I am using the calm while everyone else sleeps in after the clock change to post this! I have collected fabric for a long time (over a decade), and in my teenage years made various forays into cutting up old clothes to start quilts that never ever got beyond the cutting phase. But it wasn't until I moved to the States last year and my boyfriend's brother and his girlfriend announced they were pregnant that I seriously thought about actually starting AND finishing a quilt.
I wasn't getting paid much so I knew I had to be sure I'd really follow through if I went ahead and bought, not just the fabric, but a sewing machine for our flat! I thought about it for a few weeks, drooled over all the pretty fabric colours I was seeing online and then took the plunge. Thankfully the boyfriend was on board as he loves all things colour, being an absolute graphics nerd! And we set about laying out the fabrics (I bought random charm packs and mixed 5" square bundles) and moving them around till we (I) was happy. We spent at least 4 hours doing it and I commandeered the sofa with the layout for a few days....
Sorry for the darkness, but it was 1130pm before a 6am start when we finished!
Then, work took over and once I'd labelled all the squares on the back, and drawn a map of the quilt top, I put them away and let it sit at the back of my mind, giving me the guilts, till Christmas! At Christmas I was back at home in Ireland for 6 weeks while I sorted out a new work contract and a new visa to get back to DC. This was the perfect time for me to quilt - distract me from missing our flat and stop me from going flat-out mad while I moved back in with my parents. AND, blessing upon blessing, my proto-niece still hadn't been born!!
It was a slow start, but the quilt quickly grew.
a) and b) are my very first quilt blocks (so proud!) - if you look closely at the layout picture you'll notice I turned all my squares upside-down or back-to-front or something, first lesson I learned in quilting (took me the half the quilt to figure out what I was doing wrong). c shows the panels beginning to build up, and d is the finished quilt top - woohoo!
Then it was on to the pinning and basting. I had never done this, and at this point was still fairly confused by the differences in quilting lingo from the States to Ireland. So it was with great relief that I discovered Flossie Teacakes and her tutorial on how to make a quilt!! Florence remotely, and with no idea herself, walked me through and held my hand as I undertook the basting. First laying out the quilt sandwich:
And then onto the pinning!
It looked so pretty at this point, that I almost wanted to stop!
I decided to do a very simple and sparse quilting due to sheer inexperience. I used a zig-zag stitch because we were having tension issues with our home machine which I didn't know enough to fix at the time!
And even though you can't tell here, I used bright pink thread! Yum!
Then the challenge was to make binding and bind the quilt. I found a lovely navy and white polka dot in our local craft shop (The Crafty Fox) which was just absolutely perfect. It actually turned out to be quite a therapeutic process, and I love seeing binding come together now! There were many curses when it came to pinning the binding on (pinning has never been my favourite, though My First Dress has cured me of it and now I go at it safe in the knowledge that it never lasts that long if I don't procrastinate). But it was totally worth it in the end!
I was bold at the very very end. Baby Grace had arrived safely and I was desperate to get the quilt sent off, so I machined the binding onto the back with a zig-zag stitch again... It would have been prettier if I'd whipstitched it, but on the plus side - I used bright pink thread!! I also attached what I decided would be my signature symbol - a strawberry!!
Finally, I was so proud of it that I emailed some of the people online who had no idea how much they'd helped me out on my first time. There were some lovely replies, the online sewing community are really lovely, and Imagine Fabric (where I bought a lot of my 5" squares) were really lovely and asked for my permission to have a little post on their blog showcasing my quilt... :) I was totally thrilled!! And it still makes me smile to look at this quilt, it was a wrench to send it off, but the little girl who got my first quilt is far prettier!!
Happy Sunday :)