This week is my little sister’s 50th birthday, she is a very special ‘little sister’ to all of us, including my husband. I think we practised our parenting skills with her when we were a very young couple. It was very much the on ‘up-side’ of parenting with holiday days out and visits but I hope she thinks we did a good job. However well we did I think that it made our relationship a very close one. When I set about choosing a birthday present it had to be very personal and (at the risk of getting a little soppy) a real expression of sisterly love. It made most sense for me to spend time planning and making my gift and so it had to be a quilt.
I wanted the quilt to have a really modern look and, of course, I wanted it to look spectacular. Just having moved and with a birthday close to Christmas time came fairly high in my thinking. So it was serendipitous that I fell upon a free pattern from McCalls. It was the Urban Neighbourhood Quilt and you can find it here. It is designed by Konda Luckau of Moose on the Porch quilts whose blog I just happen to follow! I just loved the design and the colours immediately struck a chord as my sister loves grey.
I was going to choose two shades of grey for the main colours but when I went off to Lampeter shopping for fabrics and looked at the range of solids I loved the aqua and with one of the Kaffe Fasset fabrics I’d chosen I thought that the grey, white and aqua would just sing combined with the patterned centres of the blocks (a random selection but incorporating another favourite designer, Kate Spain). As it turns out I’m thrilled with the colours.
Cutting took a while but doing it all first and laying out the pieces made for very speedy piecing. Being able to leave everything just where I was the best. I love my new craft space.
Chain-piecing was easy and the blocks grew so quickly.
The blocks were bordered in white to finish them off. It gave them a crisp clean look.
Next laying out the blocks to get a balanced look. I still haven’t ever managed to sew my blocks together in my chosen layout though, no matter how careful I am there seems to be a quilt gremlin who comes along and moves something!
The landing at the new house is a great space for working on the floor. Spacious and with great light from the long window, its comfortable for crawling around on the floor too.
The next step was to piece together each strip then, of course add the sashing to create the whole quilt top.
Now, in the few projects I have done, this is usually where I stop; go on to other projects; deliberate about the backing and generally faff about avoiding backing the quilt. This time this was definitely not an option. Time was of the essence and I just had to get on with it. Urban Neighbourhood is not a small quilt and I was really pleased when I went down to Aberdashery to find that an extra wide roll of batting had just arrived. I had a piece of light teal sheeting I was going to use for the backing and I had incorporated a label block to the corner of this so I set about pinning the sandwich together.
The size also meant I needed a little assistance getting straight lines for the quilting. I used the tape method with numerous rolls of masking tape from Poundland. All that remained was the binding and I was very grateful for Melanie Hughes’ tip on the binding I did find it easier. I even managed the hand stitching in one sitting; one very long sitting!
Well I’m pleased to say I finished comfortably in time and we had a lovely weekend, beginning with going into town for the lantern parade and turning on the Christmas lights on Friday evening. Jeff made fabulous food for us all weekend and a few memories were shared over the wine.
I’m sure Jane will enjoy the rest of her birthday celebrations but I know that the best event of all will be her son James arriving home from Australia for the holidays. She is so excited to be seeing him after two years away. We all are!
Happy Birthday Jane!