About 7 years ago I decided that I wanted a homemade quilt for my bed. During a trip to Nova Scotia I visited a number of quilt shops and saw such beautiful works of art that I decided that I had to have one. Then I saw the price tags! I was floored by the costs – $750, $900, $1500… of course now that I’ve started to quilt myself and know how much time, material, expertise and love go into these projects I think that many of them were priced a little low.
Anyway, at the time I decided that I could make a quilt myself. After all, I’d been sewing clothes and drapery for years – how difficult could it be? Famous last words. I started out pretty easy with a simple 4″ patch in a lap quilt size. That was my first introductio
n into the cost of making a quilt. Material alone was close to $200!
When I finished this quilt I stood back and said ‘wow – I made this. All by myself – me.’ I’ve made draperies and valances with all t
he bells and whistles, tailered a winter coat, made jeans for my children and husband that you couldn’t tell from designer and yet from this simple litt
le checker board lap-quilt I gained a sense of pride and accomplishment I’d not felt before. Amazing.
I’ve knitted, crocheted, scrapbooked and many other crafty things but I’v
e very few finished projects to show for it. I would get bored and put it away and start something else. Although I may have a few UFO’s in my cupboard I have finished almost every one of my quilts!
My second project was a little gutsier – a queen size bedspread in a triple Irish Chain pattern. Purples and soft white and greens. This was going to be the homemade bedspread that I wanted a few years back. Why I didn’t just choose another lap quilt or wall hanging to do to learn more skills I don’t know but I jumped in head first. Even the girls at the quilt store suggested that
perhaps I should try something a little smaller but no – after all – I’d been sewing for years, I’ve made one quilt – how hard could it be? (Will I never learn?!) The daunting thing about making this quilt top was all the cutting. I didn’t think I’d ever finish cutting all tho
se 2.5″ strips! Layering everything together was interesting too. I moved all the furniture out of the way, invited a girlfriend over and started to pin…and pin…and pin some more. Finally it w
as finished and I hauled it over to my sewing machine and just stared at it. Now what do I do. It was too big to do much more than straight lines on
the diagonal and even then I couldn’t quilt for more than 30 minutes or so before my back and shoulders would give out. It took me a few weeks to finish quilting it. That was really when I started looking at the quilting machines and dreaming that maybe someday I would have one.
Here are a few of the first quilts that I’ve done.
A small Ohio Star for my mother-in-law. Pretty basic with straight line machine quilting on the diagonal. Even with this smaller quilt I wasn’t able to sit and machine quilt for any length of time. I knew that there was so much more that could be done bu
t I was hesitant to try free motion quilting. I was getting pretty good at using my walking foot though!
I made this dragon quilt for my oldest son. He is/was heavy into dragons and I had this vision in my head
of what I wanted to do. I couldn’t find a pattern anywhere. I Googled dragon images and came up with some pretty good ideas. I drafted up a sketch of what I wanted, enlarged it and made copies. I cut apart the pieces and used them as the pattern for the fabrics. I used Steam a Seam to adhere them to the background and then zig-zagged them down. I learned a number of things while making this wall hanging,
Trim the Steam a Seam under large pieces so only a 1/2″ or so of the border of the fabric is covered otherwise it ends up much too stiff.
Black shows everything!
Test drive your batting first
. I used a polyester batting and it bearded through the black so much that it almost looks hazy. Live and learn.
I look back at these projects and think ‘oh – what I could do with them now! I did try a bit of free motion quilting on the dragon but if I’d had my HQ16 back then I’d have used metallics and thread painted flames, outlined the scales and meandered some wizardly things into the background – I’ll just have to make another one!