This was the second quilt I made. It’s a throw shabby chic quilt to have over your summer bed covers, or just admire thrown over the back of your wicker chairs. It’s currently for sale right here on our website, so I thought I’d tell the story of how this quilt came to be.
Image credit: Essex Life Mag
Cressing Temple, a historical site not too far from my home, has a beautiful Tudor walled garden that’s maintained perfectly with stone paths, flowers and hazelnut trees. It was one of my favourite places to visit when I was a kid, not just for the medieval fayre and history lesson (it’s one of the earliest sites owned by the Knights Templar), but for the stoned pathways and maze-like hedges I ran through in the sun.
This was my inspiration. I wanted to capture the geometry and stone walls typical of Tudor gardens with the beauty of nature that grows within them.
Sifting through my fabric collection with the idea of that garden in my mind and the greens immediately leapt out. But the colours? That was a tricky decision. It couldn’t be bright, that wouldn’t look right.
Lavender was my first consideration. It’s always reminded me of medieval times. That dull, muted colour would work so well against the mossy greens and aged stone walls. But, my collection of purple fabrics just wasn’t working. The green with the purple was screaming Joker (from the Batman comics) at me, not elegant garden.
Then pink happened. Not bright pinks but pale pinks and peaches with floral designs that reminded me of waterlilies and roses climbing over a trellis. Trellises, stone ponds and winding paths led me to warm browns and my quilt colour selection was complete.
Mostly I used fabrics from my existing collection of scraps and clothes, but I also bought Emily Silhouette in green by Liberty, Botanica Antique Birds on Vine by Makower, and Wildflowers Tana Lawn by Liberty.
Pattern and Technical Guidance
Flicking through my favourite quilt book, The Gentle Art of Quilt Making by Jane Brocket, I stumbled across what I consider to be one of the least attractive quilts in the book. I’d glanced at it a few times before. The combination of yellow and blue in the ‘postage stamp’ quilt never really sung to me. But with the image of an intricate walled garden circulating my head, it suddenly was exactly what I needed.
With so many of Jane’s beautiful quilts, the colour palette is very limited and feeds off one colour. They use glorious beautiful, big-print patterns, while I had a stack of fabric scraps with small, intricate patterns that contrasted well. That’s why the alternating contrasting colours of the ‘postage stamp’ design was perfect.
I used her instructions as rough guidance for laying out and piecing the shabby chic quilt. My quilt ended up quite a bit smaller than hers, with an alternating border and different backing design.
Piecing the small scraps took a lot of time, laying them out on the carpet, swapping them around, cutting more squares and going back and forth. Piecing took at least 3 months, on weekends and after work.
The Decision to Quilt by Hand
This quilt is shabby chic. Many corners don’t quite meet up and it has that homemade charm. It’s not supposed to look like it’s rolled right off a machine belt, so quilting with my sewing machine seemed the wrong choice.
I quilted by hand over several months using a beautiful vintage pink thread, Rose du Barri by J. Dewhurst & Sons. It’s dark enough to show against the greens and pale pinks on the front of the quilt, but melts in seamlessly on the back, letting it feel like an uninterrupted meadow – a great contrast to the walled garden on the front. It took time and patience, sewing lines down and across in a grid pattern, but it was worth it. The finish is beautiful.
Why Is It for Sale?
Making this quilt was certainly an experience! It’s so relaxing to make a quilt. It focuses my attention on just one thing. It’s tranquil. But now the shabby chic quilt is finished I so rarely use it. I still love the pink and green colour combination but my heart really lies with dark blues and purples.
Rather than have it locked away in the cupboard, I want it to be loved and adored by someone who can appreciate it every single day. With the funds raised from selling this quilt I’m going to buy all the fabric I need to create a new one.