Never before had I left it so late to start a mini quilt for the UK Quilters United Mini Swap organised through the UK Quilters United Mini Swap 2019 group. I had been so busy organising the Beartown Patchwork & Quilting exhibition and trying to get my own exhibit ready that I didn’t stop to draw breath until after the event on the 9th June and that only left me 21 days to get the mini quilt mapped out and made.

Luckily Juliet Nice was staying with me so we looked through the info I had been sent and the info I had gathered from stalking my ‘swapee’ and came up with a plan. A stained glass window with a ‘northern lights’ spread of colour. It was nice to have Juliet around to help and we researched and tried three different techniques for getting the desired results. Then the best bit, sorting out what fabric I had, followed by a little jaunt to the Patchfinders fabric shop in Poynton to purchase other essential  bits required (and other bits not required – well it would be rude not to!).

After Juliet had gone it was time to get down to the design. I drew it out on paper but struggled to get what I was looking to achieve. So a change of strategy had me working out the finished size (20” by 15”) and then working out what size coloured blocks I was looking to include. It seemed practical to back each fabric with Heatnbond and then cut our a number of squares in different sizes and colours to play around with.

One of the things that did take a long time was preparing the bias tape for between the coloured squares. I needed far more than I anticipated and had to make another lot halfway through the project.

All the bias tape was stitched on by hand and I had to anticipate where other bits of bias were going to go under or over the initial pieces of tape. Halfway through I was beginning to think that the idea wasn’t going to work and I was putting in a lot of time when I could have been starting again with a new pattern. However I persevered and kept adding new colours and bias strips until I was happy with the final result.

Trying to achieve a bit more sparkle, I added some foil blocks in places and added a sprinkle of gold to some of the plain grey squares. The foil blocks did wear off as I was sewing the piece but this has resulted in a nicer look and feel.

When I was happy with the piece I had to trim it to size, accommodating all the wonky lines and slightly off square bias pieces. I added a black flange and a pink / grey border to frame the piece before layering with batting and backing.

The quilting was kept simple, merely stitching around the black lead pieces with transparent thread. I love the back which shows a silver grey thread over a Moda grey Grunge fabric and would be quite happy with that on my wall.

So here it is.  Northern Lights Through a stained Glass Window.  It is made with corners for hanging and a label was printed onto fabric on the computer and hand stitched to the reverse.

The mini quilts had to be ready by the last day of June and photos had to be sent to the groups Swap Mumma for approval.  I made it with a day or two to spare thankfully.  I wrapped it around a cardboard tube to keep it relatively crease free and parceled it up with a little gift and a card. The waiting then began for the address to send it to, and the worry started – would she like it or not!  I got very positive response from Robbie Matthews (my swapee) who I got to know and like during the swap making process and I am sure we will be staying in contact in the future.

Of course someone was making a mini for me and I had no idea who that would be;  I had had no hint of who was stalking me at all.  The mini arrived quite quickly and I just loved the original design. The colours and the style were so me (left).  My mini was made for me by the lovely Margaret Attfield and I can’t thank her enough.  

It really is lovely getting a quilt made just for you and this one is now adorning my dinning room wall where everyone can see it.  If you ever get a chance to do a mini quilt swap please do consider it; it is  challenging but enjoyable and may take you out of your comfort zone but it is so worth it.

Thank you Carol Munro and the swap team for all the hard work you put in and all the help you give to make this great swap activity possible.