Friday, February 15, 2013
My First Quilt: Things I've Learned
I finally completed the Christmas quilt for my daughter - on Valentine's Day! Fabric choices are detailed in this post. Finished size is 36" by 44". With the exception of hand-finishing the binding and labels, it was all sewn on my Janome DC3050 using both cotton and polyester threads.
As I pieced, sandwiched, ripped out, and quilted, I had a lot of time to think; I decided to list, in no particular order, a few things I learned in the making of this quilt.
I learned that not having a pattern is OK. I bought the Nature's Gift panel with no thought other than I loved it and wanted to use it to make a little Christmas quilt for my daughter. I used a combination of disappearing nine-patch and improvisational placement of fussy-cuts. I truly enjoyed designing as I went.
I learned not to be so hard on myself. This I learned this from other quilters, who are the kindest people in the world. They will compliment your strong points and call your mistakes "quirks".
I was obsessed with making my points perfect - always a nice goal, but I'm not entering my quilt in a contest. When I looked closely, I noticed that several of the quilts I admired on others' blogs were not perfect - imagine that! And my free motion quilting is obviously that of a beginner. This bothered me terribly at first, and I ripped out many swirls. I finally let it go, relaxed, and my quilting, although still not perfect, is improved.
I learned to "Let the quilt tell you"- this is something I kept reading and hearing about when deciding on a pattern for completing the quilt, and I hope to cultivate this habit for future quilts. This time around, my quilting was chosen for its ease of execution, although I did try to enhance the blocks.
I learned the value of choosing the appropriate thread for quilting. I thought just any old thread would do and chose an off-white color to quilt. I learned quickly that off-white was way too pronounced on the red of the sashing; something more subtle would have looked much better. (And disguised my beginner quilting.)
I learned to relax and enjoy the solitude of quilting. Almost meditative, each phase of quilting was enjoyable for me, especially when I had the window open next to my sewing machine and could appreciate birds chirping, distant traffic sounds, and halcyon days with white puffy clouds and blue skies. (The wine was helpful too!)
I learned that sewing knowledge does not a quilter make. I've sewn since I was in 7th grade, and I assumed that quilting would be a snap for me. It wasn't. There were parts of making a quilt that came easier for me because I sew, but quilting is a complex art that will take just as much time as I devoted to perfecting my sewing skills.
I learned that even though I may not be a great at free motion quilting, I am good at piecing and binding. I love piecing; it gives me a chance to appreciate each block, cherish the fabric, and find joy in composition and symmetry.
Before I made and sewed the binding, I watched some tutorials on binding and finally followed Amanda Jean's clear and easy to follow instructions on crazy mom quilts. Once I started hand-stitching the binding on the back of the quilt, I fell into a rhythm and did my best work, using my skill at making the stitches invisible.
The gift box was purchased at Joann fabric store and is a perfect container for this Christmas quilt.
Choosing a name for the quilt was fun, and I finally decided on "Tweet Noel".