15 tips on how to make your first quilt
Guess what I did? I made a quilt. My first quilt. And I didn't die.
And because I didn't die, I thought I would pass on my new wisdom to you, so that you too can make your first quilt without dying.
1. Realize that this will be the hardest thing you've ever done.
Going into this, I was more than a little nervous. After all, most of the sewing I do is by hand, and this is a big project. (More on choosing a size later.) I doubted myself and recognized that it wouldn't be easy.
2. Look ahead and know that it won't be as difficult as you think.
Remember how I didn't die? That's because this didn't end up being as bad as I thought it would be. Yes, there were times that I questioned my sanity, but consider: If I could do this...so can you!
3. Choose a pattern designed for beginners.
4. Plan on this taking six months.
I bought the supplies for my quilt back in September. I finished it last week. But quilting is one of those things that's supposed to take a long time, right? That's why people have all those unfinished quilts, right?
5. Just start & keep on working until it's done.
Even though I bought the fabric months ago, I didn't actually start cutting until December. And at that point, I decided that I needed to work bit by bit and not stop. Because I didn't want this to be one of those unfinished quilts. Trust me...if you just keep working, it will get done!
6. Measure twice, cut once. (Let's not talk about why my quilt is a bit shorter than it's supposed to be...)
7. Keep someone handy to do the hard parts for you.
Having my mom on standby gave me a different level of confidence than I would have had without her. I kept telling her that I might need her to do ________, and she was always there and ready.
8. Do the hard parts yourself.
My mom would have sewn whatever I asked her to, but I ended up doing all the sewing myself. Because of that, I learned a lot, and am much prouder of the finished quilt.
9. Watch out for pins.
10. Aim for perfection.
My first inclination was to say, this isn't going to be perfect...don't worry about this mistake or that. But little mistakes can be magnified, so when I was able to fix them, I did and was happier for it. You won't have perfection, but if you are aiming for it, you'll get closer than shooting in the dark.
11. Live with mistakes.
I'll repeat myself: You won't have perfection. There were times when I just couldn't get it right. Yes, those things bug me, but I'm living with them and realizing that it was my first try. And by gum, I did pretty good for my first try!
12. Start small.
A napping quilt is bigger than you think. Managing 66 x 70 inches of quilt is quite a task. It's heavy, it takes up lots of room, and squeezing it through your sewing machine makes you question how you could ever even consider giving birth.
13. Tweeting that you're almost finished will delay your project by a week.
14. Don't freak out when you see a large spot on your almost finished quilt.
There's a chance that when your fabric gets wet, the coloring changes. And when you try to get the spot out, the spot will look worse. And then when it dries, it will all go away and you'll feel silly. Yes. That happened.
15. Enjoy the process.
My quilt-making time was mainly late at night, with Christmas music playing and a scented candle burning. I imagine that I'll always remember those times with joy...especially as I did everything I could to avoid telling my baby sister that it was for her as she kept asking.
I realize this probably wasn't the "how-to" you expected...but I hope it helps! Despite the fact that this was the hardest thing I've done, I did enjoy it all. Thank you Wendi for sending me the pattern and encouraging me to make it happen!
Notes: The pattern is Buttonholes by Wendi Gratz. The backing fabric is Kona cotton. The buttonholes and accents on the back are from two packs of fat quarters from JoAnn, but I don't know what company they're from.