Monday, March 19, 2012

First Quilt: Piecing and Quilting

*This is the third post in a series on making my first quilt, please click here to read the first post and click here for the second post.*

Wow, I had a fun weekend! I finished quilting my quilt and went to my first quilt show. Now where did I leave off?

Phase Three: Piecing and Quilting

Piecing the Strips
While doing some research on how to piece and press strip quilts I stumbled across a wonderful strip quilt tutorial on one of my favorite blogs Film in the Fridge. I followed Ashley's advice on piecing and trimming the strips and it worked out great. Click here to visit Ashley's inspirational and informative tutorial!

Here is a sneak peek at the quilt top:


Making the Quilt Sandwich
A couple weeks ago my neighbor, who is a quilter, came over and helped me spray baste my quilt. It was so great to have her help and guidance. If I was left to my own devices it probably would've taken me the whole day and hours of obsessive internet research. I laid down some newspaper around the perimeter of the quilt but alas there was still overspray….lots of over spray. Many damp paper towels later and it was finally gone. Next time I'll either do it out side (when it isn't 44 degrees and rainy) or spread out a lot more newspaper or try not to spray so close to the edge or try another basting method. I have spray basted small projects like tote bags, coasters etc. and don't remember having the over spray problem.

Quilting the Quilt
So as I mentioned earlier I finished quilting my quilt this Friday! It was definitely a learning experience as I have never quilted anything this large before. Even though it's a baby quilt there is still a lot of fabric to maneuver and it's kinda heavy! I chose to stitch 1/4" on either side of each seam, the exception being a couple strips that were to narrow.

In the beginning I thought it would be a great idea to have my sewing machine table against a wall, that way the quilt wouldn't fall off onto the floor. After a few frustrating and kinda crooked rows of stitching I moved my sewing table away from the wall and butted a little folding table up to the back of it. The folding table is a few inches shorter than my sewing table but it seemed to work out alright. 

Ok, so now I was on a roll… except for one little thing. I was using a walking foot yet I was still having a hard time feeding the quilt through at the beginning of each row. I finally figured it out! My walking foot was sticking to the over spray on the batting. So at the beginning of each row I had to stop after a couple stitches and peel the sticky batting off of my walking foot. With each row the stitching got better and better. I just keep telling myself that it's my first quilt and no one will notice but me! 

I can't wait to get this quilt done! My goal is to work on the binding this week. I have at least three baby quilts that are in the final stages of planning/fabric acquisition (my favorite part!) and i'm dying to get started! This is sooooo much fun!

Coming next in the First Quilt Series-
Phase 4: Binding

Have a lovely day!

Friday, March 2, 2012

First Quilt: Pattern Selection and Improvisational Cutting

This is the second post in a series on making my first quilt, please click here to read the first post.

Phase Two: Pattern Selection and Improvisational Cutting

After many hours searching for the perfect pattern for my first quilt I decided to go with a strip quilt. There's no blocks to match up, no sashing or borders, just nice and easy strips. 

Originally, I was just going to keep it simple and follow the Easy, Striped Baby Quilt pattern from the book Quilting for Peace by Katherine Bell. It is a strip quilt that uses four different prints and three different sized strips of each. I, of course, wanted to use five prints. So what's a girl to do? Make her own pattern!

I felt that I needed to create a pattern or have some strict rules to follow for my first quilt so that it would be easy and foolproof, right? Wrong, it just stressed me out. 


Unhappy with my attempts, I sought advice from others. My Husband suggested sketching a mock up of what I want the quilt to look like, either on paper or in Adobe Illustrator. Then create the pattern from the sketch, a great idea that I'll probably try out in the future. The next day, a customer at my work suggested choosing my favorite print and having more strips of that one and less of the others. She said start by cutting one strip of each of the five prints and then build from there. And the wheels started turning…

Improvisational Cutting

I'll admit I was super nervous to cut those first five strips but once I started I couldn't stop! I cut strips of various widths and draped them over my ironing board so I could see how they looked next to each other. Then I rearranged them until I liked the order, looked for what was missing and then added more. In some cases a strip would be to wide so I'd just trim it down. It was so much fun! 

I knew that I was aiming for a finished length of about 49" so I measured the amount of space the strips were taking up on my ironing board and then subtracted half an inch per strip (1/4" seam allowance on each side) to get a rough idea of the finished measurement. I quickly ran out of room on the ironing board so I laid them out in order on my cutting table. Measured again, added a few more strips and took pictures so that I could reference the order. I apologize for the lighting in the photo, this was taken late one night and I didn't think I'd be posting it.

strip quilt layout

Coming next in the First Quilt Series-
Phase 3: Piecing and Quilting

Have a lovely day!