Monday, April 14, 2014

First Quilts

On Friday I went to the Des Moines MQG meeting and we shared how we started quilting, our first quilts and our most recent quilt.  It was really fun to learn how people started to quilt and to see their first quilts.  Some were....well, first quilts and some were declared too beautiful to be firsts.  :)  One of the things that was repeated many times was that experienced quilters kept on telling them what they could and couldn't do quilting wise.   Most of the time it had to do with fabric and pattern selection.

It reminded me of Mary Fons' lecture at Quilt Con (you can watch it for free on Craftsy - just search for Quilt Con - I really enjoyed it).  She had two main points (as I remember) 1.  If you want a beginner quilter to enjoy quilting, let them choose their own fabric and pattern and 2.  Never, ever, ever make a beginner feel dumb for not knowing something.  Sage advice to remember as we become better quilters.

I shared my first quilt that I made as a "grown-up".  You can read all about it here.  Click on over.  It's good.  :)

But I made my very, very first quilt when I was about ten years old.  I wrote up it's story and it ran on GenX Quilters as part of Anne Marie's First Quilts series.  I am re-posting it here with permission.  Enjoy!

The Little House on the Prairie books inspired me to make my first quilt when I was 10 years old.  I liked Laura's adventures, but most of all I loved reading about how people lived in the past.   In On the Banks of Plum Creek, Laura writes about working on a quilt:

"Mary was still sewing nine-patch blocks.  Now Laura started a bear's-track quilt.  It was harder than a nine-patch, because there were bias seams, very hard to make smooth.  Every seam must be exactly right before Ma would let her make another, and often Laura worked several days on one short seam. " (Chapter 36)

I had romantic notions about stitching away in front of the fire like Laura and Mary and decided to start my quilt making journey with the simpler 9-patch.  My mom let me pick through her sewing scraps and away I went.  I had very particular ideas about how the blocks should be stitched.  I had read something about stitches having to be small and even and unfortunately, my 10 year old mind translated "small even stitches" into "small stitches and seam allowances."  Needless to say, some of the seams are now fraying apart.   And having my own mom critique my work was far less enjoyable than Ma checking Laura's stitches.  Go figure.

I lost steam when it came time to bind my 9-patch block - would it never end?!?  My stitches show this lack of focus - I remember my mom trying to correct my blind hem stitch at this point and I got really angry as I insisted that I was doing it right.  I can see her do the same take-a-deep-breath-decide-not-to-argue-the-point-shrug-and-walk-away thing that I do when my 11 year old insists that she knows better than I.  Oh, how it all comes back around to haunt you...

I finally finished the nine patch quilt, played with it for awhile and then put it away in my box of special things.  It now hangs on the wall of my sewing room.  I started my next quilt 15 years later when a friend talked me into going to a block of the month club at a local quilt store.   

What was your first quilt?
What do you wish more experienced quilters had done/not done to help you when you first started?
Inquiring minds want to know!  :)


  1. This totally reminds me of a blog post I wrote on the sewing aspect of the Little House books:

    I remember I asked my grandma to teach me to make a quilt. I think I sewed two squares together, she decided that was enough for the day and I never saw the box of squares again, haha. I must have been so good it blew her mind and she decided she couldn't teach me anything :)

  2. My first quilt was a baby quilt with pinwheels and Prairie Points from a Moda Bake Shop pattern. When I was done I realized I had reversed a couple of the pinwheels so they were spinning a different direction from the other 7 blocks. Oops. :)

  3. My first quilt was baby quilt, completely done using english method with paper tamplates - I went for craftsy holliday where I usually took bobbin lace and tatting lace classes. That year teacher for these techniques had some delay so I had to choose something other instead. I tried patchwork and quilting, and since then I am sewing as much as I could (unfortunatelly not too much).

  4. wow - very sweet post! My first is a 9-block quilt I made in 1987 or so in my first quilting class. It is entirely hand pieced and quilted.

  5. Oh this cracks me up. We are so wise as children aren't we? That's part of the reason I haven't started teaching my 5 yr old to sew. She will argue with me about anything! :)

  6. My first completed quilt is a little wall hanging. I drew out a labyrinth and decided I wanted to embroider it, then turned the embroidery into a little wall quilt. There's not much in the way of actual quilting, just some squares of straight-line stitching to echo around the labyrinth. My first bed-sized quilt is almost done -- this weekend I'm finally ready to start basting it. (I finished piecing the top and made the binding weeks ago, but I procrastinated about piecing the big pieces of fabric for back.)

  7. My first quilt was a whole cloth quilt--a yard of yellow Holly Hobbie fabric. I didn't know how to stop or start, so I had knots on the front (!). I put eyelet around the edges, and smoothed out the lumpy polyester stuffing, and turned "both edges in" for the binding. I then took two basic quilt classes that taught me a LOT and have continued to take classes over the years.

    Loved your story and also clicked through to your first quilt (wonderful) and then the story of long-arming your first quilt, too. A wonderful day reading your blog!