Friday, September 13, 2013

my first time

melissa at my fabric relish has a fun link party going called "my first time", featuring everyone's first quilts! I linked in and decided to go ahead and do a better post of my firsty, called "at last". (origninal post here)

 this quilt got her start when i finally took a leap and signed up for a beginner quilting class at ETC with louise hailey. the straight-lines-only pattern looked doable and i desperately wanted to learn to quilt. to that point i had only sewn a few headbands, but i leapt in anyway. why not learn to sew and quilt at the same time? after four mondays spent at the store, i was supposed to have a quilt.

just to be clear, i do like this quilt - for the most part. the fact that i made it all by myself alone gives it points in my book! like a first child, it was an experiment and a learning experience, but also well loved. the daughter who claimed it, d4, grows more and more in love with it all the time.

i spent half the first class lovingly selecting the fat quarters (but i bought 1/2 yds just to be safe), only to realize later that i'd selected twice as many as the pattern called for. i don't remember exactly how that happened, something about how i read the pattern wrong and thought i knew better? that wouldn't have been such an issue if i loved each and every one of them. and i do love, or at least like enough, all of them except for one: the pink dot and box fabric below.

this is probably the biggest lesson i learned the first time around: a fabric you do not like will not fade into the quilt, it will stare you down every single time you look at your project. if you don't like it - don't use it!

my color scheme for the quilt was pink, purpley-pink, light blue, acid-y light greens, and a tad bit of grey. i went for geometric shapes and a few florals thrown in for fun. that's how i ended up with that pink dot and box thingy - it was the last of the 18 fabrics i needed for my scheme. nothing else in the store fit. i'm seriously considering appliqueing something over the top of it. if i ever find the time.

the other mistake i made was choosing the light pink art gallery oval elements for the large sashing border. it makes the whole quilt read too sugar sweet for my taste. i wanted pastels with pop and this toned it down too much. granted, there was supposed to be some giant ric-rac swirling through the border and large flowers appliqued there, too, so it shouldn't have been seen as much as it is. but that ric rac and those flowers, while cute on the store sample, took my quilt to a different level of cutesy that i didn't like.  i've played with the idea of sewing straight ribbon in the sashing border, adding a ruffle from all the scraps down the middle of it, or just doing some quilting in there now that i'm dabbling in fmq.

i made all the flowers and even began embroidering them before deciding they just didn't fit the quilt. i'm thinking of making a cushion with the flowers or maybe even an entirely different quilt.

what i did do right with this quilt is the backing. i went all crazy for a beginner and pieced my own backing instead of using a whole cloth like everyone else. i took the idea of the blocks in the quilt and echoed that in the backing design. (do note that part of the quilt is draped over the fence, so this isn't the full back.)

and i'm still quite happy with my carefully thought out fabric choices. i included one floral and each of the main colors. three of the fabrics are from designers who are still my top favorites: joel dewberry, heather bailey, and sandi henderson (oh, yes, that's meadow dot in robin's egg/mint! my all time favorite fabric).

 the quilting was an easy stitch-in-the-ditch. which isn't actually that easy. first and last time. i much prefer to echo-quilt the seams if i'm going to straight line it. and, typically, there are still a few threads i need to bury even now! i'm so bad about that.

i made a risky (to me) choice, but i also got the binding right: amy butler's daisy chain in that purpley-pink, which wasn't used elsewhere in the quilt but finished it off nicely. sure wish i could change out those yucky pink dot and box squares for the daisy chain now.

my mitered corners even turned out decent! but i don't think i doubled my thread on the binding because i saw some coming undone the other day. bummer.

that's my "at last" quilt, so named based on the scriptural phrase "the last shall be first and the first shall be last" because it was my first quilt made for my last (at the time) child, d4. also, i had made a quilt "at last" after years of wanting to do it. "at last."

now here's the twist to my story: this is and isn't exactly my first quilt. nope. i'd started "star cookie" all on my own, with just my own idea and a bit of reading about quilting, a month before i took the class. however, once i realized everything i'd done wrong, i had to restart "star cookie" to fix some things. that didn't happen until after i'd (mostly) completed "at last" so i really don't know who to claim as my first. they're sort of fraternal twins, i suppose.


  1. What a great story! I love how you talked about each and every fabric and why you loved or hated it. I don't mind the pink one, but I agree with the border...either way your first is less embarrassing than mine! I loved the star cookie story too! Thanks so much for linking up!

  2. Loving that binding! What a great post :-)

  3. I agree that your least favorite fabrics will stick out like a sore thumb on the finished quilt. I think this is a beautiful first(or not)quilt! Love the binding fabric :)

  4. You did a great job - It's definitely true to pick only fabrics you like. I bought a FQB for the craftsy BOM 2012 and there was a lot of pink in it that I didn't like. It was a challenge to use it successfully. I quite like the pink in the box and the flowers look cool!

  5. What a pretty quilt! You have such great taste in fabrics, and I like those flowers - I kept scrolling up and down trying to vision them on the quilt. Curious to see what you end up doing with them!
    Well, maybe I will share my first as well....

  6. I think the flowers might really be fun on this quilt, here and there! (And could even be strategically placed over the fabric you are less than fond of). I love this quilt, but the flowers are really fun! Great work:)

  7. This is a lovely first quilt! We are always more critical of our own work. Enjoy it is lovely! I am definitely with you on the don't like don't use philosophy. Marie (

  8. This is a lovely first quilt! We are always more critical of our own work. Enjoy it is lovely! I am definitely with you on the don't like don't use philosophy. Marie (


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