As well as showcasing some of the best B&Bs in Scotland, we also include some of the most unique. None more so than Lochearn House in Lochearnhead where your host, Dianne Watson, has combined her love of quilting with her B&B. With her trusty longarm quilting machine, B&B guests can have their own patchwork creations transformed into luxurious quilts whilst they enjoy a relaxing holiday in the picturesque heart of Scotland.
I started quilting over 25 years ago after a brain haemorrhage damaged my eyesight, preventing me from continuing the very fine embroidery work I had so enjoyed. A chance loan of a patch work book from my Aunt led to me making my first quilt and from that moment on, I was hooked. Over the years I have made many quilts and whilst enjoying the patch work side of things, the actual quilting (attaching the patch work top to the wadding and backing) proved to be quite tedious, especially on a normal sewing machine! It was at this point I discovered the long arm quilting system.
After a great deal of thought, I decided to invest in one of these amazing machines….they really do cost a lot of money…..and converted the double garage at our B&B into a studio especially for it…..it’s HUGE! The only way I could recoup the cost of the machine was to offer quilting to other people. Over the years I have built up relationships with quilters all over the UK. Some post their patch work to me to finish, some I collect from shops in Edinburgh and many combine quilting with a holiday in Scotland at our B&B.
My studio is in a beautiful part of Scotland in the National Park. My husband, Matthew, is a Chef and runs the B&B. Some people book their quilt in and book our special 3 day break, enjoy their holiday and go home with a completed quilt - neat!!! Others stop off for an overnight stay and we work together to choose their designs, then they go off on holiday and collect the finished quilt on the way home. I especially enjoy meeting the people I quilt for as we have a shared obsession and I love seeing the look on their faces when they collect their finished quilt.
I feel I have truly found my niche in life. As they say, as one door closes another opens. If I had not been ill I would not have discovered quilting, or the variety of wonderful people I meet.
Dianne is too modest to say so, but a few a years ago she started entering competitions and has been the Winner of the Scottish Quilt Championship for Longarm Quilting - 5 Years in a Row. She has also appeared in lots of magazines and has quilted for other competitors who have gone on to enter and win shows.
The Technical Stuff
Once you have completed your Patch work, that’s when you need to get in touch. You can select everything from the colour of your backing and stitching as well as the type and weight of your wadding. You can also supply the backing/wadding yourself if you want something specific.
Most importantly you can select the type of pattern you want embroidered on your quilt, a choice that has become even wider since the installation of the computerised Intelliquilter system. I can now offer very complicated patterns and motifs as well as edge-to-edge patterns which are very popular, not expensive and produce a wonderful finish on a quilt. Custom quilting takes longer and is designed for that particular quilt, be it stitch in the ditch, blocks, borders, meander or whatever you have in mind. This is more expensive because of the time taken. Basically, the more you want on your quilt, the more it will cost but if you have that special quilt it is well worth the expense - what you will have is a family heirloom.
1. Trim all loose and trailing threads, as they are very unsightly when showing through the quilt. It is worth taking the time to do this job carefully as it makes a much better finish to the quilt.
2. Press your quilt top well and make sure all seams are pressed facing the desired direction, especially for stitch in the ditch as it is not possible to stitch if seams are pressed flat as there is no “ditch.”
3. Do not baste any layers together
4. Indicate the top of the quilt with a piece of paper pinned with a safety pin
5. If supplying the backing and wadding yourself, they need to be at least 4inches larger than the quilt top all the way round.
6. If supplying your own backing please make sure all pieces are the same length, it is SQUARE and all selvage's have been removed and pressed flat.
7. Remove all pins (ouch!!!) and basting.
Make your quilt fit the border, not the other way around. Taking the extra time to apply the border properly will result in a nice, flat, square quilt.
First measure the quilt from side to side through the centre, then top to bottom, through the centre. This will give you the actual length and width of the quilt top. Measuring through the centre allows you to be sure the sides are equal after the border is added.
Second step is to pin the border to the quilt top. Fold the border in half to find centre, and mark, then in half again to find quarters and mark again. Do the same with the quilt top. Pin border to quilt top matching these marks.
If there is a noticeable difference in size from one side of the quilt to the other, measure both sides of the quilt and through the centre in the same direction, average these three measurements. This will square up your top nicely when the borders are added. This does take some extra work, but I think you will be pleased with the results and it certainly makes for a much better finish to your quilt.
I hope you have enjoyed this blog and that it might have inspired you to have a go at patch work and quilting or maybe finish off a patch work project you have already started. Maybe the colours of the landscape of Scotland will inspire your next project which will forever remind you of your trip to our bonnie land. I'd love to help you transform your patch work into a quilt that is worthy of the hours of hard work you have put in.
You can learn more about Lochearn House B&B on our website here and book yourself a unique break