When I was at school, sewing and I really did not get on at all. I suspect much of it was because of a personality clash between the needlework teacher and me. Miss Hartt became known Miss Hartt-less in my head and I’d do anything not to get on with my sewing at school. Part of it was to do with how were were taught – no one really tacks (or bastes) before sewing a seam, but we were made to at school – now I simply pop pins in and whip them out as I sew. As then, I still cannot abide hand sewing.
With the success of the Great British Sewing Bee, it seems that everyone has gone sewing mad – and it came as a slight surprise to me just how much I enjoy playing with fabric and making things. I still have zero interest in dressmaking but adore pretty fabric and love making home furnishings – Roman blinds, cushion covers and my latest passion patchwork quilts.
You might think that to make a quilt (as a matter of semantics, patchwork is the cutting and the sewing together, and quilting is the stitching through the layers of fabric) you would cut loads and loads of small squares and then sew them all together one by one? Well you do, but the art of “piecing” means that you cut, sew then cut and sew again. So to make one of those 4 x 4 squares above you cut two long strips of fabric, sew them together, cut in half, sew again, cut into 4, turn two round and reassemble into a checked formation. It sounds complicated, but it is far faster than assembling square by square.
The Ultimate Quilting Bible (or as it should be The Ultimate Quilting & Patchwork Bible) will take you though the entire process – from how to use a sewing machine, how to cut using a mat, ruler and rotary cutter (a pizza cutter for fabric) – no scissors required, how to sew, re-cut and reassemble to make a quilt top. Then once your patchwork is done it tells you how to assemble the quilt – patchwork top, squishy wadding and back for the quilting, how to quilt by machine or by hand, and how to sew the binding on.
The 256 page book is large format, with clear uncluttered instructions and illustrations, and will hold your hand through the entire process from the basics to advanced techniques. For the less confident will consolidate what you learn in a class or quilting group. (I really recommend taking a class to get the basics right from the start).
Patchwork and quilting is a very very different skill to dressmaking and tailoring; far less frustrating, more meditative and comforting. I am universally a nicer person when I make things, it is impossible to be cross with the world when slicing and sewing, and slicing and sewing. The satisfaction as your quilt top grows larger and larger and is finally finished, cannot be underestimated. It is blissfully comforting to snuggle under a quilt you have made yourself, and what better present than a quilt, stitched with love for a baby, child or newly married couple?
I far prefer the patchwork part of the process, so like many other people send my patchwork off to be precision quilted with that perfect meander by a professional quilter with a computer controlled super machine – for something that you will have forever I think it is worth the investment.
The Ultimate Quilting Bible is published by Collins and Brown, cover price £14.99.
We received a review copy, but as ever all opinions our own.