Nan's Improv

My guild has a monthly sew day. And in March, we had a big group sewing activity where we made scrappy improv blocks to turn into charity quilts. Unfortunately, being Presdient, I tend to spend my sew days talking to everyone instead of sewing, so I didn't actually contribute anything to the community quilts. And I went home with itchy fingers ~ someone get me to a sewing machine! STAT!

I had bought some random white material to contribute to the community quilts, but brought it home with me with the intention of making some improv blocks and then contributing them to the charity pile.

I kept within our challenge criteria - that the blocks be improv and primarily made from scrap. Lucky for me I have quite the scrap collection.

And check it - arranged by colour. Who doesn't love a rainbow?

So knowing I had white yardage I grabbed 3 random colours from the scrap pile and jumped in. Why did I pick yellow pink and orange? I have absolutely no idea. I added some grey to give it depth and from pink a bit of red came in, which I liked, and away I went.

 Chop chop chop.

I love the slice and insert type improv. It's a little bit more wasteful and crumb peicing, but I love the way it feels like there is negative space without there being big expanses of nothingness.

And it was fun!

I was whiping out 4 or 5 blocks at a time. So my plan of making just a couple, turned into a quilt tops worth. And the more I made the more it felt less like a charity quilt and more like something that might be just right for my Nan. 

You see, my Nan turned 90 in April and we were having a big family do for her. Ashley and I flew down to Melbourne for the weekend, and one set of uncles and aunties flew over from Perth, so you see, it was a big deal. And while Nan had said no presents, no one can turn down a handmade something something... And when she recently moved into the nursing home, she had decorated her room in pink, orange and purple...

This is my Nan at her party. Isn't she the cutest!
One of my cousins decided she needed a birthday bear. That's the kind of Nan she is <3

Anyway, back to the story.

Well, knowing that Nan's room was orange and purple made me feel like my subconscious must have had a plan all along, and that this quilt was destined for her.

I just needed to get the blocks all made, sashed together somehow, bound and quilted before the party in 3 weeks time.  And ya'll know how slow I am as a quilter, right? Ok, so ambitious.

But the blocks got done, and I decided to sash with purple (don't ask me why, I was originally going with grey, but the purple spoke to me). The only photo of the top by itself is this one...

The difference between the quilt before its sashed and after with the addition of the purple, really is striking to me. It's like a completely different quilt!

Next up I needed to get it quilted and bound. I admit I tried to convince my friends and acquaintances with long arm machines to quilt it, but time was a serious factor by this stage. You see, I finished the top on Sunday, and we flew to Melbourne on Thursday...

I tried to machine quilt it myself, but it was a disaster. I had puckers the size of the Grand Canyon. It was terrible. So I spent an entire night ripping out what I had done. But now I was a day down, and had nothing to show for it!

In a blind panic, I did the binding (in a purple satin, so it'll be comforting to rub your fingers against), and figured I'd work out the quilting next.

(Surprisingly this did not turn out as badly as it had the potential to do. The problem was, my new quilting plan was hand stitching, which I could do while we were traveling, but I couldn't do the binding without my machine. So I ran the risk, and it luckily paid off. Not something I'd do unless I really had to though.)

Once the binding was on, I got my handy purple perle and got my sew on.

I went really simple with a cross inside a square in what would be the cornerstone of each block. It was actually a perfect way to spend the first day of our weekend away. Melbourne being Melbourne meant we had a fireplace, so I quite happily sat and stitched beside the fire.

The last stitches went in right as we were due to leave for the birthday party, so I grabbed an off cut of the backing and used that to wrap the quilt.
I think it looked pretty cute.

We dashed to the party and made a fantastic entrance (being that we were 35 minutes late - bad granddaughter) gave Nan a big kiss and her quilt and then enjoyed an afternoon chatting with my cousins.

The quilt itself, feels a little modern for Nan. Once it was done, I realised that she probably would have liked something a bit more traditional, but still, she knows it was made for her with love and that's the important part.

So this is now officially the fastest quilt I've ever made. A total of less than 4 weeks, from conception to delivery. 

And it's all thanks to the Brisbane MQG, for hosting an improv scrap sew day.  So thanks BrisMQG! You're the bestest!

E xx

Unfortunately, since her birthday, Nan got a bit unwell, but my Aunty sent me this photo of Nan, with her quilt at the hospital.

While I am sad that Nan wasn't well, I'm glad that she is using her quilt. And she is back home now and feeling better.


  1. I cannot tell you how excited I am to be reading posts from you again! And this quilt! I bet your Nan loves it too.


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E xx