Sunday, January 15, 2012

The quilt.

I've never been good at math, but I know this much...

728 squares +

Nearly 4 spools of thread +

Hundreds of safety pins + 

5 months of my life
Some frustrations
Some joys
One lovely quilt and one happy girl.

I started this quilt, my very first quilt, back in August. Making a quilt for my bed has been one of my major sewing goals ever since I started sewing over three years ago.

Quilts are one of the few things in life (along with songs, books, people, and places) that are capable of containing memories. You know how a song can remind you of a certain day or part of your life? You know how when you open your favorite book, you have a whole slew of memories attached to it?

Quilts are like that.

This quilt is stitched full of memories. It makes me think of: the Avett Brothers, feeling a breeze coming in through my sewing room window, motorcycles {my brother bought one about the time I started on the quilt}, my two sewing grandmas, picking loose threads from my clothes, the fabric store in Floyd, my first vintage sewing machine, sunshine, and cloudy days.

I learned a lot while making this quilt. The number one lesson was: Quilters know what they're talking about. When quilting straight lines, a walking foot is necessary. Don't try to use a regular presser foot, or this will happen:

{In my defense, I only resorted to a regular presser foot for two rows because my new walking foot was broken and I was having to return it for a replacement. And I was very frustrated.}

I also learned that because you have to use a slow speed with the walking foot, the actual quilting part of the quilt was one of the most mind-numbingly dull sewing tasks I have yet to experience. Dozens and dozens of long straight lines on the machine's slowest speed, terrified that at any moment, this walking foot might mess up, too. It called for some Downton Abbey and a temporary quilting station set up in my room.

All of that was completely worth it, though. Have I mentioned that I love my quilt? It's bright and a little tacky, and in that way it reminds me of my beloved Technicolor musicals. :) It's full of my favorite things.

If you've been around here for long, you know that I am terrible at hand sewing. So I was feeling a little anxious about hand sewing the entire binding around the edges. But it was actually much easier and quicker than I expected.

And surprisingly relaxing and satisfying. Maybe I should hand sew more often? :) I'm really pleased with how it turned out.

I'm also really happy with the neat corners (I followed Alicia Paulson's instructions...more on that later).

And just in case, by some terrible circumstance, my future children or grandchildren end up donating this quilt to the Goodwill or antique store someday, I embroidered and attached this label. So people will always know who made it. {And after all this hard work, I would probably come back to haunt whatever ungrateful descendant did the donating.}

Honestly, though, it's amazing to think that in a hundred years, when I'm gone, this quilt will likely still be here.

Here are the technical details. Even though I have a lovely quilting book and I already had a basic knowledge of how to make a quilt, I really wanted step by step instructions for my first one. So I used the Ollalieberry Ice Cream quilt pattern by Alicia Paulson. It was so helpful and I highly recommend it. Her technique for corners (and everything else) turned out perfectly!

I made the queen sized one, which amounted to 728 squares. Then you quilt a ton of lines alongside the columns and the rows, which ends up framing each square in stitching. Everything was done by machine, except for attaching the binding.

I used all cotton fabrics- sold colors, printed cotton, and some gingham. The batting was a precut queen size (I can't remember the brand) that was mostly cotton but had a little bit of polyester blended in. The backing is natural unbleached muslin, which does a nice job of balancing out all of the craziness on the front. I didn't know at the time that our Hobby Lobby carried quilt-size muslin for backing, so I bought the regular width and pieced sections together until it was the width I needed.

The label was hand embroidered on a piece of cream cotton fabric. I sewed it on with the zigzag stitch on my machine, but first I stuck a piece of equally sized cream craft felt behind it to prevent the thin fabric from being see through and to make it a little puffy.

Well, I think that's it. :) You can follow my quilting adventures all along here.

Have you ever made a quilt? Or do you have one that's special to you?

Until next time,


  1. Congratulations!!! Your quilt is beautiful and inspirational.

  2. You quilt turned out beautifully! The fabrics you chose are great! I love all the variety.

    I started a quilt in the early fall, and still haven't finished it. All I have left is the quilting part, though, and I just haven't felt like bringing the sewing machine out to the dinning room table to work on it...

  3. Kristin, it's beautiful! Bravo! I love that your family has another heirloom and that you have a beautiful quilt. A labor of love well worth it.

    I keep hearing so much about Downtown Abbey. One of these days I'm going to have to figure out how to watch an episode.

    Enjoy snuggling up in your new quilt!

  4. Love the quilt. I am in the process of hand quilting a patchwork quilt. Every part of the quilt will be done by hand so it's going to take me a while by I enjoy it. For some reason quilting relaxes me.


  5. It is AMAZING Kristin! I am so impressed. I would like to eventually get into quilting (my mom is a quilter!) but I'm afraid I would have to be a lot more particular about sewing straight lines than I currently am :)

  6. Downton Abbey and Quilting!? You are my kind of gal ;)
    Thanks for visiting my blog. Happy Monday~

  7. It looks sooo good! And I bet it's so cozy to curl up underneath!


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