Monday 21 May 2018

Making a Christmas Quilt: Part One

After finishing my patchwork mini squares blanket last month (which was a work-in-progress for six and a half years), I decided to tackle another of my slightly neglected WIPs: the Christmas quilt I'm making for my sister.

My youngest sister loves Christmas so when I spotted a gorgeous collection of Christmas quilting cottons at the Festival of Quilts in 2014, I decided I absolutely had to buy a bunch of the prints and make her something festive. Full of quilt-related enthusiasm after my two days at the Festival, I decided to make her a cosy quilt to curl up under during the holiday season. I decided to hand sew the whole thing, because I love hand-sewing... and also because I haven't used a sewing machine since 1998!

It was going to be a big task, but one I was excited about! I ordered my favourite prints from the collection in August 2014...

... then in the autumn I washed the fabric, ironed it and cut it into squares.

(I still have these scrappy off-cuts in a bag somewhere - they were just too lovely to throw away! I must try to think of a tutorial to make use of them sometime...)

Once I'd cut out the squares I laid them all out on the floor to try out possible layouts for the quilt. It took a while to get a good balance of the prints but I got there in the end.


I spent a lot of hours that winter watching made-for-TV Christmas movies and sewing these squares together. I love made-for-TV Christmas movies, and it turns out that they're the perfect easy background viewing to accompany hand-sewing a quilt. I like to think my choice of viewing also helped infuse the quilt with festive vibes! This sounds a bit ridiculous, I know, but if you can stitch love into something - which I think us makers know we absolutely can - then I'm sure it's possible to stitch in some Christmas spirit along with it.

Because I am an idiot I initially thought I'd be able to put in lots of evenings working on the quilt and have it ready for Christmas 2014. Hahahahahahahaha. This was... not a realistic goal.

When it gradually dawned on me that I wasn't magically going to be able to hand stitch an entire quilt in just a few weeks, I pushed my deadline back to Christmas 2015 then immediately neglected the project in favour of other things (you know how it goes with works-in-progress: always so many distracting projects to work on!).

I picked it back up the following summer, getting all the squares stitched together in rows and making a start on joining the rows together.

By October 2015 I had just two more rows to add - the end was in sight! (Well, the end of this stage of the process was, anyway).

For the first year of working on this project I'd managed to keep it secret from my sister. I'd been tempted to blog about the process as I went along, but decided it was better to keep it Top Secret so I could surprise her at Christmas with a massive parcel full of quilt-y goodness.

Unfortunately, I forgot to properly hide the in-progress quilt one day when she came to visit and of course she spotted it and asked what it was and I immediately blurted out that it was a Christmas quilt I was making for her. Oops! (I would clearly make a terrible spy). It's a shame the surprise got spoiled but it has been nice being able to mention the quilt on my blog and social media as I've worked on it, so there's the silver lining to that cloud.

In late November I stitched the last few squares together...

... then photographed the finished quilt top with help from my dear departed furry assistant.

It was looking lovely, but there was still a long way to go...

I'll be blogging about the hand-quilting in Part Two next week - stay tuned...

UPDATE: click here to read part two of the quilt-making process, or click here to see the finished quilt.


bairozan said...

Hand-quilting is heroic, I think :) This looks so Christmas-y and cozy!

Kay said...

We all have projects that have taken forever. I am still hand sewing a hexie EPP quilt that I started over 3 years ago, every now an then it comes out and I plan to actually finish it sometime this decade. x

Katrin said...

Oh dear! You must have had a lot of patience to come this far... So many little squares - seen by hand! Wow! The quilt looks really gorgeous although in this post it isn't finished. I'm really looking forward to the pictures of the finished one.

Bugs and Fishes said...

bairozan - it's definitely a big time commitment!! :)

Katrin - thanks! The quilt is finished now (hurrah!) and I've even taken photos... just gotta find the time to blog them :)

Bugs and Fishes said...

Kay - not sure what happened but I managed to miss your comment a couple of weeks ago (oops!). "Sometime this decade" is an excellent goal for completing a big project! :)