quilting

My First Quilt

Recently, a friend asked me about my first quilt, and wow, that brought back a lot of memories! Even though it wasn’t all that long ago when I made it, a lot has changed since then. Our discussion made me think it might be fun to write a blog post about my first quilt and show some photos. Fun…and maybe embarrassing too, but I figured, why not.

If you’ve read my ‘About’ section, you’re familiar with how quilting became part of my life. In a nutshell, nearly four years ago I was making box bags for my daughter’s knitting projects, and one tutorial in particular made reference to ‘getting out your quilter’s ruler.’ After figuring out what a quilter’s ruler actually was, I thought I’d try my hand at making a quilt. It certainly seemed like something I’d enjoy as a hobby. Like most quilters, after one I was hooked, and I haven’t stopped since.

So here it is. My first quilt.

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In all honesty, it really didn’t come out too bad!

Since I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, I chose a pattern from a Missouri Star Quilt Company tutorial, (I love those, btw) called The Snowballed Pinwheel Quilt. If you’re new to quilting, I do not recommend this for a beginner (it’s definitely for the more advanced quilter). ūüôā¬† I’d love to make this quilt again now that I know what to expect. Nonetheless, back then I was excited and ready to go. I didn’t even know enough to consider whether this was a beginner-friendly pattern or not.

Like all new quilters, I set out to JoAnn Fabrics and bought a small fat quarter bundle and more background, backing and binding fabric than needed. After all my measuring and cutting, it was time for actual sewing. I should mention here at that time, I had a Kenmore (circa 1979) sewing machine. It’s a great workhorse of a sewing machine, but again, from the late 70’s…so there’s no 1/4″ foot, ability to drop feed dogs or anything else ‘quilty’ about it. I’m not sure exactly what I did for my quarter inch accuracy, but if my memory serves me correctly, I put down painter’s tape as a guide.

All seemed to go well until it was time to sew my pieces together. Since I was pretty clueless regarding trimming blocks, I do remember a few tears and plenty of frustration when trying to line up everything, but hey, that didn’t stop me and eventually I got it together!

By the time I had the top pieced, I had purchased a small Brother Project Runway sewing machine. At that time I was eager to perfect my free motion quilting (no longer an aspiration of mine) so I lowered my feed dogs and tried out ‘meandering’. I remember having some fun with that, but shortly thereafter I had lost interest in perfecting FMQ,¬† I simply did not want to practice to get good at it, and I’m more of a ‘piecer’ than a ‘quilter.’

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So here she is in all her glory! I chose to make something small, it measures approximately 31″ x 31″ square.

Another MSQC tutorial instructed me on how to get nicely mitered corners with binding!

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OK, so overall, not too terrible for a newbie. I haven’t gotten this out of my storage chest in forever; it was kind of fun taking a look at it again. Certainly far from perfect but it does hold a bit of sentimentality for me, I doubt I ever get rid of it.

About a year ago I replaced my Brother machine with a Janome Skyline S7. Oh wow, do I love that machine. I gave my Brother to my daughter and my Kenmore is boxed up and stored in the garage. I wish I had a photo to show, it’s a pretty neat machine and definitely has that vintage vibe!

So that’s my trip down memory lane…oh so many quilts ago!

quilting, Uncategorized

Inspired by Fabric

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I was recently asked if fabric has ever inspired me and my immediate answer¬†was ‘Yes!’ The best example I can give is my Dash into Spring Placemat.

The story behind the idea is pretty simple. As a gift, I was given two charm packs of Moda’s Dot, Dot, Dash! by Me and My Sister Designs. For some reason, I never put them with my stash; I found myself thumbing through the brightly colored fabrics…green, pink, purple, yellow, and blue. And then it came to me‚ÄĒa placemat depicting an outside scene complete with¬†grass, butterflies, flowers, sky and sun!¬†The colors were perfect for it, and all I’d need is one charm pack.¬†I can’t explain where the idea came from other than¬†by just¬†looking at the fabric and thinking about what I could do with it.

So there it was, I had my idea. To get started, I looked up the average placemat size and then I sketched it. Once the design was determined, I made a sample with scraps. Admittedly, the sample process always takes a few tries. Once I finally got it scaled correctly, I took a photo and sent it to a few family members asking them to tell me what they saw (due to the abstract design I felt this was a necessary step). Everyone recognized it for what it was supposed to be so I was good to go!

Next, I began writing the pattern. While doing so, I decided to make it a tutorial instead. Then I decided to submit the tutorial to the Moda Bake Shop. It was my first time submitting any of my work, so you can imagine how excited I was when it was accepted.

In March 2016, my¬†Dash into Spring¬†Placemat was featured on the Moda Bake Shop. It’s also available on Craftsy and right here: dash into spring placemat tutorial PDF.

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So, sure, fabric can inspire us. I hope a gift of fabric has inspired you too as a fellow quilter!
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Choosing a Quilting Design

Once I finish a quilt top it’s time to decide on a quilting design, and that can be a tough decision. I figured if it’s an issue for me, maybe it’s an issue for other quilters, too. Since actual ‘quilting’ is not my strong suit, I came up with this easy tip to help in the decision making process.

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Often times when I finish piecing a quilt top, I’m unsure of how I want to quilt it. To experiment with a variety of quilting designs, I lay out cut lengths of inexpensive contrasting thread and string them on the quilt top in a chosen design. It’s a great way to test ideas because it allows me to see it what my quilt will look like when it’s finished.

I’m happy to note that this quilting tip was featured in the June edition of American Patchwork & Quilting under tips from readers (page 8).

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I came up with this idea a while after I began quilting as I really wanted to learn (and hopefully become very good at) free motion quilting. After seeing beautifully quilted quilts and projects, I thought for sure it was something I wanted to master…who wouldn’t?!? But after a lot of practice, effort and frustration, I realized I wasn’t very good at it and I really didn’t want to take the time to learn it after all, so I left that dream behind. Throughout my trial and error, I definitely learned to appreciate what a great skill it is to acquire, and how difficult it must be, but I’ve also decided to leave it to the experts!

As far as my quilts go to date, I usually quilt straight lines and I’ve grown to love the simplicity of it…and I always do some ‘thread painting’ to test my ideas first!

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