In December 2014 I got a quilt commission from my good friend J. As the proposal unfolded it became clear that what was being sought was something far far more complicated than I had undertaken before. The specification was for a double quilt including a fox, a panda, to go in a room with a cappuccino coloured wall.
Rather than let the commission go, I decided to skill up and learn how to patchwork. My mother had been an obsessive and hugely creative hand quilter. Much of her collection of fabric had been given away when dementia took her mind, but on clearing the house after my father’s death, a couple of large bags containing fabric scraps and samples came to the surface. What a fantastic discovery that was.
The patchwork quilt above is destined for Criquette, who has cared for my family at moments of real trauma. Embedded in her quilt are fabrics that once clothed each member of my immediate family.
Unlike my previous quilts, this one includes a binding, complete with mitred corners, another advancement to my technical arsenal.
Having learned the basics of patchwork I set about the Fox and Panda quilt for J, or more specifically, her daughter who lives in San Francisco. She sent me a link to Schenley’s paper pieced fox pattern which I bought on Etsy. I thought it would come with some instructions but there were none. So I spent hours learning about paper piecing on YouTube and then made the fox out of scraps. It turned out ok.
A thirteen pieced nozzle
The panda was harder to deal with. I searched high and low for a pattern and eventually settled on a rather complicated design by Juliet from Tartankiwi. There are 13 individual pieces of stitched fabric in the nose alone!
Having cracked the fox and panda, I began to think about the overall design and colours. Slowly the quilt began to take shape.
Last month both quilts were dispatched across the world and I waited with baited breath to hear from the recipients and this is what they said:
‘What joy it was to unwrap something so gorgeous. We were stunned with the quilts sumptuous colours. It will be an heirloom for our family to treasure’.
‘A huge thank you for this amazing quilt! It looks absolutely beautiful and really fits into our home perfectly. The amount of detail and care that clearly went into it are amazing, thank you again. I know it was a huge undertaking so we’re super appreciative’.
The bright red fabric, the calico and wadding were bought online from Empress Mills who offer excellent priced solid cottons.
Backing fabric for both quilts was bought from Sew Creative in Cambridge. They are expensive, but their collection is good.
The floral prints, greens and browns used in the panda quilt were bought from MT Fabrics, one of several fabulous Indian fabric shops on Goldhawke Road in west London.