For part of my Christmas-present-making I wanted to have a go at making a lap quilt. I got the idea from here. Purl Bee's version is beautifully simple even to the extent of the instructions suggesting that one could be run up as a present for a housewarming party the same afternoon! Well, I didn't need to produce anything that quickly, but time is of the essence at this stage of the game and something throw-sized rather than bed-sized seemed manageable, both in terms of time and the amount of fabric required.
And I think lap quilts make nice Christmas presents - useful (not in the spud cosy category!) but also fun and Christmassy and can be enjoyed by all ages of man or woman (or beast!).
As I said in my previous post on Christmas Hooky and Stitchy Preparations, I have amassed a number of Christmassy fabric scraps over the years - you know the kind of thing, a fat quarter here and a fat quarter there for hatting up jars of mincemeat to give away or to sell at the school Christmas bazaar or for some Christmassy project or other. When I dug it all out, there was quite a pile although not enough to use on its own so I raided the rest of my stash and found some leftover, plainer bits and pieces that I thought could be paired up with the more flamboyant Christmassy numbers. I bought some cheap and cheerful, plain red and green cotton fabric to line them but, apart from some extra thread, I didn't need to buy anything else to make these; even the wadding was pieced together from leftovers from other projects. Patchwork inside patchwork, but you can't tell from the outside.
As far as the design went, I wanted something simple - I know my limitations(!) - but something more snazzy than just squares, stitched together. A lucky stumble on the so-called "Disappearing Nine Patch" design on the good old Internet looked perfect! Perfect, because it seemed to max out on effect while keeping the method pretty uncomplicated. You stitch nine squares together and then cut the stitched panel in half, crossways and vertically, rotate each quarter 90 degrees and stitch back together in a design that looks as though you spent hours and hours, piecing and stitching tiny panels together, only you didn't!
The only snag about the design was that there was no way I was going to paper-piece this little lot - a lap quilt may be small but it's quite big enough, if every join is going to be hand-stitched. It would have to be machine-stitched and would require exactly-sized squares. No room for Mrs T's guesstimated scissoring!
So I went off piste with my barely used (and lethal) rotary cutter, a cutting mat and a ruler and did my best to cut to measure. I had to enlist D's help on this as he's a whizz with cutting stuff with very sharp knives and I tend to get a bit impatient and slap-happy which is not good with a rotary cutter! You can cut yourself on those things just by looking at them, I swear!
So a tottering pile of fabric squares later and with the sewing machine cranked up for action any spare time of the day or night, I made these:
Wasn't going to add the borders - too lazy - but they need them. The border seems to pull the design and the fabrics together. I am sure any proper quilter will tell you, "all quilts need a border "- I notice it seems to be an integral part of most quilt design but as I said at the beginning, I am not a proper quilter! I had some difficulty with mitre-ing the corners but again, unless you look especially closely, I don't think it's too noticeable.
And although I say they are "quilts", technically I am not sure that they are, as they are not actually quilted. They have wadding and a lining but I haven't stitched the layers through, on the top. This is for two reasons. I don't have a quilting or walking foot for my sewing machine and I got nervous about messing up what I'd already made and thought I'd quit (rather than quilt, sorry!) while still (sort of) ahead. The Purl Bee duvet design uses bar tacks at intervals to link the layers. I wondered about having a go at these, using the end part of the buttonhole stitch on my sewing machine, but the prospect of mangling all my hard work, if it went wrong, and it might have done - the buttonhole setting on my machine is cranky to say the least of it - held me back and the quilts are small enough, I think, to get away with it. I hope so anyway! What do you think? If anyone has any foolproof suggestions, please let me have them! Otherwise they are going out of the door as is and I'm not going to worry too much about it.
I imagine them being used in the aftermath as well as the preamble of Christmas when the immediate rush and bustle has eased a little. What man, woman or child does not like, in those precious holiday days, to snuggle on the sofa under a layer of soft, bright patchwork in front of an open fire, worn out by all the excitement, with a good book or perhaps a film to watch or may be curled up with some hooky, sewing or knitting, or all of the above with may be a cosy cat, ensconced on top of said soft, bright patchwork, for extra warmth?
I don't have a cat or a dog - too many pet-allergies by other members of the household - but it's at times like these that I long for a large and friendly cat whose idea of comfort is the same as mine and with whom I could spend drowsy, contented evenings, under a quilt like this!
Of course it's quite possible that I am a bit starry-eyed about my own efforts and the reality may be, they get used at the bottom of the dog's basket or to pad a piece of furniture being transported in somebody's car but I shan't know and therefore I don't care!
Now where's my dream cat gone? And my cosy mug of hot chocolate with a fluffy marshmallow or two floating in it?!
And a good supply of those little chocolate snowballs in candy shells, rolling in powdery, icing sugar, without which Christmas is just not Christmas! H and I are addicted to these and I have to hide them if I want any for myself - don't tell him, but there's a secret stash already squirrelled somewhere marked for Mrs T's private consumption! Never mind my last Rolo, would I give away my last one of these?
... I might, but then again, I might not!