First quilt: finished!

Quilt on the sofa

I’ve been itching to write this post for THREE WEEKS. Three weeks ago I finished this, but I’ve only had the chance to take a few photos today.

So the thing is, this quilt is far from perfect, but I honestly couldn’t be more pleased with it. It’s a bit wonky, the stitches aren’t always straight, but I really had a lot of fun (and frustration) making it, and I learnt a lot. Also, it’s got a lot of happy memories associated with it, dating back to a beautiful weekend last August when I bought the fabric.

Anyone with the interest in reading this (if there is anyone!) will probably know how enticing bundles of fabric are in quilt shops. I finally succumbed in Quiltessential, where the owner was so helpful and encouraging that before I knew it, I’d bought myself a bundle of fabric and a rotary cutter. She seemed pretty sure I could make something, and I thought ‘you know what? You’ll never know till you try’. Up until that point all I’d made were lavender bags, I hasten to add, and I’d never heard of a ‘fat quarter’.

Anyway, I took from last September until 3 weeks ago to cut the pieces, patchwork them, buy the backing fabric, baste it, quilt it and bind it, but I’ve done it! And really, I did the whole thing by reading tutorials and watching some videos on the internet. (Thank you internet!) I should also add, that I wasn’t working on the quilt continuously, I doesn’t take *that* long!

back strip

I’ve looked at a lot of quilts online, and noticed people adding nice details to the back, so this is the back of mine – or a bit of it. It’s got a strip of patchworked offcuts and a strip of solid fabric, which runs across the shortest length. I really like it actually, and so when I make my next one, I’ll make more of an effort with it. And yes, I’m already planning my next one.

In the end I machined the front of the binding (this is my machine), and hand stitched the back, which really didn’t take as long as I thought it would. It’s not 100% easy quilting on the Singer (I still don’t have / really know what a ‘walking foot’ is) but it’s manageable. I might not win any prizes for the evenness of my stitches, but that’s not really a problem as I wasn’t planning on entering anything!

It’s the perfect size for wrapping yourself up in on the sofa – or just staring at for a bit 🙂

quilt

So here’s the thing. If you’d like to make a quilt and you’re a bit worried about it, don’t be. It’s just sewing, and if you get it wrong, you can unpick it. Unpicking might be annoying and take some time, but nobody dies. And at the end of it, you’ve got a *thing*, you’ve learnt something, and you’ve had some fun along the way. If you don’t know anyone that quilts, and you can’t get to, or afford any lessons, make the most of what you have – the internet. People are very kind with their time, and the online tutorials I’ve found have all been brilliant.

Useful links:
For inspiration, check out some of the Flickr quilting groups, it’s how I settled on a Pinwheel quilt.

If you’re beginning with biggish squares of fabric, this video shows how to make ‘fast and easy pinwheels’ (Please note, you don’t have to be fast, I certainly wasn’t!)

And if you’re using smaller squares, then the second method here is the method I used.

I used a variety of tutorials for basting and quilting – but I’m not sure that there was any specific tutorial I would recommend over any others you might find. I used the ‘stitch in the ditch’ method of quilting, as it was the best chance I had at getting straight lines!

For the binding I used this tutorial from Crazy Mom Quilts, and next time I think I might machine bind, using this tutorial from Red Pepper Quilts.

…Phew.

Conquering my sewing machine fear

I think this has been the year of the sewing machine, for me. I inherited a Singer from an elderly neighbour, and my parents gave it a bit of love and attention (it hadn’t been used for years) and so all together, it means rather a lot to me. I’ve always been a bit nervous of sewing machines, they have a habit of running away with you, but this one is perfect!

Singer sewing machine

(All todays photos are terrible, incidentally. Camera only likes bright sunlight, and I haven’t got any.)

The machine isn’t complicated, it’s a 1930s Singer, and it only goes as fast as you want it to. Only does one stitch, and you can’t really change the tension. (Or you can try, but it doesn’t like it much). I’ve made a lot of lavender bags this year, but I also started my first patchwork quilt. It’s now at the quilting stage, and while it’s not *perfect* it’s going ok.

Quillt corner

This is a corner of the quilt sandwich. I bought the batting from a shop I think I discovered through the local Ravelry group – Thread Bear. They were so helpful – showed me the different types of batting they had, made sure I got the right amount for my rather randomly sized quilt. They were also just… kind. They didn’t go ‘oh my god, what have you DONE?!’ which is what I was expecting, because I’ve just been teaching myself as I went along, nor were they patronising, which, I would imagine would be pretty easy looking at my, errr… skills. Even the other customers were nice. So, if you need anything, I would recommend them.

I’m about half way through the quilting – it’s not easy, as I don’t have a walking foot, so you kind of have to use your whole body to get the layers through the machine – but hey, I’m getting there!

basket

I needed to check I could actually get three layers through the machine, so I tested it with this fabric basket. It’s made of patchwork from two old sheets, and some linen. I was beside myself when I finished it – it stands up! I love it! No idea what I’ll use it for, but who cares! I made it using this very easy tutorial.

Once I’d finished that, and looked at the colours, I thought I would make one last gift for someone who likes motorsport – it’s a container really to put another gift inside, using the same sheets and some cream quilting cotton I had anyway:

bag

We haven’t swapped presents yet, so he hasn’t seen it, but I hope he likes it. I used some iron-on interfacing for the bottom, as the cotton isn’t that thick. It’s lined with the grey cotton inside. I know… ridiculous, but I was pleased with it.

So, I still have the quilt to finish – need to finish the quilting itself, make the binding and then actually bind it. Having said all that, I’m starting to think about my next one! In the meantime, I’m about half way through crocheting the Tiramisu Baby Blanket for a pregnant-due-soon friend.

I should really stop writing this, and get on with it.

PS. Following the scarf conundrum, my mum liked them both, and so I gave her them both in the end!