Quilt: How green was my valley

18 07 2010

Inspirations for this quilt:

  • Husband saw me put my feet into my quillow’s* pocket and asked whatever happened to other quillow we used to have. The nights have been cold and he wanted somewhere to warm his tootsies while watching TV. I knew which one he meant, but it went missing years ago. So I asked if he’d like me to make him another one — he said no, but I thought of my Dad, who’s having his 80th birthday in a few months’ time.
  • I have a lot of green in my stash and scrap bins and didn’t know what to do with it all. Some of the fabrics I have never liked, but they came with other fabrics so I ended up with them.
  • I had some baby blanket-like flannel in soft cream and soft green, and another minkie-like fabric in yellows and greens. I figured those fabrics would be nice and warm for the backing and the quillow pocket!

Summary of process:

This quilt was not made with any sort of pattern. It was me constructing things as I went — in my head, with a few scratchings on paper. I didn’t even attempt to make it a proper quillow — I just wanted a lap/body length quilt with a pocket for feet on the back!

  1. After choosing my likely fabrics, I chose several pieces that had a full width of fabric (approx 42″) in light, medium, medium-dark, and dark fabrics. These were the baselines for the wave cut fabrics.
  2. I freehand wave cut fabrics, turned over and pressed their cut edges a quarter inch, then pinned and sewed them to the baseline piece, building up each layer until I had a piece approximately 15″ high and 42″ wide in each of the colourways. I say approximately because this wave cut technique seems to grow the dimensions and I ended up with several pieces that were much longer than 42″ at the top! Each strip of 15″ x 42″ had a lighter fabrics in that colourway at the top and a darker fabrics at the bottom. Lots of pressing was involved.
  3. I cut each strip into three blocks, approximately 14″ x 14″, then fused each block onto 14″ x 14″ Pellon (I numbered the backs so that I knew which went where). I then used free motion quilting to quilt each block. I quilted within most of the ‘hills’, leaving some unquilted so they had some puffiness, giving them a 3D quality. I now had 12 large quilted blocks, which I cut down and squared off to 13″ x 13″ each.
    (Click the image below to see a close-up of some of the quilting stitches)
  4. Next came the sashing. I used a matching green and black tiny leaf fabric for the sashing, the border, and the binding. Each sashing strip was 3″ wide, and the border strips were 6″ wide. I added sashing strips to the right sides of blocks 1 and 2 (of three across), then sewed each strip of blocks back together. I pressed the sashing strips, then fused thin strips (about 1.5″) of Pellon on the back of the sashing strips, then added stitching to quilt them down. Finally, I added long sashing strips to the bottom edges of strips 1, 2 and 3 (of four), and sewed the strips together, adding Pellon and quilting these sashing strips too. Yes, this is all very unconventional!
  5. After making sure everything was still square (amazingly, it was!), I fused 5″ strips of Pellon to the middle of the border strips (making sure I left half an inch of fabric either side of the Pellon). I did this quilting separately as I knew I’d have difficulty with the weight of the top to quilt the borders once I added them. I then sewed the borders to the quilt top.
  6. Next came the backing. I didn’t have enough flannel in a single colour to make a solid backing, so I cut 19″ x 19″ squares of each colour, then sewed them together to make a chequerboard effect. I didn’t sew the final row until I had created a pocket with the printed flannel and attached it to the centre block of the last row. (The pocket was simple — I just cut two 19″ squares from this patterned fabric, put them right sides together and stitched across one seam. I then turned it out and laid it over (and slightly down) on the middle block of the last row.
  7. Finally, I laid out the back, sandwiched it with batting, then laid the top over it all. I pin basted the entire quilt, then machine basted the outer edges. This quilt was really heavy by this stage and as all the feature quilting was done, I only needed to make sure all the layers were stitched together. As a result, I only ditch stitched the inner edges of each quilted block. Even with that, it was still a very heavy and bulky quilt to get through the throat of my machine. Once it was all done, I machine stitched the folded binding to the front of the quilt, then hand stitched it to the back.


I reckon this quilt took 20+ hours to make. It was fiddly, but enjoyable too. And I didn’t buy a single piece of fabric or spool of thread extra — I used everything for this quilt from my existing stash!

Update (October 2010):

Dad loved his quilt! And my almost-30 nephew loved it too and insisted on calling it a ‘blankie’ and then said he’d like his own ‘blankie’ too — in grey!

Click thumbnail images below to view large image:

* Quillow — cross between a quilt and a pillow. It’s a quilt that can be folded into a ‘pocket’ and, once inside the pocket, the pocket becomes a cushion.