I've been sharing my plans to update the kid's rooms this year. The furniture situation is just about finished, and we still have some time until Isla is crawling out of the crib, so I think I'm pretty well set to finish "on time".
One of the projects I've been working on a few times a week in the evening is hand quilting Isla's new "Downton Abbey Quilt". If you're a Downton Abbey fan, you may (or may not) have noticed the quilt on Mary's hospital bed in the episode when she delivered George--very subtly colored, very simple piecing, very intricate hand quilting designs. It's pretty much all I noticed. I was only able to find one still image of that scene that showed any detail, so I watched and rewatched that episode, studying the design as best I could.
I finally decided there was no way I could recreate it exactly, there just wasn't enough footage to go off of, so I used it as an inspiration and made up my own design.
Once the design was sketched and I had calculated the yardages, I took a big leap and ordered fabric online. I knew I wanted a high quality, solid-color cotton, so I chose JoAnn Fabric's Kona Cotton Solids in Ice Peach and Ash. I would not recommend ordering fabric online...the colors never come out like you're expecting, but it's finally starting to grow on me after a few months. The fabric itself is exactly what I wanted feel-wise, I just wish the colors had been softer. If I ever do another one, I'll choose two colors that look like they're almost white, like Bone and Ivory.
The quilt top piecing took less than an hour--the big time investment was ironing each length of fabric after washing it. Once it was ironed though, I used my rotary cutter and mat to create long strips that I sewed together on my machine. I used plain muslin cloth for the backing and I sandwiched the whole thing together with the batting that same day (when does that ever happen?) I tried a spray adhesive to hold the layers together this time instead of basting with large stitches, and I'm happy with how that has held up, so I definitely appreciated the time I saved on that step.
After the layers were stuck together, I got out my water soluble marking pen and, with the help of a yardstick to draw out just a few dividing marks, I sketched the center design on by hand. The outer edges are more geometric, so the yardstick came in handy to get those lines evenly drawn.
I started in the middle of the quilt and have been working from there outwards a little bit at a time. I have some pink antique quilting thread that I'm using and I'm trying to make my stitches tiny and even. This seems to be the only way I know how to hand quilt (the way that takes forever) but I might try to branch out a bit for Luca's quilt (more info on that coming soon!) and use some larger, more time-efficient stitching techniques.
So far, I have made it through the second to last border--all that's left is the 9" or so of cross-hatching all around the outside. I even made the quilt binding today, in preparation for finishing the quilt soon. The binding is my absolute favorite part of a quilt--the end is near! It's almost done! Pretty soon I won't have little pieces of batting all over my clothes!
I'm excited to share it with you in all of its finished glory soon!