When I started sewing last year, I said I wasn’t going to be a quilter. I’m not even sure why I said that. It was nothing against quilts or quilters at all – I just didn’t think it looked like something I wanted to do. Too much detailed work, maybe? Not being sure I had the ability to do that sort of precise sewing? I suppose when you start learning a new skill, you don’t yet know what you will or won’t be able to manage and so it’s easy to dismiss things that look too hard. Like knitting lace. I used to think that’d always be outside my range. But I learned with knitting to never say never.
So I made a little quilted table top last year and thought that was a fine way to pass the time. It’s pretty dodgy in places and in fact won’t really last very long because my poor seaming is coming apart, but that’s what first steps are all about. I learned all the ways that stuff can go wrong and applied that new knowledge to my first proper quilt, which I finished on Sunday. Made with a pack of Moda charm squares in the Half Moon series, it’s draped here over our small sofa bed lounge.
I made the top of the quilt several months ago, spending a couple of Sundays arranging the squares into blocks. That was fun. We put them out on the lounge room floor and over the course of a day or two, would stare at them, rearranging, trying to get them into some sort of pleasing configuration. Sean turned out to be quite good at that – he’s got a good eye.
So I made four blocks, using some white cotton from the stash to build them and then eventually put them together with the black border, or sashing. There it sat for several weeks while I built up the courage to do the big job of machine quilting.
I’m not sure how normal it is to make the lines of the quilting so visible – see those black lines running diagonally? I think most people choose a colour that blends in more but I talked it over with my mum and we thought, what the hell, just go with the black, see how it works. I think technically it’s supposed to blend, and technically when you’re new and not particularly skilled yet, hiding your quilt lines is more the norm. I did worry that not being terribly precise yet, going with such stark sewing might really show up the wonkiness but it’s ok.
As I said to my mum, it’s a lap rug. It’s not a show piece. And I’m just learning so who cares – just go with whatever. One of the benefits of being new is that I’ve got a certain amount of naivety about it all. I don’t really know the RULES yet and anyway, who wants to be bound by rules? I don’t.
There are certain things I wanted to get right though and I overcame my perceived dislike of handsewing and did the final stage of the binding by hand. Love the polka dots! Over two nights, I crippled my hands doing all that stitching on the reverse side and decided it’s just as nice a way to spend an evening as knitting on the couch is. It’s all about the tiny stitches in the end and I should just get over myself and embrace the hand sewing thing. So I did and it was lovely.
I think it’s about as big as I want to go in terms of fully quilting something. I found it pretty gruelling working with a 109cmx109cm (43″x43″ ) piece of fabric in the last stages. I think if I wanted to make something bigger, I’d do all the piecing myself and send it out for professional quilting but that’s some way off yet.
Here’s the back, which I had to put a strip of black into because of the width of the piece.
I like the idea of putting a point of interest in the back and plan to explore options for this with my next quilt.
So does one quilt make you a quilter? Maybe. I don’t know. I seem to have the bug if my net surfing is any indication, as well as the books I’m buying and the way I’m looking at my stash. I started out just wanting to learn the techniques because I think it’ll be useful and it’s certainly teaching me a lot about precision.
Oh, and it’s fun. Truly fun. The two days I spent last week completely lost in bringing this all together were just wonderful. I felt content and satisfied which is a very nice headspace to find myself in.