Despite the many, many projects I've got under way right now, I got it in my head that it was time to start a quilt for my toddler son. So, without really thinking, I told him right then that I was going to make him a quilt. Well, in the world of toddlers, making a quilt is as easy as saying "turn on the sewing machine." In other words, he pretty much expected it to be done that day. Of course, it didn't happen that way. But, I did get a pretty good start on it, which is to say that I decided on the overall design and picked out a few fabrics.
Ever since I read through the book Quilt Improv by Lucie Summers, I've wanted to make a porthole quilt. In essence, the technique uses two layers of fabric that are sewn together with a circle in the size you want. The inside is then cut out, leaving a quarter inch seam allowance that is clipped to allow the fabric to stretch, then the lining layer is pushed through the hole to the back. Once ironed, you should have a perfect circle that you can look through. This porthole acts as a window for whatever fun fabric you want to applique behind it. You can continue this process indefinitely to create layered portholes. You can see the end result above.
The idea forming in my head is that I will have a whole cloth quilt top (a top made from a single piece of fabric) that will have portholes in it and these blocks will be stitched behind. At the end, my blocks will have thicknesses ranging from three layers (for those with only a single porthole through the quilt top) to potentially seven layers depending on how much I trim from the layers beneath. All this is to say that I may have to make the quilting fairly simple to avoid breaking needles from all the layers, even to the point of avoiding quilting over any of the porthole seams.
One of the nice things about my design is that I can make individual porthole blocks without having to finish any other part of the quilt. I don't even have to make the top until all the blocks are done. Plus, the final layout of the blocks is extremely flexible and does not require precise seam matching. I've been working on it for about a week now and I've got a small pile of blocks on my ironing board. My problem now is finding interesting prints to applique behind the portholes. I'm going for a sort of "I spy" theme where each porthole is looking onto an animal or object. I've pretty much worn through my collection of such prints. I'm sure I'll find the perfect ones to add, and hopefully it won't take long, because I'm still riding the momentum of interest in the project. I have a promise to keep, after all.