Friday, November 30, 2007

Patchwork

I have always loved patchwork - I guess because you get to use so many fabrics in just one project! The problem for me was the British way of patch-working, with all the paper templates, is so time consuming......

(Taken from 'Collectable Quilts' by Mary Clare Clark.)
So several years ago I enrolled on a patchwork course which taught the American method. The shapes are cut from the fabrics to including a small seam allowance. They can then be joined up on the sewing machine or using a small hand running stitch.

Luckily for me there is a shop in Bath which regularly imports fabrics from the States. They also run the courses in a studio at the back of the shop. (If ever you have the chance to go, it is an Aladdin's cave for the fabricaholic! It is called 'Country Threads' and is in Pierrepont Place.) Every week we were shown a new block to create, each one getting more and more complex. At the end of the course I had completed all of my 12 block which was enough to make a quilt large enough for a single bed.

I chose a fabulous collection of American folk art fabrics. They featured apple pickers, grist mills and lots of black cats! The first square is called 'tumbling blocks' made from diamond shapes - I tried to make mine look like crates full of sliced apples. The second is 'pinwheel' - I had to take care to make sure that the little figures on the fabric all stood up straight - I didn't want them upside down on the finished quilt!

I think the third block was my version of an eight pointed star! - I'm sure more proficient patchworkers will correct me if I'm wrong! This is followed by a traditional 'log cabin', which should be dark on one side and light on the other - if you were to make a whole quilt made up of log cabin blocks, you start to create patterns within patterns - they can be stunning.
At the time I had a real love for all the muted colours of the country style fabrics. I used a beautiful fabric range that was designed by a very talented American folk art artist. (Could it have been Carol Endres? I'm sure some of you American gals could tell me.)
The little Amish style people are delightful. As you can see, I finally finished putting my quilt together, with its layer of batting and quilt stitches in July 1999.
The following year I enrolled on another course. This time it was to produce a smaller lap quilt made from soft cotton flannel. I continued with my folk art theme and produced this quilt.

It is a basic log cabin design, with the centre squares each featuring charming houses in an embroidered sampler style.

If I remember correctly, a one metre length of the house fabric gave just enough of them to complete the quilt.

I backed it in a sweet cross-stitch alphabet printed flannel - this is such a cosy and soft lap quilt - perfect for the winter months, snuggled in an arm chair.

The little heart wall hanging was quick and easy to make from homespun checks.
I haven't actually made any other patchwork quilts for a while. I did start another flannel quilt made up of lines of little houses, which resemble seaside beach huts. I don't like to start a project and not see it completed, so I think I may try to finish this over the Christmas holidays.

My own home has moved on from the homespun/country look, but I do still have soft spot for it and all things Shaker inspired. When my daughters leave home, I think I will decorate one of the bedrooms in this style, with my quilts and some rustic country furniture. It should make for a comfy and fun spare room for them to stay in when they come home.
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Happy St. Andrew's Day to all of my Scottish friends!
And I hope everyone has a lovely weekend, Niki x

17 comments:

  1. What a Lovely Blog you have here.I enjoyed my visit very much!
    Hope you have a Great day.
    Blessins', Lib

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  2. How lovely, Niki! You've done a marvelous job! They do look just like the quilts that are so familiar to me here at home. Funny how here we hunt for English linens and fabrics, and you do the same for American! =)

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  3. Hi Niki, funnily enough I was supposed to go to Marlborough today (to deliver stock) but didn't have my stuff ready in time (guess what, too much time spent blogging!). I didn't hear about the evacuation, but sounds very odd indeed. Maybe I'll find out more when I go tomorrow. What a lovely post about your quilts, you never cease to surprise and delight!
    Lucy

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  4. So pretty Niki!!
    Rosemary

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  5. Hi Niki

    Know the shop well of course, and have purchased plenty over the years! I've never been on any of their courses though, nor have I made a quilt ... yet! A friend and I went on a course in the 1970s in Northampton where we managed to join together a random number of hexagons into what can only be described as an amoeba. I still have it somewhere, and come across it from time to time. Maybe next time I find it I'll try and make something with it!

    Love the Shaker inspirations.

    Sue x

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  6. Your work is beautiful Niki. I remember trying patchwork using the English method and it took forever to make a single bed sized quilt!

    Marie x

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  7. Oh My! What talent!
    I love the log cabin/houses one.
    I wish I had the patience to quilt. I think it would be fun with the endless variety of fabric combinations. ...maybe if I started small.

    Great job!
    Kimberly :)

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  8. Beautiful quilts Niki. I would love to try to make one in the New Year, perhaps it might stop me buying them all the time! Take care
    Ki mx

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  9. Your lovely eiderdown cover arrived yesterday, thank you. It's adorable.

    Your quilts are lovely and I am impressed at how quickly you finished them. I still have a quilt top waiting to be finished that I started over 3 years ago!

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  10. Anonymous12:59 pm

    Gosh, Niki is there no end to your talents? These are lovely, destined to become much loved family heirlooms no doubt.
    Carolyn http://willowhouse.typepad.com
    Sorry had to comment as anonymous as Blogger seems to have changed it's comment function.

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  11. Hello Niki
    You must have endless patience and lots of skill to make such an elaborate piece of work.. fantastic!
    Lucky daughters to have such a talented and thoughtful Mum.

    I hope you have shaken off the winter bug and feel much better today.
    Love
    Michelex

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  12. Just love the quilts. I live right outside of Amish Land (Lancaster PA) and yours are every bit if not nicer then there.What talent to be able to do that

    Dona

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  13. Piecing and quilting sure takes patience, doesn't it???
    I have always loved the log cabin pattern...as well as dresden plate...and grandma's flower garden...and little postage stamp squares...but like you...I don't have much country primitive around anymore. It would be great to have an old cabin somewhere for those things...saved for weekend outings, wouldn't it?

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  14. Absolutely beautiful!!! I'm In California but of Scottish descent!!
    D.

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  15. Please, please, show when you finish, although Xmas holidays keep busy and you can´t,do it whenever you finish!!
    I´m a quilter too.

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  16. Your quilts are absolutely beautiful!! Thanks for sharing!!
    Amy

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  17. How funny that you're planning your guest room already! Love the sampler quilts. t.x

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Thank you for finding the time to visit me...
Niki xx