Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Jigsaw Quilt

So Jigsaw Quilt was my second quilty creation and was made for my Sister, Tozzi (not her real name!). I made it using a Jelly Roll that I ordered online from Doughty's. I saw the Jelly Roll and thought it would be perfect for a quilt for her as it was beautiful rainbowy colours. It ended up being a lot less rainbowy than I imagined (not the jelly roll, the quilt!).

I had spent quite a while Googling "Jelly Roll Quilts" after it actually arrived because I was suddenly struck with the thought "What the hell am I going to do with this?". I stumbled across a lovely picture of a quilt that looked like it was made up of jigsaw pieces - I believe it can be found here - and decided to give that a go. 

As my first quilt hadn't involved any need to lay out the pieces (due to my lovely map) I wasn't sure where to start with deciding where things were going to go. I was having a casual browse at the local fabric shop and spotted a special sheet for laying out quilt pieces. I thought to myself "Why do I need a special sheet? I'll just use an old sheet from at home." Well that didn't go too well as I ended up crawling around the floor while the dog tried to bite my nose (If you are on the floor, you must be trying to play!). I think I laid out about 10 pieces before I gave up on that one!

I decided to head back to the shop and invest in the special sheet. I'm really glad I made that decision now as it means I can pack everything away when I run out of energy mid-sew and not worry that the dog will jump all over it and steal bits of fabric. I can't remember what it was called or who makes it but its basically a sheet of fabric that other fabrics will temporarily attach to without any need for pins or glue! It comes with a huge sheet of slightly waxy paper that you put over the fabrics before you fold it up (so you don't end up with fabrics stuck to the wrong side of the sheet when you unfold it!).

I laid out the strips and squares that I had made but couldn't really find a way to do it that I liked, so I ended up moving things around a lot (which was a lot easier with the sheet thingy on a double bed so the dog couldn't steal my nose!) and eventually gave up and folded it all away. When I came back to it several weeks later I decided that actually it looked ok apart from a few parts where there were samey colours together so I sorted that out and I had my layout!

It sewed together pretty quickly and with only a few errors along the way (sewing along the rows and putting things the wrong way up was the main issue I had!) and pretty soon I had myself a (rather small) quilt top. 

I then decided to try my hand at a border to make it a useable size. I didn't really plan the border other than "I want this quilt to be big", which may have been a mistake now that I look back on it! I happily sewed it on, not really knowing what I was doing. Once it was all done I popped it into the washing machine. I was horrified (how naive!) upon removing the quilt to find that the black border fabric had greyed all the beautiful rainbowy colours, and that all the oranges were now dingy brown! I was so upset! All that hard work and I'd ruined it simply by not prewashing!

After the heartbreak I set about making my "quilt sandwich". This was a lot trickier than with my first quilt, mainly because the first quilt is about the size of a long single duvet and this was more of a double bed size. So the quilt sandwich making involved clearing most of the furniture in our living room up to one end and crawling about (I am not a natural crawler!) all over the place to spray baste it.So eventually I finished up with all the crawling and the quilt sandwich was ready! Hurrah! 

Whilst pootling about on the internet I had found some quilting templates. I found one that reminded me of waves and thought it would be perfect for my border! What I didn't really think about when I bought it was how I was going to get this lovely looking stencil stitched nicely onto the quilt. As I had only ever machine quilted in (not so) straight lines I thought machine quilting would probably not be the answer to my conundrum, so I decided to hand quilt it.

The thought of hand quilting terrified me to start with, but naturally the wonderful world of quilty bloggers sorted me out on that one! Nothing to worry about! So I popped down to the shop and bought thimbles, needles, thread etc. and returned home to get stuck in. I decided to stitch in the ditch around all the puzzle pieces in the main part of the quilt. I set about trying to use the thimble I had bought. I didn't realise anything in the world could be as complicated as trying to use a thimble! My finger just couldn't get in the right place to actually use it so I gave up on that after many frustrated minutes! I spent quite a while looking it up online and still was none the wiser as to how it would actually work. Eventually I stumbled across a blog where the person had the same issue as me (weird fingers, maybe?) and they had eventually found one that they could use. "Hurrah!" I thought and eagerly clicked on the link. Only to find that it could only be bought from Australia. I looked around for a bit longer and eventually decided to just go for it and ordered the thimblelady thimble.

Now, I'm not a very patient person so I decided to carry on hand quilting the jigsaw pieces and hope that the thimble (and accompanying book on "how to hand quilt without pain") arrived before I got to the swirly waves on the border! The result of this is some very large, very wonky hand quilting around the puzzle pieces and it also resulted in a hell of a lot of pain in the muscle below my thumb! The thimble did indeed manage to arrive before I started on the waves and came with a practice pattern for me to try my new thimble out on. I'm very glad it came with the kit as I could see my hand quilting improving very rapidly as I completed it! I can't say that hand quilting is completely pain free with the thimblelady thimble, but there is no way I'd have managed the swirly waves as well as I did without it! 

I think the hand quilting took a couple of weeks to finish (it's very simple hand quilting). My next mistake was about to happen (obviously I didn't know it at the time) when I decided to trim the border down a bit to make the swirly pattern more central in the border. I trimmed off quite a bit and it turns out the quilt is now too short to keep my whole Sister warm at night, giving her either cold feet or cold shoulders. Very upsetting! But on the positive side, a lesson learned (or was it?)!

Lessons learned in the making of this quilt:
  • Prewash fabric!!!
  • Make the quilt to a specific size, and stick to it!
  • How to hand quilt

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