Monday, 28 November 2016

St. Catherine's School Quilt - FINISHED!

I'm going to be sharing not one but THREE quilt finishes this week - phew! So watch out for more posts - but in the meantime...

I wrote about this project a few posts ago here. It is a commission for an Edinburgh primary school to commemorate their 50th anniversary.

I really had a lot of fun making this, despite it being quite a bit of work. I especially love the 'flower garden' area above which is needle-turn applique and hand quilting.

St. Catherine was the saint who was condemned to be tortured on a spiked wheel but it broke at her touch (so the legend goes). Sounds like a happy ending but Wikipedia tells me that after that she was beheaded, oh dear.

Anyway the 'broken wheel' is the symbol of St Catherine and therefore the school. The children have a school garden so the flowers growing from the broken part of the wheel were to symbolise this, but I like to think of it as a healing symbol (after all the torture and bloodshed in the story).

The design of the quilt was a joint effort between myself and one of the teacher's Morag (who is also one of my students). It was Morag's idea to commission the quilt and she talked the rest of the staff into it (thanks Morag!).

We have made the wheel representative of the school year by the colours of the rainbow stripes between the spokes and also by the hand quilting in each one (oak leaves for autumn, a bare tree for winter, etc.). The summer break occurs where the wheel is broken.

The 'C' in the centre is the school logo. 

In each corner I've put an aspect of education, so a globe (not as hard as I thought in the end - thanks for all your suggestions after my last post everyone!) ...

... a book. I had a bit of fun with this, using my last scrap of Moda Hometown fabric. I've managed to include a name that will be familiar to any serious quilter but lost on everyone else - so like a secret code!

And lastly an abacus! I think the buttons are fun and hopefully the children will agree.

Learn, Inspire, Grow is the school motto, embroidered here around the wheel. 

You can also see a little of the FMQ in the photo above. I outlined most of the Blueberry Park 'scruffy daisies' with free-motion quilting after straight line quilting around the wheel and wheel sections. I had been thinking about hand quilting around the remaining daisies but in the end I thought it was getting too busy (that is definitely the reason and not at all because I ran out of time...).

I used Aurifil 50 throughout for piecing, applique, machine quilting and FMQ, and DMC perle cotton 8 for the hand quilting and embroidery.

Lastly I embroidered that dedication around the top of the wheel. It reads 'gifted to our school by Veronica Halloran, head teacher 1973 - 1997'. Mrs Halloran generously gave a donation to the school for commemorating the 50th anniversary and this is what paid for my quilt.

The quilt was unveiled last Friday after a full catholic mass by the Cardinal of Scotland in the school's parish church, which I attended - fascinating stuff if you have been brought up a strict atheist. I was particularly interested in all the Cardinal's hat changes! He did look quite splendid in his scarlet robes and his big shepherd's crook, and the children's singing was wonderful. I actually found it all very moving.

At the end of the service the current head teacher invited myself and Veronica Halloran up to the front to unveil the quilt for the first time (I had made a curtain to cover it). I was very pleased with the gasps from the little children when they saw the quilt and Mrs Halloran seemed genuinely moved (I had taken the quilt in to Morag a few days before and one of the other teachers who saw it then had actually started to cry -always a good sign I think!).

I got a chance to speak to Mrs Halloran after the service and she is actually a quilter herself! Morag and I didn't know this but it has made me so happy because only another quilter can really appreciate the time and love that goes into all those stitches.

The quilt will now hang permanently in the school reception area. I love the idea that it may inspire some of the children through it's colours and imagery, and that one day, when they are grown-up, they may remember it and pick up a needle and thread themselves.


  1. Thanks for sharing. That quilt will be admired by all teachers, parents, students and parishioners for years to come. It is beautiful and it is truly a keepsake that will be treasured by the school community.

  2. Enjoyed watching this one come together. Its stunning.

  3. What a beautiful quilt with so many darling elements. I love that abacus!

  4. It's super - I'm not surprised they love it.

  5. It is such a beautiful quilt! I'll bet the children would love to touch and feel the fabric and the stitches. I would!

  6. spectacular what a beauty you have created I expect there were more than one sheding a few tears

  7. Fabulous creation! So glad you managed to find a globe!

  8. This is really lovely. I saw this on IG explore but looked more closely as my husband is 1st generation Canadian Scottish but he went to St Catharine's, Cambridge (or Catz as his shirts say). Love your work and I look forward to reading your future posts.

  9. It's wonderful and will be a beloved feature of the school for generations to come!