The Hatbox Quilt: from start to finish

It’s done. At last…

I’d have liked an outside shot, in the sunshine, but wouldn’t you know it? We’re grey, dull and overcast. Good job the quilt’s cheerful!

I first saw the original design for this quilt in 2008, when I bought Kaffe Fassett’s book Passionate Patchwork. At that point, my piecing and quilting skills were minimal, to say the least. I’d made exactly two quilts, badly, one by hand, one by machine. But that quilt, that quilt. I kept coming back to it. I had the page bookmarked for years. About 5 years โ€“ and several increasingly competent quilts โ€“ later, I realised that soon, I’d be up to the job. So I started collecting fabrics. I had a special box into which I stashed fabrics I thought would make good hatboxes. The collection evolved considerably over the years, having started rather traditionally, in the same spirit as the original, chintz-based design. Well, you can see for yourself that didn’t last.

Finally, in 2016, I was ready. To the extent, in fact, that I felt able to make some changes to suit my own ideas. So the blocks are a different size from the original, I’ve assembled them slightly differently, my fabric selections are very different, and I haven’t used the wide sashing, cornerstones and border which are a feature of the original design. This is partly because I wanted to be able to quilt each block individually and because this quilt is smaller, and the wide border and heavier sashing don’t work so well in this context, to my eye.

I liked the slightly mid-century vintage feel of this collection of hatboxes and the fabrics they’re made from. So I decided to hand quilt each one, to give each block the soft and crinkly feel of vintage hand quilting. For extra softness, I backed each block with fine cotton lawn, in a pretty cherry blossom floral, pink blossoms on a grey background. Both front and back feel gorgeous, incredibly snuggly and soft.

I’ve created a sort of ‘hidden label’ on the back; the information is there if you know where to look but it’s disguised behind a piece of the backing fabric, with the details on the inside. I know what it’s all about, I’m keeping it, so the label’s just for tradition’s sake.

Spot the hidden label…

This quilt has seen me through several homes and life stages from first intention to completion. I’ll never part with it, and it was worth every second, minute and hour of the considerable time I’ve taken to finish it. I’d do it all again in a heartbeat, and this time, I’d move a little faster for the sheer pleasure of seeing it finished. So there we are. But in case you were wondering what’s next on the agenda for Bee, Myself and I, my ‘selfish sewing’ project, wonder no longer. The blocks for Parterre will be taking its place.

More months and years of pleasurable stitching ahead!

68 thoughts on “The Hatbox Quilt: from start to finish

  1. Dayphoto says:

    I so love it! Love it! Love it! It was my inspiration to try on my own!

  2. Job well done. The fabrics are fantastic. I think I spy some which appear in my own lovely quilt you made. I love how its creation kept you company through so many life stages. Indeed deserves a provenance label. Such a good idea.

    • katechiconi says:

      If I have any regret at all, it’s not starting it sooner. But if I had, at least some of the blocks would have been a bit dodgy and not so well made. And there were times back there when I couldn’t begin to contemplate working on something so involved because of everything else that was going on. It’s a true patchwork of experience as well as fabric ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. It has been a long incubation period – but now it is done and you will have many years and many more adventures, changes, events and much more quilting time in the company of this fabulous creation. Well done you – it really is a beautiful quilt!!

    • katechiconi says:

      I can look back at it with a real sense of accomplishment, for achieving the technical ability to make it, for sticking with it, and for bringing my vision to life, once Kaffe Fassett’s design had sparked my imagination. Plus, it achieves the primary function of any quilt, which is to be snuggly!

  4. So much heart and soul in this … โ™ฅ๏ธ

  5. anne54 says:

    It’s beautiful Kate, and I love how it is snuggly and soft. Every quilt should encourage us to curl up and be comforted. The fabrics are wonderful , and I bet looking at each block will bring back good memories.

  6. Terri says:

    It turned out so beautiful and looks so soft and comfy. Enjoy every snuggly moment wrapped in your hat boxes.

  7. It’s stunning and perfect and I so want to make one. I love, love, love it. I’m collecting fabrics from my stash and will try just one square first and see how it goes. You so inspire us with your work. Did you make the squares smaller than the pattern? I am blown away by the label. Have never seen one done like that. You teach me something new every time I come here. This is a favorite of mine too. I still want to do a bookcase quilt. Going to have to live a long time.;)

    • katechiconi says:

      I do hope you love your test piece! Do plan to use tear-away stabiliser behind the piece when you do the appliquรฉ, as it’ll stop the stitching drawing up and wrinkling everything.
      I did make the blocks smaller; the templates in the book had to be enlarged, and I just felt the boxes looked too huge when I went to the specified size. I’ve never seen a label like that either, but I felt that a big white patch sort of spoiled the look of the back, and this was a good way to disguise it.

  8. Lynda says:

    So much loveliness. I’m glad you’ve realized your dream.

  9. nanacathy2 says:

    I love this quilt and it is good to read how your skills improved so you could tackle it. I shall miss seeing it on your blog. It’s lovely. Maybe one day I can tackle one with cups and saucers which keeps popping up.

  10. tialys says:

    You got there and it was definitely worth the wait wasn’t it? I would say it’s the pinnacle of your quilting achievements so far but you’ve made so many beauties, This one, however, was always meant to be a keeper and you’ve put so much care and attention into it and yearned to have it in your life ever since you spotted it in that book so it’s definitely extra special.
    Now enjoy it!

  11. claire93 says:

    another work of art there, Kate! looks absolutely gorgeous and the fabric on back is simply perfect, and in harmony with the front;

  12. KerryCan says:

    Calloo callay! It’s finished and beautiful and useful and everything you could hope for!

  13. It was well worth the time spent on this journey. Simply gorgeous! I really like the thin sashing on this too. The back is beautiful – great fabric choice. Happy your keeping this one ๐Ÿ™‚ Sharon

  14. kathyreeves says:

    Oh Kate, how happy you must be to get to snuggle under this lovely piece of art!

  15. magpiesue says:

    It’s beautiful, just beautiful. Well done with the label! What a great idea!

  16. Going Batty in Wales says:

    I am so thrilled you made the design your own so it is ‘based on’ not a slavish copy. Saffron such a famous designer – that takes real confidence in your own ‘eye’. I love the result!

  17. it’s beautiful, what a treasure. Love the hidden label. Happy snuggling.

  18. gwenniesgardenworld says:

    This one is so so very pretty !!

  19. What everyone else said about how glorious your quilt is. I’m so glad you’re keeping this one for yourself, it’s a monument to patience and creativity and hard work xxx

  20. rutigt says:

    Youยดve done a great work with that quilt! Itยดs lovely!

  21. craftycreeky says:

    It’s beautiful Kate, and you can’t beat a snuggly quilt ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. Steph says:

    Congratulations on a lovely finish!
    The stealth label is very cool.

  23. Joanne S says:

    It does have a mid-century vintage feel. I personally like that crinkly soft look; I have even been known to machine wash one or two to achieve it (gasp). Its is a comforting look that says pick me up and use me. The gray backing just validates the soft, snugly emotion. Well done!

  24. […] I did on the Hatbox Quilt, I’ve made a ‘hidden’ label you can flip over to read. Not very hidden, given the […]

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