Tag Archives: quilt

Secret birthday project #1: The Test Card quilt

26 Feb

We spent a lovely day at my parents yesterday, and I got to give dad his birthday presents.

Last year I asked dad for his old work shirts, to make him a quilt. It was just before his birthday and I hadn’t finished my first quilt yet, so I knew I wouldn’t get it done in time. I stuck them in the bottom of the airing cupboard and almost forgot they were there.

Fastforward to a few weeks ago, when my quilting bug struck again, and I found them while digging through fabric for my Village Cricket quilt (for some reason, quilts have to have names in this house).

It seemed rather self indulgent to be making a quilt for me, when I still hadn’t started dad’s so I bit the bullet.

Once I’d cut up the shirts into usable fabric pieces I thought might work together I laid them out, thinking they could be a Log Cabin design (not all of these are his shirts btw).


But I wanted to make a ‘man’ quilt, and this arrangement seemed too fiddly and fussy for dad.

Instead, I settled on a plan of 7in wide squares and rectangles, in a random layout. To break it up a bit I made some 7in square(ish) blocks out of swatches from Deckchair Stripes.

This is what they looked like, nested in the gingham bag they came in. Love it!


I bought a whole pack for £15, which I thought was a bargain for 60 strips, and used about a fifth of them, settling on blues, with a few bright colours.


They’re all named after sports. Darts was my favourite.

A lot of the swatches were wonky, so I did some evening up, being very fussy about squaring off the shapes.


Which left me with this little pretty pile.


Then I sewed them into threes.


And cut them into squares.


The blocks took an afternoon, but were perfect for the bright zings of colour the quilt needed, among the grey, black and dark red check of dad’s shirts.


Then I laid it out, and pieced it in a couple of evenings. And here it is. (Well, the top anyway)

I’ve not finished the quilting yet (luckily, dad is the patient type). I’m using bright blue embroidery thread (DMC 995), again, to add a flash of colour.

It reminded me of the BBC Test Card (although when I looked it up, I thought, not so much actually).

The quilt is backed with a soft flannel sheet so it’s ultra snuggly, and once again, the wadding is good old Bamboo Blend.

He seemed to like it. Yay!

Quilting the easy way. Part two

20 Feb

Turns out I got a little obsessed after I cut out my latest quilt. The next day I pieced the whole thing. Ta da!


I’m not sure I’d recommend doing all this work in one go. By the end I was definitely getting slap dash, and so the finished result is a little, erm, relaxed in terms of how many corners are squared up. Oops.


This was the first time I tried using a quarter inch seam rather than three-eighths. Three-eighths is definitely easier, but the lady at Country Threads was faintly horrified when I suggested going back to a bigger seam allowance. Haha. Turns out, that gets problematic once you’re making more complex blocks as nothing adds up.

But, heck, if it’s just squares I say go with what works for you. My first attempt (using three-eighth seams) was definitely neater.

Anyhoo, I’m onto the quilting now, which is a very nice way to spend an evening in the winter, as sitting under the quilt all evening while you work on it gets seriously warm. I like hand-quilting, as it gives a more uneven, rumpled finish. And it also doesn’t flatten out the quilt the way machine quilting can do.

Lay your backing fabric (mine is a nice old white sheet) down, then your wadding (I use Bamboo Blend, which is really soft) and your quilt top in a sandwich. Your wadding and backing should be about 5cm/2ins wider all round than the top. Smooth the layers out and then safety pin them together.

Start pinning at the centre and work outwards, so you can smooth any wrinkles to the edge of the quilt where, poof! , they vanish. Curved safety pins make getting through all three layers easier. I used normal dressmakers pins on my first quilt, and spent every evening I worked on it stabbing myself accidentally, and picking up pins when I’d finished (and missing one every time).


I use a medium length embroidery needle (nice and sharp) and 4 strands of embroidery thread. I’ve seen 3 strands recommended by Jane Brocket, but 4 is easier, as you can double up two, and use a loop knot to start.

For this quilt I’m using a running stitch and quilting at the end of the squares, in a grid across the quilt, 2 squares apart. I’ve done all the horizontal lines, and once I’ve done the vertical ones I’ll be back to show you my stitching and talk bindings. Ttfn!