Thursday, July 29, 2010

An old favourite

This quilt is not technically my first - but one of the firsts.

I started quilting around about 1995, armed with some strip piecing technique books and a rotary cutter. I bought 'quiltish' looking fabrics (lots of black) at a local dress fabric store and quickly whipped up a mammoth 2.5m square quilt top. I tried to machine quilt it (with a thick polyester batting), abandoned that idea, and then tried to teach myself to hand quilt it (I actually unbasted the quilt and split the batting to make it thinner). That quilt is still basted in the top of the cupboard.

After that I made a cot quilt for a friend expecting her first baby (in 1996). That quilt was made with dressmaking scraps and was hand quilted without a hoop, using a thin polyester batting and buttonhole thread. I don't have a photo of that one.

A couple of years later (around 1999) I discovered quilting shops - not here in Italy, but on a trip home to Melbourne. I signed up for a hand quilting class and quickly stitched together a cushion cover with some Liberty fabrics and muslin. I drew up my own quilting pattern and traced it onto the muslin with pencil (by taping fabric and pattern onto a window).

I will never forget watching my teacher make those first quilting stitches in that muslin, and seeing those stitches make little ripples in the fabric. It was love at first sight. I learnt to stab stitch with a quilting hoop, and I loved stitching that pattern so much that I was sad to see it finished. I never finished the cushion cover but I had enough Liberty fabric left to make this little crib quilt. I bought more muslin and machine stitched this top together. The next year I went back to another quilting class and found the feather cable in a quilting book. I had to adapt the cable to make it fit into the border.

This quilt was started well before I became pregnant with my first child - and wasn't finished until she was going on three (2004)! I remember putting the last stitches in the border, one summer holiday, while my daughter and her father were on an outing together. I enjoyed stitching it so much that I really savoured those last stitches.

I only had just enough fabric left for the binding - that would have had to wait for yet another trip to Australia for a binding lesson. I might have to review my dates for when I finished this!

It is a really peaceful quilt. It usually hangs on the side of our cot, and I can see it from my computer desk.  My second daughter doesn't love it so much, because of the birds. I loved watching my daughters sit in their cot, studying the quilt and noticing the patterns quilted into it. My elder daughter (9) still sleeps under this as an extra layer of warmth on cold nights. I have two quilts, in the quilting stage for her - she really needs something bigger!

The quilt measures 29"x 30". It uses a pre-washed wool/polyester batting (probably Matilda's Own). I would have bought about 25cm (approx. 1/4 yard) of each Liberty fabric, which makes this a very economical quilt.


  1. Beautiful quilting, Alice..and feathers! -- one would never know you were a beginner at the time. I have always loved the look of hand quilting on muslin, and the Liberty fabric is so pretty.

  2. What a sweet quilt! Your quilting is just beautiful. :)