Finished Object: Promenade Charms
Quilt Name: Promenade Charms
Date Started: April 21, 2022
Date Finished: May 2, 2022
Designer: Technically I ‘designed’ this myself, but it’s literally just 5” squares arranged in a way that I found pleasing.
Fabric Collection: Promenade by 3 Sisters for Moda
Fabric Requirements: One Layer Cake (42x10” squares) plus one coordinating 5” square. (Quilt top only. Backing, batting, and binding also required.)
Finished Size: Approximately 60x60”
For a long time I’ve wanted to learn how to quilt my own quilts. I’ve only completely finished one other quilt so far (the Tailfeather Quilt by Suzy Quilts pictured below) and it was absolute torture after pouring all that work and love into it, to hand it off to be quilted by someone else on a longarm machine. I decided that day that I would not be doing that again. Someday I hope to learn how to use a longarm machine myself, but in the meantime, I will have to make do with my regular domestic sewing machine. I have wanted to try quilting with it for ages, but I’ve been too nervous.
I do have another finished quilt top that is all pieced and ready to be quilted, but I worked on it for a long time and I’m really happy with how it came out, so I've been too afraid to use a perfectly good quilt top in an experiment that could go horribly wrong. And that’s when I came across a Moda Promenade Layer Cake in a small quilt shop in a country town I was randomly passing through one day. Of course I had seen Layer Cakes before, I even own a few, but for some reason this particular one sparked an idea that I immediately decided to run with.
I figured the best way to get over my fear of machine quilting was just to try it. And the best way to try it without being afraid to make mistakes was to just throw together a super easy low risk quilt sandwich using batting and backing I already had in my stash, and this layer cake, which I liked very much, but didn’t have any particular attachment to.
So I simply cut each of the 10” squares into four 5” squares, arranged them all in a 13x13 grid (adding one extra coordinating square from my stash; you could avoid this if you used a different layout -ie: 12x14 - but I wanted my quilt to be square) and sewed them all together.
The hardest part of this whole project was deciding the layout. I tried to separate the colours into piles of vaguely light, medium, and dark, and then took photos in greyscale to assess the distribution of value. I think pretty much any ‘random’ layout would have worked, but I’m a bit of a thinker, so it took a long, agonising while for me to get it TOTALLY PERFECT which, obviously, is not even a thing.
Either way, I’m very happy with how it turned out AND ALSO it could have been laid out any number of different ways and turned out just as great. So, if you decide to make a quilt like this, just try not to get too much up in your head about it. Once it’s folded up on your couch or wrapped around a friend or sitting on the grass beneath a picnic, you will neither notice nor care about the exact position of each square. Promise.
The main new to me technique with this project was, obviously, the quilting! But before that I also had to tackle basting for the first time. I chose to use the pin basting method with curved safety pins, mostly because I don’t have a huge space to lay an entire quilt out in full, and that made any kind of glue basting feel risky. Here I laid all three layers (backing, batting, and top) on my large cutting table and started pinning the layers together from the middle outwards. Then, once I had the centre established and secured, I folded up each side one at a time to baste the other.
Then I rolled up both sides to leave a neat, straight path to quilt down, while still being able to fit the entire quilt into the throat of my machine. I started in the middle and worked outwards to the left edge, then turned it around to work on the other side.
I quilted it in straight lines, ¼” away on either side of each seam, both vertically and horizontally. This seemed like the most straightforward way for my first attempt, and also I really enjoy the look of this style of quilting. I have heard a lot about ‘stitching in the ditch’ where you quilt your lines right on the seam lines of your quilt top, but to me that sounds like a really good way to make any imperfections in your sewing look blatantly obvious. I decided that more lines, fairly close together, mostly straightish, would be a much more forgiving option. I think it worked great.
The good thing about having an obscene amount of stash (and fairly predictable tastes) is that if you like something from a certain line or designer, there’s a reasonably good chance you have liked it before, and may have even purchased something that will coordinate so perfectly that it could have come from the exact same fabric collection. That’s what happened with the fabric I used for the binding. I was pretty determined to only use stash for the finishing of this quilt, so I found three or four options hanging around that I felt might work well for the binding. I finally chose this blue and white floral print, only to discover upon unfolding it that it was actually from the same designer’s previous range. At least I know for sure it matches!
For the binding I used 2½” strips, machine sewn to the front of the quilt, then hand sewn to the back. This is only the second quilt I’ve ever bound. For my Tailfeather quilt, I machine sewed the binding to the back of the quilt and then hand sewed it down on the front with big crosses (shown below). At the time, I thought that would become my signature style of binding on all future quilts (or at least big hand stitches of some kind) but since the binding on this quilt is a print rather than a solid, adding big stitches would have made it too busy. I am very happy with how it turned out.
I made the Promenade Charms quilt relatively quickly (for me), over a couple of weekends, but it definitely could have been done faster if it had needed to be. We took it out on its inaugural outing to serve as a picnic blanket while we were on holiday down south and it worked brilliantly. (I definitely got tomato chutney on it.) Now it lives at home on our couch for any future snuggling requirements.
Hit me up with any questions if I've missed anything you're just dying to know. I’m no expert, but I can definitely tell you what I did if it's helpful.
Okay! I love you! Bye.xo