The Hungry Caterpillar quilt

I’ve made another quilt. This is the final baby project that I worked on the back end of last year. I came across the Hungry Caterpillar fabrics by Eric Carle, produced by Andover, a while ago and knew that I wanted to create something with them. I snatched up a fat quarter pack and set about finding a good quilt pattern.

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I found this fantastic I-spy quilt, made from a disappearing nine square block. I loved the neat lines and bright colours - it seemed perfect. There is a lot of cutting involved to create the top: 88 centre squares, 88 black squares, 22 turquoise squares, 22 black rectangles and 20 small turquoise squares. I managed to cut them out in a couple of hours with some music on. Once you get in the zone, it is amazing how quickly the piles of cut fabric mount up. I deliberated for quite a bit whether using black was a good idea. I needed a colour that would make the caterpillar material pop and from all of the cotton in my stash, the black was the only one that seemed to work. The turquoise is the left overs from the baby kimonos

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Stitching the squares was easy, although a little repetitive as I worked in assembly mode. Every piece that needed to be stitched was pinned before it went through the machine to make sure I lined up the seams well. I used the chain stitch method, where you leave a few stitches between each piece instead of cutting the threads, as it is a great time saver. The pinning probably doubled the time I spent of the top but it was worth it. I’m rather pleased with how well the seams line up on the majority of squares - they aren’t perfect but you can’t see any that are very noticeably off. This also means that my cutting was pretty accurate. Accuracy is key to patchwork I've discovered, and definitely worth spending time on. 

I made sure that I didn’t rush the section where you slice your nine square blocks through the middle, both horizontally and vertically, to create four new pieces. It was slightly nerve racking as I was out of black cotton by this point but thankfully the inside seams were level enough to produce a good result.

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The backing is a recycled beige duvet cover. Pinning the batting and the backing wasn’t as hard as my first quilt attempt. I laid all of the layers over the ironing board and worked line by line. I found it much easier to smooth out the fabric this way than placing the whole thing on the floor. I wanted to keep the quilting pattern simple. I stitched around each square. Yep, all 88 of them. Tedious doesn’t even cover it! And that doesn't take into account the unpicking of many wonky seams. I was very glad to finish the final square. The quilt is bound with bought bias tape as I had run out of turquoise fabric and honestly couldn’t face making 5m of binding after all that quilting. The colour isn’t a perfect match but it is close enough to some of the blues in the squares. I used my blind hem foot to help give an even edge stitch throughout. 

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The quilt was a surprise gift for our friends who have recently had a little boy. It's now making its way to them but I'm still a little unsure about the black! 

A lesson learned

What do you do when you have no option but to sew in the lounge and your boyfriend's TV viewing is interrupted by the whirling of your sewing machine? To the point that the subtitles go on? Well, I could just leave it but I try to be more considerate than that. 

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I made a mat to put under my machine in the hope that it would dampen the noise. The jury is still out but at the very least it provides some extra protection to the table to. 

I had some left over batting that seemed the most logical thing to use. To make the mat look pretty I thought I could use up some my scraps and then quilt it. I would use the leftover fabric from my Laurel as the back and bias. A quick look around the internet led me to half square triangles. I had plans for nice, neat edges that matched up perfectly.

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Turns out I was doomed from the beginning. I struggled to get the squares the right size, even with using a template. However, I didn't realise this until I had created the triangles! I thought about trying to straighten up the squares with my shears but caved in and bought a rotary cutter. I honestly don't know why I didn't buy one before. 

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Sadly, the magic of the cutter didn't work. While I ended up with squares that were uniform in size, the centre seams were off, horrendously off in many cases. I could see just how off once I had stitched several of them together. I almost threw them away, to start again from scratch but realised that many of the imperfect matches were going to live underneath my machine. No one would see them! 

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So I pushed on. The quilting was interesting as I needed to use the seam lines as a guide for the pattern but of course they weren't helpful in many places! If you squint, you can see how uneven the stitching lines are on the back.

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Ah well, it isn't perfect but it will do. And I learnt a lesson: cutting accurately for patchwork at the beginning of the project really is essential for a nice finish. I must remember this for my next project as I'm planning Christmas presents now...