I don’t often join in ‘quilt alongs’, in fact I have only ever once before participated in this sort of social media ‘coming together’ kind of idea and that was at least 5 years ago. Instagram, for all the criticism hurled at it - if used ‘nicely’ can be so much fun and when I saw that Camille Roskelley was hosting a quilt along for a log cabin style pattern called ‘Sweet Escape’ I was smitten. Perhaps as well it had something to do with the fact that I am revamping one of the bedrooms in our house and a new quilt for the bed was a good idea. The colour scheme in there will be navy and yellow and white so I rummaged in my stash and ….oh what I surprise….I had enough fabric to make a start.
I think it is one of those projects that is all about being organised. It is helpful to cut it all at the beginning and I am not always good at this - I tend to bumble along and like to adjust fabric choices as I go along, but actually in this case - it is better to be methodical and although it is ALOT of cutting, after that it’s a dream to sew.
It’s a fairly straight forward pattern, lots of strip piecing and as became evident almost straight away - it was going to be a revelation to me. You see I thought it was all about the blue and yellow, but actually it was all about my least favourite colour ‘beige’. In trying to decide how to do the contrasting low volume half of the blocks, I found myself using, more by accident really, a pile of beige coloured fabrics that I never ever thought I would use.
Beige really is a colour that I NEVER use - in home decor, clothes or quilt making, but….in this instance, well the bedroom has white walls and beige carpet (which was already there when we bought the house) and it seemed to go with the navy, yellow and white as a softener. It is anything but. The graphic nature of this quilt and this choice of colours completely took my breath away from the moment I put the first block up on my design wall.
The ever so slight tilt in colour gives it a graphic pop that I never would have imagined in a thousand years and I actually do have a good imagination. A few technical pointers - spray starch and constant pressing along with chain piecing make this project go quite quickly. Because of all the strips it can be prone to wobbling a bit, but the spray starch will help stabilise the blocks.
As the blocks came together, I started to really plan the alternating beige and white and once these blocks are placed in the quilt it starts to make sense. I also started seeing other people’s versions of the quilt pop up in the quilt along instagram tag - they were amazing. Some of the blocks made is just plain colours looked stunning and it was fascinating (and still is) seeing these pics pop up as the quilts are completed.
At the half way point I was completely enamoured with the way the colours work. How cool it is to make a patterns with the fabric and prints. I also had at this point a new tool to help me. At the Birmingham Festival of Quilts, I bought one of the new Juki quarter inch foots for my machine and oh boy… what a difference. This foot is absolutely essential - don’t really know how I managed without it. No clunky blade to scrunch your fabric just a solid precise foot to guide your fabric along and a perfect quarter inch all the way. I just can’t say enough good things about this - certainly money well spent.
As the quilt came together I thought how the simple pattern was really, it is all about colour placement and that is the fun part! I love all the seams at the back too - they give it a lovely heavy feel and I thought I might like to explore making a ‘pin tuck’ top after seeing this effect.
I sometimes find social media overwhelming and have great concerns about some of it’s effects, especially on young people, but the whole time I had been sewing this, I watched all the pics come up under the #sweetescapealong on Instagram. It’s a wonderful thing to see all the different colour combinations and very inspirational and a chance to make new friends in the quilting community.
So to the backing. I chose one of Bonnie and Camille’s woven checked cottons. MMMMmmmm. Not only is it lighter weight, checks are notorious for being difficult to keep straight and lined up…what was I thinking????.
Well the truth is, it is just perfect….perfect for a boy’s bedroom, perfect with the fabrics and a perfect compliment to the graphic pattern design. I have to say my least favourite part of making a quilt is the layering process. It takes me about 3 days to wind up to doing it.
Once that was done, I hung it over the banisters to settle for a few days and also to think about how to quilt it. I decided in the end to use a tried and trusted pattern - because of the linear nature of the quilt this sort of quilting pattern means you can take in two strips at a time and just quilt down in lines. Somehow it is reassuring when you can measure your progress so easily too.
Once again I was so thankful for my Juki - it made such light work of the quilting and it looks beautiful. I have written a review of the Juki QVP 2200 mini here if you are interested but this sewing machine has transformed my quilting life.
Finally to the binding and label - I chose a striped binding. They always look good and as it’s for a boys bedroom it seemed like a solid selection. As for the label, well I like to make handmade cross stitch labels and I always name my quilts for posterity. This time I settled upon the name of ‘Pathways’. The graphic nature of this maze like quilt makes me think that over the years little fingers will inevitably trace the pathways across the quilt finding different routes. I made this quilt for our younger son’s room, and he is busy working in London most of the time, but when he comes home to relax he is always looking for the way to the pot of gold - perhaps this will help him find it.
Quilts are the most amazing things to make - they take a long time, but they should last a long time too. I have loved being part of the quilt along and feel so inspired by all the fab makers out there. This pattern from Thimbleblossoms is really a classic, with easy to follow diagrams and instructions and Camille’s inimitable style. It will work every time!