Friday, 22 April 2011

Dad's Special Family Quilt

After making the pillow case and the cushion, both with the embroidered writing on them, I had an idea to make a quilt for my Dad (seeing as he will be the only one without a quilt) and I asked all of the family to write a little message to him like they would in a birthday card or such and send them to me and I would transfer them onto fabric and embroider over them.  I have put quite a detailed description of how I worked out the blocks etc for the quilt in the hope it might help someone else who wants to design the quilt before they sew it all together to get a certain look.

I asked them all to fit their message on a 4 inch square as this would give me room to embroider over it and not lose any of the detail in the writing.  Also I have made quilts before using 4 inch squares so know it would come out a good size. 

After I had asked them this I decided I would actually cut the squares for the quilt 4.5 inches big then this would give me a 1/4 inch seam all round and would not matter if the went near to the edge on their paper square.

I wanted to do a block for each member of the family or there abouts, the block being made up from 6 small squares and one long block that is the size three squares having the message as the centre square.  I also wanted the long blocks to match up in a zig zag pattern across the quilt so I decided to plan the quilt using my Paint Shop Pro software.

There are quite a lot of people in my family so I counted them up and found I had 29 altogether which was a good number as it meant I could do the quilt with 30 blocks (6 x 5) and have one block in the centre saying something like "Dad's Family Quilt".

I drew a rectangle on am A4 shaped white background and then divided it into the 30 blocks using a black line.  Then I went over it again and divided the blocks into threes each way using a grey line so I wouldn't get muddled up.  I then had a blank canvas showing all the quilt as if it was wholly made up with the small squares.  Then I went into each block and covered over three squares in each showing the long rectangular pieces and got them to go in a zig zag.  Next I went to the centre of each block and planned who's name would be in each block.

After this I counted out how many squares I had cut out of the patterned fabrics in each colour.  I am using three main colours for the quilt, brown, orange and a lighter creamy colour.  In the brown and orange colours I have three different fabrics for each and in the creamy section I have two.  I also had some that were a black and white check fabric with a gold line through that looked nice with the other fabrics so I was using these as well.

I had 15 of the black and white squares so my quilt being 30 squares altogether meant I could put one black and white square in every other block so these went on first.  I assigned the color grey for these squares.  Next I did the cream as I had just about 15 of each, one was a light cream and one was more a beige so I went through and put these in alternate squares.  Then I went through and filled up the other squares with either orange or brown making sure no two squares of the same colour were right next to each other.

Once I was happy with the result (took quite a few hours to get it right, best thing of using the computer to do it all so I dont have to keep screwing up the paper and starting again!) I then counted out the individual patterns for each colour and marked these on the grid as well spacing them out.  The three fabrics for the browns were one flowery, one with bricks on it and one that I just called reddy brown, so I put a small initial on each brown square saying whether it was either F, B or R/B.  I did this for the orange too and the cream I just put L or D as to whether it was light or dark.

I now had a pretty good idea of how to make up the quilt.  One last thing I did was to check which fabrics had a pattern that I could turn around so that some were going horizontally and some vertically (as in sort of stripey fabrics.  I then went through the grid again and marked arrows on to show which way to place the fabric.

Then I saved it all and printed out a copy.  This is what the chart looks like now I have it printed out.

The white squares are the ones with the names on.

I had started to embroider a few of the message squares, here is the one I did for myself and also a pic showing it with some of the fabrics I am using for the quilt.

I went through the stash of squares and sorted them all into little piles so I knew which ones would be for each person's block and put them in a pile so I know I have them all correctly sorted out.  Now I was able to start sewing up the blocks of the ones I already had the messages done.  This is a pic of my Grandson Ryan's block with a close up of his little message.

Thats as far as I have gone for now, I have about 5 blocks already made up and a couple more ready to sew.  I am still waiting for the other messages to come in so I can get on with the rest.  I will update the post as I go.

I have managed to get all the squares done now and have pieced them all together and have started the long road of hand quilting it all together.  I will post a pic when it is finished.


  1. What a lovely idea, I`m sure it will become a family heirloom and look forward to seeing the finished version x

  2. This is such a lovely idea :) Can't wait to see it finished!