Sometimes a quilt comes together really quickly and you get it done in a weekend. And sometimes it takes years. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I *did* manage to finish up this “super fast” Holiday Patchwork Forest quilt in just over 24 months. ?
Back in 2017, I bought a gorgeous bundle of red, green, and blue fabric from Stash Fabrics. I bought it on Black Friday, and while I didn’t have a plan for the bundle, I snatched it up because it was such a good deal.
That’s pretty unusual for me – I normally like to have a plan for any fabric that I buy. But not this time! I guess I just knew that it would make a fabulous Christmas quilt, and that there was no reason to worry that it would go unused.
Around that same time, I started seeing lots of #holidaypatchworkforest quilts popping up in my Instagram feed. I knew that my bundle would make the prettiest little Christmas forest ever! Given that it was already December, I decided I didn’t have time to get a quilt done for that holiday season, and made a mental note to complete it in time for Christmas 2018.
I didn’t get it done on time. And it only took me a year to even get started on the quilt. ? Life, am I right?
Once I got started, though…. watch out! I had so much fun making these blocks, and they came together very quickly. They were also somewhat addictive. After I made the first two blocks, I wanted to immediately make ALL the rest of them!
The joy of improv
Y’know what makes the blocks so fun (and fast) to make? There is NO MATH! You just stack two pieces of fabric together, cut off a bit for the base, and then slice the remainder on random angles. So freeing and satisfying!!
This was the first improvisational quilt I had made, and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the process. Usually I’m a rule-loving math nerd who likes things to be very precise and exact. But not this time! This time I revelled in the freedom of stacking and whacking. ?
Okay, I will admit that my precision-loving brain did enjoy the fact that while you create the blocks all willy-nilly, you then trim them to an exact size, which makes it easily to assemble the top.
Just for fun, I made a few of the blocks double-tall. I had seen someone else do this on Instagram (AKA: this was not my idea), and I really liked the way it looked. So I straight up stole the idea and created a few tall trees in my forest. They add a bit of visual interest to the quilt, and give your eye a place to rest.
In no time I had a pile of perfectly-trimmed blocks, which quickly became a quilt top. But did I finish it in time for Christmas 2018? No way! At the time, I had a new (to me) long arm machine sitting in my basement but I was still waiting for the arrival of my computerized component. I decided I wanted to “save ” this quilt so that I could longarm it. Makes sense, right?
Before I ever started accepting client quilts, I practiced on a lot of wholecloth quilts, as well as my own personal stack of quilt tops that I had been saving up. My Holiday Patchwork Forest quilt was one of the ones in the stack, and it was a perfect candidate for test quilting because I decided to back it with Minky.
As a longarm quilter, you need to learn how to handle a variety of different types of quilts. Depending on the thickness of the top, the material of the backing, and the type of quilting, a longarmer may need to adjust thread tension and / or needle size/type. It’s a lot to worry about when you’re first starting out as a longarmer,
My nervousness proved to be unfounded as this quilt stitched up beautifully, Minky backing and all. I chose the Snow Winds pantograph for this quilt with a light grey thread, and I love the way the slight sheen of the thread sparkles a bit like snow. Or maybe I’m reading too much into it? ? Either way, I’m very happy with the way this one turned out.
I was so happy about it that after I stood back and admired my quilt, I put it away in a closet for six months!
As the Christmas approached this year, I saw more Holiday Patchwork Forest quilts show up in my Instagram feed, and was reminded that I had one hiding away somewhere. I decided that THIS would be the year I finished it, and dragged it out of the storage closet.
These days, most of my quilts are machine bound. I’ve finally found a technique that works reliably for me, and I love how fast and durable the finish is. If you want to see how I do it, I’ve saved some stories in my highlights. Just check out the “glue basting” and “machine binding” stories.
I only hand bind quilts that are going to stay at our house (ie not be listed for sale) and will be used and loved for years to come. Perhaps it feels a bit more personal to me? Or maybe I feel that if the stitching ever comes apart, I can repair it myself? I’m not really sure! All I know is that this one was screaming to be hand-bound, and I was happy to oblige.
I know that hand binding is a bugaboo for many quilters, but I really enjoy the process. It’s nice to sit with a quilt and admire all of the beautiful fabrics as I *slowly* stitch away. I somehow feel more connected to the project, and maybe in a way more connected to my ancestors who would have spent time doing something similar (minus the rotary cutter and super fancy sewing machine).
Lately I’ve been making more of an effort to take pictures of #quiltsinthewild. I like to have a picture of a finished quilt in an outdoor setting that makes sense for the colours / pattern / theme of a project. For this one, I would have ideally taken a picture of it in a snowy forest, buuuuut…. I live on the prairies. There’s a shortage of forests around here! BUT, I did snap this picture in my neighbours’ backyard.
Have you even heard of hoar frost?
One thing that Manitoba has to offer instead is the beauty of hoar frost. In case you’ve never seen it, it’s when the air temperature drops suddenly (which happens lots around here), and the moisture in the air settles on anything nearby: power lines, tree branches, fences, etc. The moisture freezes in crystal formations, and the visual effect is stunning. It’s one of the best parts of winter in this area.
Recently, there was an exceptionally FROSTY hoar frost, so I thought it would be a great idea to take some pictures of my Holiday Patchwork Forest quilt. The only problem is that it requires two people to take outdoor pictures of a quilt!
Thank you, Ian!
Can we all just take a second to appreciate what a supportive and generous person my Ian is? I asked him to help me photograph this pretty quilt on one of the windiest, coldest days of the year and he immediately said “let’s go!”
We hopped in the truck and started driving down gravel roads, looking for a great backdrop for our photos. We found lots of branches covered in THICK frost, but the wind was working against us (literally). Every time Ian would hold up the quilt, the wind would blow it against his body, which, although somewhat comical, was NOT the look we were going for. ?
Eventually we found a stand of trees that were facing the right direction so that Ian could hold the quilt away from his body. And on the way back home, we stopped at our local Heritage Village and snapped a shot of it in front of an old log building. It looks right at home outdoors in the snow!
You should probably make one…
If you haven’t already, I would fully support you making a Holiday Patchwork Forest quilt. It’s easy and FAST to make. Or at least it could be if you tried a little harder than I did. ?
Did I even mention that this is a free pattern? Maybe not. First, it’s by Amy Smart of Diary of a Quilter. Second, it’s free! She posted a tutorial on how to make these blocks several years ago.
Earlier this year, she also introduced a version of this quilt that includes different sizes of blocks, an optional border, and some wonky patchwork trees. That version is called Pine Hollow Patchwork Forest, and is available in her shop.
It’s my favourite!
I am unreasonably happy with the way this turned out.
It makes me so happy to cuddle up under this cozy and bright quilt. I love that it adds some colour to our living room without being too “in your face” Christmas-wise. I predict that it will stay out well past the holidays, and will not look out of place in March, when winter is still dragging on. It’s best not to think too hard about that now, and instead I’ll focus on the season of joy and merriment that’s ahead of us.
I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, and am sending you a big holiday hug! Thanks as always for sticking in to the end, and for visiting my little corner of the Internet. It means a lot to me that you stop by, and I want you know that I really appreciate it! ❤
If you have any questions or comments about this fun and festive quilt, I’d love to hear it below!