Mini Quilt

Pattern My own
Fabric Front: Mix of linen, and linen blends; background in Essex yarn-dyed linen (flax) from Robert Kaufman.

Reverse: Cotton voile in river rock, from Anna Maria Horner; coloured strip pieced from Kaffe Fasset shot cotton charm pack.

Binding: Essex yard-dyed linen (natural) from Robert Kaufman.

Notions Batting: Warm and Natural needled cotton batting

With the imminent arrival of a new sofa, my husband asked me to make something to protect the fabric from muddy paws and cat hair; something for the cats to sit on that could be thrown in the washing machine as needed, that was a bit more attractive and easy to de-fluff than the old fleece blankets that the cats currently favour.

I immediately saw this as a perfect opportunity to play with quilting techniques, to make two matching mini-quilts. After much deliberation over design and material, I sourced a small range of neutral cotton and linen fabrics that toned with the fabric we’d chosen for our sofa (including some whimsical owls on linen that I’d had for some time), and pieced them into a grid for the front. For the reverse, I used the buttery-soft cotton voile from Anna Maria Horner, in a lovely warm brown, spliced by a rainbow of shot-cotton squares running the length of the quilt.

A few days before our furniture was due to arrive, I set about constructing the two identical panels for the reverse, then concentrated on completing one entire quilt at a time. I made six patchwork squares from the mix of neutral cotton and linen fabrics, then laid these into a grid with pieces of Essex yarn-dyed linen in flax to form borders around the grid. When it came to quilting the assembled ‘sandwich’ of fabrics and wadding, I decided to use ‘wandering straight lines’ along the length of the quilt, to break the formality of the grid and give the piece a more organic feel. Given the high contrast between the pale front and dark reverse, I favoured different colours for the top and bobbin threads. This is often discouraged in quilting, as there is always a little ‘bleed-through’ of colour from one side to the other, but I played with a test piece to adjust thread tensions until I was happy with the result.

With the quilting completed, I made the binding from straight strips of the same yarn-dyed linen in natural, which also features in some of the patchwork squares. This gives a gentle contrast on the front, and stronger framing on the reverse; tying the dark voile into the paler fabric of our sofa upon which it will sit. My mitred corners are not perfect: I found the linen-blend fabric quite thick to sew when doubled and doubled again at these corners or the strip-joins. After attaching the binding to the front by machine, I then hand-sewed it to the other side to give (mostly) invisible stitches. The second quilt is almost completed now, and I am contemplating whether to not double the binding strip on this one, to avoid issues with thickness (and laziness tempts me to machine-sew the binding on both sides, though hand-sewing always gives better results, not showing through to the front).

I am pleased with the finished quilt, and even my husband was impressed and very complimentary – apparently I came up with something much more complex and attractive than he’d imagined, and he encouraged me to finish the second in the same style, though the patchwork pieces will vary.

The amount of work involved in each may seem rather excessive for what is a glorified ‘cat mat’, but of course these have an important decorative role to play in the room as well as being functional, in the same way as cushions or curtains, and I wanted to create something that did the sofa – and us – proud.