After so many hours of preparation, I’ve finally started sewing! I decided that I would split the quilt into 10 sections (a 3×3 grid of appliquéd sections plus another ‘section’ for the decorative edging). Because each section can be done separately, I decided I’d design only one section at a time so I didn’t have to design the entire quilt before starting to sew. It’s easier for me to visualize it in smaller sections. I started by designing the middle section so I could sew from the centre outwards.
The centre section of the original 1851 coverlet features the central panel plus the smallest figures encircling it. The panel is a ready-made octagonal floral panel, and the figures that surround it are hearts and animals, with a pair of hands above.
Since the hearts and hands certainly mean something for any marriage, I have kept them in my reworking of the design, but I will be replacing the animals with some animal figures that are meaningful to us – silhouettes of a few family dogs, some other animals we have had in our lives, and some toy animals that are very special to our four-and-a-half-year-old daughter and therefore play a large part in our lives. I’ve replaced the floral panel with a large number 10 for our 10th anniversary, still in an octagon to preserve the look of the original.
I started the design work by taping six A4 pages together to make a sheet of paper approximately 60×60 cm, which is easy to look at and not too overwhelming to think about. I sketched my design based on the measurements I took of each of the figures on the original quilt. The central panel, for example, was 28×38 cm, according to my notes, so I kept my octagon the same size. The hearts remained the same size (5×5 cm), and the animals (still to come, as I’ve only done half of the design as you can see below) will be similar in size to the original ones they replace. For the hands, I traced my husband’s hands and they turned out to be the exact same size as the hands in the original quilt, 15×25 cm. I’ve turned a horse into an ‘X’ to mean 10. The trees below the octagon will stay the same, but I’m still not sure whether I’m going to change the house into a book or put the book into a different place on the quilt. It’s pretty exciting to be doing the design but it’s definitely the hardest part of any quilt.
Each piece to be appliqued will need to be traced, cut out of paper to make a pattern, and then cut out of a selected shirt fabric leaving enough seam allowance to turn under. It’s amazing how small some of the bits of fabric will be – and I wonder how many other quilts I will be able to make with the 68 shirts I have collected, since there will be plenty left over!
I’ve started on the appliqué work now on the central panel, and I have to say it is a lot faster and easier than I had thought. Because my only experience of hand-sewing is the kantha quilting I am doing for a very colourful quilt I’ve been working on for ages, I thought that it would be hard on my hands. I definitely have to stop after a while when I’m doing the kantha quilt, and sometimes my hand aches afterwards, but I realized that this is because I’m quilting three layers and I’m using a fairly large needle because my quilting thread is flower thread (a discontinued product made by DMC – I received mine as a present from my aunt Janet when I was 17 so they are 26 years old now!). Here’s the kantha quilt with a 10p coin to show the size of the stitches and the thickness of the thread:
And here is the first appliqué I have done for the 10th anniversary quilt, the number 10 on an octagonal background. Working with the smallest needle I could find and a single strand of thread on really well-worn, thin fabrics, I have found this appliqué work much easier than the kantha stitching. I’m really looking forward to working on the rest!
Hours logged to date: 36
Research: 15 hours
Blogging: 5 hours
Fabric preparation: 7 hours
Design: 3 hours
Cutting/patternmaking: 2 hours
Sewing: 4 hours