I finished my first (independent) quilt! This truly was a labor of love in regards to time investment, but it's oh-so-gratifying to finish a long term project. It wasn't difficult by any means, but took diligence and perseverance. I love the finished quilt and I'll gladly make more quilts in the future, once I finish up a few other lingering projects. If you follow me on instagram, you've probably seen a fair amount of in-progress thoughts and photos. Today, I wanted to share a bit more about the process, cohesively, if you're curious. If not, there are more pictures you can scroll through to see. :)
Materials & notes
(all 100% cotton, pieced with 1/4" seams and ivory 100% cotton thread). I included more pictures of the uncut fabric in this post.
- stash orange (old, from JoAnn's)
- stash lightweight chambray (old, from JoAnn's)
- RJR fabrics: Kajira Star
- Cotton + Steel: jubilee! collection: In the city blue
- Flower shop collection: folk dress sea (blue floral print), folk dress natural (grey floral), folk dress earth (orange floral)
- Kona cotton: solid navy, solid medium blue, solid ivory, all from JoAnn's
- Coats 100% cotton thread in ivory 8020. I used this for all piecing, seaming, and quilting.
- Coats 100% cotton thread in navy for hand-sewing the binding on
- rotary cutter
- self-healing mat
- sewing machine
- quilted 1/2" away from seams, with quilting lines 10" apart at max
- pins, etc.
Steps to make this quilt:
- pick out fabric. I bought no less than 1/2 yd of each fabric, 1 yard of the fabrics I wanted to feature more.
- cut squares (selvedges together, cutting towards the fold). For this quilt, my squares are 6" (with 1/4" seam allowance to make for 5.5" finished squares)
- trial layouts. I did this in "batches" to get a better idea of which fabrics I liked together.
- seam the Half Square Triangles (HSTs)
- repeat steps 3 and 4 until I have a sufficient quantity of squares to make a semi-large quilt
- finalize a layout, document it with various pictures and carefully stack squares, marking with alphabet quilting pins my mom made for me
- sew squares into "rows" (16 total columns, 10 squares tall)
- sew rows to one another
- decide on a backing. We went with a navy/ivory cotton and linen blend for the backing, since I couldn't find a sheet that didn't clash with the quilt front.
- make a quilt sandwich: backing taped to floor, taut + ironed 100% cotton batting + ironed quilt top
- baste the quilt with curved safety pins
- quilt through all layers. I just used the same ivory 100% cotton. I tried this with my regular pressure foot and wasn't satisfied with the resulting bunching, so I ordered a walking foot and it made a huge difference.
- make binding, ironing as you go.
- attach binding to quilt sandwich, raw edges together
- fold over binding and finish hand stitching the binding on the quilt back side. This is so fun and soothing!
- wash with a color catcher. (good advice, mom!)
- snuggle with it for years to come.
I'd watch a few more tutorials about chain piecing. The way I assembled my half square triangles (in my attempt to use my fabric as wisely as possible, but in a random layout) limited my efficiency. And also, I'd note the difference between "pressing" a fabric or seam, which is simply apply static heat, vs "ironing" a seam, or moving the iron back and forth, which can cause distortion or the fabric to stretch on the bias. Press, not iron.
My biggest take-aways:
Do creative things that scare you! I was terrified to make a quilt (read more about that here) because I was afraid it wouldn't "turn out." At several points in the sewing process, I'd finish a step and then feel afraid to go on thinking I'm doing okay so far, but surely this is the part that I'll mess up. Nicholas was incredibly encouraging throughout the process, saying, "You should work on you quilt!" and reminding me that it "looked awesome" even if not every single seamed matched up perfectly on the quilt top (because believe me, they don't). It helps to have some perspective. Yes, I spent a lot of time making this. But it is just a quilt, something we will enjoy as a family and we'll use it for movie nights and Sunday afternoon naps and early morning coffee on the couch. The life the quilt fits into isn't perfect, so it only follows that the quilt itself has touches of imperfection and character sewn into it.
Anyway, this is all to say, thank you, to my mom for being a source of inspiration with all her beautiful quilts! Thank you to countless youtube videos for showing me how to do new quilting skills. Thank you to Nicholas for encouraging me to press on and for his heartfelt praise as I completed each step. And as I've mentioned before, this quilt did wonders for my confidence behind the sewing machine and now I feel way more excited about sewing all sorts of things--housewares and apparel, but more on that to come in the future.
P.S.― For more posts I wrote while the quilt was "in-process," take a peek at these: