my first quilt FINISHED

October 14, 2014

Slow and steady wins the race. The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Better late than never. 

All the cliches apply to the making of this quilt, but my favorite is:

Better done than perfect.

blue flying geese quilt

In 2013 I decided I would make a quilt. For Christmas I received this rotary cutting set and this pattern book. I had a hand-me-down sewing machine from David’s grandmother. I got it serviced and practiced a little (very little).

I made a plan. I gave myself a year to do it, and broke it down month by month with manageable steps. Choose the size and design. Obtain fabric. Cut blue triangles. Cut cream triangles. Lay it out and stack the rows. Sew something.

blue flying geese quilt

That last step there – sew something – is where I got stuck. First, I got pregnant with Liam and lost all ability to do anything other than survive for a few months. Then when I finally did try to sew something, it came out in a bunched up mess. I Googled. I texted my quilting friend for help. I got lots of tips but none of them fixed it. So I put it aside.

I went ahead and gave birth to Liam, and had a productive maternity leave. Then in early March, my best friend Becca visited me and she tackled the problem. If you’re curious, the tension had to be WAY loosened. Like, way looser than “normal” or I expected – maybe because it’s an older, quirky machine. But finally, finally, I started sewing the rows together.

I loved it.

blue flying geese quilt

Eventually I had all the rows sewn together and pressed. It was at that point that I realized I had completely forgotten to account for the seam allowance with the triangles. I had consulted the pattern, but obviously not carefully enough. I knew then that when I sewed the rows together, the tips of the triangles would be cut off.

I made peace with it.

blue quilt back

Once I finally had the quilt top done, I realized I didn’t have enough fabric for a solid back. So I cut and pieced together a few rows without planning ahead, basted it all together with the batting, and jumped right in to actually quilting it.

I thought about hand-quilting for two seconds before deciding against it. This thing was already taking forever to make. I have an old machine, I don’t have a walking foot, and my triangles didn’t come to points like they were supposed to, so I had to do a lot of starting and stopping – but I was still set on machine quilting this sucka all by myself. And I did.

blue flying geese quilt

It’s completely messy and there are too many puckers to count because I wasn’t that precise with my seams. I was learning to sew at the same time I was learning to quilt, after all. By this time I was embracing the imperfection anyway, and I just wanted it to hold together.

When the quilting was finally finished I was so excited – I could actually use it at this point! But it took me another month to finish the binding because the process was so new to me. I thoroughly read several different tutorials and pieced them together. I found out how important it is to accurately square up your quilt. I did a lot of trimming and seam ripping and I even shed a few tears at a point when I thought one of the corners was beyond repair.

blue quilt corner

But I pushed through, and on October 4, 2014 at 8:15 p.m., I finished that quilt. My first one. And now I am a quilter.

blue flying geese quilt

blue striped quilt back

The end, or, the story continues. Because I’ve already got the fabric for my next one. :)

p.s. – here is the first thing I ever sewed.

Posted in: crafty, crafty, sewing

Comments on my first quilt FINISHED

  1. 1

    From alisa beth:

    I love your quilting story! When Elise unveiled the triangle quilt she made for Ellerie, I became obsessed with quilts. I was pregnant with Felicity (my first girl) and I set out on the hunt for PERFECT triangle quilt. I looked for months in stores and then on Etsy and then I found one that was kind of perfect in size and design but just not with fabrics I loved. I realized the quilter lived in my very town so I reached out, we met, and pretty soon I was having her make custom bumper pads and THE perfect quilt! So, that was in February. Since then I’ve added three more quilts to our collection (because my baby needs 4, of course!) and I have the quilting bug SO BAD! My mom was here a few weeks ago and I got her hooked on quilts (she bought two while she was here AND she’s choosing fabric to have a custom one made). We went to a quilting store and I found out they do lessons and you don’t have to know a thing! That’s me!! Sooooo….all this to say, I admire your desire and the will you had to press on and finish (I love that “better done than perfect”). I am absolutely positive I would’ve thrown in the towel (I started crocheting a baby blanket back when I was expecting our first…I started it the week I found out he was on the way and still have not finished it. He will be 4 next month!!). Your story is very inspiring. My dream is to make a quilt. I’ve yet to make real goals to make it happen, but it’s on my horizon (even if that means 5 years from now). I can’t wait to see your next quilt!

  2. 2

    From Kathleen:

    Quilts are just amazing and special, aren’t they? And what a cool story about meeting a local quilter you love! I haven’t bought any quilts because it is so expensive to get them done custom, but if I see any in a thrift or antique store that are reasonable I’d be all over that!

    That local quilting class sounds so awesome. I am super jealous and wish we had something like that around here. I should look into it! In the meantime I took the free quilting mini-class on Craftsy and it helped somewhat. Just going for it has taught me a lot!

  3. 3

    From Melanie:

    Great job! I have so many in-process quilt projects it’s ridiculous. Way to go getting it done!

  4. 4

    From Nora:

    I know nothing at all about quilting but love the way it looks =) Congrats on finishing!

  5. 5

    From Melissa:

    Yayyyyyyy! I was rooting you along while reading this post! I can imagine what an accomplishment this must feel like with a marriage, two kids, and a full time job. I too want to quilt and learn to sew … I need to just get started like you did.

    Way to go!

  6. 6

    From Sarah @ Beauty School Dropout:

    YOU DID IT!!! Way to go. Just like knitting and many other craft projects, all those little imperfections are just part of the charm, and you’ll be amazed how many of them will disappear with time and use.

  7. 7

    From Sarah:

    Congratulations! It looks so great! I’ve made at least half a dozen quilts now, and it really is one of those things that gets better with practice — each one I’ve done has been a little better than the last.

    The only local classes I’ve found have been at Joann’s. I took one on binding that was useful at the time, but these days I’ve learned a lot more from Youtube and sewing/quilting blogs than anything else.

  8. 8

    From Meghan:

    This looks lovely! I really like the way you made up for the lack of fabric on the back. That was so smart — I never would have thought of that on my own.

    Thanks for sharing!

  9. 9

    From Mikal:

    It looks fantastic! I made my first quilt a couple of years ago now. My Mom has a long arm machine to do the quilting on, so I did all the piecing and sent off the quilt top for my Mom to finish off. Pretty fun way to do a quilt.

  10. 10

    From Trish:

    I missed this when you originally posted it. Congrats on finishing Kathleen!! I love how the triangles really come out in the back of the quilt. What are the dimensions? I absolutely love the blues. And the more you use it and the more you wash it, the less you’ll see those imperfections. I was so upset when I quilted my first quilt and had puckers on the back. But now it’s soft and cuddly AND I MADE IT! Plus super excited you’re already thinking about a second quilt!

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