The Shire Quilt

Shire Quilt

I have to say, this was the most fun I’ve ever had machine quilting!  I’m not sure why it was such a breeze but it could be that I switched to a #16 needle to do the quilting.  I think it made a big difference.  Not even a hint of a pucker on the backing.  As smooth as can be. The stitches were just beautiful.  I wish you could feel the texture of this quilt – I couldn’t keep my hands off it once it was quilted.

shire layers

I combined Robert Kaufman Essex Linen in flax with assorted green quilting cottons.  I love sewing the look of linen with colored fabrics.  I prewash all my fabrics before quilting and the Essex linen is so exception.  I prewashed it and thoroughly dried it and ironed it.  I don’t want any surprises after it’s washed as a quilt.

shire front

shire full back

The backing on this quilt is the totally amazing Background Notes by Zen Chic for Moda. I love, love this fabric.  It’s mysterious and interesting and I love how it complements the linen on the front of the quilt.   I have a thing for text fabric. Look at all that yummy handwriting:

shire back front

I used a stitch length of 3.5 to quilt this.  Like I said, I was mindlessly quilting with a #12 needle in the last few weeks and noticed every once in a while I was getting a skipped stitch with my walking foot.  So I consulted my Janome manual, saw that they recommended a heavier needle when machine quilting and so I switched to a #16.  How did I no think of this before? It made a big difference.  If you’re using the same size needle for piecing as well as quilting, try switching.

shire stacked

I cut 4″ x 17″ strips and sewed these together then subcut into 4″ strip sets and assembled 16-patch blocks.  Each square, after sewing, was 3.5″.  There were 12 squares across and 16 squares down (three 16-patch blocks across and four 16-patch blocks down).

shire rolled

Here are a couple of photos of the finished top before quilting. I think it’s fun to see how the look totally changes after batting is added and quilting is finished:

The binding I chose was Square Elements in Lime.  I tried out a number of fabrics, but I thought this complemented the quilt the best.

shire back front back

A nice mitered binding is so fun to sew:

shire mitered corner

I used Warm and Natural batting, which I prewashed and dried.  Again, I don’t want anything to shrink. I used to like that look a long time ago but now I don’t want much puckering or an antique look in these quilts.

The finished size of this quilt is 42″ x 55″.  It makes a nice throw size for on the sofa.  And here’s why it’s The Shire.

I can’t wait to start my next quilt, but I’m waiting on fabric and the place I ordered it from must have put it on the slow boat to China because it’s taking forever!  I hope it arrives tomorrow.

It’s a busy month but as always, I hope you’re making something!

As usual, check out Lorna’s linky post here!


25 thoughts on “The Shire Quilt

  1. laurelsstitchery

    This quilt is stunning! Green is my favorite color! 🙂 I’m so glad you linked to the Essex Linen you used. I’ve been looking for a neutral like that and I think this one will be perfect. 🙂


  2. Celeste Elliott

    I have been a faithful follower of your food blog for quite a while, and was so surprised and happy that you are sharing your love of quilting with us as well! Your work is beautiful and inspiring.


  3. Lorna McMahon

    Oh Elaine! The Shire is certainly sweet! I love the greens with the linen, the double lines of quilting and that lovely text on the backing. The fresh, crisp binding was a fine choice. Your finish is beautiful! Thanks for sharing all the little details and helpful tips!


  4. Katherine

    Totally crushing on The Shire. Never has green looked so good! Pairing it with Essex linen was a perfect combination and oh, that backing fabric… swoon. Must get some of that! Your choice in binding fabric and quilting were spot on, making this quilt quite delectable, Elaine. Congrats on a wonderful finish!


  5. Jenn @ A Quarter Inch from the Edge

    I’m more of a teal gal myself (as my stash will attest) but this colour palette has me green with envy (had to be said). Love the way the flax linen works as a foil to those yellowy greens. Fab. I’ve never pre-washed batting… is it really worth the work? I only use Warm & Natural and have never had any issues.


    1. Beech Tree Lane Handmade Post author

      Jenn: Years ago, I never washed my batting because I wanted a little shrinkage and that antique look to my quilts. But nowadays, my quilting is very different and I don’t want any shrinkage if I can help it in either my batting or my fabrics, so I prewash and dry everything. The Warm & Natural batting washes and dries really nicely.


  6. Sandra B

    Love this quilt! I am not usually drawn to quilts with this much green in them, but I really like this one….a lot!!
    Thanks for sharing!


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  8. Cali

    Hello Elaine,
    You mentioned using a size 16 needle. Would that be a denim needle?

    Thanks for your advice on this blog… I appreciate it.



    1. Beech Tree Lane Handmade Post author

      Cali: A size 16 denim needle is a Universal needle, and it would definitely work for quilting but a size 16 Quilting needle is even better – it’s sharper. But just going up to size 16 for the quilting part will help.


      1. Cali

        Thank you. Do you prefer a brand? Does Schmetz make a quilting needle that large? Again, thanks for your reply and advice.



      2. Beech Tree Lane Handmade Post author

        Cali: Read the post in my sidebar called “Six Tips for Machine Quilting” and I actually have a link to the needles I use – they are Schmetz needle packages that contain both size 11 for piecing and then size 14 for quilting. They also sell 16 quilting needles. Hope this helps! Either 14 or 16 are heavier needles for when you quilt.


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