The Best Quilts Don't Come From Quilt Shops
Quilts held a special fascination for me as a child, long before the opening of dedicated quilt shops.
All these years later I can still remember ladies quilting, transforming old dresses, curtains and bedspreads into beautiful works of art.
Many of the old-time techniques for quilting have relevance today - particularly in regard to recycling old clothing to make new quilts.
The best quilts don't come from quilt shops - the ones most treasured always come from the fabric of your life!
Quilt patterns for beginner quilters
As a young mother 30 years ago, I created my first quilt from pieces of fabric I found at a garage sale. I made my own simple template from part of a cardboard box and stitched the patchwork quilt together on a borrowed sewing machine.
My second attempt at quilting was a little different. I bought much larger pieces of fabric, borrowed a sewing machine for just one evening and created a very plain and boring bed cover. The shapes and patterns I added later, with a needle and thread.
I couldn't afford a television so I amused myself for many hours, slowly piecing together a bright collage made from recycled baby clothes and few of my own items of clothing. After cutting all the seams away, I ironed the remaining pieces of fabric flat, spread them out on the carpet and looked for inspiration.
Many books and magazines include illustrations of quilt patterns for beginner quilters. If you spot a design that appeals to you, try a small sample piece perhaps the size of a cushion cover before committing to a quilt for a queen size bed.
My first mistake with freestyle quilting was trying to stitch large shapes onto the quilt. I quickly learned that smaller is better and every quilt demands what felt like millions of stitches.
Freestyle patterns take on a life of their own. Once you get started it becomes easier to spot where the next piece of fabric should go, what shape it should be, and which other piece of fabric will look great alongside it.
Quilt patterns don't have to be repetitive. Many quilts present a picture or a story in collage form. Once the image is complete, it can be made more firm and resilient by carefully stitching through all layers with a sewing machine.
Quilts that soothe
A hint of lavender scent can make a quilt additionally attractive (and useful) at bedtime. Just be careful not to make the smell overpowering.
Tuck a small sprig of lavender within the folded quilt while it is not being used, and see how your child responds to the scent when it is time to sleep.
Tips for making the best Baby Quilts
- Make the border soft and cuddly - even if it means adding an extra layer to what could otherwise be a completed quilt.
- Add patches of fabric your child likes to stroke - and make sure you place at least one in an easy to reach position when your tiny tot is tucked up in bed.
- Remember that sometimes your child will be lying on top of the quilt - not just under it. Place soft fabric patches in appropriate positions so they can soothe themselves to sleep while they rest on their quilt on the floor if necessary.
- Choose a pattern or colour for the underneath of the quilt that will not easily show marks and stains. Babies grow into children, so the baby quilt you lovingly create should be designed to meet the needs of a growing child.
- Every baby quilt should be able to withstand a bit of rough handling from kids of all ages. You might be able to discourage older brothers and sisters from playing on the baby's quilt for a while, but sooner or later that quilt will become an active part of older play.
- Toddlers should be able to drag their favourite quilt outside for a spell in the sunshine, slide on it across the floor to follow the spread of their toys, and wrap themselves in it as they make the long, sleepy trip from the car to their bed after a late night at granny's house.
Factor all these things into your baby quilt design.
Quilts for kids
Kids love to snuggle under their favourite quilt. But what makes a quilt a child's favourite?
No doubt the images are important. Popular pictures make anything in a child's bedroom visually attractive.
I believe, however, that the texture and even the smell of a quilt will make even the ugliest images into a much-loved comforter.
Instead of heading to a quilt shop and relying on a standard quilt design featuring cartoon characters, try identifying your child's specific needs - and meeting them.
The award-winning Winnie the Pooh design in the photo, for instance, is a classic example of a quilt that I believe would benefit from the addition of soft shapes or panels every child loves to touch.
In this particular quilt, each blue or pink shape could be a soft one.
If your local quilt shop doesn't sell soft fabric, buy it somewhere else.
Australian Quilt Exhibition
When I first heard an historic town in Australia has an annual 'Airing of the Quilts' event, I decided I would like to go there for a look. This year I went to Braidwood, NSW for their 19th annual Airing of the Quilts.
Quilts dangled from wrought-iron balconies and shop fronts along the length of the main street. Thousands of people had travelled to the town and, for one day at least, it was a bustling metropolis.
The entire town is heritage listed and the architecture is ideally suited to the display of traditional, hand-made quilts.
Braidwood is situated about midway between the coastal resort of Bateman's Bay and Australia's capital city, Canberra so if you have the chance to travel to Braidwood's Airing of the Quilts event next November, you are well positioned to continue your holiday either to the National Museum and other big city venues or in the opposite direction to the beach.
Quilts displayed throughout the townClick thumbnail to view full-size
Airing of the Quilts
A surprising number of locations around the world promote annual Airing of the Quilts as a tourist attraction.
I remember my grandparents used to air their quilts and feather-stuffed bed covers during springtime and summer when I was a child. Bedding would be carried carefully out across the yard and dangled over the orchard fence.
I'm not sure how they'd have felt if complete strangers came to celebrate the event.
When living in the UK, our family had a couple of winter favourites filled with goose down. We'd shake the 'downies' a few times a year to ensure the filling stayed fluffy and was distributed evenly. The children would help by grabbing a corner and fall about laughing as we flapped it so hard it flung from their fingers.
Airing of the quilts is no longer the necessity of yesteryear. Quilts made from strong, colour-safe fabrics can be washed by machine with no danger of the dyes running.
Turn the clock back far enough, however, and airing of the quilts made perfect sense. After spending the time and effort involved in creating a patchwork quilt with a needle and thread, it was madness to suggest ruining the quilt with soap and water.
Sunshine and a strong breeze freshened the quilts before folding and storing them during the summer months.
The best quilts are made from the fabric of your life
Other hubs about quilting by different authors
- How to make a simple patchwork quilt
A first patchwork quilt is a daunting project for many quilters - but it doesn't need to be! You can make a beautiful and functional quilt quickly, by crafting your own block layout, and quilting in a simple design.
- How to Create Your Own Quilt Templates
Add a personal touch to your next quilt and save money by making your own quilt templates. It is fast and easy with these instructions, photos and video tutorial.
- How to Design an Original Quilt Pattern by Hand
Making an original quilt design can be intimidating, but whether you are new to quilting or a seasoned veteran, designing a quilt by hand is an easy and rewarding process. Just follow the steps in this article and you'll be on your way to creating y
Get creative with your quilts
Whether or not you have quilt shops near your home and can afford to buy new fabrics, quilting is an ideal time to get creative and incorporate discarded fabrics into beautiful new bedding.
© 2013 LongTimeMother