Wednesday, 25 July 2012

The Charlotte Bartlett quilt is finished


The Charlotte Bartlett quilt was finally completed a few weeks ago when England was still being rained upon and temperatures remained distinctly chilly. The quilt sat beside my wardrobe like a large red reminder of the summer that never arrived, making all who saw it feel bullish annoyance at what should have been. But this week, quite without warning, we are being slowly cooked each time we step outside into the garden and the fiery red quilt is finally allowed to be an appropriate backdrop to the scorching temperatures.


The tiny triangles which replace the corner of every square are barely perceptible, other than when the quilt is viewed as a whole and you suddenly see that it looks as though it has been made from circles rather than patchwork squares (meaning it's technically called a 'snowball' quilt, I believe). I am happy with the amount of blur and lack of structure overall - in this I wanted something that would be a vibrant floral backdrop, but which wouldn't impose its own structure or geometric hardness on the garden.


While I didn't overly enjoy the actual sewing of this quilt (the piecing was easy, but dull and I complained frequently), I adored working with the fabrics. They are mostly Kaffe Fassett and Philip Jacobs and they delight every part of my brain. Sometimes I worry that I may be fusing vital wires and connections when I like something so much.


Those following the Charlotte Bartlett and her Mackintosh squares tale may be interested in how many people this quilt can comfortably seat. I think it can comfortably accommodate four people and a very laden picnic...or two people lying down with limbs thrown out at odd angles. So while no-one in my immediate family will be forced to sit martyred on damp grass, it's not quite as big as I'd hoped it might be, but I did use every single scrap of fabric up that I'd bought for it. It's so gratifying when that happens.


If you're interested in following in my dragging-my-heels-and-complaining-a-lot footsteps with this quilt (you'll have such fun), you can find a very similar quilt pattern in Kaffe Fassett's absolutely stunning V&A Quilts book - I think I may or may not have talked about it before, but it really is wonderful. Most of my fabrics came from overseas at Quilt Home due to their having an absolutely vast selection of Kaffe Fassett prints all in one place.


I've been thinking a lot about quilt making recently and how the need to make a particular quilt can suddenly burn through me. I think often it's not that I want to possess a fabric, more that I want to sew with it and that just the act of working with it relieves the hunger to have certain prints for myself. In every other area of sewing I'm a perfectionist, but there's something about quilt-making that, mostly, feels like sheer, unbridled delight, so consequently it feels right to allow it to remain untempered by perfect point-matching (my inner Monika requires that I clarify: I do make a huge effort to match points, I just don't torture myself over it if, despite my efforts, they steadfastly remain a millimetre or two off). I am also guilty of enjoying rather random quilt backings. I tend to hurriedly pull together all the remaining offcuts of fabric and sew them haphazardly into a backing. You can see a little bit of this jumble visible as my husband carried it across the lawn. The only time throughout the entire process when my perfectionist streak momentarily returns is when I stretch out the fabrics to make the quilt sandwich, ready to be quilted. Here I become obsessive about having everything perfectly smooth and flat, so that there are no unwanted lumps or bumps in the finished quilt. How do you make quilts? Are there areas of sewing where you'll permit mistakes? Or will you relentlessly wield a seam ripper until you have perfection?

Florence x

You are still most welcome to enter my foxy give-away, kindly provided by the wonderful Village Haberdashery. I'll be announcing a winner later tomorrow (Friday).

32 comments:

  1. It's gorgeous! What a riot of colour and passion!

    Can I confess to trying to purchase a mackintosh square, before I took my first o/s trip alone? I quite liked the idea of being able to pull out same, and perch on the side of a hill in Turkey/Italy/France/Japan and not have wet jeans!

    A lovely piece of art = thanks for sharing the pics and tale of it!

    ('m a new reader)

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    1. Hello, Jenny New Reader! I adore your confession - that's wonderful. I'm guessing that you didn't succeed in your mission to buy mackintosh squares, but it delights me to think that you very nearly made your way around Europe looking like a bonkers English woman, albeit with very dry jeans! Thank you so much for commenting. x

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  2. It's gorgeous Florence, I don't think I could bear to put it on our muddy lawn!! I am quite a perfectionist but accept that my points never quite meet up, I do spend far too long smoothing out the layers before quilting it. I whizz rather haphazardly through the quilting though as it's my least favourite bit!

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    1. I've heard a lot of people say that about the quilting - I think I'm an oddball as, despite not being terribly good at it, since I learnt to free-motion it's my favourite element of the whole process! Perhaps we could start team quilting so that we could both just do our favourite bits?

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  3. It's beautiful. So vibrant. It looks almost 3D like there are flowers standing proud. The effect is amazing and it does look like circles when I looked more closely. I like the back, what I can see of it. I like the idea of having it the same colours as the front somehow.
    I'm glad you're not as accurate as you'd like to be, it gives me hope! It's easier to be accurate with the paper piecing, (like I'm an expert...) I can pull it into shape as I'm sewing it together, which is what puts me off trying it on the sewing machine just yet.
    Anyway, lovely quilt.
    Enjoy the sunshine!

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    1. Yes, I love paper piecing for that too - it's very difficult to not get it right unless you've cut the papers badly to begin with. I can see why you might like to keep it away from the sewing machine - while it opens up whole new roads of adventure, it's a very different kind of 'relaxing' to hand sewing.

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  4. I will re do points but at the quilting stage I cut myself a bit of slack, quilting mistakes show up a lot less after washing. I totally understand the possession a quilt has on the imagination, I am possessed by at least 2 at the moment! Your quilt looks stunning especially amongst garden greenery

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    1. I know you are a perfect pointer, Kerry! Your work is always immaculate, but I'm so pleased that you too have your area of bothering a little less.

      Would that be the Brigitte Giblin that is possessing you?

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  5. Wow! I love the blend of colours in this quilt, simply gorgeous! I'm certain that I notice little mistakes on my own quilts more than anyone else ever will.

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    1. Yes, I think so - after a few months I think we see it more how others might too.

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  6. I did think it was made up of circles at first. The colours are absolutely gorgeous, it's really lovely, but like Kate^ says, I wouldn't be able to put it on the lawn!

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    1. Hurrah! So pleased you initially thought of circles. I'm afraid that once the quilt is made my slapdash attitude continues - I'm so careful with possessions normally, but with my quilts I'm so desperate for them to be loved and used that I feel happy for them to go where the people are. The exception of that is the few silk and voile quilts I've made - I'd feel really upset for people to have food or mud around them.

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  7. I just love love it! Using that fabric like that, I never would think of doing that. I tend to want things perfect, but I know it won't be. Quilts are very forgiving. I tend to be more "perfectionist" on bags, etc.

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    1. Yes, I'm the same - much more so with bags, dressmaking and virtually any other sewn item.

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  8. All your talk of how long it would take... Nonsense! And it's a real stunner, Florence, so gorgeous. Unusual but somehow classic at the same time. Perfect for this baking weather - I know we shouldn't complain, but the sudden switch was a bit much, wasn't it?!

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    1. Oh dear. Perhaps I may have been prone to a little bit of exaggeration during the boredom of making it! Thank you - I love your description of unusual but classic.

      And yes, guiltily...the switch was a little much, but when I saw we were forecast rain next week I instantly felt remorse for feeling that.

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  9. Oh it's lovely. The reds look gorgeous against the lush greens of your garden. I'm sure you'll have lots of fun using it now the sun's out!

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    1. Thank you! We had a picnic on it today with my parents - SIX people + large picnic all seated comfortably with no one on the damp grass...

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  10. How glorious! And I love the flashes of black inbetween the vibrant colours. Like others have said, though, I would be cagey about letting it near the grass...!

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    1. Thank you! The flashes of black were the bit my father loved when he saw it today too! I think Kaffe Fassett fabrics make it easy to add odd colours in as he often uses unexpected colour in the middle of a predominately single colour print.

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  11. Absolutely amazing - such vibrant colours. A work of art. jenx

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  12. It's beautiful - like a riotous summer border. I completely understand about a particular quilt burning through your imagination. I find I'm usually possessed with the hunger to sew one as I start another, so my mind is always one step ahead of my actual creating.

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    1. That's exactly it - it can feel slightly like being a hamster on a wheel that can never run quite fast enough, can't it...in a nice sort of way...but frustrating too! There's never quite enough time.

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  13. Wow, simply stunning. It certainly doeslook like circles too.

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  14. That's definitely my kind of quilt - fab and modern! Looks brilliant!

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  15. A lovely English rose garden without all of those pesky weeds. Beautiful!

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  16. Breathtaking. The colors are magnificent.
    Please tell me if you backed the quilt onto a full piece of fabric or did you use squares?......my quilting education is limited....
    Thank you.

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  17. It looks amazing against the green grass. I wonder what Charlotte would have made of it?

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Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a message - it's always really lovely to hear from people.

I now tend to reply within the comments section, so please do check back if you've asked a question or wish to chat.

Florence x