Tuesday, 24 January 2012

patchwork love

My mother came to stay this weekend and on Saturday evening she helped me to finish the patchwork quilt (not strictly a quilt, but I don't know what else to call it!) I have been making for my little 1 1/2 year-old boy.
I can't tell you how delighted I am to have finished this project at last! I started making it when the little one was just 4 months old. I've never made patchwork before. I didn't really know about the availability of tutorials and things on the web back then: I figured out how I was going to do it during the long wakeful nights with a baby.
It is made from 120 10cm squares of very diverse fabrics: some scraps I bought in Paris (when the little one was just months old, in the baby carrier), scraps of old sheets and curtains from my mum, vintage material bought on ebay and new Japanese fabrics I found on Etsy (the cute owls, the brown polka dots). The border is new cotton - I was looking for light turquoise but settled on this totally mis-matching green. The backing is made from a 1970s sheet I found on Etsy (more about that in this post).
I wanted a random pattern and one evening my husband helped me lay out the pieces to get that effect - easier said than done! I remember the baby was upstairs sleeping - a rare occurrence at the time, since he seemed to need our proximity to sleep - and we were rushing to get it done before his next awakening!
I put all the squares in order in numbered plastic bags to preserve the layout... and there they stayed. For a long time. For nearly a year. And then suddenly my baby was a toddler who would sleep in the evenings and I could sew. I was determined to finish this for his Christmas present, but I didn't quite manage it. I was nervous about stitching on the border and putting the 3 layers together. My mum helped guide me through this bit and here it is!
One of my favourite childhood books was The Patchwork Cat. It combines two of my lifelong loves: patchwork and cats, in a tale about a musty old quilt that got thrown out. But the cat loved that quilt and followed it on its journey to the rubbish dump (see more about the tale and more pictures here). I hope my little boy's quilt will be like that: an object that surpasses all its imperfections because it is loved. It was made with love.
And I'm delighted to say that the little one loves it! He has been playing a game of "ni'night" with it in the mornings and rolling himself up in it. I hope it will always be a comfort to him.

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