In the Pink City

Materials

  • 1.4m (1 1⁄2yds) of cream for background squares
  • 8 fat quarters of assorted light pink or lilac fabrics
  • 8 fat quarters of assorted medium pink or lilac fabrics
  • 8 fat quarters of assorted dark pink or lilac fabrics
  • 50cm (1⁄2yd) of dark pink for binding
  • 4.2m (4 5⁄8yds) of backing fabric
  • 208cm (82in) square of wadding
  • Cream thread for hand quilting
  • Pink thread for applique and piecing
  • Freezer paper for templates

Finished Size

198cm (78in) square

Skill Level

Beginner

You can download a copy of the original magazine pages for this project here, In the Pink

Preparation

  1. Cut strips 6 1⁄2in wide from the cream fabric and use to cut 44 squares. Lightly crease horizontally and vertically to find the centre of each square.
  2. Draw a heart design onto freezer paper. You need 44 but the paper pieces can be reused a number of times. Cut out neatly.
  3. Cut 125 6 1⁄2in squares in total from all your pink and lilac fabrics. Use the remaining fabric for the hearts in assorted pinks and lilacs.

Applique

  1. Iron the paper templates on to the RIGHT side of the scrap pink and lilac fabrics. Cut out the heart adding 1⁄4in seam allowance all round.
  2. Using the freezer paper edge as guidance, fold under the seam allowance and finger press in place. Make sure you have a smooth curved line not a rough jagged edge as this pressing line will be what shows when your heart is sewn in place. You will need to make a clip at the heart top to allow the fabric to fold under neatly. Don't clip right to the paper or you will have fraying edges later. If you struggle with this, a little starch can help the seam allowances stay in position. Spray onto a saucer and then use a cotton bud to dab on the seam allowance.
  3. Position the heart on a cream background square using crease lines to help position centrally. When in position, mark the lines on the freezer paper for the next heart so you are consistent.
  4. Remove the freezer paper and pin or tack the heart in place. Using blanket stitch, sew all around the heart shape.
  5. An alternative method is to draw round the freezer paper template with a Clover™ fine white marking pen before positioning the piece on the background. Pin in the seam allowance and then peel off the freezer paper. Tack the shape in position and needle-turn the raw edge ensuring that the marked line is turned under too. It's worth trying both methods of appliqué to see which look you prefer.

Assembling the Quilt

  1. When you have appliquéd all your hearts, lay them out with the pink squares as shown in the photo overleaf. It is a bit like a Sudoku puzzle: try not to have the same pink fabrics touching at any point. It is harder than it looks.
  2. Sew the hearts and plain squares into groups of four. With 13 squares in each row, you could join into long rows and then join the rows together. Beginners can get overwhelmed by the pieces so we recommend starting at the top left and joining into pairs (there will be one left at the end of the row). Repeat for the next row down and then join into groups of four. These four patches and the odd two from the end can be joined into one piece. Repeat this for the next two rows down but start from the other end so the odd two are at the left not the right.
  3. Continue in this fashion until the quilt top is complete. You should find it less confusing and will be more likely to keep the hearts in the right positions.
  4. Now an important step that often gets overlooked. Turn the quilt over, trim away any loose ends and threads that are lying around. These can show through on the cream fabrics when you have layered it with the wadding. Give the quilt top a thorough press as you will not get a chance again.
In The Pink

Quilting and Finishing

  1. Press the quilt backing, You will need to have a seam up the middle. Remove the selvedges before you sew the pieces together as they are very hard to quilt through later. To avoid this some manufacturers sell wider fabrics for quilt backs. Normal sheeting could also be used but is very tough to hand quilt through.
  2. Lay the backing with the right side down. If working on the floor tape or pin the corners in place so they don’t move. Float the wadding on top. Having a friend help you is a good idea.
  3. Finally float the pieced top right sides up on top. All this floating means the three layers should be smooth with no wrinkles. If you start trying to push the layers about you will cause small wrinkles in one or other of the layers. It is better to pick up the layers and float them into place.
  4. Take your time with this stage as once it is pinned and tacked there is no going back. You can safety pin the layers together if you wanted to machine quilt though tacking is better for hand quilting. Start in the centre and place as many pins or tacking stitches as you need so that they are about a hand space apart.
  5. Sarah has quilted this very simply as it was her first full size quilt. She has quilted around each heart and quilted diagonal lines though the squares but not across the hearts themselves. The diagonal lines would be possible by machine but going around the hearts would be easiest by hand so you could combine the two styles of quilting if you wanted. Hand quilting is just a running stitch going through all the layers. There are different ways of attempting this, you can stab the needle through up and down, or you can weave it through taking more than one stitch at a time. The aim is to try and get even stitches on the top and the bottom, but this only comes with practise.
  6. Cut the binding fabric into 2 1⁄4in strips. Join together into four strips, each a little longer than the sides of the quilt.
  7. Fold the strips in half lengthwise WS together and press. With raw edges even, sew two strips to opposite sides of the quilt. Fold to the back and hand stitch in place. Trim level with the quilt edges.
  8. Repeat to sew the two remaining binding strips in place. Before you turn to the back, trim so only 1⁄2in is showing and fold this under to create a neat edge. Sew to the back as before and sew this small section closed too.
  9. That's it your quilt is finished, congratulations.

First published in Popular Patchwork February 2007