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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Completed: A fabric hug

160303_1This quilt was a very belated birthday gift for my youngest sister. It was supposed to be finished early January 2014 but was delayed several times.

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When my sister asked if I’d mind if she moved into the same building my boyfriend and I were living in at the time I didn’t hesitate for a moment. Of course I didn’t. I think we both benefited from the arrangement. She didn’t feel quite so alone when she moved out of my parent’s house to go to university at 17 and I got another person close by that could help me out when life got tough.

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A couple of years later my boyfriend and I moved to a house and while she was now a very short bike ride away instead of just a stairwell we still saw each other often.

This changed in 2013. She finished university, moved to a different city to start her first job and a bike ride turned into a train ride. As a result we don’t see each other as often as we used to and I miss that. So for her birthday I wanted to give her a special gift. One of the things we used to do together was watch Grey’s Anatomy huddled together under my very first quilt. This quilt is small, it measures less than 1x1m, but it can cover two sets of legs when two people in need of some extra warmth like each other enough.

160303_2So, a quilt it was to be. I devised this plan probably a week before her birthday. That was my first mistake. I do not make quilts in a week, I simply do not sew that fast and should know better. My second mistake was to sort of start sewing straight away instead of carefully thinking about the actual design of the quilt. My mind needs some time to figure out the best layout. This process can easily take weeks for a more complicated quilt but should take at least a couple of days so I can test out some different options. Sooo, to make a long story short, I had already pieced quite a bit of the top when I realised that the layout was completely wrong.

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I went through several design options before I picked the final layout for this quilt.

If you’ve been around long enough you’ll know how much I like unpicking… I considered to simply soldier on (and seriously I had to unpick everything) but deep down I knew I would regret not fixing the mistake every time I would lay eyes on the quilt. So, I did nothing. For a very long time.

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A year later I had another attempt at finishing the quilt in time for her birthday. I unpicked the lot and changed the layout. Then we bought a house and that took up a lot of time, but at least I got most of the quilt top completed this time. Only issue, I didn’t love it as much anymore, so things stalled again…

160303_8Then I bought two packs of ten squares from Cotton + Steel, Tokyo Train Ride and Mochi, and started playing with these. At some point I realised I should just turn this top into a quilt for my sister because I was loving it so much more than the abandoned quilt. And now it is finally finished, a quilt for my sister that made it into her hands a couple of days ago.

160303_7The top was made by first cutting the squares into triangles and combining these in light and dark pairs using the different values to create a pattern. This was the first time I used I Cotton + Steel quilting cotton and I love it, it is super soft. For the backing I used a confetti print that was combined with a column of 10” squares that were left over from piecing the front. The batting is Hobbs Tuscany Cotton Wool and Guttermann Sulky thread was used for the straight line quilting. The quilt was bound with a dark blue solid fabric.

Happy belated birthday little sister, it was a pleasure to be there when you turned into a woman.

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