Under the Kona rainbow

I often get to the second day of a new month before I remember to turn on to the next page of our calendar. This lackadaisical approach to day-keeping has been known to cause problems, but none so hurtful as when you have a friend who has her birthday on the 1st day of the month. This is what happened to me last year and when I realised my mistake I felt like such a thoroughly horrible person that I went home and cringed at my own disorganisation as I made a batch of belated peppermint hearts. There are some people who aren't overly birthdayish, but my friend isn't one of them and I've always known this (not least because she always appears like magic in the playground on my own birthday clutching a wonderful bag of goodies that have been so thoughtfully picked that opening them is always one of the highlights of my day). So this year, determined to never forget it again, I wrote her birthday in enormous capital letters at the end of this month on my calendar to remind me that it was coming and with a month's advance warning turned my thoughts to a properly planned birthday gift.

Eventually I decided upon a quilt, as that's one of the things that she's often talked about in the past - she's bought so many of her friends and families' birthday presents from my shop and she always used to ask why I didn't sell quilts...which made me think that she might like one of her own. She regularly stays up until the early hours of the morning engrossed in dvd box sets of series like 24 and Lost, so I thought that she might like something to snuggle under on chillier evenings.

I loved making this quilt and when I hung it up to check it when it was just a quilt top I loved the way the colours looked with the sunlight shining through them as it billowed in the wind.

The section with the blues and violets in quickly became my favourites.

In some lights they look vibrant, and in others they look very pastelised and calming.

The quilt was really enjoyable to make - it couldn't be more simple - it's just strips of Robert Kaufman Kona solids sewn together, flanked by two columns of fuchsia pink. I quilted the rainbow section about a 1/4" inch away from the 'ditch' using a cotton colour that corresponded to whatever fabric colour was to be sewn over. For the pink columns I tried to add some more interest by sewing in criss-cross pattern. I marked this out with a previously unused Hera marker that I found in my drawer a few weeks ago, which worked surprisingly well (a hera marker creates pressure creases and no chalk or ink is used).

I like the Kona solids primarily because I think the colours are stunning, but also because they are Oeko-tex certified - this isn't something that I normally worry too much about as, shamefully, my love of fabric overwhelms thinking too deeply about how it's been processed, but I knew this would really matter to my friend as she's incredibly careful about sourcing things that are organic and and free from harmful chemicals. To this end I also chose a bamboo quilt wadding (Sew Simple) that's made without the use of bleaching or chemicals. I did worry that its natural fleck may show through the palest strips, but decided that I must put my friend's ethical priorities above my own more superficial sewing ones (although there was some internal battle before I reached this conclusion!). In reality it doesn't show through at all and it was so soft and easy to quilt that I'd be very tempted to use it again in future.

I feel compelled to say (just in case there are some friends of mine seething at this post thinking: but she's forgotten my birthday too! Where's my quilt?) that I am truly sorry for any other birthdays that I might have forgotten and that it is no reflection of my love for you...more a reflection of the scatty awfulness of my own head.

And yes, it's annoying that I didn't think to leave this unfolded until I'd photographed it as there's a very prominent crease running down the centre of these photos. That's another forgotten thing.

Anyway, happy birthday, dear Tamsin.

Florence x

Ps. If you're searching for Kona solids stockists in the UK then I believe that Pollyanna Patchworks and Simply Solids hold almost the entire range, and past experience tells me that The Fabric Loft is incredibly helpful and will order in virtually any Kona solid colour you could wish for.


  1. Oh Florence, it's fabulous!!! What a lovely gift! :)

  2. I have a jelly roll in many of those shades....this REALLY makes me want to use it now :) How pretty!!!

  3. it is a fabulous rainbow quilt!!!

  4. This is beautiful! I think I also have a jelly roll in slightly darker shades. I also want to use it now!!

  5. What a great quilt. I too have a jelly roll of Kona sitting buried in the sewing room - can't wait to get my room back so I can use it now. Really inspiring, Florence, thank you.

  6. Hehe, I bet your friend is now so thrilled that you forgot her birthday last year!

    Great to see another sew-er bending their brain in a non-toxic direction. I always think that concerns about where things come from and how they're made ought to come more naturally to us crafters, since we have such an interest in materials and processes.

  7. Wow that is gorgeous! Goes to show that palins can be just as eyecatching as patterns.

  8. This quilt is absolutely beautiful - the colours are fabulous and the simplicity of the design makes it so elegant. What a special gift for your friend!

  9. What an absolutely stunning quilt! Your friend is going to love her late night box-set watching even more now :o)


  10. wow this blog is great!
    i adore making clothes and fashion!


  11. What a very lucky friend, absolutely gorgeous.

  12. That is so beautiful- I wish I could just "whip up" a patchwork like that! I am quite in awe/envy of your fabric stash! I am currently knitting a pair of bamboo lace gloves as a (belated) birthday present to a friend in Hong Kong. Home made gifts are definitely the best!

  13. I've just realised that we have the same sewing machine table.Do you have a little shelf that pulls out just above the drawers ?I have a photo of mine on my blog. I do have to say that yours looks much more organised than mine.

  14. Oh! So many people with a jelly roll sitting in their drawer! They're so lovely to sew with - I can't wait to see what you make too.

    Thank you so much for all your lovely comments. x

  15. Hi Flossie,

    Thank you for the mention and what a B-E-A-Utiful quilt!

    As a token of my appreciation, please accept this discount voucher KONA15 for 15% off all Kona Solids ordered from my website until 21st July 2011

    Valid for anyone reading this blog too!

    Happy Crafting!

    Al xxx

  16. That is a beautiful quilt! What a wonderful present.


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Florence x