Quilting – when precision doesn’t matter

Ironing! That is a large part of providing accommodation. Like lots. I don’t mind, really, but quiltcovers are the worst. They are double, keep moving on the ironing board, are heavy to move around and never look well ironed anyway. My solution to skipping the ironing in my last accommodation place was to make a thin quilted quilt cover. You cannot iron a quilt! It always looks the right level of rumpled no matter what you do to it. So this is what I am going to do again.

The one thing about traditional quilting though, is the thousands of hours it takes to make one. Here is my way, a quilt-in-a-week.

quilting17I am planning a queen sized Amish Bars inspired quilt in red, white and blue and two singles in a different style, using some Japanese Sashiko interpreted stitching. To all you quilters out there, and there are billions of you, yes I know, handstitching is better, and probably more pleasant to do, but it does not give me the speed I am after!

Firstly you need a lot of thread. I use commercial quantities, far more economical. I used shot cotton for the quilt, apart from the back which is just ordinary cotton, a special since the fabric has flaws in the printing. It is the back, do I care? No. The padding is the thinnest cotton I could find. This is good, as it will also double as a thin summer quilt when you remove the down quilt which goes inside and be less bulky and heavy to wash. Prewash the fabric as you plan to wash the finished quilt, so it shrinks now rather than later.

quilting11First I tore the strips for the bars which form the centre, and stitched them together. Then I did loads of straight sewing in a square pattern, fusing the fabric to the cotton padding:

quilting5I made a ruler line for the first diagonal, after than I just followed it with the edge of pressure foot, more or less. Zoom, zoom. See the unevenness? So do I. It will not be so obvious later, seen from a distance.

I would quilt the entire quilt in one go if it wasn’t so big and hard to move around. Hence, I quilt it in pieces and put it together last. Probably not the traditional way but it is how I do it.

quilting22It looked a little dark when I put it together so I added white leaves. They are also shot cotton, I fold in the edges as I go. This is annoying and I vaguely regretted it but too late now. When this is done, move on to the edges which are squares in the corners and some long panels. I wanted to try some new stitches, loving the Japanese Sashiko stitching. Once you get the hang of this, it is very fast. You just put a wiggle in the stitch every 3,5cm. Like this: First, rule up lines 3 cm apart. Mark a space 3,5 cm apart on those lines, alternating rows.

quilting2Now do a wiggle stitch, trying hard to hit the wiggle in the same place every time. Hard, but it gets better with practise.

quilting3Doesn’t look like much yet, but now hit a diagonal, same wiggle:

quilting4And the other way, more wiggle. They are triangles! Wobbly ones! I am very excited.

quilting13I also did it in red on red as I didn’t have enough of one fabric to do all the panels. It is not so visible, but good to practise on first as mistakes won’t matter whatsoever.

quilting8For the rest I did a couple of different stitches. This one, I should have made smaller. Never mind. It is easy, just break it down into lines and waves. As you can tell, it is very uneven.

quilting9Some I did just with plain lines. Monotonous but speedy.

quilting16Then I felt I wasn’t putting enough effort in, and needed a challenge. So I started this, scissors added for scale reference:

quilting14I kicked myself right throughout this panel. Too small! Too hard! Scale it up! I think I was oversompensating for the other white panel which became too big in the stitch pattern. Anyway, halfway through this one I got so bored I was no longer taking pictures of the quilt process but of myself in the workroom mirror.

quilting18Here I am, leaning on my machine. Bored, bored, boooooored. Enough of that. The machine, by the way, is an old Juki industrial straight sewer. The jumper is Norwegian and I need a haircut.

Then I put all my panels together and stitched them flat. I added the backing using a strip of fabric as a trim, like this, front and back:

quilting19You can clearly see the tear line here, I tear the fabric rather than cut. It is so much easier to get it straight. Some fabric won’t tear nicely, but this did.

quilting20I stitch it to the front and doublefold it around the back. I left a third of the bottom open, stitched on a couple of ties and it is ready. You can use buttons, or maybe even nothing at all. Some people also like to leave two openings at the top corners to make it easy to change linen. I am very good at pulling a quilt through and want no such thing, but do whatever mods you want. Slip in a quilt of your choice, and there it is, a quilt-in-a-week. Guraranteed no iron needed, and it will look good for years and years. You will be totally sick of it and STILL it will be going strong. Next project – the two singles. The cost for making these is roughly equal to buying a quilt cover of a reasonable quality, unless you already have the fabric, or get it on a huge special like I did on the backing. You could recycle old sheets, clothing, whatever. Then it would be free-ish.