23 July 2013

A Cat Sized Quilt - Adventures in English Paper Piecing

Spring this year was a little rough for us at the House of Piper Ewan. My company's namesake, and furry partner in crime turned seventeen at the end of April. She had been feeling under the weather, so for her birthday, she got to go to the vet. Not the best birthday present, I know, but since we celebrate birthdays not only for the accomplishment of years, we also wish for many returns of the day in the future. Suffice it to say her diagnosis and treatment are working and she is almost her old grumpy self, but the May and June were difficult months indeed.

One thing for those of you living with pets knows for all practical purposes we share living quarters they insist upon taking up residence in places you might prefer that they didn't, like your pillow. I had made a small cat-sized quilt for her to perch and sleep upon so I didn't have to sleep on discarded fur. When one small cat is ill, well, you learn that you need at least TWO cat sized quilts. What one who has pets also may notice is that things made for pets to sit upon are UGLY and don't necessarily blend in with one's decor.

At the end of May, I got to meet Haley of The Zen of Making and we had a making day where my friend Diane Gilleland of Craftypod was going to teach several of us English Paper Piecing. I had planned on making a cat sized quilt with 1" hexagons for Piper; which seemed a little daunting, but I was up for the task. Except that Diane accidentally forgot the bigger hexagon templates at home! Her mom saved the day with tiny 1/2" hexagons, which led to a good candidate for this year's insanity project, but once I start something, I feel determined to finish it! If you live here in Portland, Diane teaches awesome classes and Haley has written tutorials on the subject which are posted at the end of this piece. The rest of this post is mostly in pictures. It took a month and a half, because the whole quilt is pieced and quilted by hand.

The first several blocks.
Piper supervised through all steps of the process. Normally, I don't let her sit on my work, but she knew that this was hers.
Sewing the blocks together.
The back with the papers still in them.
After the papers were taken out.
Pinned and ready for quilting.
Always supervising.
Back quilting detail.
She insisted upon laying on it as I sewed the last stitches.
Definitely a satisfied customer. This photo was taken a couple of weeks after I finished. She sleeps on it every night.

Haley has posted a tutorial for English Paper Piecing here. Want to see more photos of my process? There is an entire album here.


Diane Gilleland said...

It's so beautiful, and it was awesome to see it up close when we got together. Your hand-quilting is so pretty! And I love all the careful orientation of your hexies.

I showed Pushkin, who looked indignant and said, "Well I guess SOME cats get to have nice things. Apparently others DO NOT." And then he walked away in a huff.

Mike Pearson said...

Wow!!! It hurt my hands and fingers to look at those tiny hexies! My big old male hands will not do them that small! Nice job! I also have a kitty quilt for my 18 lb. tabby! He loves it! Keeps him off of my good quilts! :)

Lisa Peden said...

This is beautiful! I love how you included black fabric in this quilt--so it would "coordinate" with Piper Ewan! When I first saw one of these pics on Mike Pearson's Google+ Hexie group, I thought the kitty wasn't real--because she blends in so well with her background! ;)