Flamingos on Vacation – Creating a Modern Baby Quilt

After going through a phase of beautiful, vintage floral quilt designs, I needed to shake things up. Then, suddenly, motivation hit me and all I could think about was creating an upbeat, modern quilt with cool geometric shapes.

Flamingos on Vacation was born.

Flamingo Quilt Inspiration

pineapple on the beach

It was mid-summer 2018 and, if you remember, the weather was sweltering in the UK. The grass was burning, the flowers struggling, and no amount of ice would keep me cool. I was guzzling sweet iced mango and Assam tea, or lime and earl grey tea (recipes coming soon for summer 2019) to bring some life back into my days.

The bright coloured fruit juices and punchy flavours were my inspiration. I wanted my next quilt to be bright, modern and full of life, like those tropical flavours.

Tropical vibes led me immediately to pineapples, swaying palm trees and daydreams of white sandy beaches. I was stuck there for a while before the quilt inspiration progressed. Unusually for me, I started finding and purchasing fabrics before I’d even had the design finalised in my mind!

Fabric Selection

flamingo and pineapple geometric quilt

I came across Fashion Formula several months previous. It’s a brilliant website where artists upload their designs and Fashion Formula print those patterns on a fabric of your choosing. After a quick ‘pineapple’ search I was immediately drawn to OJardin’s Pineapple pattern – and as if by fate, there was a matching pineapple and flamingo print that would co-ordinate perfectly.

It was the geometric design of the pineapples (and not being able to find any further tropical fabrics that would co-ordinate with OJardin’s) that started to push me towards a geometric design. I settled on triangles and set about finding a modest, verging on plain, set of fabrics to compliment my tropical stash.

Moda’s Catnip fabrics caught my eye and I purchased a set of charm squares to see how they’d match the tropical fabrics. After switching around and deciding to remove the black shades, everything fell into place.

A Geometric Pattern

framed pictures of a flaming, watermelon slices and a fairground ride

Triangles was an easy decision. It reminds me of watermelon slices, pineapple chunks, paper cocktail umbrellas, deckchairs, flamingos standing on one leg and more. When you start looking, there are a lot of triangle/geometric shapes in the summer months.

I chose half-square triangles rather than isosceles triangles for ease, convenience and to fit with the theme. With my charm squares already the right size, cutting into half squares only took a few hours spread over the evenings of one week. By keeping the right angles and having those long sloping triangle sides slanting up and down, the resulting effect was very modern, geometric and reminiscent of a sun-bleached cityscape with splashes of bright summer colour – exactly what I was aiming for.

In total, it only took me 5-6 hours to cut and place all the triangles together. There was a lot of re-arranging to ensure that the flamingos were perfectly displayed. I fussy-cut the fabric, creating more waste than I’m usually happy with, to get the look I was going for.

Then it was just a matter of piecing. As it’s only a baby-size flamingo quilt, I had this finished in a weekend.

Experimenting with Hand Quilting

hand-stitched quilt

Up until making this quilt, I’d been all about sewing long, straight lines by hand. But that caused problems with this quilt. With my triangles all facing different directions, I couldn’t simply sew from one side of the quilt to the other without breaking up the pattern.

So, I decided to do something completely new. I picked out several pink threads in different shades and set about hand quilting each triangle individually starting from the centre and working my way out. It took far longer than I anticipated but the effect is stunning. It really brings more to the back of the quilt than the front.

I missed out the flamingo triangles on the front of the quilt – they wouldn’t be enhanced by the additional colour and having some gaps on the back added to that modern feel I was looking for.

Finishing the Flamingo Quilt

corner quilt binding

Finally, it came to binding the quilt. I searched for about 2 weeks trying to find a fabric that would be suitable for the bias binding, with no luck.

I’m not sure when I had the idea to simply turn over the quilt backing to become a binding on the sides and front, but I’m quite proud of myself! It worked so well and brought more yellow and green to the front side of the quilt, balancing the pink of the flamingos.

Inspired by the not-quite-perfect lines and drawings in my fabric patterns, I opted to experiment further with sewing down the binding. I picked 3 colours and sewed around the edge 3 times, purposefully ensuring that the lines swerved and dipped in an informal fashion.

Admiring the finished flamingo quilt, I was pleasantly surprised at how well my little summer project had worked out.

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