Squadron Leader quilt

A few weeks ago I did a short quilt workshop with Carla Morris at Calico and Ivy. I’ve been thinking about doing one for a long time and then they advertised this squadron leader quilt and I was there! I can’t resist a plane!

Some of the fabrics used are from my stash and they pretty much take me on a little tour of some of the things I’ve made for Mark, being scraps from shirts and trousers. The background and backing fabrics were bought from Calico and Ivy.

It doesn’t look that difficult, but this little quilt really tested me. Cutting out was made easier because I borrowed Carla’s perspex templates and cut out all the odd shapes for the planes in class. We sewed one complete block in the allotted time and then I had to fend for myself. I devoted quite a few days to this quilt because I thought that if I didn’t finish it straight away, I would never finish it. One of the big hurdles for me was the precision required. I did all the piecing on my trusty Singer 222K Featherweight, and it appears that it is really easy to do 1/4″ seams on this machine. In the photo below you can see that there are some interesting shapes, as well as assorted sized triangles.


Once I had all the blocks sewn, it was time to join them to the background fabric. I began to get in a mess as I needed quite a big space to lay everything out, so Mark came to my rescue and laid a large piece of plywood on top of the coffee table. He also made me some templates for the larger shapes to improve the accuracy of my cutting out.


This project became a bit of a his and hers thing as Mark gave me lots of help getting it all square and cutting the edges straight.

We were supposed to quilt the background like fluffy clouds but mine looks more like the planes are flying into a tempest!IMG_5871

I don’t think this quilt would win any awards – you can see that it’s pretty bumpy on the edges – but I really like it and I have major respect for those people who make complex bed-sized quilts, with massive amounts of detail. This one is a cot size with a fairly simple design, and it was certainly big enough! Note my hand stitching of the vapour trails – I wobbled around a bit and my hand stitching certainly requires a bit of practice.IMG_5878

I feel as though it is a tribute to my Dad who was, at one point, a squadron leader in the RAF. He learned to fly in a Tiger Moth bi-plane so I chose this rather gorgeous fabric for the backing.


Note that some of the planes are upside down – my father was rather famous for flying  under bridges, and also upside down round the airstrip, which was made more difficult by the fact that Tiger Moth engine fuel lines were gravity fed, so he also had no engine running! There is a saying that there are old pilots and there are bold pilots, but there are no old, bold pilots. Well, my Dad flew with me until he was well into his eighties, and lived to 99 so he basically discredited this theory.

Now I need to make a tribute quilt for my mother – I might need help finding a suitable design, as she was a rather good quilt maker in her day.


25 thoughts on “Squadron Leader quilt

  1. What a great post! I love the story of your father and this is a worthy tribute. I made one of these when my youngest grandson arrived but mine is not nearly as lovely as yours. Well done!

  2. Upside down under bridges!?!? You sure do come from fearless stock.I am really impressed with this quilt. The contrails are such a great finishing touch. Did you do the quilting on your Featherweight? I think the quilting part has me most feeling out of my depth as I start my quilt.
    I think the back of your denim couch is the perfect display perch for your new quilt for all to admire!

    1. I didn’t do the quilting on my Featherweight – just the piecing. I did the quilting on my Bernina which has a bigger harp space and probably stronger motor. I just dropped the feed dogs and went mad basically! I think it’s important to start in the middle and work your way out. I don’t think you should worry about the quilting. Perhaps get some scrap and practice, which is what I did. I even unpicked a bit which I wasn’t happy with and it wasn’t too difficult. I agree about the denim sofa – it displays it perfectly and now that is where it is living.

      1. Sometimes things come unexpectedly together. Forgot to mentioned it in my first comment but the backside also looks great. All the planes going the fabric.

  3. That is such a great quilt 👏 and a lovely tribute to your Dad 🙏
    I’ve made a few small quilts for nieces & nephews, but I can’t even call them quilts next to this!
    You’ve inspired me to step up my quilt game next time! 👍🙏👏😊

    1. I’m sure you make brilliant quilts Andrew! This is a really nice pattern and now I’m on the lookout for another one for my Mum.

  4. What a beautiful quilt with a lovely back story! To me the quilt looks super professional, I can only imagine how much work you two put into it!

  5. It´s a splendid quilt Sue, really great, but above all a beautiful tribute to your dad. Bold and old and flying into his 80s. I hope you´ve written down some of his stories, because it was such an adventurous time, and I´m sure your family would value all those memories. xxxxx

    1. Thank you Suzy. My Dad actually wrote his life story and it turned out to be a trilogy! It brought together all our relatives scattered around the world and everyone contributed. it is an amazing piece of work. One whole book was devoted to the war and it’s an amazing historical reference for us all. I don’t think our family will see the likes of him again…

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