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A Swimming Quilt – Guest Post by Susan Finlay

Intro. by Eileen McKenna – “I enjoy designing fabric prints but I don’t sew! So, I’m always so interested to see what people make when they purchase one of my fabric designs on Spoonflower. I was so thrilled when Susan Finlay (Wee Susie Stitches) tagged me on Instagram when she posted her swimming quilt. Susan used my Rainbow Goggles and Swimming Laps fabric designs in her quilt. And I was even more excited when she agreed to write a guest post about designing and making her ‘Eat, Sleep, Sew, Repeat’ quilt.”

Eat, Sleep, Sew, Repeat by Wee Susie Stitches

Firstly I would like to say a massive thank you to Eileen for asking me to write this piece about the quilt I made using some of her fabrics.

My daughters’ swim club are always looking for ideas to raise funds. The club wanted to raffle something that the kids would want to win rather than the usual hamper or bottle of whiskey that they have no interest in. I was asked to make a quilt.

I spent time (too much) online looking for suitable fabrics, first I looked for waterproof/resistant that the kids could take poolside, but nothing was suitable. So, I started thinking about the design rather than the fabric first. I saw a quilt that Lucy from charmed by you had made. Seeing Lucy’s quilt inspired me – the mantra of lots of swimmers that they wear on their t-shirts & hoodies is EAT, SLEEP, SWIM, REPEAT. That was going to be the main body of the quilt and designed using club colours of Royal Blue and Yellow. I would add a border of squares to represent the tiles of a swimming pool – the swimmers look at these for hours every week!!

"Eat, Sleep, Sew, Repeat" swimming quilt by Wee Susie Stitches #swimming #quilt

For the border I didn’t want plain fabric, boring, I wanted something special that would appeal to the kids. Back to searching online and I couldn’t find any fabric shops in my area that inspired me but then I found spoonflower and fabric from Eileen and Julia Diane Studios that I thought, yes, I could use them, they were perfect! So, I clicked order and a few weeks later the most beautifully tissue wrapped amazing fabric arrived.

Excited? Yeah. Husband and daughters too were excited! The girls asking the question what are you making for me Mum?? Sorry girls, as usual, this is for someone else!

"Eat, Sleep, Sew, Repeat" swimming quilt by Wee Susie Stitches #swimming #quilt
I started cutting perfect 6 ½ inch squares to create the pool tile effect from this beautiful fabric.

Then began the process of precisely cutting the letters A, E, I, L, M, P, R, S, T, W, or in full ‘EAT, SLEEP, SWIM, REPEAT’ to applique onto the background fabric.

"Eat, Sleep, Sew, Repeat" swimming quilt by Wee Susie Stitches #swimming #quilt
I used my Elna 680 sewing machine to blanket stitch around each letter.

I joined the squares to make border round the main letter panel. Next, I machine quilted the fleece backing with a nice simple straight line to continue the pool tile and lane rope effect. I finished the quilt off with binding.

The MASC quilt was complete.

My girls were excited by with the end result! The Swim Club were excited by the end result. The quilt is now being raffled to raise funds for Musselburgh Amateur Swimming Club. Hopefully it will make one swimmer happy and keep them cosy after a hard training set and ready to Eat, Sleep, Swim, Repeat.
"Eat, Sleep, Sew, Repeat" swimming quilt by Wee Susie Stitches #swimming #quilt

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Designing Patterns – important things to remember.

monkeysketch
If I knew what I was getting into, maybe I wouldn’t have been so enthusiastic about pursuing pattern design. Ha ha. I say this because I am realizing all the aspects that go into designing for fabric, gift wrap, and beyond. My head was spinning a bit this weekend, as all I took it all in.

Things I need to remember:

  1. Select colors from a color guide, don’t rely on the computer screen. As a graphic designer, I should know this, but I get caught up in the screen colors and forget. Then my swatch arrives and I’m surprised by the colors! And I have a fabric swatch of Spoonflower’s color guide! Now, I’m keeping it next to my computer.
  2. What is the repeat? I get caught up in the illustrations, and forget that the way they work together is almost more important than what they are. I’m reading an interesting book called Patternalia, An Unconventional History of Polka Dots, Stripes, Plaid, Camouflage, & Other Graphic Patterns. It’s a quirky book. I’ve already started to look at patterns differently. In the book, they mention pattern effects like “figure-ground reversal – This is where the figure and background are equally sized and therefore easily confused with each other.”
  3. Observe other patterns. I find observing helpful when I’m trying to learn something new. Looking through patterns, determining if I think they are “successful,” and why, is really helping me. Again, it is all about how the elements work together and repeat.
  4. Is simpler better? I definitely overcomplicate things. I need to remember that simple is often better. Some of the successful Spoonflower patterns I looked through, had the simplest elements.

I decided to give the latest Spoonflower contest a try: The Year of the Monkey. I started by doodling in my sketchbook. At first, my monkeys were downright scary – too realistic, too scary. After I simplified them, they got cuter. When I had a few I liked, I started to sketch out how they could work together. I was getting very detailed and complicated, with many elements. When I sat at the computer, and scanned in my favorite illustrations, I made the decision to simplify. The deadline is today after all! 😉

Planning the pattern:
monkeysketch2