How to make a North London Quilt

I’ve never been I’m a fan of quilting. I thought it looked like a pain in the rear end to cut things out, sew them together, then sew more together, so on and so on… and the idea that in order to do this I had to buy more fabric *specifically for this task*…

A mix of handprinted Indian cotton, Liberty lawn, some rubbish I got at Ikea and wool crepe.
..especially when duvets exist.

My understanding of quilts, and patchwork, is that they were something that was originally made to make use of tiny scraps of worn out clothes, so it seems a bit absurd that making a quilt is more of a status symbol these days than the creation of anything useful. However, recently I found myself with a great many scraps, and no money to buy fabric, so I found some information about how to make a simple log cabin quilt which just involves sewing strips of fabric around a central square. I have made a couple of patchwork quilts before, but I hated every second of it. It was amazingly dull, sewing squares together endlessly.

The Liberty print at the centre was bought in one of Liberty's excellent little sales. It has vampire bats and things on it.
The Liberty print at the centre was bought in one of Liberty’s excellent little sales. It has vampire bats and things on it. Also there is some wool crepe, some rubbish I got from Ikea, handprinted Indian cotton from Cloth House and a bit of lawn from Croft Mill.

The log cabin quilts made from scraps I saw online were made with a fine eye for colour and pattern and design. Someone had sifted through their scraps with love, care and attention. I don’t have any of those things, so I sewed the strips done together in a random order.

But the log cabin pattern come together very quickly and I was able to make 4 blocks (which is the name for the individual components of a larger quilt) in about 40 minutes. Had I been bothered, I would have tried to arrange the scraps in a aesthetically pleasing order but I figured true “makers” are driven not so much by aesthetics but a wish to save money and make use of things, Womble style. So with that in mind, all I really tried to do would make sure that identical strips were not touching one another.

I have 4 blocks now, enough for a cot quilt I guess, but I think I will carry on and wear down my scraps pile, and see where it takes me. It feels very virtuous to be making use of these. Have I been converted into one of those crazed quilting women I saw at the Knitting and Stitching Show, a slightly crazed look on their faces as they seized fistfuls of fat quarters? Who knows. Maybe…

2 thoughts on “How to make a North London Quilt”

  1. I love the random combination! I totally agree with your assessment of quilting. It floors me how pricey quilting cottons are. No doubt the ones that people make these days are beautiful, but I like the random smattering of colors and textures that happens when you put together scraps (for free!). I have a set of great uncles who were tailors who made a quilt for my Mom and her siblings as a kid out of scraps of all the different wools they used in their trade. I wish that one had survived, but my Mom said that it was very very warm.

    1. I thought of Dolly Parton’s song, Coat of Many Colors, when I started to make it, and thought of the skill and creativity (to say nothing of her poverty and desperation) of Dolly’s mother to have cobbled together scraps to make a coat. I also remember my own mother attempting paper piecing, on and off, over several years and eventually making enough to cover a very small placemat. She didn’t really have much patience.

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