Breathing life into my patchwork quilt

Fifteen years ago, before children, I was inspired to make a patchwork. I had images of a beautiful, handsewn patchwork quilt gracing our bed. In our own dream country cottage. I spent evenings cutting up favourite worn-out clothes and dressmaking leftovers. Then I stopped. I know why.

We found our own real-life dream country cottage, which needed so much work done to it. Oh so much work. We spent time doing the basics and there was no time to think about nice-to-dos, like my patchwork quilt. Make the cottage waterproof versus patchwork quilt was never much of a competition. So the patchwork pieces were stowed away….. and left.

Then I read about the Wednesday Hex-along just started. I remembered my bag of hexagons. I thought that I had about 200 hexagons, so surely this would be a good time to end my patchwork hiatus of 15 years. (The cottage is now waterproof and been renovated in so many ways). I dug around my craft area and pulled out the bag. Turns out that my memory is faulty. I had written a note to myself. It says 900 total and 760 loose in the bag.

At some point, I started to join the hexagons up and stopped. I think I was uninspired by the patterns I was making. I need to undo these. I need a new design. So I came up with an idea.

I emptied my 900 hexagons on to the table and waited. As each of the children discovered them, they could not resist arranging them. TF found them first. He tackled the pile by arranging them into matching piles. Being three, he was interested in which pile was biggest. Once order was established, he began his design. I explained that I would like him to build up a pattern for me, because I knew he was good at making patterns. I demonstrated how they fitted together. He instantly decided that he wanted to create a “Teddy Edward flower garden”. (Teddy Edward is his very loved teddy.)

I assume the pieces I had already sewn had reminded him of flowers, as these were his words and not mine. He was adamant that he needed a stem and once I saw it, I couldn’t resist taking a photo of Teddy Edward holding a flower from his garden. He was very precise in his positioning. I did help him complete parts of it, but did not influence his design choices.

When the girls came home from school, they wanted to join in. They dived in. They spent time looking at the fabric that I had used. Hoping I had more of certain ones so that they might use it in their own project. I know where each hexagon came from. I remember the favourite work skirts, the late night dressmaking and shopping trips to Liberty in London.

AJ and BL enjoyed using them to make their patterns. If it wasn’t enough that it provided a wonderful after school calming activity, I also love all the children’s designs. I love the way that they have combined flowery pattern with flowery pattern. I think that this is why I don’t like the ones I have already joined together. I want to be bolder and mix the flowery fabric together.

The children were thrilled when they looked at the photos I had taken of their designs. I also found it easier, through the photos, to spot the parts of their designs that I like. I would definitely use this method again.

My next challenge is to select the pattern combination which will create my dream patchwork quilt. They are hoping that some hexagons will be left over for them to sew.

I’m so glad I let the children play and make their own patterns. They combined in a way that I may not have tried.  Also, it generated a lot more designs than I might have put together. There are elements from all that will feed into the final design. This really will be a family patchwork quilt. Full of love. (But it is still going on my bed!)

Before you imagine that I have been distracted from my knitted blanket project, rest easy. I see them being completed simultaneously. There are times when a sewing project is more appropriate than knitting and vice versa. I wonder which I will finish first. I hope they don’t take another 15 years.

12 thoughts on “Breathing life into my patchwork quilt

  • Tuesday 15 February, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    That sounds so much fun and lovely that the children can join in! I bet they will love showing off ‘their’ squares for years 😀

    • Tuesday 15 February, 2011 at 10:11 pm

      I’m really glad I joined them in. Maybe, just maybe, they’ll help me sew as well.

  • Tuesday 15 February, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    Honestly lady, you amaze me. 🙂 Those little shapes are amazing; I don’t think I’d have the patience to do that. But I certainly admire it.

    • Tuesday 15 February, 2011 at 10:09 pm

      Believe me. It amazes me too. If I started from scratch now, I would be pleased to get to 90 let alone 900. I barely recognise myself. I may have three children now, but I was a busy person back then as well. I do feel fresh enthusiasm to put them together, so maybe I needed 15 years to recover from getting the hexagons ready!

  • Wednesday 16 February, 2011 at 1:21 am

    I remember my mother starting a hexagon quilt when I was in primary school… I wonder what happened to it!!! I have a feeling it is looking very much like yours and in the trunk in her lounge!!! You just reminded me of a time when my mum used to sit and hop and stitch and chop and measure and decide and stitch… I am going to ask her about it next time I see her… thanks for the memory!!!

    • Wednesday 16 February, 2011 at 10:51 am

      🙂 I’m sure that there are many a quilt in pieces, in cupboards and attics around the world. Just waiting to be finished. Love the image of your mother hopping and stitching and chopping. Hope you find it. Fabric can hold such memories.

  • Wednesday 16 February, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    Oh wow! How amazing to dig up a project 15 years later. And a huge one! 900 Hexagons, I’m impressed. I hope you find a pattern that pleases you. I look forward to seeing the quilt ready some day!

    • Wednesday 16 February, 2011 at 3:42 pm

      whisper {there is another patchwork, that you might be able to spot in the background, that came out of the same bag. I started that one about 30 years ago. Not very good at finishing projects! shh! 😳 }

  • Wednesday 16 February, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    Aha! I spotted the other patchwork in the back ground (but only after you mentioned it)

    I have a large bag of patchwork pieces too, stored under my bed. The whole thing is in varying shades of green and cream – and I started cutting the pieces years ago, only to now have a daughter whose very favourite colour is green…so perhaps I should get motivated to put it together.

    After we’ve moved.

    • Thursday 17 February, 2011 at 10:39 am

      You got me! I am not a good completer. Too easily distacted by a new exciting project to start. I’m going to have to make 2011 my finishing WIPs year. I can do it. I CAN do it!

      Hope you find the inspiration to finish your patchwork. The colour combination and shades sound intriguing.

  • Sunday 6 March, 2011 at 10:27 pm

    hi there, i really want to make my own quilt…can you tell me how your hexagon shapes look so neat? no frayed edges at all!! thanks in advance 🙂

    • Monday 7 March, 2011 at 12:43 am

      The edges are folded around the cardboard template, which gives the shape and any frayed edges would be on the wrong side of the quilt. There are loads of tutorials out there. Try One Crafty Mumma. Good luck with your quilt.

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