Friday, January 25, 2013

My Favorite Souvenir

I ended up with the best souvenir from our trip to London.

There is a department store in London called Liberty. They have been around forever (like most of the old department stores in London) and they have a signature line of fabrics. I only know of one store where I can buy the fabric here (Purl Soho) and it is crazy expensive. Of course I love all of the Liberty prints and the fabric is a dream to work with when sewing and quilting.

The Liberty store in London is in a fantastic old building with lots of dark wood and grand staircases. There is an entire floor for products made from the Liberty of London fabric and then bolts and bolts and bolts of the fabric. As it turns out the prices were only marginally better compared to Purl but the selection was incredible; I was in Liberty of London fabric heaven. It was almost too much, I just wandered through the aisles trying to decide what to buy and what I could make with the fabric. I settled on three packages of mixed selvage bundles. Each piece of fabric was the standard width but they were varying heights. I knew I was going to make at least two quilts from the bundles and I wanted one to be more turquoise/brown and the other to be blue/purple.

As a side note buying the fabric ended up being a huge hassle. In London they have microchips in their credit cards and everything is on the 'chip and pin' system. This is supposed to help cut down on fraudulent credit card charges. None of our cards had the chips in them - the first problem and the cashier seemed to be the second problem. It took him at least 30 minutes to get the approvals to the charge the card.

Once I had my precious fabric bundles home I opened each one and picked the strips I wanted to use in each quilt. Each quilt really has a mix from all three bundles and I have enough pieces left over to make a very small baby quilt - it's on the to do list with about 10 other fabulous projects!

Below, Roxy is helping me sort out the strips I planned to use in my quilt. This was going to be the first quilt I made for myself and I wanted it to be absolutely perfect. I ended up laying the strips on the back of our couch and during the day I would move them around to see how different combinations worked or didn't work. My quilt starts in blues and then goes to purple and ends up with pink prints.

After the top was sewn I had some fun. I took my quilt top to the Purl Soho store to select the border, backing, and binding fabric. The border makes it larger than a lap quilt - it is the perfect size to wrap up in on a cold day. The staff at Purl is always so helpful and they also have a love of Liberty fabric. They were all just gushing at my quilt top when I pulled it out of my bag. And then I got to tell them the story of how I bought the fabric at the Liberty store in London and how my trip to London was a big surprise, it was great reliving the trip. Pretty much everyone in the store, including customers, came over to look at my quilt top and ask about it. One woman thought it was just one piece of fabric, she was amazed how I pieced all of the strips together. It made me feel really good about my project.

I wanted to use a denim fabric for the binding, but apparently it has issues with the color bleeding when washed and the Purl staff would not let me use that for a quilt made of all Liberty fabric. I ended up with a purple quilter's linen that I just love for the binding.

Luckily for me, Purl had a rare sale and I was able to get Liberty of London fabric for the backing as well. I chose two prints and the back is four offset rectangles.

Again, Roxy was instrumental in helping me figure out how to put the backing together.

She also did product testing to make sure the fabric was acceptable for sleeping and also flattering for her fur.

My finished quilt top - the strips all sewn together and finished off with a wide border. The border is a Liberty floral print with purples and blues, it ties all of the colors together. Quite often Liberty hides images in the print - one of my strips has little scissors in it and the border has little tiny stars.

And finally, the finished quilt. It turned out exactly as I wanted and it makes me smile every time I see it. I love looking at all of the different fabrics as they change from one print to another.

Th finished product has been extensively cat tested and approved. It is lightweight but still warm and the fabric is really soft to the touch. Once it was washed the fabric puckered up from the quilt stitches and it has the perfect worn in feel.

This photo shows all of the different fabulous Liberty prints I used in this quilt.

And finally, Roxy showing off all of the hard work she contributed to this quilt.

Every quilt has a story and every quilt is made with love - this one is no exception. It came out of an amazing surprise trip to London, it is made out of my favorite fabric, and every time I see it makes me happy.