On Making a Bed Quilt

Last week I mentioned that I was wrestling with a large quilt. Well the “fight” is over and now it it happily spread over two single beds which used to be covered with mismatched old quilts. Here’s a quick snapshot, taken mid-paragraph, so that you can see it in the context of this room, bathed in afternoon sunlight, where I am writing.

This quilt is called Hufflepuff and measures 215 x 215 cm (85 x 85 inches). It is made of the black and white fabrics that happened to be in my cupboard. The quilt is backed with the same plain white cotton as was used for the alternating circles. The circles are hand-quilted. This gave enough tension to be able to machine quilt it along the seam lines, in the ditch. This is the quilt’s official biography.

The story behind it is that it was “born” by chance when I started cutting my black and white stash into ten inch blocks during an informal workshop with my quilting friends. They were all busy sewing and I needed something to do. So, without much thought, I pulled out my set of black and whites. Now that the quilt is made, it does mean that my stash of these fabrics is depleted, as is my stock of plain white cotton. I had a goodly stash of the white fabric, which I buy by weight at our local fabric store. (It is the cloth that is used to manufacture the ShweShwe range).

When I had pieced the quilt top I spread it over these two beds to have a good look at it over a large surface and it seemed that the quilt-to-be had marked its spot. That spurred me on to quilt it. I had originally thought to straight-line machine-quilt over the whole piece, but my courage failed me as it is a large quilt to manoeuvre through an ordinary sewing machine with a short arm. My trusted friends offered their online support and “dared” me to leave some puffy bits when I sent a photograph and asked advice on whether or not to close quilt it. I quipped that I thought I would call it Puffy, someone suggested adding Huffy, and so the quilt got its name of Hufflepuff.

Seeing as it is a bed quilt, I told myself, it will be more comfortable if it is not quilted too closely by machine, which gives a stiffer effect than hand quilting. To assuage my conscience at not being prepared to quilt those 7200 square inches by hand, I did quilt one of the circles. I used royal blue thread to tie in with the blue binding. It was The Woodworker who suggested the layout for the half circles that form the border to the quilt. He has a good eye.

Here are some technical details, for those who may be interested. The founding block was a quarter circle square (QCS), which started out as a ten inch square. I used Jan Mullen’s stack, slash, and switch method to make the QCSs, except that I did draw around a cardboard template of the quarter circle as my freehand curves end up boxy rather than nice and curvey. I marked the centre on the template and transferred this mark to the fabric, so it was was easy to match the centres in order to sew the curves. To be more precise, the method was:

  • stack eight 10″ squares, with every second square being the white fabric
  • lay the quarter circle template flush with the right angle at bottom left
  • draw around the curved edge on the top block and mark the centre with a small line
  • cut the curve through the eight blocks with your rotary cutter
  • shift half of the top block to the bottom of the pile (this is where the switch happens)
  • mark the centre on the next block, match the centres, pin, sew
  • (it does not matter if the convex and concave seams do not match neatly at the ends)
  • repeat for the next set, until all the sections have been sewn together
  • square off (you will lose up to an inch in the squaring off)

It’s so much easier to demonstrate how to make a block than it is to try and explain it in writing. I am aware that there are many ways to make up a block. This was the method that I found easiest, after some trial and error.

19 thoughts on “On Making a Bed Quilt

  1. Thanks K! Perhaps when lockdown is over we should lay on the champagne and all parade in our various completed and new quilts. We can also wear the masks we have made! Two weeks to go and counting the days

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  2. You must have put plenty of time and patience in doing that beautiful quilt. I like to learn how to do it. Making quilt is not part of what we have grown here in the Philippines.
    By the way, I am a new blogger and I just recently, I made a challenge to myself. For the next 21 days I will be visiting blog put its blog link on my blog. I hope you can support me this.
    I also followed your blog.

    Like

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