You may know this as Tula Pink’s Mad Hatter’s Tea Party quilt, but I call this version Little Llama’s Big Con.

wide angle shot of Tula pink's mad hatter's tea party quilt

The Big Con in 3 Easy Steps!

The Little Llama came to visit for over a week last summer. It was so great because we missed 2020 due to COVID and she can’t come at all this summer because she’s about to graduate college and start her new job. One of the things we always do when we get together is to hit the quilt store.

So we’re at the store looking around, and she falls in love with the kit for Tula Pink’s Mad Hatter’s Tea Party quilt [affiliate link]. The price was definitely out of reach for a college student, so I agreed to buy it for her. Big Con step 1 done. As we drove home, she said she would piece it when she got back to California and then give me the top to quilt. Sounded fair enough.

Twenty squares of fabric laid out in a 4 by 5 grid

Then we got home, and she wanted my advice on how to lay out the background fabric. She wanted something more random than the pattern. OK. How bad could it be to layout some fabric? Big Con Part 2 done.

Pieces of fabric cut and organized for the mad hatter quilt

Then she started reading the directions. “Maybe we should do the cutting together. This is a lot, and two people is better than one,” she said. I should have seen where this was going, but I dutifully “helped” her cut all the pieces over the next TWO DAYS!!

We put the pieces for each of the center blocks, the dormer mouse, the rabbit, and all the hats into gallon zip loc baggies. “Will this even fit in my suitcase?” she asked. Of course not. Big Con step 3 complete.

fabric pieces cut and organized on a frame for piecing

At this point, I know exactly who is making this quilt. Reader, it was me! With all the small and numerous pieces, I knew I needed a way to keep them organized, together, and portable. I found a tutorial for a portable design wall from Yvonne at QuiltingJetgirl. I used an 11X17 picture frame I had laying around, and this has seriously been a life-changing addition to my studio! Do yourself a favor and make one this weekend!

The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party Quilt

dormer mouse block from mad hatter's tea party quilt

As much as I’m joking now, this really was a fun quilt to piece. Just look at the cute little dormer mouse!

hat block from mad hatter's tea party quilt

The hats are just adorable too. And so easy to put together. I loved doing the switchback motif on the had bands.

interior tea cup and tea pot blocks for mad hatter's tea party quilt

I was 30 minutes into sewing the tea pots and tea cups when I started wondering why I never ate her as an infant. Regardless, once I got into a rhythm these actually went really fast.

The Quilting

When it was time to quilt this beast, I told her she had three options:

  • Overall quilting motif; you definitely get it before I visit in November
  • Custom quilting; you definitely do not get it before I visit in November
  • A mix; toss up to whether it’s done by my visit

swirls quilting motif on a tea cup block in the mad hatter's tea party quilt

She chose the mix, so I did swirls in the background of the tea cup blocks with a loose meander in the cup to hold it in place.

paisley quilting motif in tea pot block of mad hatter's tea party quilt

And I did paisleys in the background of the tea pot blocks. I think I’m much better at paisleys than swirls, so these were fun to do. Everything else got a loose meander.

mad hatter's tea party quilted folded on the ground in front of a Japanese maple tree

Jake’s leaves were turning red, so my folded glamor shot is with him. (Yes, I name most of my plants and trees!)

The Helper

orange cat cuddled up in mad hatter's tea party quilt

And William helped with the binding. I got the quilt all done and delivered when I visited California in November for her birthday.

So that’s how the Little Llama conned me. How has your family gotten you to take on projects like these for them?

If you liked the story behind this quilt, head over to my gallery to see how hilarity ensues in my studio on a regular basis!

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, your price is the same, but I earn a little commission. It keeps the fabric stash growing.