Quilting refers to the process whereby two layers of fabric and a middle layer of padding are sewn together. It has been used in different contexts for different purposes for centuries. In European history, the quilting method was initially used to make garments warmer and thicker. The earliest examples of quilting patchwork bedspreads in England are dated in the early 1700’s, but patchwork quilting is more commonly associated with American history.
My love-affair with quilting began when I watched the movie, How to Make an American Quilt (1995). The movie follows a young lady, Finn, who visits her grandmother for the summer to consider a marriage proposal from her boyfriend and to finish her masters thesis. She discovers that her grandmother’s quilting group are making her a quilt for her wedding. The theme of the quilt is “Where Love Resides”, and the patchwork comes to represent each of the stories of love from the different ladies who contribute to the quilt.
What I loved most about the concept behind the movie, is that these women weave their lives and their experiences into this quilt, which they then pass on to the next generation. The gift of the quilt becomes a tangible event to represent the passing down of stories, advice, and wisdom from the previous generation. The patchwork becomes a visual representation of these womens’ stories.
When I was pregnant with my first child, I decided that this was something I would like to do for my own children, and now, 14 years later, I am still at it!
My Latest Quilting Project
I have just finished making a small quilt to use in our lounge room as a throw rug. It is actually a “quillow”, which is a quilt that can be turned into a pillow (or in this case, a cushion).
In order to make it cheaper, I decided I would limit myself to using the scraps of material I had left over in my fabric box. One of the problems was that none of it really matched, so in the end I picked a design that would allow me to use two types of matching fabric and make a square out of them. This meant that I ended up with a lot of squares that looked fine on their own. Then, in order to make a more cohesive design, I joined them together on a background of the same material, which helped to “marry” the squares together in the design.
Then I embroidered the names of all of our family members on the different squares, as this quilt will sit on our lounge for everyone to use in the colder months of the year.
I made a nice square to have as a cushion cover, and sewed it face down on the wrong side of the quilt to form a pocket.
The quilt is then folded to fit into the pocket. The pocket is turned inside out to hold the quilt, revealing the decorative square and forming a cushion.
It ended up costing me about $90 AUD for the backing material, the bamboo wadding, and the binding, where I would usually spend about $300 on the materials for a quilt. I am quite pleased with it!
One thing my husband really likes about the “quillow” is that the pocket is also very useful for putting feet into while watching TV, keeping them toasty warm!
My Other Quilts
I have 5 children and have intended to make them all a single-bed patchwork quilt. Unfortunately, I thought it would be so romantic to handstitch them all. I pictured myself by the fire, leaning over my needlework, sewing my life into my childrens’ quilts! The very image of domestic bliss! This ideal ground gradually to a halt when my first quilt for my first son took 9 years to finish, with over 1000 pieces!
My second quilt, for my next daughter, has taken almost 7 years and I am still not finished! I still have 19 squares to put together!
Considering that this “Quillow” took me three days to patch together on the sewing machine, and then two days to machine quilt and bind, I am seriously considering giving up on my romantic ideals of handsewing quilts just so that I will be able to complete all these family heirlooms before I am 80!
Do you like patchwork? Its my cup of tea!
Sources and Relevant Links
How to Make an American Quilt (1995) – the movie
How to make a Quilt – a useful website for beginners
How to make a Quillow – a blog tutorial