Sunday, February 18, 2007

My First Quilt

It's finally done! This is the first quilt I've ever made and this weekend I completed it by adding the bias binding. I've always wanted to learn how to quilt, and I'm lucky enough to work with two talented quilters. One of my colleagues, Nancy, invited me to her church's quilting day this past summer. I was given the instructions to get some fat quarters and a simple pattern and bring my (newly purchased and raring to make an appearance in the outside world) sewing machine.

Oh! The world of fat quarters. Shopping for these was incredibly fun and Andrew and I managed to pick out some crazy colors that worked quite well, if I do say so myself. Finding a pattern was more difficult. Nancy gave me a simple pattern name, but my local quilting store didn't have it. So I checked out some books that had fat quarter quilting, and found the pattern I ended up using. The woman helping me tried to convince me that this was not a good first quilt which, of course, meant that I'd found the right pattern. Who wants to start simple? In my family, paying attention to difficulty level is a sign of weakness. There have been countless times that my dad and I have stumbled across something in a store that we really love, only to look at each other and say "we can make that." Although my success rate isn't as good, with my dad the statement is almost always true; he really can make whatever he sees. I figure that the full power of that gene will turn on in me in a decade or so and I'll suddenly be comfortable around a radial saw and then: look out world. I have also inherited my "I've never had one lesson" sewing skills from my dad (who has outfitted the entire house in fancy curtains) so a difficult quilt pattern was just what I needed.

It took me the entire quilt day (8-4!) to make 2 complete squares and have everything else cut out. I went home that evening and stayed hunched over my sewing machine until 10 or 11. The next day, I woke up and finished the quilt top. I learned a lot, ripped and resewed a lot and got lucky, I think, with the color choices I made. There is this sort of optical illusion thing that goes on with the orange in the quilt which was entirely unintentional. I think that's the thing that I most admire about quilters: their ability to see color in bits and pieces and to have a sense of how it will all go together. I'm nowhere near having that ability yet, but going to quilt day is a wonderful exercise in seeing all of the different styles and possibilities that occur when you have lots of quilters in one room.

A few weeks later, I set to quilting the thing using the stitch in the ditch method. And finally, this weekend was the winter quilting day session at the church, and I was taught how to do the bias binding. I thought that I'd hate to hand stitch the binding in the back, but it was calming and satisfying in the same way that knitting is for me. And it was so close to the end of the project that seeing it come together was enough motivation to keep stitching.

I've started another, much simpler quilt that will be all red, black, and white. With this simpler pattern, I hope to mess around more with the quilting part of the project and the fact that piecing it is taking much less time than my first quilt is keeping me focused. It will be another small quilt because although, in crafting, I typically like to bite off more than I can chew, I know that I am NOT ready to tackle a full sized quilt yet. That will take some guts.

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made. by k.d.