Monday, 1 July 2013

Wonky Patchwork and my first ever quilt

This is my first ever blog post and is feeling a little scary!

I'm a Mum of 4 lovely children and, although I've done lots of interesting bits and pieces since becoming a parent, I've managed to avoid going out into the workplace proper for the last 12 years while I've, pretty much continually, had a child of pre-school age at home. BUT my littlest baby is starting school in September and my thoughts have recently turned to what I'm going to do with myself.

I have a passion for "creating", more often than not this involves sewing, and my favourite thing to create would have to be a patchwork quilt. But as well as sewing I love working with wood, buttons, beads, jewellery making, cooking, decoupage... , anything really where the end result is something that I've made(ideally something beautiful or delicious or at the very least practical!), something that gives me a sense of satisfaction.

As much as I love being a parent I'm sure anyone who has young children will know that there are times when it's stressful and that it's very easy to lose your sense of yourself. Time spent creating things is my therapy time, it's time for "me" and if I don't get it I become very ratty!

I am also just slightly addicted to rummaging around charity shops and, partly as a result of this, I have an embarrassingly large stash of fabric and other crafty supplies. Unless I crack this addiction (highly unlikely I think), I need to find a better way of getting some of the fabric etc out of the house before we literally can't get in the front door - as opposed to currently just not being able to open several cupboards/wardrobes because of the piles of lovely fabric in front of them as well as inside.

So to get to the point, after reviewing various work options that would give me the time and flexibility to still put my children first (especially during school holidays), I've decided that the answer to all my problems is to try and make my passion for creating into more than just my hobby and my therapy, and to try and somehow make it into my "work" as well. I really don't know whether this will be successful. From dabbling in various craft markets/fairs I know that it's very hard to make any money from handmade items when you look at the time that you've put into it. And although I'm not looking to make my fortune here, just a little bit of an income would be lovely. But I feel like I have to give it a go, and a blog feels like the right first step.

I love a good craft blog (although I find my most creative weeks are often those when I spend least time at a computer!) and, although I feel a bit that I'm coming to the craft blogging party a little late, I'm hoping I can still add something. I'm hoping that sharing my projects will help plant ideas and get your creative juices flowing the way that my favourite blogs do mine. I'm sure that my blog will have a definite patchwork slant but I'm also planning on including lots of other craft projects and ideas as well as some cooking and probably, knowing me, quite a few charity shop finds and child related crafts.

So why "Wonky Patchwork"? For me, my love of patchwork isn't about making a technically brilliant quilt. I don't tend to have the time or patience for that. It's all about creating something beautiful with a mix of colours and patterns and shapes. Especially if it involves using "thrifted" materials, giving new life to something a bit old and dated. There are some amazing new, designer fabrics out there and some incredibly talented quilters who make jaw droppingly gorgeous quilts from them. But this isn't the kind of challenge I most like from quilt making (which is good because I couldn't afford an addiction to new, designer fabric!). It would be difficult for anyone, with a moderate level of skill on a sewing machine, not to make a beautiful quilt if they start off with a beautiful stack of fabric - like this maybe...

(Amy Butler Soul Blossom)

Which is not to take away anything from quilters who do use such gorgeous fabric, I'm sure their sewing skills are generally far better than mine, obviously there is still an important design element and there are many other challenges in making such a quilt - like accurate cutting and piecing. It's just that for me, I really get my quilting buzz in a different way and, I'm sorry to say, accurate cutting and piecing aren't always a high priority! So I do sometimes end up with "wonky" patchwork, which for me personally adds extra individuality! My first patchwork quilt that I ever made is a perfect example of this.

I love it and am very proud of it but if you look closely you'll see very few of my "squares" match up perfectly, some are way off! I have got a lot less wonky with time, sometimes I'll make a quilt that isn't wonky at all but I do prefer a bit of higgledy piggledness where possible!

I remember my Mum discovered a love of quilting, probably when I was about 10 I would say (I'll show you some of her quilts another time), so I was very aware of quilting and already had a love of patchwork quilts, but I had never actually made one myself before this one. I was inspired to try after watching Kirsty Allsopp's Homemade Home, where she had a go at making one for her children, and I loved the end result. It was a colourful mix of different patterns and wasn't the kind of quilt I'd really seen before.

I think this might be it??? Certainly something similar anyway and I was hooked.

I decided I had to make one for my little girl. I was about 6 months pregnant at the time and I'm sure nesting hormones had something to do with it and also the fact that she was still in our bedroom and I really wanted to tempt her into her own room before the baby arrived! She wanted a "butterfly room" so it had to be a butterfly quilt, and she loves her pinks and purples and girlie colours. I machine appliqued butterflies on to lots of squares first, some of them set at an angle to add a bit more interest to my final design.

Quite a lot of the fabric I used came from my Mum's old scraps or from old dresses and clothes generally, some of it I bought new and some of it I had already found in Charity shops. I love this blue fabric for instance which was a, slightly worn in places, duvet cover I found.

I got it finished when I was about 40 weeks pregnant and my little girl and I both loved it, but then almost immediately I had a teeny, tiny baby to look after and didn't get back to patchwork for quite a while. As my littlest one has got older and more independent I've done more and more patchwork, mainly as presents for family and I'll share more of my other quilts with you in future posts, but this one (hopefully mainly because it's the first post!) is already far too long! Please come back and read some more again.
Back soon, Sally.
PS If you feel like adding pictures of your first ever quilts I'd love to see them.

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