5: Flower Show Quilt

garden illo leaflet
my original illustration for the RHS flower show competition

The following post explains why I have been silent for several months since completing the quilt for Kaffe…I have been working on the bedding for Sleep Well (a garden that was designed by Julie Dunn for the RHS summer flower show at Tatton Hall in Cheshire) since early in the year..it was quite a challenge.

daybed trial
April – the designer, Julie Dunn, trying bed out for size in her own garden

Early April and I had my first glimpse of the bed and canopy so now I had the precise (I thought) measurements, I needed to proceed with sorting out the bedding and the patchworks….

Pinning the illustration to the quilt wall I started to make the quilt – it was very big, appox. 2 metres square and all colour co-ordinated to the chosen plants.

quilt top1
the quilt top is stitched and ready for adding the borders then quilting.

Early May and I was getting on well with the quilt, the top was finished, I had designed a large border as a sort of valance to cover the unsightly drop-down bed legs of the day bed. However I realised that this would  not now work as the arms of the bed stopped the  border being  attached to the quilt. I drew some versions of how I could design my way forward and sent the sketches to Julie…

sketches of different solutions to the problem of the valance/border

It sounds absolutely mad but Velcro became the solution to this first of my many design dilemmas.

However the next dilemma was more simply sorted if time consuming. Julie could not find a plant that was a major lynch-pin of her planting design, Sanguisora that is a brilliant pinky purple colour …..and  we had perfectly matched a fabric in the centre of the quilt to it….so back to the un-picker and sewing machine,

The quilt centre square had to be removed and a replaced by a new softer coloured fabric.

By mid-May the valance/border desperately needed to be designed and made – this took a lot of thought as I was now designing by the seat of my pants, working with Julie as she was getting news of her specially grown plants from the nursery and seeing the reality of how they all looked together. My colours needed to be softened considerably..not easy using when using the Kaffe Fassett Collective ranges!!!

designing the valance.

I was still undecided as to what the valance should be applied to, even if it was with Velcro, it was either to the quilt or the fitted sheet and I had to decide now as our dress rehearsal was looming in late June and I still had to organise the mattress covers, the pillows and the canopy – why oh why did I imagine this would just be a simply made and straightforward project ?

I sent these picures to Julie to see which she preferred…I wanted the bright colours of the batik squares from Kaffe’s Artisan range. She preferred the softer geometrics from the Classic ranges.

Came the blistering hot day of the first trial in Julie’s own garden. I traveled almost 200 miles in a van loaded with mattress, sheet, pillows, bolster, the quilt and 2 versions of the curtains…oh and 2 dogs and my husband. But she was correct, her choice worked best! but not everything fitted – the mattresses  were a tad wide after my oh so careful measuring- so we had to cut them down and re-cover them. Hey ho!

Sorting out the mattresses.

When I got home it was all systems go, 3 weeks to the show and I had lots to do. BUT first the small patchwork cushion that would help pull all the different bedding and quilt  fabrics together – and such a pleasure in the face of all the work ahead

designing the small but vital cushion cover for the bed

and so eventually to the show…Julie had already spent 2 hot and humid weeks with the help of her family planting the garden, I joined her on the second to last day to tweak the bedding.

The champagne tent beckoned but sadly we dared not visit it

julie bed
at the end of the second bed – installation day!

The judging day arrives

the judges look serious and check under the bed – yikes!

once they had left the garden – relief all round, the girls all pile on the bed for photographs and Julie models the perfect dress chosen for the garden!

And the garden looks perfect as well – just like the illustration plus fig trees.

tatton garden silver

And our reward/reward?

medalnot bad for  her company Trug’s first garden design at any show, let alone the RHS.

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