Way back in the late fall of 2017, my dad mentioned to me on one of our weekly shopping trips that he would like to get a new quilt. The one he used was so thin that it wasn’t really keeping him warm. We looked at the quilts offered at the big box stores and they just looked cheaply made to me and thin. Me and my big mouth said I’ll make you one for Christmas. That was the beginning of the making of my first quilt.
You may be wondering did I know how to make a quilt? Hell no. Did that stop me? Hell no again. I have fond memories of my grandma piecing together quilt pieces in her kitchen. I even have a small section of quilt in her sewing box that she had gotten me started on, probably a doll quilt given the size. It was even hand stitched by me, albeit badly. It was never finished, I don’t remember why.
If you’re not aware, you can pretty much learn how to do anything on YouTube. So that’s how I made my first quilt, I gathered a few videos and learned as I went. But I’ll bet my grandma would be very proud. You get things done however you can, right?
Above, the photo shows my attempt at piecing together colors. I was trying to envision how it might look and what colors combinations to use together. Remember this was for my dad, so I didn’t want it to be too girly looking. Using the 4 patch method (I think) was the plan. The plaid green square though just wasn’t looking good to me though, so I scrapped those. But I wanted another pattern to take it’s place. In my mind I had a color scheme.
Below you can see I found a replacement. The turquoise mottled fat quarter worked out nicely I thought. It helped to lighten up the quilt, too. I ended up needing more than one fat quarter and when I went back to get more fabric more than a year later, of course it wasn’t there. So I got one close.
Boy was this a learning experience. Here’s the quilt and while I’m still really happy and proud of myself for finally getting it done, there’s mistakes all over the place. But I don’t care and unless you’re really looking it, it’s not terribly noticeable.
One thing that was apparent right away was I short on space. I made a queen sized quilt but I hadn’t thought about the space I would need to get a lot of what I needed accomplished. Like squaring off the quilt (below) and pinning all the layers together. I had to schlep it all downstairs to my living room and do it on the floor. Which of course required vacuuming up the floor first, jeesh.
I wasn’t sure if my first quilt was big enough, somehow it had shrank. Apparently, I should’ve been squaring up my 4 patches and I would’ve realized I had made some patches too small. Oopsies. So, I thought I’d add a border and it would not only add size, it would add a nice design element too. Que another YouTube video. Easy peasy. Below you can see the first border attached. Surely, it’ll come all together at the end, right?
Even watching the videos, things are left out. I’ll tell you though, nothing teaches you better than doing it yourself. Here’s the second border I’ve pinned on to the quilt top. An added bonus with the borders is I really was able to add a lot more style to the quilt. I also learned to maybe watch more than one way to do it and to check your measurements twice before cutting. Another oopsie.
After adding the fancy borders, I wanted to make the back a little more finely designed than I first planned. Originally, I had planned to just have one fabric pieced together to span the entire backside. Below is what I ended up doing. I learned this from yet another YouTube video, I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. Much more graphic looking, which I really like.
Finally I got to the part where I got to use the safety pins I ordered. I ordered 100 safety pins! Really, I didn’t need that many but I did use a lot! The lady in the YouTube video told me to buy at least 100. One thing no one mentioned was how much thread I’d need. I was surprised to see how much it was taking. I’ve never filled a bobbin so many times. All in all, I used more than 2 spools of thread. I didn’t buy more than 2, wom wommm. So I had to get by with some closely matching thread I already had.
It’s funny, each time I’d get a part done like adding the borders or whatever I’d think I’m almost done! But no, another task would take another considerable amount of time. I hate to think about how many hours I actually have involved, way more than I ever dreamed. There were many times I thought I should’ve just bought a damn quilt.
However, when I see it spread out like this I really start to have a sense of pride. It truly was worth the effort. I’ve actually created an heirloom piece, something I never thought I’d ever do. Even though there’s mistakes, it’s constructed really well. It should last as long as my grandma’s quilts that I have and cherish. One day, it’ll be passed down to my son.
Alright before I get too nostalgic, there’s still lots of work to be done. Loki, my son’s orange cat, loves the quilt. I would find him asleep on it every time I went into my sewing room to work on it. As you can tell, he doesn’t see a problem with that. Here I’ve already quilted about a quarter of it. I did it with my own machine stitch in the ditch style.
One thing I thought I’d skimp on was making my own binding. I thought I could just buy a roll of jelly roll stuff that I saw on YouTube and save a little time. But no. It was terribly expensive plus I couldn’t find the fabric I liked. So I just made my own which turned out was really quite simple and a heck of a lot cheaper.
Now I can get excited. The binding is the last step! Another oopsie… I should’ve made my binding wider because it was hard as heck to get my binding on there and to cover the mess it’s supposed to cover. Yet another lesson learned.
Finally, it’s finished! I get to show off my first quilt! Ignore the snoozefest going on there, it really was an exciting moment for me.
Another photo of the back. The stripe runs long ways. Really, it could be used on either side. My son likes this side. While I was taking photos, I realized it matched my kitchen. (I cropped the photo so you can’t see it, but I have black and white curtains).
After only 5 years in the making, ahem… tada! In reality, I started with the idea in November of 2017 and started to collect ideas for colors. I don’t think I even started cutting fabric until 5 days before Christmas that year. That would be the year I was supposed to give it to my dad. Yeah, total newbie here and completely oblivious of the time it would take me. Hah! Now when I think about it, I laugh. Believe it or not there are videos on YouTube that proclaim a quilt in one day.
I lost interest once I realized I wouldn’t get it finished in time and didn’t pick it back up until the following mid November. I know this because I have photos that are of course time stamped. In true procrastinator style, I missed Christmas that year too. I did work on it up until a few days before Christmas though. The quilt became a running joke with my family.
Totally skipping 2019, and we all know what happened in 2020. Really, I should’ve finished it then but no. I lost interest I guess. But it hung there in my sewing room for years mocking me every time I went upstairs to take a shower. Eventually, it became the thing that you no longer see because it’s there all the time.
Like a thorn in my side it lay in wait. Then one day finally, finally, finally! I got the urge to get it out of my life. You know when you just have too many projects going even if on the back burner, that just bug you because they’re not done and you set your mind to finish something. That’s what my quilt became. I worked for hours and hours a day trying to make headway. Listening to hours and hours of podcasts, I eventually went to audio books while I worked on it. It began to come together until at long last it was finished. Hallelujah.
Dad’s reaction to my first quilt
You’re probably wondering what everyone including my dad – the recipient of this blood sweat and tears project thought of my first quilt.
Fully expecting horns blowing with gratitude and flags waving, tears of joy! Well I can tell you, it was a big, fat disappointment. I took it to him, it weighed a ton… and I laid it out over his couch in adorning fashion for him to see…as if it were spun with gold… and he looked at it and said… “great, did you wash it?”.
Yep, that’s it.
He didn’t even get up to feel it. Talk about an emotional let down. After having such a sense of accomplishment and relief that it was finally finished and I could proudly present it to him… pffft. I said excitedly, let’s go put it on your bed! He said,
“Nah, I’ll do it later”.
My little ego smashed to bits.
With my tail between my legs, defeated. We left to go shopping.
Mocee found it sufficient enough to make a bed on it, though. So there’s that.
A couple of weeks have gone by now and he’s had time to use the quilt. He has admitted to me that he likes it. That’s some consolation.
Learn more about me on the ‘About’ page under the additional links menu. I’m an artist – a painter mostly and an avid gardener. I paint a variety of subjects including birds, koi fish, my gardens, ponds and flowers as well as anything having to do with nature especially trees and tropical scenes. I also enjoy painting abstracts and have started created more and more of them. My most favorite thing to try to achieve in my painting is is mystery and telling mystical stories.
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