Friday, 12 September 2014

Kate's Quilt: A Colourful Journey

One of my oldest friends had her very first baby this summer. I've know her well for 14 years, and of her for longer. I've known her partner for close to 12 years. I didn't stop smiling for at least a week after I heard about the baby, and knew instantly I wanted to make a quilt. I emailed and asked if there was anything they would like or definitely wouldn't like (I definitely went overboard, I made a Pinterest board especially for their baby!), and I was told something colourful and maybe an applique animal. It took me from DC to Houston via Ireland, and Christmas to Easter, to finally come up with a design and fabrics I really loved. In the end simple lines and the rainbow won out! I was majorly inspired by two quilts: Dare to be Different by grapes and hearts; and Don't Worry Be Happy by Carina E-H.

My biggest challenge was deciding on what sort of applique animal to do, I considered owls for a long time, but was won back over to elephants because of the Eames elephant that I know has lived with these two for some years now. My drawing skills are all kinds of atrocious unless it involves a ruler, or a full on doodle, so I totally cheated when it came to drawing up the elephant applique. I bought a giant kid's sketchpad and drew a grid on it, then I found an outline of an elephant on the internet that I kind of liked and placed it over a grid in Adobe Illustrator (though I could have printed it and manually drawn a grid onto it either). Then I just copied from square to square in order to scale up the drawing to the size I needed for the quilt, about 20" x 20".

I made some changes as I went, my elephant has no tail because I wanted to hem it for longevity and I'm really terrible/new at applique and sharp turns and points for a tail were right out. I also made sure his trunk was upwards cos that looked happier to me! I think I got him attached to the backing with no puckers on the first try purely through luck, the sheet I used had a little bit of stretch to it and when I was halfway through I suddenly realised that this could all be about to go to pot. But it didn't, thankfully.

I also tried pin basting for the second time ever, and it went horrifically. Mostly because of the aforementioned stretch in the backing fabric, and a little bit because I need to buy a few more basting pins. So the first few lines of quilting had to be unpicked, then everything unbasted, re-basted with trusty spray and I was on my merry way again. I quilted diagonal lines, the spacing set by the square patchwork section, in a yellow thread. And really, it was very hard to send off by the end.

Don't freak out, some pins had been removed during quilting!

But we took it on a walk early one morning beforehand and had a lot of fun taking photos with it in the Houston sun! If I could change on thing, I would make the binding satin. I searched all the local fabric shops here but I couldn't find a navy satin that was the right colour. They were all too blue, and not dark enough, and the ones that matched had glitter in. So that was just a no. Someday I'll make a baby quilt with a sating binding, and that one will be next to impossible to give away!

Quilt Stats
Size: 42" x 45"
Pattern: My own
Top: Free Spirit Designer Solids
Binding: Kona Solid
Backing: Super soft old white sheet
Batting: Warm & Natural

Linking up, for the first time in a long time, to TGIFF over at Quilt Matters today!


  1. What a gorgeous quilt - the back is just as pretty as the front.

  2. Great quilt. I especially love the elephant. What a great idea!

  3. This is so beautiful and happy! Lucky baby! :)

  4. What a fun, happy quilt! I love the elephant!

  5. Oh I love the baby elephant - super cute with his nose curved like that! Looks really lovely!

  6. That elephant is so stinking cute! Love the bright colours and your design. Beautiful, Aoife! So glad you linked up to TGIFF!


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