Some of you may have read some of my stories in the past, stand alone episodes about breaking an Olfa cutting mat, how to tackle a Moda scrap bag, a festive garland with sprouts, shrink-wrapping a Christmas tree, and a charity quilt that got taken to Kosovo on an aid convoy. There was also the harrowing story of Grenfell Tower and how a group of quilters made 1111 quilts for the survivors, families of the bereaved and first responders.
I started a light hearted tongue in cheek series about things you can’t put on quilts. Most major Facebook Quilting Groups somewhat frown upon pictures of quilts with babies, children, cats or dogs. Well I managed to cover all of those easily, and managed to imaginatively cover pretty well most of the animal kingdom in my 6 part series entitled “Controversial Moi”. You can find all my previous blogs HERE.
I thought I could get away without writing any more blogs or stories, but the “powers that be” at the UKQU website wanted more of my strange stories or ramblings. I have a butterfly brain which infuriates other people & of course myself, because I jump in a totally irrational barmy manner from one topic to another, in no particular order, and usually frustratingly in mid conversation!
I thought of the name “Marvellous Meandering Musings”, which meant I would not have write stories to be in any particular order, which suited my bonkers thinking and usual haphazard conversation style. I could just write about anything, whenever I felt like it, in no particular order ….. Phew that’s sorted! Then I had a brain burb (other rude names could of course be substituted). I have an old bright blue Citroen C3 Picasso Air Dream. Like me she is long in the tooth, a funny shape, but usually reliable. She was my late 93 yr old mother’s car which used to poodle around North Wales, with my nearly blind frail father as a non commenting passenger because he could not actually see where they were going! She was new in 2006 and in 2015 had still only done 18,000 miles, and now in 2020 a mere 33,000 miles. She is called Mildred so my new blogs are going to be “Mildred’s Marvellous Meandering Musings”. “MMMM” for short.
Sadly Mildred has not been out meandering since the end of February because I was one of the “Shielded” vulnerable adults made to stay at home for months, and she is somewhat grumpy…. Marginally more grumpy than me….. “So what happened to all the blogs you were going to write about me?”…she said glaring at me through the front window, so as I am fed up with feeling guilty…. here goes!
I have made quilts for all sorts of reasons, family, friends, charity, to name a few, but wanted something practical we could use all the time, so I thought of doing a patchwork duvet cover, and at the same time I wanted to try out a new block and technique. I found lots of resources online about doing the Twisted Pinwheel Block, but no resources or information about doing a Patchwork Duvet Cover. It couldn’t really be that hard could it?……. (It was!)
I will add my own experience and observations of making a Duvet Cover. Other ideas and online resources might be available, but I haven’t found one yet.
No1 is that it is HEAVY … at least 3 times as heavy as a std duvet cover so you may need to downscale your duvet TOG rating or you will be literally glowing in the dark. During the summer all you will need is the duvet cover or the cover with just a sheet. I have never been able to do the sheet plus duvet challenge without waking up, because it all ends up wrapped round my legs and body, a bit like an Egyptian Mummy, particularly as I play the one foot or leg out of the bed temperature regulation game.
No 2 is that you need to enclose any raw seams because this is something that you will be washing on a regular basis unlike the quilt you would normally put on top of your bed linen, so you don’t want it to look ragged and frayed after a few washes. After completing the top I quilted it onto a flat sheet, but you can use any ugly cotton material, that you were never going to use, as it won’t be seen because it will be on the inside. You can join this if needed but joins will need to be overlooked or zig zagged to prevent fraying.
I don’t do anything that complicated in terms of the quilting. I use the inbuilt fancy stitches on my Pfaff Performance 5 with just enough quilting to give the raw seams in each block a fighting chance of survival from frequent washes. When you join the front of the cover to the back do a flat felled seam. If the back is pieced from a couple of lengths or widths of fabric do the same there. I won’t go into how to do flat felled seams here because there are lots of YouTube tutorials.
No 3 is all about the closure at the bottom of the duvet cover. I used Kam Snap poppers and pliers initially and just using hand pressure to squeeze the pliers soon proved to be ineffective as they constantly fell out. I now have a wooden stand a friend’s husband made for me, which holds the tool steady and enables more downward pressure to be applied to the Kam Snap, using both hands if needed, when inserting or replacing the Kam Snap. I now seem to have bullied them into submission on the original duvet cover. The other way you can close the duvet cover is with conventional buttons and button holes. I am making some duvet covers or bed spreads for my 6 year old grandsons at the moment, and using the experience gained so far, I opted for sew on Velcro closures at strategic intervals along the bottom of the quilt. I didn’t use one long Velcro strip because it would have made the bottom too rigid, so small 1 1/2” strips spaced evenly were more than adequate, and much easier for my stepdaughters to use when changing and washing the duvet cover.
Back to the Interesting stuff that I really enjoy, selecting fabric, piecing and using a new block design. I decided to do the Twisted Pinwheel Block, with a fabric range from Lewis and Irene called Autumn Fields, that is sadly now out of production. I am not normally one for cutesy fabrics, but this range had some lovely patterns, rich autumnal colours and with some complimentary Lewis & Irene Bumbleberries blender fabrics in the same colour palette, it all seemed to work together OK.
You will also need an Acrylic Template. An English supplier Crafty-UK have a wide range of different patchwork and appliqué acrylic templates which they sell at UK Needlework Shows and via the Internet. None of the regional needlework shows are taking place at the moment but they can be contacted via their Facebook Page. They do the Twisted Pinwheel acrylic template in a range of sizes, the most popular being the 10” and 5” sizes which fit layer cakes and charm square packs. You also get a bonus template with the 5” one so you can use the leftover 2 1/2” squares of fabric to make a mini version of your quilt. The 10” template has extra slots in it, so that the waste from the 10” wheel will then make a smaller block, and from the fabric waste from that smaller quilt, it will make an even smaller 3rd block. This is great because this block design can be quite fabric hungry.
My quilt or duvet cover uses the 10” Twisted Pinwheel Tool, so I cut 10” squares from my yardage and sewed them together. It is 12 blocks across and 12 blocks down to fit a King Size Duvet. I put a pale green 5” border around the outside from the same fabric range. I pressed the vertical seams in each row in alternate directions so I could nest the seams to reduce bulk. It looked HUGE and at 140” square it certainly was!
You then need to use the Twisted Pinwheel Acrylic Template. Lay your acrylic template on the pieced quilt top, starting in the top left hand corner, so that the cross bars on the tool match up with the intersecting seams of your quilt top.
Using your rotary cutter, simply cut around the template which is now on a slant. Don’t go too far past the end of the template because you will want to save all the little square offcuts. I did two rows at a time and labelled them to make sure I kept them in order so I didn’t get too muddled later. To start joining the squares for each row twist each square 45 degrees counterclockwise so that your pinwheels line up.
I then joined the blocks together into rows, keeping the labelling to ensure the sequential order was maintained. The next pictures shows two rows after joining. The horizontal seams were pressed in alternate directions to facilitate nesting.
I then carried on to join all the rows together, again making sure that I kept everything in order. As each row was sewn to the previous it was very exciting seeing the twisted pinwheels come to life. I was going on a quilting retreat so it was the perfect time to complete the front of the duvet cover, quilt it onto a sheet to enclose raw edges, & make a start on the back.
The next step was making the back. I had some offcuts left, and 2 different designs that were OK for the length but only WOF (width of fabric). I cut each length in half and placed them diagonally opposite each other.
I then used all the offcuts from the original cutting out of the twister pinwheel to make a disappearing 9 patch pieced strip out of 2 1/2” squares, which was again quilted on to a cotton background to prevent fraying in the wash. The next job was to piece the two sides of the back using flat felled seams on the horizontal joins. Once the two longer strips for each side were sewn together the central pieced panel was inserted using a flat fell seam.
Now that the back was finished, I joined the front and back together using wrong sides together and a flat felled seam. The bottom of this duvet cover was left open.
The bottom was then hemmed and I used some Pellon SF101 or Vliseline G700. which was put inside the bottom hem as reinforcement, to prevent any snaps pulling through the fabric. Pellon SF101 and Vliseline G700 are thin woven cotton iron on interfacing. My first attempt at putting Kam Snaps to close the bottom of the duvet cover failed dismally, not because they don’t work, but because I don’t have enough strength in my hand to put enough pressure on the pliers tool when I squeezed it, so at least a popper a day went off on its own for a socially distanced walk. I have now used a wooden stand so that I can exert more pressure on the pliers to beat the poppers into submission.
I tried it out for size before I came home from the retreat.