Thursday, April 21, 2011

Fairytale Patchwork for Quiltstory

This picture (finally) brought to you by the inspiration of Quiltstory!

I can't believe I never got my act together and took a finished picture of this quilt!  When Heather and Megan of Quiltstory asked to feature Fairytale Patchwork, it was the push I needed to get it done.  So, welcome to Aria's room!

Do any of you remember this quilt?  I made it last summer for my daughter, inspired by my wildflower curtains (there in the background) and Heather Ross' simply stunning Far Far Away collection (FFA1 on double cotton gauze).  The Far Far Away unicorns had my heart on first glance, and Aria was starry eyed over the Princess and the Pea!

Far, Far Away - Purple Unicorn

Combined with Anna Maria Horner Little Folks Voile and a few Good Folks, this stack of fabrics was sooo invitingly plush and silky.  Fabric heaven!  Still, I was a little nervous to cut into them, being so pricey and all, which is why I did a mock up of my quilt layout like this:

12" blocks, 2.5" sashing

The quilt design was inspired by Lauren's quilt for her daughter, Mira.  I added the occasional pieced block, to accommodate the tall pattern repeat of those picky princesses. 

Princess Block layout

And sashed the whole thing in natural linen (rather than white or pink), in hopes that the linen would temper the uber-girlishness of these fabrics.  Because, ya know, I'm hoping Aria will love this look for years to come!

Fairytale Quilt Over a branch

Piecing this quilt top was a breeze, even with a near-shocking interruption, thanks to the large cuts and simple design.  And, I'm still such a fan of that approach!  Large cuts really allow my eyes to appreciate the fabrics. Simple is beautiful.  Simple is fast. Simple is fun.  Yeah for simple!!!

Fairytale Quilt Top from the grass
Fairytale Snapshots from atop my Dogwood Tree!

And then this new quilter was faced with the problem of quilting and binding this pretty young thing.  Gulp.  First off, I decided to skip binding.  This quilt already had a linen edge border and I wasn't keen on hand-sewing so much binding.  I did right sides together, sew, turn right side out and close up edge.  Quick and painless.  I'd do it again!

For quilting, I tried machine quilting straight diagonal lines.  Marked them with ruler-drawn lines, marked them with masking tape - nothing worked!  It may have been my lack of experience or it may have been the slippery fabrics, but I couldn't stitch straight lines on this for the life of me.  Frustrating and sad.

Though in retrospect, it was just not meant to be. Hand-quilting was the absolutely delicious alternative!

Hand quilting - Diamond Mine

Hand quilting - Dobby Dots

Hand quilting - Princess Strips

I started work with needle and pearl cotton thread. And, oh my, how I enjoyed hand quilting Aria's Fairytale Patchwork quilt!  The entire process was so relaxing and satisfying, especially experimenting with different quilting patterns.  Here are a few more.

Quilted Diamonds

This pattern, quilted diamonds, ended up being my favorite style for quilting on the Princess and the Pea blocks.  It looks especially nice on this Diamond Mine (from Anna Maria Horner's Little Folks collection) block, which actually inspired the quilting pattern.

Quilted Star

Here's another fun one.  I only used this star pattern on a few unicorn blocks, as I came to the idea a bit late in the game.  I like how it works with the layout of the print!

Quilted Frame

And, a simple pattern.  It creates a clean-lined, understated effect that works on almost any block.

I've been asked how long the hand quilting takes.  Let me start by saying that 95% of the time, I was stitching while watching a show with my husband.  So, given frequent breaks to watch the screen and an overall level of comfortable distraction, each block took me about 45 minutes to complete.  I would begin a block by marking my stitch lines with a chaco pen, and then carefully centering the block in my quilting frame.   On the few occasions that I stitched sans TV, the work came along much faster.

All too soon, I had completed all 26 blocks.   The overall effect is fairly random, since I varied the quilting patterns enough so that no 2 touching blocks share the same pattern.  I reasoned that this sparse quilting pattern was "enough" since I had used a repurposed blanket for batting, which wasn't going to fall apart or bunch up within the quilt. 

But I'm not perfect, and it wasn't enough.  If you were reading Stitched in Color in December, you may remember my confession post, Sew Imperfect.   Here's what happened...

Week Seams

Weak Seams.  I had to wash Aria's Fairytale Patchwork Quilt recently for the 3rd or so time.  One of the children found a hole in the quilt top along the seam soon thereafter.  When I went to repair it, I noticed that several (and one was too many) of the seams were coming open.  Only the Far Far Away gauze and Little Folks voile were effected.  The sturdier quilting cotton seams showed no wear.  It's not as if the stitches actually came undone.  Instead the fabric frayed away.  What did I do wrong?  I wonder if a 1/4" seam allowance was not generous enough or if the fact that I only sparingly hand-quilted it just didn't give it enough strength to withstand normal pulling.  Ugh.  So, my solution was to zigzag quilt around most of the gauze and voile squares to close up opening seams and reinforce the others.  I'll confess, that was not a happy sewing morning.

Your kind comments on that post included so many suggestions for working with delicate fabrics like voile, including using interfacing and a wider seam allowance.  If I were to do it again, I might go that route, but I'm more likely to just avoid quilting with voile in the future.  Not that I think it's unwise or impossible, just that I'd rather save voile for projects that capitalize on it's lovely, drapey, silky properties such as clothes-making or a simple flannel-backed baby blanket a la Anna Maria Horner. 

Since the December incident, Fairytale Patchwork has held up beautifully and it's been enjoyed everyday.  I made Aria a matching pillowcase too!  It's such a privilege to be able to make these beautiful things for my daughter and so rewarding to express my love and creativity in this kind of tangible, practical way.

I bet you know exactly what I mean!

Fairytale Patchwork for Quilt Story

Thank-you, Quiltstory, for prompting me to share my journey with this project!


  1. I love this! The addition of the grey linen just brings it down from its pinky-girly-ness and makes it into something she could have on her bed as she gets older too. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Wow, it's stunning. It's such an inspirational quilt and the handquilting is lovely. I can't imagine hand quilting an entire quilt - I mean, how do you tie off all the ends??

  3. Lovely quilt, curtain, and daughter! Thanks for sharing all that!

  4. Well, you have to pop the ends through to the center of the quilt as you start and stop each line. It is time consuming, but I loved it! Haven't done it again yet... You can see a detailed hand-quilting tutorial on Anna Maria Horner's blog.

  5. Oh my gosh! It's perfect. So so beautiful.

  6. Love it! The quilt is so beautiful and perfect for showcasing the beautiful fabric. The hand quilting & hand embroidery make it so special!

  7. gee I'm surprised that came apart. Dumb question - but I assume you wash on the gentlest cycle or hand soak it in the tub?

    Yes - love that curtain too! ; )

    ~Monika in Canada

  8. What a beautiful quilt! The genius of simplicity! Lucky girl (and lovely too)

  9. So sorry you had to go back and do more stitching- that must have been an unhappy bummer. The quilt is lovely. I love the princess and the pea. Lovely!

  10. It is such a beautiful quilt! I love that kind of simple design, and the hand quilting adds such a beautiful, heartfelt touch. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Gorgeous Quilt!!! I love it and the hand quilting is perfect for it. So I think I know why you have the seam issues... The linen fabric is a much heavier fabric with a larger weave, when you wash the quilt the heavier fabric pulls on the seams of the finer fabrics. Also since I don't think you put batting in the quilt the seams are rubbing agains the backing as well. Linen is also a stronger fiber than cotton so it is kinda like washing jeans with a fine silk blouse. Basically, to keep this from happening you would have needed a lighter weight fabric for the sashing. But it is a live and learn kinda thing, and in the process you have a beautiful quilt!

  12. Ooh, really good point, Emily. Thanks so much for taking the time to explain!

  13. Oh, Rachel, you are so amazing! You have an incredible eye for color and I just LOVE this quilt. Thanks for linking to Mira's quilt too, it warms my heart that it inspired you. Now I must try the hand quilting- yours is so beautiful and adds such a wonderful detail. Brava! Again!

  14. I have to say my very favorite quilts seem to be the ones where the fabric really shines -- this quilt is at the top of that list! The fabrics, the colors, the linen -- Perfection!

    I have been wanting to make something Princess and the Pea for Haila -- I dream of making a game with a doll, pea, and several mini quilts. I'll probably just make a pillow! Ha!

  15. What a lovely quilt and I do hope your daughter treasures it even if it does wear a bit over the years. And I especailly love that princess and pea fabric.

  16. my daughter (6) would love this quilt! it really is beautiful!

  17. hummm, thanks for blogging all this...I have a stash of the same fabrics and was going to use linen for sashing, but now will think it all through a little more. Though I absolutely love the look of this quilt!

  18. todo lo que hacr es mavilloso igual que sus hijos son tan hermosos


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