My very first quilt or how I started quilting

My first quilt never made an appearance on this blog because it was made before I started blogging. Since I am doing some catching up right now I figured I might as well show some pictures of it. This quilt has lived on our couch ever since it was completed and it still makes me happy when I look at it. 180502_6I started sewing after taking a beginners sewing class in 2009. At first I mostly made clothing and bags. Quilting I associated with old-fashioned, a lot of hand sewing and a lot of brown and drab unappealing fabrics (the latter may have had something to do with the quilting fabrics that were available in The Netherlands at the time?).

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The quilt top was made by creating nine 16 patch blocks using half-square triangle units.

At some point in the autumn of 2011, however, my interest in quilting began. I had started reading more blogs and came across really beautiful bright and modern quilts and thought “Wow! Quilts don’t have to be drab and boring!”. I still thought it would be difficult to make one but I read (a lot) more blogs and watched YouTube videos on how to make quilts and at some point I realized that I wanted to give quilting a try.

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The back is not as purple as it looks in this picture. The binding in the pictures of the front give a better representation of the true colour.

How to start though? From all the reading and watching I had done I realized that I would definitely need some new tools before I could begin. At Christmas that year I received some money from my parents and in-laws and I knew what to spend it on! During a shopping trip with one of my sisters I bought a large cutting mat, 2 rotary cutters, 2 rulers, marking pencils, pins, a large piece of batting and quite possibly several other items that I now no longer recall. Anyway, the owner of the store probably had a good day because of my visit.

In a second-hand bookstore I had found a book by Katharine Guerrier called Scrap Quilt Sensation that looked really interesting so I brought it home and after looking at all the projects I decided to make a scrap quilt. I didn’t have any quilting fabrics, but this was easily remedied by buying several sets of scraps from a webshop. Most were 4’x4’ and some pieces were a bit larger and I cut them down to 4’x4’.

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Two books I used to learn more about the quilting process.

It took ages to decide what kind of design I was going to make. In the end I followed Sew Katie Did’s Value Quilt Tutorial for making a value quilt using half square triangle units, but instead of making a quilt with a single design I made 9 different 16 patch blocks inspired by some of the quilts in Katharine Guerrier’s book.

I had a lot of fun deciding how to lay out the 16 patches and I love how I managed to make some of the designs continue into the next block. I started with 6 blocks but quickly realized I would end up with a super tiny quilt and added 3 more. It’s still a small quilt though; it measures less than 40’’ square.

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Detail of the front.

So, at some point I had a quilt top and still needed to quilt it. I bought a walking foot, a spool of Gütermann Sulky variegated thread and a book on machine quilting by Maurine Noble. After some practice swatches I very carefully basted my quilt with safety pins (which I now no longer do because it is a pain to remove safety pins when you are quilting). For the backing I used a fabric from my stash because I liked how the colour looked with the fabrics on the front. Batting is Hobbs 80/20. I didn’t do any marking on the quilt and just started quilting somewhat following the shapes that were created by the different values.

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On the back you can really see how crazy the quilting is.

I had just enough fabric of the backing left to create the binding and attached it by machine, folded it to the back and then sewed it down by hand. To my surprise I even liked the hand sewing part.

It felt really great when I finished this quilt. Every other quilt I have made since completing this quilt is no longer in my possession, but this one is not going anywhere. It shows me that if you are willing to invest some time to learn a new skill you can end up with something you truly love.

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12 comments on “My very first quilt or how I started quilting

  1. katechiconi says:

    A very pretty quilt and an excellent example of how it’s possible to teach yourself something without needing workshops or classes. You went on to make much more ambitious things, so it’s clearly worked well!

    • Emmely says:

      It was a great learning experience to research every step myself. It was a process that took months but the end result was so rewarding. I should probably try new things more often.

  2. knitnkwilt says:

    That is an ambitious first quilt! All those HSTs and matching corners all over! It took forever for me to develop precision anywhere near that. I really like the value-scrap concept. And your quilt.

    • Emmely says:

      Thank you! I took a lot of time cutting and piecing. I certainly did some unpicking when things were off by too much but I think the attention I put in the cutting stage paid off when I had to assemble the blocks. It’s certainly not perfect but I am probably the only one who really notices the flaws and I don’t really mind them because they show that it is a handmade item .

  3. Jo in Sydney says:

    It’s so beautiful and I love that you enjoy using it daily! You mention that you don’t safety pin baste anymore – how to you do it now? I am a seamstress first but have quilt top in progress (slowly!). Jo

  4. Your first quilt came out great! I have both those books you showed – Scrap Quilt Sensation and Machine Quilt Made Easy. Many years ago (like in the early 2000s) when I lived in Seattle, I actually took a class from Maureen Noble on machine quilting!

    • Emmely says:

      Thank you! That must have been a useful class to take! Maurine Noble’s book doesn’t look as appealing as more modern books when you just look at the lay out but I found the information in it really useful for a complete novice. It certainly helped me to figure out basic things like tension and stitch length.

  5. Joy says:

    Love it. My first quilt is drab and boring. And actually brown. LOL I needed to start somewhere, haha.

  6. dezertsuz says:

    I wondered how you got such a nice balance of light and dark, and how you decided to go off in a different direction. Thanks for explaining. I never even saw the blocks when I looked it, only after you mentioned what you had done. You’ve learned a lot in a short time! The quilting on the back is wonderful.

    • Emmely says:

      One of the tricks to getting a good balance is to make 3 piles when you’re assembling the HSTs. Not just pair light and dark, but also light & medium and medium & dark. I took a really long time deciding on the final layout.

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