Another Charlotte Bartlett quilt

Over the last week I've been hopping between working on this English paper piecing project and an enormous Charlotte Bartlett quilt that I'm making as a Christmas gift for my parents. You might remember my first Charlotte quilt, which I named after a character in an E.M. Forster novel for the reasons shared in this post, when I found the piecing for the original snowball quilt (intended as a huge quilt for our back garden) that I was making so stultifyingly dull, that I decided to make it far smaller…perhaps not allowing all the members of the family to sit on it at the same time! Anyone who's read the book or watched the film of A Room with a View, may instantly understand why a quilt that was too small for everyone to sit on may take on such a name, but for those that haven't, do go and read my original post and you can add the phrase 'For goodness sake, don't be such a Charlotte Bartlett about it' to your own lexicon, for times when you're faced with a whiff of martyrdom!

Anyway, the name now seems doubly appropriate in its nod to martyrdom, as I decided to make this quilt in full knowledge of how much I'd not enjoyed the piecing work involved in its creation last time and it's just as unpleasant as I'd remembered it to be! I know some people find chain piecing soothing and meditative. I wish I was like them, but even with episode after episode of The Good Wife playing on my laptop in the background (it's an American legal drama and truly wonderful), I still don't find it restful. However, I'm spurred on by the fact that over the last few years, whenever my father has caught sight of my Charlotte Bartlett garden quilt, he's said how much he loves it, so I really have wanted to make him a similar one. My mother also adores the colour blue and I think will really love how exuberant Kaffe Fassett and Philip Jacobs prints tend to be, so I'm hoping it will be a perfect joint present. These are the blues that I chose for the quilt.

This is the original quilt. It's traditionally called a 'snowball quilt' because of the tiny pieces sewn to the corner of each square, which, when sewn together, create a sense of a quilt full of round balls, although my version doesn't make this so apparent, as I haven't chosen to use a particularly contrasting print.

You can see a photo of it in its early stages, below. This is the first time I've used my new design wall properly - I've had an EPP stuck up there with pins until now as, with the papers still in place, English paper piecing projects don't cling to the design wall in the same way that fabric does. But goodness, it's exciting stuff to see fabric just 'sticking' to the wall unsecured by anything other than its own desire to cling to a piece of flannelette!

This was my paltry dusting of completed snowballs last week…I now have a pile akin to Helvellyn, which is moderately satisfying, but I will be aiming for Everest proportions over the coming week, before sewing them all together. I have a tendency to over-cautiousness and in the past when I've chain pieced things, I've still felt the need to take back-stitches at the start and end of each line of stitching, even though the seams will be secured properly later by sewing across them. However, a quick discussion on Instagram about this gave the confidence to dispense with this, although I've still decreased my stitch length a little to make the stitches harder to work their own way out…just in case some of them are particularly wilful in wanting to make a bid for freedom.

I did look through a big pile of quilting books before deciding to torture myself with the Charlotte Bartlett quilt again, but nothing else offered quite the flow and wildness that I think my father really loved about the original quilt. I could possibly have done just simple patchwork square but, quite inexplicably, I felt mean to take away the tiny corner stubs, just in case that was the thing he'd liked about it. I had an idea that it may have actually been the occasional snippets of black that he loved, so I've been careful to pick some blue prints that also have a bit of black in them.

And because I know that some of you come here just for the dog photos (that may not actually be true, I just like posting them), here's a photo from a few weeks ago when we went for our annual walk with some of Nell's brother's and sisters.

After a dry summer, everywhere suddenly seems to have turned to mud. A week after this photo was taken, my husband injured his leg playing football and so I've been in charge of all of her walks each week (I usually only did three or four, either with friends or with my husband or children). It's been an odd experience to suddenly be on full-time dog-walking duty when, until getting Nell, I was something of a mud-phobic creature. I've been for lots of lovely walks with friends and my father and, for the first time ever, I found myself walking through the woods alone (not out of a newfound braveness, but rather sheer frustration at how dull it is to be confined to walks in more public places). I know lots of women who do this, but I wasn't one of them, so I'm happy to add it to my mental list of 'trying new things', which I started over the summer when I climbed up some high scaffolding (with a really awful fear of heights) and sewed with some purple fabric after years of avoiding the colour.

What are you working on this week? And have you added anything to your own list of 'trying new things'?

Florence x


  1. So glad you gave us some dog photos as it gives me the opportunity to share this: . We gave my dad the first season of The Good Wife on DVD today for his birthday; hope he'll enjoy it as much as we (and you) have! The quilt's going to be a stunner. x

    1. That's so funny, Nina - a friend posted that exact clip on my Facebook wall last week - it's a complete delight and so like Nell. In return I give you a spaghetti eating contest between another greedy golden retriever and an Alsatian - I love that the Alsatian is so well mannered that they eventually have to speed the video up to avoid it becoming deathly boring. Nell eats in an identical style to the golden retriever in the video.

      I'm so pleased you've loved The Good Wife too, I watched series 1-4 on Netflix..and then guiltily purchased series 5 from iTunes as it's too good to wait! I think your dad will love it - I can't imagine anyone not doing. x

  2. Replies
    1. They're beautiful aren't they - I love how many other unexpected colours Kaffe and Philip Jacobs work into their prints - their braveness with this seems completely unique.

  3. I love the way you write and always come to read your posts whatever they are about!

  4. What a gorgeous quilt, great to make something different to your usual palette, all my quilts are the same colour!

    I did a bit of back and forth when chain stitching too, I found they often unravel a bit too far, not a problem I've had with the paper piecing and the shorter stitch length, didn't put 2 and 2 together tho!

    I made a design wall at the weekend following your instructions but it bows in the middle - did you use something other than the tiles to strengthen it?

    We absolutely loved the Good Wife, gorged on it over the summer until we came to the end of series 5 - AMAZING. Email me when you get to the most unbelievable episode. :)

  5. That blue fabric is going to be gorgeous! Can't wait to see the finished result!

  6. I just love the way explained the things so beautifully and putted so good thoughts of your here. Awesome..!!
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  7. Hey, Florence, I started quilting my "Bob-Dylan-Lover"-Quilt a few days ago, although I am a very stubborn scholar of yours: I am using my normal thread (I even admit something worse: it is from ikea ;)) to handquilt ist, but I am quite happy (no, I´ll be honest, i am agai ridiculously proud) with the stitching ;)) But nonetheless thanks for your kind and friendly advise! If it works out just right and as I imegined it (in fact I AM dreaming of quilting ;)), I´ll show you and THEN I´ll start the next one with really good materiel! Promise!

  8. Wow those quilts are gorgeous! I've been on full time dog walking duty this week, too, and can confirm it's hard!


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Florence x