Last year, I had the brilliant idea of making a Gandalf felt ornament for my brother and his family for Christmas. It didn’t happen so this fall, as I was searching Pinterest for ornament ideas, I came across a site, Fandom in Stitches, that has hundreds of paper-piecing patterns for all kinds of books and TV shows, including the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings.
With this treasure trove, how could I not use a few and make them a Hobbit Quilt instead?
Not being a Hobbit expert myself, I ended up choosing blocks based on general familiarity (Gandalf and ring) and visual appeal (river and dragon).
Gandalf: “Tales and adventures sprouted up all over the place wherever he went, in the most extraordinary fashion.” (The Hobbit, Ch. 1)
The Bridge to Rivendell: “The elves had brought bright lanterns to the shore, and they sang a merry song as the party went across.” (Ch. 3)
The Precious: “He guessed as well as he could, and crawled along for a good way, till suddenly his hand met what felt like a tiny ring of cold metal lying on the floor of the tunnel. It was a turning point in his career, but he did not know it. He put the ring in his pocket almost without thinking; certainly it did not seem of any particular use at the moment.” (Ch. 5)
Smaug: “He was just about to step out on to the floor when he caught a sudden thin and piercing ray of red from under the drooping lid of Smaug’s left eye.” (Ch. 12)
For the backing, I used the last of this original Denyse Schmidt Flee Market Fancy. I had no idea what I was buying when I bought it way back when and it was years before I realized that FMF was a super popular fabric line. Anyway, I love how it looks with the other colors in the quilt and now feel slightly justified for hoarding it for so long.
For the first time in my quilting career, I decided to do some big stitch hand-quilting to finish off the quilt and had a lot of fun figuring it out as I went. I still much prefer the speed and precision of machine quilting but I can definitely see adding some big stitch details to future quilts!
Throughout the quilt, I had fun using some of the low-volume, shimmery fabrics that the members of the Baltimore Modern Quilt Guild had given me. I like how each block has the added dimension of shimmer in some way (Gandalf’s hat and beard, the bridge, the ring, and Smaug’s background). It’s one unifying factor in the quilt. The other is that I tried to be intentional in how I used the background fabric. Unlike the block samples, I wanted Gandalf and the ring to float on the quilt (i.e. to seem as if they weren’t in a block). And I wanted Smaug’s block to be sort of shattered, partly block-ish, partly fading into the sashing. All in all, I’m so pleased with how this turned out and I hope their Hobbit-loving family loves it too.
Finally, thanks to this quilt, now Ellie wants me to read her The Hobbit. I need to reread it myself to figure out when she’ll be ready to hear it. I haven’t read it in probably at least 25 years!
One note on the paper-piecing patterns. I found the patterns themselves to be really easy to use. But when I started to trim the blocks to sew them together, I discovered that they finished at all different sizes (some smaller and some larger than the stated 7″ finished size). So if you do use these patterns, just be prepared to do some creative sashing to get them all together. I can hardly complain though. The patterns are free, after all. 😉