Dorothy: An Heirloom Quilt

When I first made Dorothy, it was really a "just for me" project. I dreamed of making one large enough for my bed that featured some intricate handquilting in the style of my grandmother. I stopped shy of making that bed size, actually sent it off to be quilted, and even sold it. I think this is the trouble of your hobby becoming your business. ;) 



Fast-foward to a year later, and I hadn't made another Dorothy since that dreamy quilt I still miss. Now I'm going to be teaching a class locally and Dorothy was a great beginner-friendly pattern for these ladies. But, I didn't have a sample to share. So I decided to whip up a baby size to bring along, using only scraps I had on hand. Most of what I ended up with was Kaufman Sevenberry florals and a few Kitchen Window fabrics.




For the class, I knew I needed to change up the assembly a bit. This is a non-profit I'll be teaching at and they have heaps of donations, but more in the way of 5" squares rather than long strips, which is how the OG Dorothy was sewn together. But I knew we could use those squares instead, it would just take a little extra explanation from the existing pattern. 

I tried to video each step of the process as these are non-English speakers who will be attending the class, and videos really help after the class is over for them to return to. It's all on my YouTube channel now if you'd like to see it too! It's really a fun way to put Dorothy together! (I've added an updated PDF for the pattern too)

I've been dying to do some sweet florals/linens/checks lately, and this seemed to be the quilt to try it on. But when I added all of the linen I had (remember, trying to just sew with what I had on hand, so I just had this one color to work with), it just felt too heavy.

So I swapped out the smaller background fabric squares for a vintage print I picked up a few weeks ago at a local quilt shop sale, and I love that variation! And it's so easy! The chart below has all the new fabric requirements if you want to try this version instead. 
Small Squares Large Squares
Toddler .25 yd* .75 yd
Throw .5 yd* 1.75 yds
 Bed 1.25 yds 4 yds

          *exact yardage needed



Finally it was time for me to quilt, and one thing I'd heard about this class I'd be teaching was that they were really interested in handquilting. This felt like the perfect project to really show what a little handquilting can do and that you don't need a fancy longarm to add some intricate just need time and patience. 

Lately I've been loving working with quilting stencils. I used one on my Edna quilt that I just found on Amazon, but Amazon didn't have all the selection I was hoping for, and this large square finished a bit smaller than my Edna. The Edna quilt finishes at 9.5" for the large square, but the Dorothy is 8", so I started shopping over at Quilting Creations for a 7.5" stencil to ensure I'd not be needing to stitch through those layers of seam allowance. I settled on the 7.5" Feather Design.

It had the type of vintage effect I was going for and matched the fabrics I was using so well. I like to use a Pilot Frixion pen, but I don't know that they've been tested for fabrics, so I hesitate to give a blanket recommendation. I apply heat (iron) to remove the pen marks, but I would highly recommend you testing on your fabrics first. I don't want to be responsible for a ruined quilt!!! You could also try a quilt pounce or fabric pen/pencil. 

And then it was time to sit and stitch! Honestly, I love handquilting (here's a basic handquilting video tutorial to get you started!) and how slow it is so.much. I'm pretty resistant to trying to hurry the process. I was curious how long each stenciled design took me (I was on a deadline for this class after all) and I think each square was roughly 35 minutes or so. Now, I've been handquilting quite a bit the last few years and I can settle in pretty comfortably, but that just gives you an estimate of the time involved...maybe 5 1/2 hrs for handquilting this baby size?? Something like that? 

In the end, I think this is such a sweet quilt that I'm so proud of. It feels like me and as a maker, that's always a nice feeling to come back to. Sometimes you need the projects that stretch you, that make you try something new and take you out of your comfort zone, but everything about this Dorothy feels right for me. Oddly, though, I've had trouble photographing it well to capture it. I think my hope is that it will just be used and in the backdrop of a sweet little one's early days, more than a perfectly photographed piece of artwork. More like the quilts my grandmother made. :)

(Find the Dorothy quilt pattern here.)

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