Saturday, September 10, 2016

A Well-Traveled Quilt and Pillow

It's been a busy summer and I haven't spent too much time with my sewing machine. I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that I sewed up a storm in the spring and needed a break! I took a 10-day trip to England in April to visit family, friends, and -- most importantly -- Liberty of London for some fabric shopping. It had been three years since my previous UK visit and I was missing England, and the people I love who live there, quite a bit. It was a great trip, but I did have some extra baggage with me...

Yes, I decided to make a quilt and lug it across the pond! My dear friends Alex and Annie May bought a flat in London last year -- no small feat. I thought that was deserving of a handmade (er, machine-made) gift. Alex is an Englishman who studied abroad at Lehigh with me for a year, then I studied in his mother country the summer after. He's become one of my closest friends and we've managed to stay in touch despite the miles. (Actually, I see him more often than I see many of my pals who live in the U.S.!) When he started dating a lovely English-born, New Zealand-bred gal a few years ago, there wasn't any doubt we would become amazing friends, too. So, I had it in my mind to make them a quilt after the holidays, hopefully in time for my April trip.

I started on the quilt some time in the late winter -- details are getting fuzzy because it was so long ago! Annie has an eye for art and impeccable fashion sense, so I didn't want any fabrics that were too stodgy, cutesy, or traditional. I decided that some big, bold florals and geometrics would be the thing. Alex has no strong opinions about design or fabric that I know of, but he does have strong opinions about football, so I designed the colo(u)r scheme around his beloved Tottenham Hotspur team. 

The squares are large -- 10 x 10 -- I think, but that's because I really wanted to show off the large prints. I set the rows en pointe (diagonally) to add some visual interest. I didn't make this from a pattern, but I did pull out Amy Butler's Lattice Quilt pattern for reference when it came to the triangles along the edges. (That's the one I used for Drea's quilt way back when!) I quilted in a grid, shadowing the squares as I normally do.

There's really a hodgepodge of fabric in there. I ordered a fat quarter bundle of Camelot Cottons' Mint to Be line in navy, but I think you'd be hard-pressed to figure out which ones came from that line. There's also some Secret Garden fabric by Sandi Henderson that I've had in my stash since I started sewing, a few blenders from V and Co. (another go-to designer for me), and my favorite Joel Dewberry herringbone pattern that ends up in many of my projects. The back is a large polka dot pattern (Michael Miller, I think), and the binding is from Cotton + Steel. I thought the little Xs were appropriate, since that's how Alex and Annie always sign-off on their emails and texts. (It's a British thing!)

My friends seemed really surprised and pleased with the quilt, which currently sits in their lounge, so it was more than worth the hassle of trying to squeeze it into my suitcase for a transatlantic flight. Even better, they had just gotten engaged a few weeks prior, so the gift had a little extra meaning!

But that wasn't the only gift I made. My friends Lisa and Andrew had a daughter, Hattie, in between my visits to England. I made a pillow for Hattie's big sister Abigail when she was born, so Hattie needed one as well. 

I'd been dying to use the unicorn fabric from Heather Ross since I purchased it about a year prior, and I used some other purples and magentas from my stash. I hand-embroidered Hattie's name like I did for her sister, but this time around, I used quilt-as-you-go method for the pillow front. I'm a new convert! Some of my favorite sewing bloggers swear by it, and it is definitely both easy and effective for a project of this size.

It was a delight to meet Hattie, who is now 2, and see how much Abigail has grown up. They are sweet and silly little ladies, and I hope they enjoy their presents from their American auntie.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't confess to spending way more time and money at Liberty than was strictly necessary. Annie took this shot of the awesome monkey quilt on display and inadvertently captured my super-serious fabric-buying face!

I don't know what it is about Liberty. My tastes in fabric don't usually lean toward dainty flowers, but there's so much history there and the fabric is so incredibly silky-soft, it's hard not to be enamored with it. They are an English national treasure! I ended up with 2 1/2 yards of fabric, a pack of mini-charm squares, and a large dent in my bank account balance. But when in London, right?

Next up: More baby gifts! (Shocker!)