Sunday, April 12, 2009
A few weeks ago I finished my first quilt, and I wanted to share some notes on how I made it to encourage all of you to give it a try! It is a twin sized quilt, and I finished it in under three months. In order to save time and keep myself interested, I ended up taking several shortcuts. I figured that if I didn't, I'd lose interest and this would take me many months to complete.
The first step in making a quilt is picking the pattern, colors, and fabric. I spent a good long while thinking about this. I looked at flickr for inspiration, flipped through books, and thought a lot about what colors go well together. I was nearly set on making the 'ice pops' quilt from Denyse Schmidt Quilts, but I found it difficult to choose colors for it. I didn't really want many shades of a single color, and I didn't feel it would work with the color palette I wanted. So I moved on instead to the idea of making a wonky log cabin quilt following the great little tutorial at Tallgrass Prairie Studio. After seeing her fantastic Square Motion quilt, I was pretty sure that this tutorial would lead to a great first quilt.
I wanted to choose colors that were somewhere between neutral and bright. I wanted to keep it simple, but perhaps have something related yet different on the back. I mostly used Kona solid cottons with the exception of the green fabric, which was a Kaffe Fassett shot cotton. The shot cottons have different colored warps and wefts (in this case blue and bright chartreuse). While I absolutely loved the way this fabric looks, and the fact that the color changes depending on its orientation, it was not the most fun to quilt with. The fabric was thin and more likely to stretch and warp. I really wish I had used wider seam allowances with it, because it has already started to tear at the seams in a couple places. Sigh. But hopefully it will hold up to use. The Kona cottons were great: very easy to work with, lovely range of colors, and sturdy enough to last.
I cut my fabric in long strips of varying width and pieced them somewhat randomly by machine. For the back, I tried to use large pieces of fabric when possible, and pieced a smaller section to make up the difference. I used a 100% cotton batting and spray adhesive to baste using the tutorial from Anyone Can Quilt. This saved a whole lot of time and held everything together securely during the machine quilting process. I chose to quilt in a diamond pattern with white thread as this seemed like a good, straightforward way to jump into quilting for the first time. Plus I like how clean it looks. I'd love to try free motion quilting sometime, but perhaps on a baby quilt. This one was hard enough to wrangle for straight lines!
Although I suppose I could have made my own quilt binding, I chose to save time again at this step by purchasing quilt binding made of Kona cotton in the 'curry' shade from here. It was really nice to have the binding ready to go, and by following Heather Bailey's tutorial, I ended up with a really nice finish.
Since this was a wedding gift, I really wanted to give it a personal touch for the recipients. I decided to use some sort of symbol that made me think of them. At first I thought maybe a tropical flower from the wedding destination, but that didn't feel quite right...finally I came up with the perfect thing: a retriever silhouette. Both dog lovers and owners, I figured this would do the trick. I sort of followed the freezer paper stencil tutorial at Neither Hip Nor Funky, but I only had wax paper, which apparently will not stick to fabric when ironed. I ended up using a bit of glue stick on the back, then ironing the stencil in place. The Jacquard textile paint I bought at Dharma Trading worked really well. Be careful about what textile paint you use for this--the majority of the ones sold at Joann or Michaels are too thin, and require a resist material to keep them from bleeding.
After stenciling the dog onto the fabric, I zig zag stitched the patch in place before making the quilt sandwich.