Tuesday, 5 March 2019

An Uncertain Trip Around the World

The last time I used the Scrappy Trip Around the World Pattern was in 2013 when I made a Liberty print dog bed for Nell (do click through if you want to see the extreme testing process she subjected that bed to. Oddly, it ended up being the only bed that was truly indestructible when she was a puppy and, despite her best efforts, all those lines of quilting made it freakishly strong. Looking back at this makes me realised what a semi-civilised little creature she's become - she would never try to eat her own bed now).

The eagle-eyed will be relieved to know these finished blocks aren't actually sewn together yet, but it gives you an idea of the World Tour I'm on right now. If I were to send you a postcard at this point, it would probably say that I'm not entirely sure I like the place I've ended up in - I've struggled with this palette a lot, which is a mixture of linens, striped linens and Tana lawn. I chose them because I thought they'd work in the room where I want the quilt to live, which has lots of different shades of yellow and mustard in it but somehow doesn't feel like a room with lots of colour (the colours seem to register as neutrals), so when I chose the fabrics for this I went for far plainer things than I'd ever usually choose for a quilt...which I'm now finding rather dull to sew with. I'd imagined the texture of the linens would soften it all and make it feel like fun to work with, but I'm not sure they've actually had that effect on me.

I'm finding it hard to separate the dullness of the sewing process with whether I actually like it as a quilt. My husband and daughter love it, but I'm finding it more masculine than I'd intended and I'm not sure how to soften it - here a few blocks laid out on the sofa where it will live. 

Despite my making a quilt for this room, it isn't currently quiltless...it's just full of the wrong quilt. I think I've talked before about how my husband favours using the bright red Charlotte Barlett quilt (ignoring that it was made as a garden quilt) claiming it's more comfortable to lie under than any other quilt, but its brightness has the effect of making me feel I've had the colour equivalent of a slap around the face with a wet kipper every time I walk into the room and, even after a few years of seeing it on the sofa, my eyes never seem to adjust to how garish it looks against cream walls.

In the planning stages of this quilt, I realised if my husband were to accept a replacement, it would have to be so irresistibly snuggly that the red quilt would begin to seem almost unbearably scratchy and cold by comparison. Installing a layer sandpaper and ice packs would be one strategy, but ideally I wanted to achieve this feat without causing him discomfort or sabotaging the red quilt for garden use (although the ice packs could totally work in the event of a heatwave).

Just before Christmas, I was ordering some things from Billow Fabrics and decided to put a fat quarter of sherpa fleece in my bag, wondering if it might be suitable as a quilt backing. When it arrived, I found that it wasn't just suitable, but was actually the fabric of dreams. It's incredibly soft and fluid, with very little bulk, but somehow feels spectacularly sumptuous. I feel almost certain that if there is a fabric that can tempt my husband into abandoning the red quilt, it is this one.

But when I went order some more I found it had all gone and didn't seem to exist elsewhere in the UK - if you wish to create a visual image to represent the inner workings of my head on discovering that, just picture The Scream and you're pretty much there. I got in touch with Jenny and found she hadn't been intending to get any more in stock until next Christmas (more Edvard!), but she very kindly offered to order a roll in for me so I could buy some without waiting all year. In case you're wondering, she did this without my relaying the tale of my husband's improper use of the garden quilt or my conveying any profound desperation in the email - it was just exceptional customer service - I was so happy!

I'm imagining using it without any batting, as I think the sherpa will fulfil the purposes of batting and backing in one, which makes it extremely cost-effective. I'm not sure what it's going to be like to work with in terms of quilting - I worry it may be a little eel-like, but I'll report back. Either way, at this point, I'm very excited about it! Does anyone know how much cuddle fabrics shrink? Should I wash it beforehand, or will it be fine to wash afterwards with just a normal amount of welcome quiltcrinkle occurring?

If you haven't come across Billow Fabrics before, do go and take a look - they have lots of lovely linens (including Liberty linen, which I've only just noticed!), a wide variety of cuddle fabrics, gloriously coloured wool felts, and Liberty fabrics (which was probably what I was ordering when I spotted the sherpa).

So, this is currently what's on my design wall. Just getting to this point has taken me forever...but maybe that's because I had the remains of flu while sewing these blocks, so was sewing a line and then resting, sewing a line and then resting - I didn't remember this being a pattern that takes long to come together. I can't decide if I love it or am just a bit meh about it...if it ends up being the latter then I may be posting about it in a few years time and, as with the red quilt, trying to make a replacement for it, but finding nothing can compete with the softness of the sherpa fleece and therefore being stuck with it forever...

Finishing all the uncertainty with a flu update: nearly three and a half weeks later, I still have a cough, but I think I may finally be nearly better! I started the new week feeling really quite perky, evidenced by cleaning bathrooms and vacuuming before 9am! Extraordinary scenes with or without the remains of flu in my case.

Wishing you a happy week,
Florence x


  1. How lovely to take a trip down quilted memory lane (and yes, still covetous of your luscious garden quilt)! I do hope the new one grows on you (there’s just nothing so irritating as working on a project that you actively dislike...), because you really will be stuck with it as absolutely nothing is as deliciously cozy as a good sherpa...

  2. I have just looked back at your Charlotte Barlett quilt and can see why you might find these colours a bit meh! But I think the new quilt will look lovely and modern on the sofa. I used a gorgeous cuddly fleece on a quilt at Christmas and it was definitely eel-like to quilt! It will be amazingly cuddly though. Good luck with the project.

  3. The sherpa backing looks so cuddly. I am not sure how easy it will be to quilt, I would actually consider doing this as a simple tied quilt instead of machine quilting. x

  4. I regularly use fleece as quilt backing (but not the really thick types). I've done it both with and without batting. A thin batting makes a winter-warmth cuddly quilt and without makes - to my mind - something akin to a picnic blanket. Fleece will stretch and move and cause all sorts of merry hell with the quilting if you are not careful. Baste the quilt sandwich to within half an inch of its life. This might be one occasion where you might consider putting the quilt top face down with the backing on top - and basting that way so you can see and control any stretch before it happens.

    Please feel free to get in touch directly if I can help further.

  5. I'm glad you asked the question about using fleece as a backing material and the ensuing problems with quilting. I'm very interested in the experiences of others. I have always wanted to give it a try because it's so soft and cuddly. I'll keep reading the comments.

    I do like your new quilt-in-the-making. It is a modern look if that is what you are going for in your room. The chair you showed us seems to have a sleek look about it.

    We're eagerly awaiting updates. I hope you are back to your old self very soon and are finally, finally over the flu.

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  7. What a marvelous idea for backing on a snuggle quilt! Your fabrics for this one are very serene. Love the look!

  8. I've used fleece as a backing for quilts for my grandaughter and it works really well. I didn't wash them but I might if it had any percentage of natural content or felt as if it had a degree of stretch like some minky fabric. The small quilt I made in flannel fabric and backed with fleece is still much loved and taken in the car, on holiday and to sleepovers. I should think one backed with sheep's would be irresistible!

  9. Sherpa of course, not sheep's! Predictive text strikes again....

  10. These are stunning blocks! I love seeing the in progress shots on your design wall.

  11. Quite apart from the quilting news, I am reeling from the knowledge that I've been following you since Before Nell! In fact, I think when you were writing about your pre-Nell thoughts was when I felt brave enough to leave an encouraging comment on your blog. Can this be correct - 2013? Gosh!

  12. Billow fabrics are so lovely. I remembered ordering from them last year and being so pleased. Looking forward to hearing how the snuggly back works.


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Florence x

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