“The colour of their  bedroom? Uh… sort of yellow? And wine?” said the 16-year-old son of our friends, for whom I was making a surprise silver anniversary quilt.

  1. Are you sure?
  2. Ugh, really?

This quilt was already starting out from the very far corner of the depths of the dog house, because the combination of yellow and wine has never even entered my resolution.

But off I went, rummaging through my stash to find yellow- and wine-coloured fabrics that actually went together. There wasn’t much there, I didn’t think, so off I went to the Dutch fabric market in Freising in the hopes of finding something to go with what little I could find, and found nothing except for background fabric, of which, it would transpire, I bought a questionably small amount.

I was planning to make Tula Pink’s Fade to Pink quilt, except for it needing to be yellow. AND wine. Have I mentioned? About the yellow and the wine? Ugh.

But off I went, reassessing what I had in the stash and buying a massive amount of fabric from Doughty’s Online (great shop), partly for the front and mostly for the back, of which, it would transpire, I would use very little, because the yellow? It was brown. Which I now have in my stash, a stash in which it has no brown to keep it company, because, as lazy daisy says, brown is not a colour.

So I started cutting, and things were looking pretty awful. I had to rearrange a few times and to replace some of the fabrics that just didn’t seem to work together.

The first try was just wrong. The brown. No.

The second try was getting there in terms of the colours, but the darks seemed to overwhelm the lights and the whole thing looked unbalanced. Still the brown’s fault.

The third try had all my bells ringing.

And then I started piecing, and though I wasn’t wholly convinced, it was kind of, sort of looking not terrible.

And then I pieced the top together, and huh. It was kind of okay!

basic top

That’s not terrible at all!

The original pattern is for an 80″x80″ quilt, which would be a little too small, so I had to come up with some creative expansion—I should say this right now: I don’t like quilts with borders—at which point the background fabric shortage reared its ugly head. Luckily there was another Dutch fabric market in Munich, so I rushed off to get some more fabric from the same vendor, only to discover he no longer had it. I wept. Then I bought three meters of a fabric with a different pattern, but the same colours.

When we moved into this house a year and a half ago, I popped into Ikea one day to get some shelving, and found a single yellow duvet set in their returns room. I didn’t have a plan for it but it seemed a good pattern and a good colour so I’d kept it in my stash and thought no more of it. The yellow seemed to work so I popped it out of the packaging, only to find out that it had a yellow-on-white pattern on the reverse! KISMET! I took it all apart and cut a few stripes of the yellow-on-white to make the border strip, then surrounded it by another wide strip of the background fabric, for a finished quilt top of around 95″x95″. In the end the original purchase ended up sufficing. It’s still a border and I’m still not a fan, but it’s subtle enough.

Then I went on holiday and tried to rouse some inspiration for what I would do with the back. I looked for inspiration all over Sweden!

And then we came home and I found it right there, where I had apparently left it!

From there it was a race to the finish. I had less than a week to finish putting together the back, quilting, and binding before the anniversary party. The back took nearly an entire Saturday, and I basted it that same day. I spent the entire Sunday plus three more evenings during the week quilting straight lines in the sashing. I attached the binding on the Wednesday night and started hand sewing the binding the next night. Four episodes of The Good Wife (Hey! SpyDaddy was on The Good Wife!) later, at 1:30am, I was halfway through. The next day we drove up to the party (five hours away) and I sat in the back of the car and did most of the rest. Things you discover when you sit in the back seat sewing: appalling shocks. I did the last meter of binding late into the night once we’d arrived. The next day I sprayed out the water-soluble markings and took it out for a bit of a photo shoot. (Tip from a champ: photographing yellow things outdoors is like one of those Facebook party invites that go viral and a thousand people turn up at your three-bedroom suburban house for the party your parents didn’t know you were having, except they’re bugs.)

But I finished in time for the party and you can add this one to the list of quilts that I didn’t much enjoy making but ended up not wanting to give away.

Finished top

Finished back

Finished back

Quilting detail


(They just called – they loved it!)

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