Friday, August 19, 2011

My First Quilt

I started quilting the fall of 2004.  It was something that I had always wanted to do, but never had the opportunity, with work, family, etc.

I had no idea as to where to start.  No one in my family ever quilted.  We moved to the Peninsula in VA about a year ago and there were no quilt shops, nor fabric shops.  I only had the internet, but was on dial-up, so could not get any tutorials, oh, we did have a Wal Mart.   Then a friend of mine gave me a book from the 60’s on different blocks, when she was on vacation.  Her and her husband came down to the island of Chincoteague every summer.   She was an older woman that liked getting panels and sewing them together.  The book only gave a picture of the blocks and their names.  There were no instructions on putting them together.  I looked through that book over and over, checking each page out carefully.  My husbands only comment was that if I was going to make a quilt, make it a large bed size that we could use.

I picked one that did not look too hard, it only had 4 pieces.  I picked the hour glass block to make and off to Wal Mart I went for material.  They didn’t have a big selection, so I got ½ yards of all different kinds of prints that would match.    I also picked up a ruler, square, mat, and rotter cutter.

When I got home, I set everything up on our dining room table and started cutting my triangles.  Until the quilt was together....we ate in the kitchen.  (My husband did not mind, he was very supportive and is to this day.  he is my biggest fan.)   I had no idea that I was to give an extra ½ inch to the triangle to make an 8 inch square, much less did I know about making half square triangles.  So, I had a few problems with the points matching, and my squares ended up 7 inch instead of 8 inch.  Plus, my machine was old and did not have the ¼ mark to follow, so I drew a line with a marker to follow.  But that was ok, I was doing it and having fun!

After I got all my blocks made, I laid them out in rows and marked each row as to which order I wanted to sew them together.  I cut little pieces of paper and numbered them.  (row 1, row 2, etc.)  At that time I also decided to put a sashing between the blocks.  So far so good, I just took my time.  Now, unfortunately, I stopped reading for I was to into sewing.  

It took almost a month for me to get all my blocks squared and the points all perfect.  I now had the top all complete and ready to be layered.  

My table was not long enough for me to layer, so I laid the bottom on the floor in my bedroom. I sprayed lightly  with an adhesive spray, then put the batting on top, being very careful to smooth it all out.  Then spayed the batting and laid my top on, again smoothing it out.   Now, it is a good thing that I got that fabric spray, for I did not know to baste the whole quilt.  I only basted the edge.  And it actually stayed all together for me to quilt.

My husband and I are ones to go to Flea Markets and Yard Sales together on weekends.   I was now on the look out for anything that had to do with quilting.  Fortunately I found a large used  quilt hoop at one of the  flea market and it worked perfect.  I was able to sit in my living room, watch TV and hand quilt my quilt.  It took me 3 months to quilt the whole  top.  I quilted it ¼ inch from all the seams.  Binding, I read to cut on the bias.   I made mine extra wide and hand sewn on carefully.  WOW...I MADE MY FIRST QUILT!!!
                                         Total size:   96" X 86"  

While I was quilting this quilt, I subscribed to 2 different magazines, and started reading what ever I could get my hands on that had to do with quilting. I even found a quilting show that was on early every Saturday morning.  I taped every single episode to watch a few times over.  I wanted to learn everything I could so my future quilts would go together more smoothly.  Hopefully with a lot less ripping.

Reading all that I did and checking out other peoples articles and quilts that they have made.  I found that most people buy a pattern and stick to it, but  use different material.  I learned how to match different blocks together.  How to re-size my blocks and patterns.  I read all about applique.  (Unfortunately, my machine was too old to do any stitch except the straight stitch front and back)  I got a notebook and started making notes on ever different technique I found.  That way I could keep them in order and have my own personal guide. I also started a smaller notebook as to what I would like to make.  I called it my "Dream Notes".  

My second quilt was the Dresden Plate which I hand pieced and hand quilted.  That was a  lot of fun.  I enjoyed doing applique, and wanted to learn a lot more.  It was after that quilt, that I stared designing my own quilts.  When we moved to TN, my husband  bought me a new Pfaff quilting machine.  That is all it took, I was off and running, and no one was going to stop me.   I started to learn how to machine quilt, but only with my table toppers and wall hangings.  As for my large quilts, I was still hand quilting.

To this day, when I see a quilt or pattern, I like, I just have to make it my own, by doing something different with it.  I still never purchased a pattern, I like to try to figure the quilt out myself.  I am still collecting books, and magazines and reading as much as I can to learn more.

Last year my husband purchased a long arm machine for me for my birthday.   (ahh yes, see, he really is my biggest fan)   I do not do as much hand work as I did.  My notebook, well, it is still growing.  I still find different techniques to put into it.  I also have a large notebook on all my quilts that I ever made.  I keep notes on them, pictures, etc.  Oh, and as for my "Dream Notes"..... I now have a small one with me at all times that I write down ideas, I even draw pictures in it.  There is a large one in my room that is just full of ideas, You all know how that goes........

So many things, so little time.

I would love to hear about your first quilt and how you got started in quilting.

Hope everyone has a great weekend. 

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1 comment:

Sharon Pernes said...

I learned to quilt about 3 years ago. I took a beginning quilting class and I was a mess. I had no idea how to use my machine nor even ow to spin a bobbin. I was a horrible student and I am sure Donna was very frustrated with me. But I was like you, I wanted to learn. I read books and then found a weekend event at a different local quilt shop. The event had to do with HSTs, which I had never attempted. At this point I did k ow how to use my machine, but it broke during the event. Luckily I was able to buy a new Bernina that Sunday evening at the end of the event. That's when I really learned to quilt. I started from the beginning with 4 patches and worked my way to more difficult patterns. I keep track of what I learned from each pattern and technique. I tend to use the same technique for a few times to master it before moving onto the next thing I want to learn. I also keep books on all my quilting stuff.