional Gender Roles
Coming up Tomorrow: What Equipment Do You Need To Start Quilting?
[Don't miss a post! Subscribe to the Home Project & follow on Twitter: Twitter/The_HomeProject]