Tuesday, 29 January 2013

My first foray into quilting



At the beginning of the year, my soon-to-be eleven year old son Louis put in a request for a birthday present - he wanted a quilt. His birthday is at the end of January so I was just a tiny bit panic stricken. Despite the panic, I was absolutely over the moon that he'd asked me to make him something. There's not much scope to make things for a boy of his age and let's face it, in a couple of years, he'll be too embarrassed to even walk down the street with me. Even though the thought of that makes my heart hurt, I do know what teenage boys are like, so I leapt at the chance of making him something before he gets too old.   

I'll be totally honest, quilting has never appealing to me. My natural laziness and impatience are probably not great starting points for quilt making, but I decided to jump in and do the best job I could for Louis. Lack of time (I had about four weeks to make it), and lack of skills, meant I had to keep to the following criteria: 

- A simple design - squares rather than triangles or hexagons
- No more than six different fabrics used
- Minimal hand stitching

Louis and I chose the fabrics together, using the red and black colour scheme that he wanted. I bought a pre-cut FQ bundle of black fabrics (polka dots, hexagons and chevrons) from M is for Make, along with half a metre of red chevrons and half a metre of a red solid. For the backing, I used dottie red quilt backing, also from M is for Make. 


The design is a direct steal from Miss P's lovely baby quilt that she made about 18 months ago.  I remember thinking at the time that if I ever made a quilt, I'd want to use the same design. 

Once I had my fabric, I asked Kate at M is for Make for help! She was brilliant and pointed me in the direction of I'm a Ginger Monkey - a quilting blog with some great advice and tutorials for all things quilt related. I used her Super Simple Patchwork Square Quilt tutorial and made just a few amendments. My squares were 5 inches and my finished quilt was also slightly smaller: eight squares wide by 12 squares long, resulting in a smallish quilt of roughly 40 x 60 inches. What I didn't realise was that making the patchwork quilt top was the fun, relatively easy bit... 


Cutting out the squares took an afternoon, then sewing the squares into rows and sewing the rows together took another afternoon. It was preparing the batting, quilt top and quilt backing sandwich that took ages. I seem to have spent hours on my hands and knees, smoothing all the layers down and safety pinning them together. God, talk about tedious. 


I'm glad I took Portia's advice and persisted with basting the layers together with safety pins - I'd have been gutted if the quilting had gone cock-eyed after all that hard work.

For the actual quilting, I was going to use Portia's genius masking tape method, which came via the Martha Stewart blog. But I discovered I'm totally cack-handed when armed with a roll of masking tape, I could barely unroll it in a straight line. I ended up ruling diagonal chalk lines instead, which seemed to work fine. Quilting took a full morning, perhaps three or four hours, and I even remembered to use white thread for the top and red for the underside!


The black polka dot bias binding was from my stash and the quilting gods were obviously keeping an eye on me that day as I had just enough to bind the quilt with about two or three inches to spare. Talk about lucky. I know the traditional method is to machine one side of the binding, then hand stitch the other side. But you know my feelings on hand sewing - that last side was firmly machined into place.

I invested in two machine feet for this project, which you may think is a massive extravagance, but believe me, they were both good investments and their usefulness will last way beyond making this quilt. There's no way that quilt top would have been fit for human eyes without my new quarter inch foot, it made all the rows and columns line up seamlessly. My other, far more expensive investment was a walking foot. This was also worth its weight in gold when it came to quilting the three layers together, not a pucker in sight (well, not many...). I've been meaning to take the plunge and buy one for a while and I don't regret it for a minute. Imagine all those stripes and gingham pieces I'll be able to line up perfectly now?! 


New machine feet aside, the patchwork fabric, batting and quilt backing came to around £60. Yes, I could have used fabric from my stash for the quilt top, or maybe used a sheet for backing, but buying it all from a reliable supplier of quilt materials meant the fabrics would all be of a similar weight as well as being excellent quality and fit for purpose. I'm hoping this quilt will last for many years to come!  It's not a cheap option by any means, but it's probably about the same price as two Wii games which makes me feel it's money well spent! I can see why quilts are so expensive to buy commercially though - apart from the cost of the materials, the time, effort and love that go into making them is immeasurable. 




So has making this quilt converted me? In all honesty, I'd say no it hasn't. I'm absolutely delighted with the finished quilt and, more importantly, so is Louis, but as a process it just doesn't do it for me in the same way that making a dress does. BUT… Louis looks so cosy with his quilt tucked round him in front of the TV, that I may just be tempted to make another one for myself this year. Especially as it didn't actually take all that long to make. Let's just say it's tempting but I'm in no rush... x 



76 comments:

  1. Wonderful work and really interesting to hear about your experience. Aren't walking foots great? But, mainly, I'm just relieved you managed to get polka dots into the make.

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    1. Ah yes, should have said that there was an unwritten fourth criteria stating that polka dots were obligatory! Luckily Louis likes polka dots, he is his mother's son after all....x

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  2. This is all kinds of awesome! What a fantastic (and impressively speedy) make. And such a lovely request from your son. And kudos on the fabrics- that chevron is great!

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    1. Thanks Amanda! Yes, the chevrons are fab aren't they? They were Louis' choice - he really liked them! x

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  3. oh I love this bold colour combo! It's all kinds of wonderful! Yes, quilts are such hard work once the fun bit of designing and sewing up the quilt top is over. I'm still hand quilting (why?!) a quilt I started last Feb. I won't be doing that again!

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    1. Aw thanks Shivani! Wow, I totally take my hat off to anybody who hand quilts, the very thought of it fills me with horror! x

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  4. Great quilt Jane - very stylish and just right for a young man :-)

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    1. Thank you Claire! It meets with the young man's approval too! x

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  5. Gorgeous quilt Jane! I just wanted to tell you I made my son a quilt when he was about Louis' age. When he went off to Uni several years later the quilt went with him. Now that makes a mother's heart all warm and gooey :)

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    1. Oh I'm so pleased to hear that - I'm secretly hoping Louis will do the same! x

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  6. Your quilt is beautiful! And I absolutely love it that he requested it and helped pick the fabrics - priceless!

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    1. Thank you Gail, yes, I'm still over the moon about his request too! x

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  7. Stunning!! What a work of love Jane. So glad he likes it, and I m so impressed!! Looks very modern and funky too, perfect :)

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    1. Thanks Winnie, glad you think it looks modern and funky too! He didn't want anything too childish and I was pleased as it means it will still be usable when he's all grown up (sob!) x

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  8. It's a lovely gift that will last and last. I bet he takes it to uni in years to come.

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    1. Thanks Karin, I really hope he does! x

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  9. Great job! Hard to believe this is your first time making a quilt. I bet you would agree that quiltmaking is a lot easier than garment making. I'm a seasoned quilter and I would give it up in a heartbeat if I could make my own clothes.

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    1. Thank you Gail, that's a wonderful compliment coming from a seasoned quilter! I'd agree that this particular quilt was easier to make than a garment, but it was a VERY easy quilt! All the same skills are used though, so I'd say if you can make a quilt you can definitely make a garment! x

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  10. I love your quilt - I am at the 'thinking' stage of making a quilt so your tips will be useful for me - thanks!


    Penny

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    1. Oh I hope they are! Thank you. X

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  11. Amazing, well done Jane, can't believe this is your first quilt. I totally agree on the quilting part and putting all the layers together, it is so tedious and time consuming, but I do love hand stitching the binding whilst sat underneath the cozy new quilt!

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    1. Thanks for all your help Kate and glad I'm not the only one who finds the layering and quilting tedious! As lovely as that sounds, you still haven't converted me to the joys of hand sewing! x

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  12. really lovely. i have a hankering to make a quilt for my daughter but i'm trying to resist - i have enough in the queue (and in my notebook and in my mental list) as it is.

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    1. I know what you mean, it wasn't exactly at the top of my list! But a birthday request is a birthday request! x

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  13. How sweet! Even if the teenage years are a rough patch he will always look at that quilt with love for you.

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    1. Oh I really hope so! Thanks Lisette. x

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  14. Good job on your first quilt. It is better than my first one. Looks like your son will really enjoy it and you finished it remarkably quickly.
    I feel your pain as I am working on a queen sized quilt for my brother for Christmas. It was kind of a volunteer/request but it is the first thing he has requested me to sew him in years. Before that he would beg me, please don't make me anything for Christmas.

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    1. Wow, that sounds like a labour of love, he'd better appreciate it! x

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  15. Your quilt is fabulous! I adore the colour scheme you chose.

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  16. Stunning, quilting is such a rewarding activity. I always have one in the go. Using basting gun make the work much easier and faster

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    1. Hhmm, a basting gun, that sounds interesting! x

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  17. It's a beautiful quilt, and looks absolutely perfect from what I can see! I think it's absolutely precious that your son asked you to make him a quilt for his birthday... he is going to hang onto that thing for the rest of his life. Aw! I really wish my mom would make me a quilt :)

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    1. Aw thank you Lauren! I wish my mum would make me a quilt too! x

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  18. Wow Jane, that quilt really is fantastic - Louis is a lucky boy indeed! Great job.

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  19. Wow Jane, this is lovely on so many levels - lovely of your beautiful son to ask this of you and lovely of you to make it. I can't believe how fast you pulled this together and what a great job you've done. It looks amazing and I must say that I have been itching to play with quilting recently...

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    1. Aw that's so lovely, thanks Marie. Give it a go, it's so satisfying seeing all the rows turning into a quilt! x

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  20. Jane, congrats on your first quilt - it looks so great! Your walking foot will be an investment you won't regret as you can also use it to sew and hem knits. As for the binding, traditional method or not, I’m with you: I always machine bind my quilts as I have no patience for hand stitching. Finally, you look so posh pinning the quilt in your nice dress! I'm pretty sure I always wear pjs or sweats to do that tedious part, ha, ha!

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    1. Thanks Andrea, I'm so pleased to hear you machine your binding too, I felt like I'd committed the cardinal sin of quilting! Ha ha, I certainly didn't feel posh crawling around on the floor that day but thanks! x

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  21. Now Jane, I bet you thought about your precious son LOADS whilst making this quilt for him? - lots of memories about him, thoughts about him using the quilt now as a boy and in the future. That is the really big draw for quilt-making - all the time sewing you also get to think fondly about the person you're gifting it to, and then when you see him in the quilt, all those lovely thoughts can be seen too. I bet you get a warm feeling in your heart when you see him wrapped up in all the love and wishes you made for him whilst you were sewing. I think you will be a quilt convert eventually.

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    1. Oh I did think about him the whole time Nessa, that's what spurred me on to finish it! x

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  22. I'm absolutely so impressed with this, Jane - especially since I feel as you do about quilting. I love the symmetry and precision of it, but it doesn't float my boat the way garment making does! :) However, I very much love the colour choices and I can totally understand why your darling boy was enough to sway you to quilting territory - the pics of him cuddling in it are certainly enough for anyone with half a heart to see it was well worth the time and effort, as well as the money, spent ^__^

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    1. What a lovely comment Amanda, thank you so much! You've summed up how I feel in a nutshell! x

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  23. What a great job! It looks fabulous.

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  24. Just to let you know I received the gorgeous green fabric! Looking for the right pattern to do it justice! Thank you so much!! Sarah

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    1. Fab, glad it arrived safely! And thanks for your kind comment! x

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  25. What a fantastic quilt! Louis has great taste in colours, and I hope he enjoys his quilt for many years to come. :)

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    1. Thanks Lynne! Yes, he's quite a stylish little dude on the sly! x

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  26. It's really stunning, great mix of colours and patterns. Thanks for the beginner tutorial links too as I'm hoping to make a scrap quilt soon.

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    1. Thanks Kerry, yes I'd recommend the tutorial, the rest of it is common sense really! x

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  27. Gorgeous Jane! I love the colour and pattern combinations.

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  28. You did a fab job, you should be proud of yourself.

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  29. Its gorgeous! I'm about to attempt my first quilt too for my parents Anniversary. Wish me luck! I'll be back to follow your advice.

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    1. Oh wow, good luck Louise! It's funny, I've made so many clothes, sometimes following complicated patterns, yet I was really nervous at the thought of sewing in straight lines (which is basically how this quilt is made!) You could make one easily. x

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  30. This is truly inspiring! You made it look so easy. I love the quilt and the colors. Doesn't it feel good to make something for someone you love? What a super mom.

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    1. Aw thank you! Yes, I doubt whether I'd have had the patience to finish it if it wasn't for such a special boy! x

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  31. Wow, Jane. That is beautiful! Quilting is the one 'crafty' thing I really want to get into. I made myself a blanket some years ago but I was too much of a wuss to quilt it, instead I kept the layers together by sewing a dozen or so buttons onto both surfaces in strategic places (it's my Robot/ Pearly Queen blanket!). At least now I know I'll need a walking foot before I try to quilt proper!

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  32. Well done - it looks great! I too love the idea of having a quilt I've made more than the actual making of it... but it was well worth the effort and I love the fact that he asked you for it! So sweet!

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  33. Oh well done, I can't imagine putting myself through sewing a quilt even if it was going to look this nice in the end - what a selfless mum you are! Glad to see your son enjoying it too!

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  34. Wow what a special boy to ask his mom to make him a quilt! So sweet. You did a great job and it looks impeccably made. I don't think I have the patience to take on a quilt project -- there's so much about apparel sewing I have yet to learn! But I do love the thought of snuggling up in a nice handmade quilt everyday. Maybe one day... Anyway, congrats on your finished project!

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  35. This is such a beautiful story behind a gorgeous quilt -- the simplicity of the pattern is perfect for showcasing the colors that Louis chose. What a great mom you are, to take on a whole new craft just for him! I hope he treasures that quilt forever!

    And thanks for linking to all those tutorials...I hope to need them one day, if I ever get around to making my own quilt :\

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  36. I's beautiful! That's one lucky boy ;)

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  37. Great job! He looks like he LOVES his new quilt! And he will use it for many years to come.

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  38. Hi,
    I'm after spending a lovely couple of hours reading through your blog and i totally love it. You are doing the things that I'd love to do but just haven't had the guts to try. But your blog is very inspiring I must say. I'm looking forward to reading more of your posts.
    And by the way, the quilt is fantastic. The colour combo is very striking.
    Rosie x

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  39. Great job, what an achievement!

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  40. Lovely quilt! I'm impressed that your first attempt is so very good.

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  41. This is very nice quilt..I like your design very nice and beautiful color.
    Cardiac Surgery India

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  42. This is lovely! I like your 'action' pinning photo:)

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  43. I must in first attempt you have excellent work. I like the red and black color combination very nice.
    Spine surgery India & Neuro surgery India


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  44. Love the color in this quilting...looking very nice and beautiful color combination like white back and red is very good.
    Best Hospital India

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  45. This is wonderful. I made one too for my son, who's 12, recently and had asked in the same way if I'd make him a quilt, and I jumped at the chance. He thrilled with it - he also helped choose the fabrics and pattern. Lovely to see your one. x

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