Sunday, August 12, 2012

TARDIS Wedding Quilt

A year ago I was scrambling to have this quilt finished for two friends' wedding. I didn't have it complete in time, but eventually got all the finishing touches done and gifted it to them. They both enjoy Dr. Who, so it was an easy leap to making a TARDIS quilt to go with them on whatever future adventures life has in store.

Backstory: I had seen a few different TARDIS themed quilts around the internet- by ehyde on deviantart, rubberbisquit on livejournal, and knew it would be the perfect gift for this couple. I decided I wanted to design my own, even though there are a few sites that have patterns or guides, and I decided I wanted it big - big enough to feel almost life sized. I used a lot of pictures to figure out what variation of the TARDIS I wanted to make and draft out measurements for each piece. I also decided I wanted to use the space in the door panels to quilt things that relate to the couple: their pets, hobbies, etc.

How I did it: I drew out the pattern using various rectangles to make the final shape. I bought quilting fabrics and thread in the appropriate colors (TARDIS blue and a yellow that offset it nicely; originally I wanted an orange but the options in the fabric store didn't really work for me, so yellow was a good backup), as well as quilt batting.

Because I was doing rectangles, I recruited my mom to help me cut the various sizes using the fabric as efficiently as possible (my mom does a lot of quilting and sewing and it was way easier to do it with two people with some of the pieces being almost the entire length of the quilt). We measured twice, cut once, but even with two of us we somehow ended up logic-ing extra pieces (which is much better than logic-ing not enough pieces).

The biggest problem with doing rectangles is that despite our planning there were little things that made some sections not work out to the size they were supposed to be. Luckily since I was working in sections it was easy to work around the little discrepancies (which were most likely due to a sixteenth of an inch from a cut or a sixteenth of an inch in seam allowance, little things that add up to a quarter inch off where I expected it to be).

To make the windows, I used strips of white and blue to make a long strip of three windows and two muntin (pieces between the windows), and then cut four pieces the height of the window panes. I sewed two of those with another strip of blue to make each window panel. After I made the window panels, I constructed the doors.

Each door consisted of one window panel with three door panels, connected with horizontal rectangles, then bordered with vertical rectangles. Then, two more skinny rectangles on the sides and a skinny rectangle on top to represent the door frames, and two larger rectangles on the sides to fill out the body of the TARDIS. Finally, a skinny strip of yellow added to the sides to start the overall shaping of the police box.

After finishing the center portion of the quilt, I moved on to the base and top of the TARDIS. For the sign for the top I sewed strips around a black rectangle to make the center of that level of the top of the Tardis. I found a font online that was pretty close to the font on the TARDIS and used that to cut out the letters to applique to the sign. I used Wonder-Under to put two layers of white together and then attach it to the black, and then used a zigzag stitch to go around the edges to secure each letter.

I continued to work out from the center, creating two more pieces to shape the top of the TARDIS by putting yellow rectangles on either side of blue rectangles. For the light on the top, I sewed two yellow rectangles to a white square, and two yellow rectangles to two blue triangles, then sewed those together. I attached the police box piece and the rest of the top pieces to the door panel piece. For the base of the TARDIS, I sewed a blue and yellow rectangle of the same width to the bottom of the door panel piece. Once the whole TARDIS was together, I attached yellow rectangles the length of the quilt to either side to complete the width.

I pieced large lengths of fabric together to make a backing the same size as the quilt top. Layered with batting between, I pinned through the layers to prepare for quilting. I quilted along the lines of the TARDIS, around the window panes and door panels, and in the lamp. For the door panels, I quilted images that represented the couple: their dog (using a photograph for the basis), their cats (basic cat silhouettes), a guitar (I drew a picture), a camera (from an image of a camera I know she's used), and two interlocked hearts (that I drew). I used a darning foot and stitched through paper with the images drawn or printed on them, with the lines I wanted to use gone over in Sharpie marker.

Once the quilting was finished, I attached the binding by machine to the back and then hand-sewn with a hidden stitch to the front.

The last thing I did was create the telephone door sign. On the TARDIS it has the whole "POLICE TELEPHONE/FREE FOR USE OF PUBLIC..." but for the quilt I changed it to the names of the bride and groom and their wedding date. The sign was made of muslin and interfacing (to prevent the blue from showing through), with two pieces of muslin sewn right sides together and turned. I used a fabric marker and hand-wrote in what I hoped was a simple but fancier way, spacing and centering the words to resemble the format of the original sign. I do not have a picture of this or the finished quilt.

What I learned: It is very difficult to pin a very large quilt on a not-so-large table. The quilting had some puckering on the back that I was not pleased with but would probably not be noticed or bother anyone else but me or another quilter. I am not good at taking pictures of every step, especially the end.

What I might do next time: In the event I do another ridiculously large quilt, I will take it to my mom's and have her help me (since she has a bigger table *and* years more experience with pinning quilts). I would also aspire to maybe design a standard size of quilt, rather than a somewhere-between-queen-and-king size. I would also not use a zigzag stitch to quilt the hearts, rather to do a straight stitch outline. I do have future Dr. Who/TARDIS plans, so we'll see if they actually get made.

Final Thoughts: This was a long project, due to my habit of making things way more complicated than necessary and my procrastination about finishing the binding. It was like most of my projects very thoughtful and customized for the recipients, and I think it turned out well. The happy couple seemed to really like it when I finally got it finished and presented it to them (I showed them the unadorned unfinished version at their wedding, but it took me a while to get the finished product to them).


  1. Quilting is one of those projects that seem so complicated to me, I can't imagine ever being able to do it. I love all the little details you added to it, thoughtful!

    1. Thanks! I definitely owe a lot to my mom for introducing me to quilting, although she is a more traditional quilter while I put my own spin on it.

  2. Seemed to like it. We LOVE it and brag about it to most people we meet. It is so personalized and beautiful!!! Paige the piece is just perfect! <3