Though I’ve neglected to blog much about my recent forays into sewing, I have been sewing a lot in the last year, getting more confident and more skilled with every block. But I’d yet to ever complete an actual quilt, and I knew that until that happened, I wouldn’t have any credence with actual quilters. I was just a “piecer,” not a “quilter.” I changed that in the past week.
That’s right, I made my very first quilt in one week (from first cut to the binding—the planning had occurred ahead of time). Why the rush, you ask? Well, because I’d been scared to start, and then I decided I had to just DO IT, all in time for my cousin’s bridal shower …
I am beside myself with love for the quilt. When it was tumbling around in the front-loading dryer, I watched it go around and around, and I saw the bursts of color on the bed of gray, and I felt, I don’t know, the most intense sense of pride. It’s been a long time since I felt that way about an FO.
But I’m getting ahead of myself in the storytelling. Let me back up.
First off, my good friend Brett Bara has a book coming out soon, Sewing in a Straight Line. Because of my insider status—we worked together at our day jobs while she was busy writing the book—I’d seen a stacked strip quilt of hers, and it got into my head. It seemed so fresh, and so doable. Modern but not too crazy. Something I hoped my cousin Kelly, a graphic designer, would appreciate.
I sketched out what I wanted on graph paper, making it about 60×68. That’s not bed sized, but it’s decent for snuggling up with on the couch, I figured. I sat on the sketch—made with all the fabrics here for me to decide on the stripe order—more than two months ago! But I only finally got up the nerve to start cutting them last Saturday night.
Once I started cutting, there was no turning back. I was a woman posessed this week: any waking moment was spent thinking about, talking about, or reading about this quilt and quilt techniques. I’d read so many tutorials before, and I’d edited a few quilting books in my time as a crafts editor, but I needed more information, more reassurance.
A few tutorials were incredibly helpful, and I referred to them a few times.
- Red Pepper Quilts has a tutorial for machine-sewing the binding to the back. I discovered that I am waaay too much of a novice to make this work for me, but it was educational, and I got good links to other articles on working the binding.
- This tutorial gave me mitered corner confidence.
- Caro has a great post on tacking down a binding by hand, which is what I spent the afternoon on Saturday doing as quickly as I could. I understood how from (dressmaking) sewing courses I’ve taken, but this served as an excellent refresher with pictures you could really “see.”
My deadline was this Sunday (today), the day of my cousin’s bridal shower. I had a few stumbles on my way to the finish line, to be sure: I ran out of gray fabric, and Purl (which is near my office) didn’t have ANY more gray. I had plans that prevented me from getting to City Quilter to get the grays until a day later. When I started the actual quilting, I discovered that I hadn’t pinned enough, and things were shifting. So I actually took out the three lines of quilting I’d done, re-pressed the whole thing, and re-pinned my quilt sandwich from scratch. I can’t even tell you how many times I stabbed myself with the needle while hand-sewing the binding, or scraped my leg with a pin as I wrestled the whole quilt through the machine.
But at 4:45 on Saturday, I pulled my thread through the very last stitch along the edging. I had finished! And in plenty of time to get it washed before we headed out to our dinner reservation (at Babbo—likely the subject of a future post). I had done it!
I learned SO MUCH about quilting in this process. Of course, it’s not perfect by any means. There’s clear stripes of quilting that are, well, badly done. But it’s still about the most perfect thing I’ve ever made. I was so happy to give it to them, and they seemed thrilled to receive it.