She pieced this together a long time ago (like twenty years ago!) and never incorporated it into a quilt. The past few months I've been talking to her about my new-found love for quilting, and she decided to give this panel to me. It was a very touching gesture, because I knew it had to mean a lot to her because she had kept it for so long. She told me she'd never make anything out of it, and figured that I'd find a use for it. Of course I do!
What's really remarkable about this panel is that it's hand-pieced!
It had to have taken her forever and a day to make this thing. I gingerly starched and pressed it to get it ready for the project I had in mind: a tote bag.
The hardest part was cutting it. It just felt so wrong. This piece is very large, so I wanted to conserve as much of the panel as I could, with the idea of making a second, smaller project from the leftovers. Well, of course, my very first cut was wrong, so I ended up cutting away much more of it than I planned to.
I found this great pattern in Love Patchwork & Quilting by Sara Lawson called Patchwork Avenue. I modified the pattern to include the existing patchwork, rather than starting from scratch, and picked out a solid burgundy and a beige-brown solid that coordinated with the panel.
The pattern calls for foam interfacing. Say what? I searched and searched, and finally figured out that she meant for us to find Soft and Stable by Annie's. Well, the problem with that is I couldn't find it for less than $20 per yard. I read somewhere (sorry, I can't remember where!) that automotive upholstery foam would be a decent substitute. Off I went to Hancock Fabrics, and there it was! It's called automotive headliner, and comes in a variety of shades. I chose the lightest shade they had, and scored it at around $5 per yard instead.
I was also fortunate to find large pieces in the remnant bin that were about 2/3 of a yard for only $2 a piece! The biggest downside I see is that it is not machine-washable. According to the bolt, the automotive headliner is dry-clean only, which means any projects made with it should probably be limited to spot-cleaning if you want them to last. I've put a decent amount of work into this project, so I don't intend to test that, but if you're game, go for it!
The Patchwork Avenue pattern calls for optional quilting. I opted to quilt this, and I did so by hand--after all, doesn't hand piecing deserve hand quilting? I think so. I was surprised at how easily the needle and thread went through the automotive headliner. It really didn't give me too much resistance, so I was able to quilt it fairly quickly (well, as quickly as hand quilting can go). And it kind of looks cool on the reverse side:
Too bad the lining will cover it up!
And here's the finished product:
It's fully lined, and I added a little premade label on the inside. It even has a pocket!
Part Two: The Zipper Pouch
I found this lovely tutorial on the Jedi Craft Girl blog. She totally speaks my language. I really wanted the panel to yield not one, but two, gifts. Her instructions are easy to follow, so I whipped this little pouch up in no time at all:
I added a homemade label to this one:
My friend was thrilled to have her patchwork panel returned to her in the form of these two bags. Totally worth it. I had so much fun making these, I'll have to whip something together for someone else!
My next big project: the Love Blooms Here series quilt as seen in Quiltmaker. I'll update y'all on my progress. Until then, God Bless!