Quilting is one of those fields of sewing that I love to dabble in but am by no means an expert. I was originally taught patchwork and quilting by my mum who is quite proficient when it comes to all things English paper piecing… as such this is where my journey began. I loved the way that you could create large images using different shapes patchworked together, but hated how time consuming the process was. I have spent years playing with simple machine sewn patchwork techniques before I came upon foundation paper piecing and had my mind blown by how clever it was. After success following a pattern I realised I could expand on this and create my own designs, and this (plus an inherent love of llamas is where this quilt has begun.

I have made the pattern available for free for all you lovely people, its available to download here…

https://sewmamabear.co.uk/uncategorized/free-fpp-llama-quilt-pattern/

The idea behind how foundation paper piecing (FPP) works is that you sew directly onto a paper pattern that is then removed later. The pattern indicates the order that you sew the pieces together, and by sewing along the lines on the pattern it comes together to create an image. This quilt is a complex version of FPP so it is broken into blocks, after sewing each block they then sew together to create the final quilt.

After printing out the pattern, the first thing I went about doing was colouring in the pattern so I knew which fabric I wanted to use in each part of the pattern. It sounds like a simple thing, but it really helps to keep a clear focus whilst cutting out the pieces and sewing them together to avoid making mistakes. The next job with this pattern is then to piece together the pages that contain all the blocks (as some of the blocks are larger than an A4 page) and cut them out ready to begin.

Tackling the pattern one block at a time, I roughly cut a piece of fabric for section E1 (making sure the fabric covers the whole space as well as some outside it to account for seam allowance… its easier to trim back than to struggle with a piece that is too small), I then do the same for E2. Pinning E1 in place right side up in place then pin E2 right sides together along the line that joins those 2 sections. I then flip the pattern over and follow the line on the paper on the sewing machine. (Another option is to pin the fabric to the wrong side of the paper pattern so you can see the lines easier for sewing down, I don’t find I have any trouble seeing the lines through standard printer paper which is why I do it the other way).

After sewing this line, I then press this seam. You get a much cleaner finish if you press each seam before sewing the next. I then continue with piece E3 until all the pieces of the block have been sewn together. (You can sew them all in alphabetical order, I can’t explain why I started with E…)

To finish this block, I trim the outside with a 1cm seam allowance. This enables me to then remove the paper knowing the block is all set to be attached to its neighbours once all the blocks are complete. The paper tears away really simply as the perforations created by the stitching creates a similar effect to what you’d find on a traditional book of stamps.

Once you get into the swing of it the process the blocks come together really quick and before you know it you have a finished patchwork quilt top… but of course its not a quilt yet.

Quilting is the act of securing 3 layers together; the top the wadded middle and the backing. This can be done either by hand or machine, my preference is to do this by machine but purely from a speed perspective. So with the topper made I used a temporary spray adhesive to secure this to the wadding, and then to the backing. I used 2 layers of wadding as I like a dense quilt, this is personal preference but I find it creates a really great outcome. The wadding I used is 80% cotton and 20% polyester. The advantage of using this over 100% polyester wadding is that I find you get a more luxurious outcome but without as much weight as you get with an 100% cotton wadding, a lovely middle ground.

If you don’t want to use an adhesive, you can either use tacking to hold the layers or there are speciality pins made specifically for this purpose.

I then used the walking foot on my machine (this foot feeds the fabric from the top so that working with the feed dogs helps the layers stay together). You can then stitch the layers together in whatever fashion you like, I chose to outline the llama and then used the free motion embroidery foot to create a random wiggly design across the background. I used an invisible thread in the bobbin throughout, this was to keep from detracting from the background fabric (as the fabric contained so many colours any other thread colour would have shown up on at least some of it). For the background quilting I also used an invisible thread on top, but for outlining the llama I used a brown thread to really emphasise the design.

Once quilted, it is always a good idea to neaten off the edges to ensure it is square. Even with the layers being held together there will inevitably be some level of movement. Now all that is left to do is bind the edges of the quilt to finish it off.

The fabrics I chose for this quilt are all woven cotton. This is really crucial for ensuring stability when working all the pieces together. I chose different complementing prints in similar brown tones for the llama and then a lovely mix of bright colours for the blanket on its back and harness as I wanted to create something that would be gender neutral.

A beautiful handmade quilt is something that I love to give to friends and family, I know they’re cherished and well received. This one however is waiting to be received by my imminent new arrival. There is something really special about how much my son loves the quilt I made him and its going to be so lovely to lie this new baby on its quilt to play on.