Friday, November 5, 2010

My First Quilt Ever

My eldest child did not get a quilt from me at her birth, but her birth is what, indirectly, started me on quilting.
When she was born my brother and our friend Shelley gave my daughter a quilted baby quilt, which was lovely. They'd both worked on it, including stitching embellishments on it, and it meant so much to me.  I loved the idea of a gift crafted with love, and the fact that it seemed such a versatile form of art. The possibilities seemed endless with this art form, and the fact that the result is usable made it even more attractive.

When I got my first sewing machine, I decided to try my hand at quilting. I bought a book, Quilting for Beginners, by Frank (the book is so old I cannot find a picture of it online. It was published in 1990), and started making things. I made a pillow for my mother with appliqued tulips, for example.

About a year into it I made my first quilt, a wall hanging for my daughter:

It is a modified star, and is appliqued rather than pieced.  I took the template for each ray and elongated it to different sizes so that the beams are not identical. The inner part of each ray is the same size, and the outer ones differ. However, each ray is the same fabric on the inner and outer parts. I sewed the star together, and the appliqued it onto the background. I put batting and backing fabric and sewed it all together. If you look at the back you can see one of my biggest beginner's mistakes. I quilted the piece with white thread, front and back. On the front it's fine since the fabric is also white. On the other hand, the backing is burgundy, with white seams all over it. I learned you can have a top and bottom thread of different colors, and that sometimes that is the right way to go.
Another thing I learned from this piece is the importance of basting. Up until then, it didn't matter so much since I used two layers of fabric, cotton mostly, with no batting. It was easy to line those up and keep them aligned. Batting makes things move however, and the top and bottom layers of this quilt are doing different things in the finished pieces. I fixed it so you can't see unless you're close to it and know what you are looking for, but the lesson of this has stayed with me: when quilting, baste.

The Red Starburst hung in my daugther's room for a long time, then in the hallway leading to her room. Now it's hanging in my study.

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