A David Bowie quilt

As was the case for a lot of people, the news of David Bowie’s death really upset me. His music has accompanied me through life since I was a teenager, and so I decided to make a quilt as a tribute to him.

I want the quilt to be as abstract as possible, and the plan is to make the whole thing using Kaffe Fassett shot cottons. So far I’ve made three of the nine blocks.

 

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A kaleidoscopic quilt

This is a small quilt made using offcuts from a larger project. Each block of the larger quilt is made from one piece of a layer cake, which in turn produced four small half-square triangles.

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The fabric is flannel and so feels lovely. I didn’t trim any of the half-square triangles so hardly any of the quilt’s points match. However I think this is partly masked by the changing colours.

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I think this quilt is beautiful, although much of the credit for the colours goes to the layer cake.

 

Hidden nine-patch

Hidden nine-patch is a way to make complicated designs using quite simple piecing and cutting techniques. Patches are made by sewing a nine-patch block and then cutting it into four.

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The pieces can then be reassembled in numerous ways to make a new block:

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The quilt below is made using fabric from the Japanese manufacturer Sevenberry. The backing and binding is from my stash, and is another fabric I thought would be difficult to find a home for, as it’s too bright and solid for most tops. However I think it’s perfect here.

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You can go further with hidden nine-patch by using the pieces of the first nine-patch as the corners of a second one. The second nine-patch can then be cut into four and the process repeated ad infinitum. This blog has some lovely examples.

Fabric from friends

This is a quilt made from 19th-century reproduction fabric given to me by Bea after a trip to New York. I used up every bit of the fabric for the top and then wasn’t sure where to go next. So I put it away in a drawer, taking it out every year or so to see if I had any fresh ideas.

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This time when I returned to it, I realized that I hald some civil war fabric, given to me by Lynda, which would make a perfect border for the quilt. The dark cream fabric brings it all together and it finally looked finished.

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I really love the binding fabric which is from the petite prints range by French General, one of my favourite designers.

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This is one of the few quilts I’ve made which has set-in seams. Making nine of the stars was good practice and it’s worth the extra work.

 

Floating star block

A few months ago I bought some Tana lawn from Liberty and since then I have been waiting for the right pattern to come along.

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Issue 4 of Today’s Quilter magazine featured an article on a block called floating star, and this seemed a good match. The print is very busy and has a lot of white in it, so I think it works best in the background, rather than in the star itself.

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The block is called floating star because the background fabric completely encloses the star, other star blocks usually have points which go to the edge of the block, like the one below. The advantage of floating star is that there is no danger of the points of the stars being blunted.

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Some 1930s scrap quilts

Although I still haven’t gotten round to basting the immense faceted jewels quilt top, I have been making some smaller quilts from its offcuts.

This first quilt came about because a miscalculation meant I was left with over a hundred 2.5″squares of fabric, mainly sewed into strips of two or six. It is quilted using a variegated thread in 1930s colours, which complemented the fabric.

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I had already made this quilt once a few years ago for my friend Shirin’s baby using Kaffe Fassett shot cottons (it was then I learned the hard way that the points can’t be made by cutting a nine-patch square in half). I think I based it on a photo I saw somewhere on the internet, but I haven’t been able to find it again. I think the design would also look good with Amish colours on a dark background.

Although I loved making this quilt, I was a bit disappointed when it came out of the washing machine as it had been dyed by something else in there. The fabrics also seem a bit washed out as I had very little of the brighter shades left. However, I think it looks good, if a bit more antique than I had intended.

I’m much happier with this second quilt which is made from the triangular offcuts of the faceted jewels quilt.

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I chose the design because I had exactly 64 squares, and this grid accommodated them exactly. The quilt is backed with a Kaffe Fassett print which I have had for a while (I have about 8m of it!). One of the things I like about quilting is the serendipity of realizing that a fabric you’ve had for years, and perhaps begun to despair of, is one day the only thing that will do for a particular project.

I have been readingĀ Making History: Quilts & Fabric from 1890-1970 by textile historian, quilter, and fabric designer Barbara Brackman (her quilt wreck blog posts are fascinating). In the following extract she describes the key features of 1930s quilts, and I think these two modern examples fit the criteria quite well.

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