You guys, I deserve a gold star. For way too long, I’ve wanted to sew a quilt for Maxwell. Suddenly, a couple of months ago, I had a surge of creative energy, and I decided it was time to make it happen. I was going to make my very first quilt!
My quilting process so many different things: slow, confusing, exciting, and progressive, and it totally reminded me of when I learned how to sew many, many, many years ago back in Detroit :) At that time in my life, just like with this quilt for Max, I had no clue what I was doing with my sewing machine. Sure, I had done some research, but learning the quilting process at 100% was holding me back from actually getting started. I decided I was tired of holding myself back, and I was ready to get started.
The things that held me back — fear of failure and inexperience, now makes me laugh. This is exactly what I experienced back in 2008 when I was learning how to sew zipped pouches. As I was working on Max’s quilt I was reminded that I’m always learning how to sew. And, I love having that perspective :) There will always be something new to learn, practice, perfect — and that’s so inspiring!
One thing (for sure) that helped me get started with Max’s quilt is reading about all the quilting projects one of my favorite bloggers and crafters, Elise Blaha Cripe, has made. Reading about her quilting projects, feeling her excitement through her blog posts, seeing her finished projects — all of these things helped nudge me towards getting started.
With my first quilt, I started with answering a few basic questions:
+ what is the size of the finished quilt? (43″ x 34″)
+ what primary colors do I want to incorporate? (orange & gray)
+ is there a specific design I want to focus on? (construction trucks & foxes, Max’s favorites)
From there I bought my fabric (seven different prints (2 primary and 5 secondary)), cut a 5″ square template (from a manila envelope), ironed my fabric, and began cutting my squares. Once everything was cut I began laying out different options for the fabric, which somehow was one of the most difficult parts of the entire process. (Maybe that’s a good sign? Looking back, I envision future projects to not be so difficult.) I wasn’t sure how I wanted the pattern to look since this was my first time sewing a quilt, so I kept the process light and reminded myself “trying again” with a new pattern layout wasn’t really that difficult :)
Once I had all the squares/patterns organized, the quilt looked a bit small, so I added more squares until I found the perfect size. Next up, get sewing! I carefully stacked each row and without pinning anything, began sewing. Once all of the rows were sewn I took each strip and organized the pattern on the floor one more time before sewing the rows together. I did a single stitch for piecing all of the squares together, but once I had a my final quilt top sewn, I went over every row with a zigzag stitch for extra reinforcement. Doing this also meant I didn’t have to iron my seams open. Hooray!
I had found a really thin blanket from a local thrift store, and after washing it twice in hot water it was ready to be sandwiched in between the back of the quilt and the quilt top. I did most of my non-sewing work on the floor, that felt like the best way to have enough surface for my project. Starting in the middle of the quilt, I began pinning the layers together. I would work left to right, up and down, smoothing & pinned all three layers together.
Once the layers were pinned together, I smoothed things over one more time with my hands and adjusted any necessary pins. I was now ready to start top stitching all three layers together, and honestly I felt a little uneasy about this. But, I thought through a few possible scenarios and gave myself a big pep talk before getting started ;) (I am a dork, I know.) I began in the middle of the quilt and top stitched to the outside edge, then I turned the quilt 180 degrees and top stitched to the other outside edge. I turned the quilt 90 degrees and again, began in the middle and top stitched to the outside edge. Turned the quilt, and worked to the other outside edge. This process hardly took any time at all.
The last part of my quilt was to make the binding and finish each edge. And here is the second most difficult part of the quilting process ;) Because this was my first quilt, I wasn’t totally sure what I was doing. I knew how it needed to look, but sewing is often a backwards, upside down process. I took a tiny break from working on the quilt to do a little research, but finally decided the best way to learn was to just get started. I don’t love how the binding turned out, but I do love that I made my first quilt!
The process often is greater than perfection, I say!
Max absolutely loves his new quilt, and that totally makes all of it’s imperfections even more beautiful to me. I know there are mistakes within the quilt. I know I sewed things incorrectly. I know I sewed certain sections out of order or didn’t complete a specific technique perfectly. But that is the beauty of crafting: you have a desire to try something new, you let your excitement lead you through the process, and then as a reward you get to hold your finished project. And see your boy’s eyes light up with happiness! :)
If your wanting to learn how to quilt, Elise has written an ecourse called Get Quilty! I’m all heart eyes over this ecourse as it’s completely self-paced and features 5 different projects. SO much fun. You don’t even have to wait a single day to get started on your quilt, just sign up for Elise’s ecourse — you’re already on your way! :)
PS. I created Pinterest board for even more quilting project inspiration. I’d love to see your favorite quilting projects. Next up is a quilt for Natalie Rose!