Have you ever wanted something real bad and then, when you get it, all you can do is sit and grin at it?
I’ve been grinning at my finished fusion quilt for a couple of weeks now and I figure it’s time to share it with you. I know some of you will be happy to celebrate with me!
A brief re-cap of the project:
I started this quilt in autumn of 2017. As you may remember, I sell vintage linens on Etsy and, in handling my treasures, I often come across pieces that are too damaged to sell.
And, yet, these damaged items still have patches of perfection. A pillowcase may have a big hole in the middle but lovely crochet along the edge. Bugs may have chewed a hole in an embroidered and starched tablecloth but left other areas pristine.
I have never been able to throw these pieces in the trash. Over the years, I’ve piled up a ton of “pretties”—the perfect sections from otherwise useless linens. I always thought I’d find a project for them.
And then I read a post by Tialys, about an approach called a “fusion quilt,” which uses squares of fabric, sewn with batting, edged with blanket stitch embroidery, and crocheted together.
A quick trip to Pinterest gave me more inspiration and I knew I’d found the perfect vehicle for my precious bits of vintage linens, my pretties.
The quilt ended up with 108 5-inch blocks. I included bits from hankies, napkins, towels, tablecloths, and pillowcases. Most of the fabrics came from my special drawer, although friends started bringing me bits they found, too. My favorite square of all is the pink kitty from a decrepit crib sheet, given to me by a dear friend in my sewing group.
In some cases, with sturdy pieces, I was able to layer the pretty piece with backing and batting, and just sew them and turn them inside out.
With very delicate hankies and such, I ironed the pretty into lightweight fusible web, to give it substance.
When my pretty had lacy or embellished edges I wanted to show, I layered in another piece of off-white fabric as a backing, stitching as much, or little, as I thought necessary.
I sewed blanket stitch around each square, to serve as a foundation for the crochet.
For the crochet, I used 3/2-weight mercerized cotton from my weaving stash. It is a nice weight, has a pretty sheen, and doesn’t stretch. I did only double crochet, nothing fancy, because double crochet is really the only stitch I know how to do.
I could have obsessed endlessly about the placement or the squares in the final quilt but I find I get bored with that easily. I did come up with a minimal plan, though, and then my cat rearranged everything for me. So, I ended up placing all the all-white blocks in the middle and then making a transition to borders of brighter-colored blocks at the edges.
After I had crocheted everything together (which didn’t take nearly as long as I feared), I did a row of single crochet around the whole outside edge and then went around again with good-old, reliable double crochet. (Truth be told, I used up hours of my life that I’ll never get back again, figuring out how to do a shell border that would fit tidily within the length of each square, then hated the way it looked.) I used a different cone of off-white cotton for that last border and it turned out to be slightly darker than what I had used for the rest of the quilt and I kind of like the look!
If ever there were a project that would benefit from being done over again, right now, with the lessons learned fresh in mind, it is this one. I could point out a zillion little mistakes, from bad planning, from inexperience, from winging it.
But I won’t!
All those years, when I taught public speaking to college kids, I told them that Rule One was never to draw attention to any problems or negatives in their speeches. They were NOT to tell us their hands were shaking or that they had forgotten their note cards. Why? Because if the speaker didn’t draw attention to the negatives, the chances were excellent no one else would ever notice. But, if the speaker drew attention to the problem, no one would ever be able to look away . . .
And so, I will follow my own advice and not draw attention to the flaws in my quilt.
Heaven knows, I have the pretties. And the quilt fits perfectly on a twin-size bed . . . and I have two of those.