Tuesday, January 18, 2011

My First Quilt

I finished my first ever quilt last week, for Keira's bed.  I used fabrics I already had and it was cathartic to use some that had been sitting there staring at me for years, as well as see my stash diminish at a larger rate than usual.  Now I get to sit on the fabrics I've eyed, and the kids get to jump all over them on Keira's bed.
Post-chicken pox kids
 I started off laying out the cut rectangles (after doing more math than I care to do) to arrange them how they should be sewn.  I started by laying out the fabrics I had the most number of.

I sewed the rows together and made sure to label them so that when I woke up the next morning with a pregnancy-up-late-sewing-kids-woke-up-all-night hangover, I'd know where I left off.

I inserted rows of vintage white cotton chintz.  Here's what the finished top looked like:

Then, the fun was over.  Everyone says their favorite part of quilting is the actual quilting part where you stipple/machine quilt the sandwich of top, batting, and quilt back together.  Not mine.  I spent 2 weeks quilting wavy-straight rows (no free motion quilting foot yet) and rolling this beast through my short-arm machine.  I got the worst split thumb sore that bled and throbbed in the middle of the night for several nights just from maneuvering this sucker around to sew wavy lines through it.  'Quilting sucks, man,' I thought.  I had originally planned on quilting lines through the entire thing, but opted for leaving some "open" areas (which later would bulge so the quilt doesn't lie flat, but oh well). 

Then came time for the binding.  I've never taken a quilt class and the binding was the most intriguing and intimidating step.  I knew how to cut binding, but didn't know how to attach it or make mitered corners.  After searching through several youtube instructionals, I found this video to be the most helpful.

attaching the binding
Once the binding was attached to the front, I was able to sit on the couch for a couple of evenings and pretend to watch a couple of movies with the fam while I hand sewed the back.  That was one of my favorite parts.  Keira was so excited for it to be done, so after I finished it late one night, I put it on her bed so she'd see it when she woke up.
I used one yard total of Amy Butler's Belle Coriander for the binding;
that's Jessica Swift's Giselle fabric.

All in all, I'd do it again.  Of course, several things differently.  Kainoa wants one now, and I have a lot of David Walker's Robots fabric to use. 

I wish I had read the Practical Guide to Patchwork before starting my quilt.  Upon perusing the first 30 pages of her book on amazon.com (why buy the book when you can read half of it on amazon?), I found several things I should have done differently for my quilt.  

She says at the beginning that many sewists are hesitant to get into quilting for several reasons.  For one, a sewist can make a skirt or bag in an afternoon.  A quilt can take weeks or months (or years).  So true.  I have been wary of getting into quilting just for that fact.  Even knitting and crocheting--when I started trying to learn that, I couldn't put up with the hours needed for one finished product.  But I think with the everyday usage you get out of a quilt, it's worth the hours.  What I'll change next time:

1) She explains how in modern quilting, the crinkly-wrinkled look is in, and how you can get it after washing your quilt.  I planned on that with this quilt comforter, at first, but the book says that you can only get that with cotton batting.  I used a queen-sized roll of polyester batting I found at a fundraiser last summer ($2).  It is a hi-loft or thick batting, intended for comforters or tie quilts, which this quilt isn't.  Sure enough, I washed it and no sticky crinkly wrinkliness.  And no more hi-loft quilting, I'll stick to the 1/4" thick stuff.

2)  I'll start off doing a smaller project the next time I try something for the first time.  Usually, you should start off quilting with a smaller baby quilt or lap quilt, so they say.  But I liked taking on this fabric-eater sized quilt.

Good night.


  1. Congrats on finishing your first quilt!! It looks fantastic (and so do your children!). You did a great job and should be very proud of yourself. I also L-O-V-E your fabric choices!

    WELL DONE :)

  2. Well done! Your quilt is beautiful, the fabrics are so lovely and work so well together and with the white stripes.

  3. Congratulations on your first quilt. It looks like you did a wonderful job. I look forward to seeing more.

  4. You did a FANTASTIC job, and I love the fabric! I loved reading this post because I started quilting last year and went through the same process as you basically, but started out on a small quilt. You were very ambitious and it is beautiful!

  5. Congratulations on your first quilt! Wow looks way better than mine did. I bet she was so excited when she woke up and saw her quilt. Good work!

  6. Your quilt turned out great! Don't be too afraid of stippling... it's not too scary.

    I'll bet your daughter loved waking up to a new quilt! I did that same thing to my husband when I finished his quilt... but then I jumped on the bed to wake him up so he could see it! ...who's immature here?

  7. Thats a really neat looking first quilt! I love it! Someday I will make a quilt...someday!

  8. Congratulations! Aren't the kids great about getting quilts? I'm finishing off a 3D quilt for my oldest and he's anxious to see me finish it. I started off with a lap quilt and as tradition is tradition, I hand quilted the entire thing! Oi! It took me a year of starting and stopping but I wouldn't trade it for anything. Stick with cotton batting and you'll never regret it. Now you have the bug. Start the next and never stop.


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