A sewing blog about building a functional, cohesive handmade wardrobe, one garment at a time.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

First quilt

A good friend of mine is due any minute with her fifth child (and first boy!).

This happy turn of events coincided with a recent longing, quiet at first but growing persistently louder, to make a quilt.

I used this tutorial at Cluck Cluck Sew and fabrics from my stash for the quilt top and binding.

The piecing went relatively smoothly.  I read roughly a billion tutorials online about all aspects of making a quilt, and was feeling pretty confident when it was time to make my quilt sandwich.  So one night while J and I were watching TV, I taped the backing to the dining room floor, layered my batting and top, and stuck 90 pins into my 39"-ish square-ish quilt with what I thought was the greatest care.

When I started quilting, though, it was pucker city on my quilt top.  I kept going, thinking that the quilt would just look "organic." But with each new quilting line, the quilt appeared ever less "organic" and ever more "assembled by chimpanzee."

So I grumbled a little about how hard quilting is, but ultimately ripped out the stitches, pressed the heck out of the top and the backing, and started over.  This time I used twice as much duct tape to tape my backing to the dining room floor and took a lot more time smoothing the backing, the batting, and finally the quilt top.  Then I stuck 170-odd pins into the quilt.

And I guess you really need a mass quantity of pins to successfully pin a quilt because this time it was much better.  I quilted the vertical brown rails first, by stitching in the ditch.  Which, by the way, is really not so easy.  I've done a bit of stitching-in-the-ditch in garment sewing, but that's never more than a few inches at a time.  These long lines were a lot harder.  I kept popping out.

Then I quilted the horizontal seams on either side of the center rail, starting from the inside of the quilt and sewing out to the edges.  That worked well.  At the end I did the horizontal quilting lines on the "flipped" portion of the quilt, between the rails.  In retrospect, I probably should have started quilting those lines from the middle of the flipped portion, and then moving up or down.  Instead I started at one end and you can kind of see how the strips got distorted towards the purple and brown end.

The backing is a white with black crosshatch quilting cotton I got at Joann's.  I should have taken a close-up of the fabric, but I think it's a perfect contrast to the print-crazy quilt top.

I hand-stitched the binding to the back of the quilt in front of the TV over an evening and an afternoon.  Just like with my second quilt, I found that process immensely satisfying.  Up until that point, I don't think I quite believed that I was really going to end up with a quilt.

I am pretty happy with the finished product, but I wish I had used flannel or something thinner for the inner layer.  I used some Warm and Natural cotton/poly blend batting that I had in the stash and it seems a little thick for this size quilt.  A thinner quilt would drape a bit better and be easier to wrap an actual baby in.

But I think it will make a nice play mat.


  1. It's gorgeous! It's so rainbowy cheerful! Learning to quilt on a regular machine is a CHALLENGE. I think you are getting it, though! I keep one hand under the quilt, feeling for and easing out little puckers as I go. And when I get a pucker, I just pick out that part of the quilting and redo only the problematic part. So far I haven't had much trouble with my ends unraveling, despite a lot of machine washing and drying!

    1. Thanks, Inder! I've now gone back to garment sewing but there are more quilts in my future, for sure! Hope you are enjoying your spring.

  2. That is beautiful! You have such an eye for fabrics. And you are right, stitching in the ditch sounds like it would be so easy but it is not! Even on clothes I have hard time staying in the ditch.

    1. Thanks - I literally just took every fabric in my stash that would work for a quilt and arranged them in rainbow order :)


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