A few years ago a small black cocker spaniel puppy was brought into the family, and his charmingly foppish character and behaviour not dissimilar to a well-known British politician earned him the name of Boris. Fast forward a couple of years, and Boris was joined by Cara, the small I made the Spanish Dress for. Fast forward even more years (OK, only two) and I finally managed to finish Cara’s first birthday present, and my first ever quilt!
And yes, I did give it her first birthday present to her for her second birthday. #craftlife, am I right?
I don’t know where my desire to make a quilt came from, and even less do I understand why I decided to make it in the shape of Boris, but nevertheless, out it came. Aside from the quilting, which was basic in the extreme, there are a few elements of it that I am super proud of.
It was entirely made up.
I drafted a cross-stitch-inspired pattern and blew it up thousands of times to get this beauty. The only guidance I had in putting it together came from watching a Kirstie Allsopp show and a quilting square I’d bought years ago for my dinosaur wall-hanging.
All but the purple fabric is entirely John’s old clothing.
I made John go through his wardrobe and choose some shirts he didn’t mind losing to the sewing machine. It was delightful cutting them up and using them, not least because it was going to his niece. I was also really happy knowing that no matter how much the quilt got washed, the fabric would never shrink. It’s the small things!
When it goes wrong, go with it.
I made a few mistakes when I was putting the quilt together. I’d drafted my pattern and laid it all out fine, but when it came to sewing some of the diagonals together, I got them the wrong way around, so my seams were right side up rather than wrong side down. I went with it and just quilted the heck out of them. The perfectionist in me would probably have made me redo them if I hadn’t run out of fabric as the shirts John was willing to donate ran out. I think it adds a bit of charm to the finished object!
I found paw print fleece and decided to back the quilt with it.
My original plan had been to go with straight lines, quilting on a normal wadding and fabric sandwich, but when I went fabric shopping the fleece jumped out at me. I absolutely loved it, and used the paw prints to create the quilting pattern. This gives the front of the quilt paw prints, as well as the curly hair on Boris’ actual body. It was such a good idea and I was very pleased with it!
I didn’t break a single needle while quilting the thing.
I’ve tried quilting many times before and always had problems. These usually resulted in snapped needles, and once I even managed to get the entire mechanism in my sewing machine jammed and had to buy a new sewing machine. I somehow cracked it with this one, and was more proud of myself than I can say. Thank you, Kirstie Allsopp.
I’m really proud of this one. It’s not often I finish a project that I’ve started for somebody else that I don’t want to actually part with, but this was one of them. I hope it gives Cara many years of pleasure, and I’m looking forward to the next time I brave the sewing machine!