Tuesday, 23 January 2018

The Twin Peaks Quilt


I made this quilt last December over the course of a really joyful, if slightly frenzied, few days. Every now and then it feels refreshing to cast off the coat of my own self (my regular coat being cut for a person who is slow and purposeful, whether cutting fabrics or sewing pieces; ponderous and unhurried whether deciding upon a pattern, choosing prints and colours or laying out pieces) and try on somebody else's coat. I'm not sure who the coat belonged to, but while I wore it, I sewed like the wind and didn't stop to question anything, so I'm a little reluctant to give it back.

I think this wardrobe change was brought about by having just a few days in which to make this quilt. You might remember, back in this post, I talked about how helpful I found it to put parameters around a creative project (in that case, matching the colours of the project to favourite paintings), and here, I found the same goes for imposing a seemingly unrealistic deadline on myself (through circumstance, rather than choice).

So, December: a friend was expecting twins and I'd been aware that her baby shower was approaching (baby showers very suddenly seems to be a 'thing' in the UK - I don't think I'd ever been to one before last summer, even though I know they've had them in the US for years), but then suddenly it was on top of me and just a few days away. When I stopped to think about what I wanted to give her, it was (unsurprisingly) a quilt. Or ideally, two quilts, but for me that would have moved things into the 'potentially inducing a total breakdown' territory, rather than the  uncomfortable 'seemingly unrealistic' category. So, in lieu of two quilts, I decided that making sure both babies were represented in the quilt in some way was the next best thing, so I called this the 'Twin Peaks' quilt and every triangle of fabric is repeated in pairs.


I sewed it together using Thangles (they're foundation paper piecing in its simplest form - you just machine-sew on the lines and then tear the papers away, but you're never piecing more than two pieces together per strip, so it's really simple). They speed up the sewing and ensure all your points meet up perfectly. I bought a selection of Thangles in different sizes years ago from M is for Make and have used them several times (to clarify: they're not reusable, I've just used different packs from my selection a few times!), and when I've gone to link to them, I've seen that they're now in the sale and a few sizes are completely sold out. Cue some panic purchasing on my part before sharing the link; if you'd like some, proceed calmly to the emergency exit shoot, where many of the oxygen masks have already been taken.


Here are some of the pieced strips, hanging from my chair, with numbered Washi tape stuck to each row to keep them in order.


I think the only thing I had to order for this quilt was a little extra linen (I used Essex Linen, in Flax), but everything else came from my stash. When it came to wadding, I considered piecing some from offcuts, but when it's a shared quilt for two babies, I thought it may be nicer to make something that they could lie on rather than under, so I wanted to make it thick enough to provide adequate padding for their heads if it were placed on the floor. I've had a super-soft fleece blanket in my cupboard since my own children were small - for some reason, it never got used and I've saved it, thinking it would make a lovely gift for someone at some point. Well, it has, although they'll never actually get to see it as it's safely tucked away inside the quilt!


Taking a small thought-detour: this great beast of a sofa takes up nearly a whole wall in our back room and it's perfect for afternoon naps (ever since I've known him, my husband has had a twenty minute sleep in the middle of the day, even when he used to work in an office). We don't currently have a dedicated quilt for it, although my husband's favourite is the red Charlotte Bartlett quilt and he often leaves this sprawled over the sofa once he's got up. It's an upsetting sight. Not because of the sprawling - which I actually like seeing, because it means that my quilts are in use - but because the colours, which in the garden feel vibrant and joyful, suddenly feel jarring and shouty in this plain room. It's impossible to convey quite how horrible it looks when not surrounded by other similarly bright things and while it isn't ideal to compare oneself to a bull, its redness does make me feel like going on the rampage. 

About once a week, we have the following conversation:

Me: Do you have to use the red quilt inside?
Husband: Yes, no other quilt is as comfortable. It's one of my favourite things. I have no idea why you don't like it.
Me: I do like it, but only in the garden. It wasn't meant to be used indoors.
Husband: Why do we have to have different quilts for different areas? Why can't I just use my favourite?
Me: Because it makes me feel cringe when I see it inside, because it makes my quilt look ugly. I'm going to make another one that you can use in here.
Husband: I won't use it. You'll never make another one that I love as much as this one. It's softer and nicer to lie under than all the other quilts.

Anyway, when I went to photograph the Twin Peaks quilt, I suddenly realised that linen will make everything right - it seems to temper down any colour or pattern that it mingles with...meaning that I could still use lots of vivid, colourful prints...but they'd be less...violent. Although there's a niggling voice at the back of my head presenting the following concerns:

1. My husband will almost certainly say that it's not as comfortable and may continue to use the red quilt.
2. He may use the new quilt, but will never love it as much as he loves the red quilt. And then there will be a subtle, but fundamental shift where he stops loving the things I've made because I've been so bossy about the hows and wheres of using them and wrenched away his favourite.

The whole idea of No.2 reminds me of a poem by Brian Patten, Angels Wings, which had been one of our favourites when we were teenagers. When I reread it just now, I think I've changed my mind slightly about what I think the poem is saying, but then we felt it was about wanting to change all the little bits of someone that annoy you, only to realise that you've lost the very essence of them in doing so. Either way, it's a beautiful poem. Although to clarify, it's not actually that my husband annoys me by using the red quilt...it's that the red quilt annoys me by being so red when it's inside the house. There could be a case for a chameleon quilt that changes to its surroundings.


Anyway, back to the Twin Peaks. I sat on the sofa hand-stitching the binding down with a racing heart - I don't think I've ever sewn in such a rush before and it made it clear to me (if it wasn't already) what an unfit candidate I'd be for any kind of sewing race, because I just kept telling myself: the time doesn't matter, you just need to make a quilt that will last for years, while accidentally stabbing at my fingertips over and over and trying not to hyperventilate. I considered going on time, but empty-handed, but in the end  texted to let my friends know that I'd be half an hour late. Although I then added a few minutes on to take some photos and package it up, because obviously, it doesn't exist if it hasn't been photographed. In seriousness though, I sometimes feel so attached to quilts, that I'm not sure I could go through with parting from them if I hadn't photographed them first, so while this may seem a loopy thing to spend time doing when already late, to me, it was the only way I could let it go! I say this as someone who is rarely late.

My friend's reaction on opening it was possibly one of the sweetest I've ever had when giving someone a quilt. Her lovely face was instantly flooded with tears and another one of our friends took a really beautiful photo of her at just that moment and I feel so pleased to have that as a reminder. I was really blown away by her reaction - it's feels a privilege to make something that means a lot to someone.

Her two babies have now arrived safely in the world and I'm so excited to meet them!


One of my favourite parts of this quilt is its binding - despite the stress of its application - Liberty Betsy is one of my very favourite prints.


The next day, when I was tidying up from making this quilt, I posted this little bird's nest of scraps on Instagram and someone unexpectedly told me that she could use them for her appliqué, even though they are barely any size at all, so they were posted off (minus the bits of paper from the Thangles) and it's made me happy to think that nothing went to waste with this quilt.


I'm off to bed now with a new book that my mum chose for me. What are you reading at the moment?

Sleep tight,
Florence x

36 comments:

  1. Just want to say that it’s an absolute delight to read your blog and I’m always happy when a new post pops up. I love reading about your projects and what your thoughts are, both linear and random. Not many blogs are surviving these days, and so many exist just to sponsor and sell things. So I appreciate the efforts you put into your writing. I am definitely a fan!
    Char in western Montana, USA

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    1. This was such a lovely message to find in my inbox this morning, Char! Thank you so much. x

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    2. Me too Chay. I smile when I see that Flossieteacakes has a post to read - always a delight.

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    3. I agree! A new post is always a lovely treat, and I love to read what you've been up to.

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  2. Oh my, this is so beautiful. There is nothing like Liberty fabric. I simply adore everything about the quilt from the name to the binding. I see one of these in my far distant quilting future, as there are so many things on my 'must quilt one day' list. x

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    1. Me too - I really enjoyed using so many different prints and I kept trying to mentally put them in order of favourites, but actually, they're all just so lovely. When I start looking closely, even the prints that I hadn't instantly fallen in love with have interesting details or colour combinations that make me warm to them. Do put it on your list - wearing the right coat you could have it done in no time! x

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  3. Angel Wings- you took me straight back to 1989, I loved the Liverpool poets and saw Brian Patten perform this poem at 19yrs old, still one of my favourites. I digress, a beautiful quilt, perfect for two babies to lie on together x

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    1. Me too - I think the first adult poetry book I ever owned was anthology of the Mersey beat poets. How wonderful to have seen him live - especially reading this poem. x

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  4. What a beautiful quilt and how wonderful that the reaction from your friend was so heartfelt. I so love your choice of prints. I'm currently reading Lullaby by leila slimani which has just been translated for the English speaking market. It has a terribly violent premise but had turned out to be a very insightful study of working mothers and their relationships with their children, partners and most especially the women they employ to look after their children. I'd recommend as a ripping summer read. After that I'm moving onto Call Me By Your Name as I'd like to read it before I see the film. Previously to lullaby I finished a book of short stories by Margaret Atwood called Stone Mattress. I'm not usually a short story reader but she's such a good writer that each story felt like a mini novel! Let us know what you're reading!

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    1. Oh that's interesting - I often feel the same about short stories - it can be hard feeling either like you never quite got to know the characters well enough, or really loving them and feeling like you wanted so much more. Maile Meloy's 'Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It' was an exception to that for me - I really loved that collection and the stories felt quite 'whole'. I later lent it to my dad to read while he was taking my son to swimming lessons and he obviously enjoyed it too as he forgot to pick my son up until he'd reached the end of a story - he's normally very reliable, so that seemed a good endorsement for the book)! I've only watched Margaret Atwood, rather than read her, so maybe her short stories would be a good place to start as, like you, I don't like reading a book after the film, so Handmaid's Tale is now off the list.

      Lullaby sounds interesting - I'll look it up on Amazon.

      Wishing you a lovely weekend. x

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  5. Love your beautiful and clever quilt! And this post is so funny!! I am reading An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris, it's about the Dreyfuss Affair and very meaty and gripping - I'm in a 'boys books' phase at the moment!

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    1. Is it fiction based around the Dreyfuss Affair or an actual account? Either way, it sounds quite weighty! x

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  6. I loved reading about your "coat". I think I've got the same one but have also worn your new one lately.... I wanted to make something special for my granddaughter's first birthday but inspiration was a long time coming. by the time it did there was only the minimum amount of time left. I made her a bag containing smaller bags, all with different fastenings - the little ones were based on your tea bag bag pattern. BUT - unlike you I forgot to take photos in the rush to get them posted - aaaarrrgh!

    I love your quilt and also the scraps - I'd have been after them too if I'd seen them. I have in the past taken scraps like this and sewn them all onto plain cloth and then cut that cloth up to make small things (can't remember what now!) and I'm now keeping another bag of all my tiny scraps to do that again. Smaller scraps go for recycling.

    I am currently reading "Stitches in Time: the Story of the Clothes we Wear" by Lucy Addlington, bought in a charity shop. Fascinating stuff - have just finished reading about cloaks and coats. Also (I usually read more than one book at once...) have just started "The Village News" by Tom Fort "The truth behind England's rural idyll. He bicycles round villages and he also lives in my part of the world so that should make for good reading.

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    1. Well that's doubly brave, as putting it in a postbox always provokes Extreme Photographing in me, as I feel so paranoid that it might be lost forever. What an amazing idea though - did she love it? I can imagine that being totally magical for a child, like a set of Russian Dolls (I would have loved it and I know my daughter would too - I once made her a bag with a secret zippered pocket inside a zippered pocket (picture here: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-fvA7mrvEbS0/ULS5m8eG3gI/AAAAAAAAMzM/Dywmuhfexy0/s1600/IMG_2168.JPG) and she really loved that.

      The Village News sounds like it could have been written for you! What's the truth that he's revealing behind the rural idyll though? Does he end up interviewing the inhabitants or staying in each village for a while to observe them?! I'm intrigued.

      So pleased to have shared a coat with you! x

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    2. I think the bags have indeed gone down well, and yes it was the Russian doll idea that came to mind. I made each one with a different fastening - it won't be long before those one year old hands are trying to fasten and unfasten them all. Your zip pocket within a zip pocket is amazing!
      I've only just started the book so can't answer your questions at the moment, though apparently he thinks the village is not dead as some people think.

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  7. What a beautiful quilt and so lovely to think of 2 babies enjoying lying on it. A wonderful gift.

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  8. I just read How To Behave in a Crowd by Camille Bordas and I loved it. Parts of it were serious and parts of it were SO funny. I think you'll know from the first few pages if it's a sense of humor you connect with or not, but I have a feeling from your blog that you will??

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    1. Oh wow - I've just read the precis of it on Amazon and it really appealed. As soon as I've worked my way through some of the books piling up by my bedside, I'll be ordering it! Thank you for the recommendation - I'll let you know what I think. x

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    2. Oh good! I love recommending books. For some reason it's so satisfying.

      And by the way your quilt is so lovely! I apologize for just jumping to the book stuff and not commenting on that before!

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  9. Thanks for another brilliant post. I really want to male a quilt like yours using Liberty fabricsand Essex linen. Were the Liberty pieces all same weight or could one use lawn as well?. Can you tell me the size of Thangles used and the finished size of the quilt, and I can start dreaming and planning....

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    1. Hello Carolyn, all of the Liberty pieces that I used were Tana lawn, so from my experience, I think the lawn and linen work well together :)

      I used 4" Thangles - when I looked last, I think M is for Make had sold out of them in that size, but you may well be able to find them in other places. I hope that helps!

      Please do send me a photo of your quilt if you make one similar - I'd love to see. x

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  10. Have you read All the Light We Cannot See? It's a beautiful book--I highly recommend it. Love the quilting you did on this lovely quilt. I think you have to just give up on your husband's obssession with the red quilt. Just get him to put it back where it belongs when he's done canoodling with it!

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    1. I have - one of my all time favourite books. It's one that's really stayed with me.

      After I'd read it I bought About Grace, also by Anthony Doerr, but was disappointed to find that I didn't love that nearly as much (although I think he may have written that first, so I'm imagining he may just get better and better and I'm looking forward to reading whatever he writes next).

      A random recommendation in return: have you read Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger? I really enjoyed it. x

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  11. The obvious solution to your dilemma is to redecorate the living room to match (or at least accommodate) the favoured quilt. That or get a new husband - but yours seems like quite a good one. Did you have the Twin Peaks theme in your head the whole time you were sewing? I've read your post to it (mentally). Lovely work as ever! Am currently listening to Don Quixote. It's very long, very silly, and in places quite disgusting - farts, poo, and projectile vomiting have evidently been funny for centuries. x

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    1. BTW have you changed the font here? The last two posts have been in very tiny type. x

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    2. We do actually joke about that - on my phone he's listed as Husband A, so that he's the first thing that comes up in my contacts alphabetically...but there being a Husband A does seem to imply that I may trade him in at some point for Husband B! But no, be off with your awful comments, Nina! You know that we've been down the red route before in what you helpfully named the antechamber and it didn't last long - painting the room to match the quilt isn't going to happen ;)

      Are you enjoying all the farts and projectile vomiting or feeling as though you may have more delicate sensibilities than the intended audience?

      x

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    3. Oh and yes, I have totally changed the font! I've looked at in my phone and on my computer just now and it doesn't look small to me though. Is it painfully small on your screen? I may have to change it if it's causing problems... x

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    4. The type is very very tiny on two different machines and two different browsers - I'd say about half the size it used to be! I would say uncomfortably small. As for the farts etc I'm more amused that they're in there than by them, if you see what I mean?? I think DQ will be interspersed with other things rather than listened to all at once - I've already interrupted it for the new Philip Pullman (real treat, read by Michael Sheen). x

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    5. Has this fixed it?

      I see what you mean. Also about certain books needing to be interspersed...although those that require it are often ones that I only ever make it 3/4 of the way through...could it be one of those? x

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  12. I'm not being original by saying how wonderful your blog is. You have an amazing talent of transmitting soothing waves to your readers even when you describe the frenzy of being late !
    I love, love, love your quilt and I am very tempted to give it a go. The topstich parallel to the diagonal is very chic - I'll be copying that too I'm afraid.
    Your 'red quilt cringe but love husband' dilemena made me think. I thought that the answer may be in your own blog post. How about covering the red quilt with a new quilt - a little like using the fleece blanket as your wadding for the Twin Peaks quilt. Would it still be considered as the same quilt for your husband?

    Also I completely understand the need to take a picture. I force myself to do the same when making my lampshades otherwise they are lost in oblivion and it seems as though I have done nothing with my time.

    In any case, thankyou for sharing and please keep feeding us.

    Naomi

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    1. Thank you so much, Naomi - that was such a lovely comment to read :)

      It sounds like we will have twin Twin Peaks - please do share a photo if you make one - I'd love to see.

      Ha! That's a good idea, but he LOVES its redness and would be horrified by the idea of me covering it up.

      x

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  13. http://freshlypieced.com/2018/01/perfect-half-square-triangles-in-less-time.html

    I just heard about these - possibly comparable to thangles?? Beautiful quilt, lovely writing. I know that you mean about quilts for certain purposes. My husband made the bed for his parents visit and used the wrong side up of a double sided quilt. Horrible. I like one side up for snuggling but if it is flat on full display the other.

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    1. Yes, they're almost identical! What a good find - thank you!

      I would feel exactly like that! (so much so, that I have said to my husband in the past - if you have to use the red quilt, can you at least use it the right way up). x

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  14. This is so very lovely! Pretty sure I would have burst into tears upon receiving it, too!

    I'm currently reading "Vacationland" by John Hodgman. It was a Christmas gift, and not something I would have bought for myself, but it's quite enjoyable. :)

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    1. Ah, thank you, Sonja.

      I haven't heard of that - I quite like being given a random book as I'm often so swayed by what the cover looks like that I'm sure I miss out on a lot if confined to my own choices!

      Glad you're enjoying it - I'll look it up. x

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Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a message - it's always really lovely to hear from people.

I now tend to reply within the comments section, so please do check back if you've asked a question or wish to chat.

Florence x

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