Friday, 15 November 2013

The Very Hungry Caterpillar - Gift quilt

I had been considering making something special and personalised for our niece's 1st birthday, but in my usual style I forgot until the week of the birthday came around. Oops.

In a mad panic and with a zillion ideas in my head but nothing concrete to work off - quilt, clothes, soft toy - off I went to Spotlight. Of course they had the perfect fabrics to inspire my creative side - gorgeous Eric Carle quilting fabrics! Panels and patterns of caterpillars, butterflies, food and dots all in the same brilliant colours and styles used to illustrate the children's book!

What toddler (and parent) doesn't love the story of the very hungry caterpillar? Its a classic that never goes out of fashion.

With the birthday fast approaching I didn't really have time to get too intricate and I didn't want to risk trying too many new techniques in case I mucked it up so in the end I went with a  fairly simple improvised strip layout quilt.

I took one of each of the thee large panels that show the progression of the caterpillars' life - a tiny caterpillar on a leaf, a large caterpillar and a butterfly;  added wide strips of caterpillar pattern either side and then alternated these wide 'focus' strips with narrower strips of the coordinating food pattern (one red apple, two green pears, three purple plums...). I had initially planned for it to be a cot or lap sized quilt but in the end it came out at something pretty close to single bed size which is fine in this case.

I think it would be pretty difficult to make something ugly with these fabrics, but even so I'm really pleased with how it turned out. It's busy with all those patterns competing with each other, but deliberately so.

The finished  Very Hungry Caterpillar quilt (front view)
Grr! blogger keeps rotating it on me - just tilt your head to the left :)

I wanted something reasonably dark on the back of the quilt (compared to the mostly white front anyway) so it could be thrown on the floor or on the grass at the park without worries about stains. I ended up going with a single piece of red fabric with rainbow circles.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar Quilt (back)

The quilting was kept really minimal - just stitched in the ditch on all the strip and panel seams plus a couple of extra straight lines following the patterns on the fabric. I hope that's enough. I probably should have done some more quilting, maybe outlined the large image on the panels and some random pattern on the expanses of panel, but it seemed to hold together pretty well.

A solid, bright red binding (machine attached) and a fussy-cut rectangle of the caterpillar fabric for the label completed the quilt.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar quilt (coordinating label)  
The finish of the quilt is still not quite at the quality level that I want it to be, but it works and I'm getting better with each quilt I make.  I learnt a couple of things from this quilt:

  1. I really need to practice and improve my hand stitching - that label probably took longer to attach than it took to make the rest of  the quilt and the stitching is nowhere near invisible (or even particularly neat); and 
  2. I need to try to get closer to the edge of the binding fabric when I'm machine binding.
 I'm told the quilt was well received and has been getting a ton of use over recent weeks which makes me super happy - after all what's the point of a quilt if not to be rolled around on, snuggled with and used? I hope the special little girl that received this quilt continues to enjoy it and gets lots of use from it.


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