A charry charry quilt….for Aussie Hero Quilts

Today I’m sharing the quilt I made for Aussie Hero Quilts (and Laundry Bags).

My first quilt for AHQs

AHQ is a wonderful organisation making quilts and laundry bags for Australian Defence personal. I highly recommend checking them out as they are a very friendly group and so well organised that it is very easy to volunteer. Plus, if a quilt is beyond you size or timewise, you can also make laundry bags or join in their block of the month program. 


The design

In terms of coming up with a design, I was aided by some guidelines provided by the person for whom the quilt was destined. The aim was a nautical quilt in grey, white and pastel blue and green. 

After a long stroll through pinterest, I stumbled across Popular Quilt’s 12 Nautical Quilt Block Patterns on etsy. They are individual foundation paper pieced patterns, which I was excited about as I really enjoy the precision provided by foundation paper piecing. At $21.99 I didn’t consider the price unreasonable, and the images within the blocks, I think, are lovely. However, I should have heeded a previous review which now seems to have been removed concerning problems with the lack of instructions. To be fair the listing does say “may not be ideal for beginners”. However, in my opinion this particular set of blocks is really only for the advanced fpp. I’ve made many foundation paper pieced patterns, some with tiny pieces and lots of angles (like when I made Tartakiwi’s zebra reduced at 60%), but the problem here is not one of complexity but rather the structure of the design of some blocks. 

For example the ship goes together very easily, and you don’t need instructions to understand that it is pieced basically as two halves and then joined together. It’s a great block and I’m very happy with how it turned out. However, something like the propellor was so impossible with multiple y seams and the like that I had to give up. In other blocks like the sailor head a little rearrangement in the sequence you add the fabric can salvage the process. Originally, I had planned on having the front of the quilt be six nautical quilt blocks, but with a deadline looming and frustration mounting I had to switch course. 

At this point I discovered FromBlankPages’ My First Alphabet also on etsy. This pattern is excellent. Detailed instructions and notes about potential problem areas means  it is both suitable for the absolute beginner and a quick but effective choice for those more advanced. 

Sewing blocks

I tweaked some details in the sailor and the ship blocks to better resemble the Australian Navy. On the sailor in particular I made the hat flat to better look like a Class 2 service cap.  I also added the white strip to the navy collar. It should be 3 stripes but there wasn’t room proportionately and at least one gives a nod to the official winter uniform for a junior sailor.

The crest on the bell and the silk (black ribbon with ship’s name) are both authentic. Sometimes it helps to have a sailor hubby! The numbers for the ship are just letter transfers from Spotlight.

The nautical blocks turn out at roughly 12 inches. I added strips in the same background material to expand the block to 16 inches. Then, because the quilt needed to be 42 inches wide I added a second round of borders in a contrasting colour and print. 
The other blocks each consisted of two rows of letters which finish at 3 inches tall. The beauty of these letters is that you can precut strips of roughly 3.5 x 1.25 inches and the piecing will go very quickly. Once the letters were joined,  three strips were added between the rows to make these blocks 22 x 24 wide also. 

Quilt construction

This was my first time making a Quilt As You Go quilt. I used Monica Poole’s method after seeing her demonstrate at the Intocraft show in Sydney. It worked very well. 

Some tips if you are new to quilt as you go: 

  • Have fun with the back of your quilt. Here I pieced 3 blocks in the style of the medal earned by sailors on this tour, and then used solid blocks in the same colours for the other three. This way I had some grace if the back wasn’t perfectly square.
  • Accuracy matters, so keep the squares smaller than your biggest ruler. It will make the triming easier!
  • Consider fusible fleece. AHQs have specific batting requirements but if you are new to this method it would help with the border measurements if your batting didn’t shift
  • Size matters. I strongly recommend not starting with the size I did, especially if you have a smaller machine like mine. Monica’s method makes it possible but with 22 inch blocks you end up have to man handle a lot of quilt through the tiny neck.
Keeping it real! The size comparison between my Brother NS55 and the quilt when almost done. And the aftermath of making this quilt

The final quilt

And finally a close up of the six pannels