Looking back on my first ever quilt now makes me realise how unprepared I was to enter the world of quilting! I had never heard of a rotary cutter, quilter's rulers or a walking foot and had very little knowledge of seam allowances. Hence my first quilt has many many imperfections. However, I love it. Simply because it is my first quilt (and it is rather beautiful despite it's flaws).
The quilt began it's early life when I stumbled across the website Fabric Rehab and fell in love with many of the wonderful fabrics they sell. I purchased one of their fat quarter bundles and gleefully awaited it's arrival. After I placed the order I realised that they had an actual shop a mere 25 minutes away from me! Unfortunately due to my illness I have still not managed to visit the actual shop, but I live in hope that one day I will manage to trick one of my family members into taking me there! The fabric arrived really quickly and I quickly realised that these "fat quarters" weren't going to get me very far in making my first quilt!
I spent a lot of time planning it, I drew myself a lovely colour coded map which was absolutely invaluable! Unfortunately I didn't think to use graph paper - that would have been far too easy! Once I had planned it I knew how many fat quarters I would need in the end and hurriedly ordered some more. If memory serves me correctly I ended up using 15 fat quarters in total (5 pink, 5 blue and 5 green).
As I had no idea what a rotary cutter and cutting mat were, I painstakingly drew around a cardboard template I had made to get 25 squares out of each fat quarter. I then sat and cut each of those squares out using a pretty blunt and painful pair of scissors (lesson learnt!). Once I had done that I had 15 lovely (and maybe slightly wonky) piles of fabric.
I followed my map and ended up with 25 strips of joined together squares. I wish I had learnt how important seam allowances are before that point, as when I joined the strips together there were an awful lot of places that should have joined but didn't! Although with the cutting out method I used, I'm not even sure seam allowances would have helped!
So I joined the strips together and suddenly had myself a completed quilt top! Amazing! Then it struck me that I had absolutely no idea how to quilt it, or even what that meant! So I hopped onto Google and the wonderful quilty world helped me out! I discovered I needed a walking foot for my sewing machine, something called wadding, backing fabric and some binding. I quickly ordered my self a walking foot and got myself down to my local fabric shop (right in the village where I live, awesome!). Before I went I had read many many descriptions of different types of wadding, but still didn't really know what I wanted. I ended up going by feel and decided on the Sew Simple 50% cotton 50% bamboo wadding as it was the softest (and most expensive) one they had.
I decided to machine quilt my first one as the thought of hand quilting made me want to be sick! I'm not much of a hand sewer and am not the most patient of people so thought this way would be quickest. So I got back onto Google to find out the easiest way to machine quilt. After a lot of reading I decided I would keep it simple and "stitch in the ditch". So I dutifully rolled my quilt up into a sausage and started stitching away.
I mostly managed to stay in the ditch but this was pretty difficult for me and I think I ended up doing everything a bit too fast and therefore it's not very accurate! I had decided on a purple binding as I didn't want to use any of the colours already in the quilt (might have been a weird decision now that I'm writing it down...) so I also used a purple quilting thread. It was a variegated thread but I don't think there was much need for that as you can't see any of it! I also plumped for a purpley pinky mottled backing fabric which reminded me of clouds at sunset.
I thought I would struggle with the binding as I'd never done it before but it was actually a breeze! I used a very helpful tutorial found here. I don't think I would have managed it half as well without it!
Lessons learned in the making of this quilt:
- Buy a rotary cutter and quilt ruler(s)!
- Use graph paper for quilt planning
- Be more patient when using the sewing machine
- Make use of online tutorials