Using up scraps of fabric to make patchwork was one of my earliest interests. When I was a small girl learning ballet, Mrs Hotchkiss the pianist, would keep some grandmother’s garden patchwork on her knee. Between classes or while the teacher was explaining new ballet steps to the class, Mrs Hotchkiss would pick up her patchwork and, with the finest of stitches, create flowers out of hexagons backed with paper.
I watched Mrs Hotchkiss closely, went home and raided my mother’s box of dressmaking scraps, carefully cut hexagons out of stiff paper and set to work to make my first cushion. There were so many colours and textures. My mother loved the randomness of the cushion. It lived in the living room for many years.
While I was not built to last the distance with ballet, to this day I am intrigued by patchwork and its limitless possibilities with colour and pattern.
My favourite patchwork remains that which uses up a mixture of pieces. However, I do find myself buying co-ordinating pieces from the shop, as can be seen in some of the items below.
Sometime soon, I must start on making myself a magnificent quilt out of all the precious fat quarters lovingly collected over many years.
Ana’s quilt. A friend sold me her excess Peter Rabbit fabric and I pulled out co-ordinating scraps from my collection. Before Ana was born, her mother and I visited Grandmother’s Garden to find a few extra fabrics to add to the scraps from my collection. I think there are a couple of scraps in this quilt which were offcuts from little dresses made for Ana’s mother when she was a toddler.
Rafa’s quilt. Rafa’s mother suggested bright colours for her boy. It is sad when children are exposed only to the plastic fluoro colours of TV screens and computer monitors, so I chose brightly coloured New Zealand fabrics in recognition of Rafa’s mother’s New Zealand roots. It was such fun finding so many fabrics representing Kiwiana.
Aria’s quilt. This is the only quilt I have made from a kitset. I sent it to Aria with a copy of the Very Hungry Caterpillar book. Parts of the butterfly are hand quilted with gold thread.
Mirabelle’s quilt. I assembled this quilt using the quilt-as-you-go method, stitching each strip through the batting and the backing as I made each square, then sandwiching the squares together with the cream strips. I loved the soft floral pink, cream and green fabrics, which were bought while we were on holiday in the South Island. I ran out of fabric, so had to delve into my collection to finish the quilt. That’s where the blue colours came in.
Ari’s pants and boots. I found the pattern for these pants and boots in the book “Handmade Beginnings – 24 Sewing Projects to Welcome Baby” – a book full of funky ideas.
Jose’s Christmas stocking. I had such fun combining hand applique, hand embroidery, cross stitch and patchwork techniques to produce this Christmas stocking for my son-in-law. Rafa’s first Christmas is coming up, so I am beginning to think up some ideas for his stocking as, like his mother, father and sister, Rafa must have a custom-made stocking, too.
Do you have anything made from patchwork that has a story? I’d love to hear about it.