A few months after my daughter was born, I reconnected with a fabulous group of women I’d met on a pregnancy website. I’d lost an internet connection for a while (twitchtwitch) and it was nice to be able to talk to other moms who had babies the same age, that were going through the same thing I was at the same time.
As we all talked and got to know each other better, it turned out that there were quite a few crafty ladies among them. I’ve been interested in crafty things all my life, but I was just starting to expand my crafting horizons from crocheting blankets and cross-stitch.
There was a lot of talk about sewing, and a quilt exchange, and I thought to myself, “I want to do that!” I’d always been told that quilting was this intensely difficult process… Which of course made me more determined to conquer it.
Then someone suggested a quilt-along. I was pregnant with my second child and already had some clothes from the first one that needed repair, so I figured that I could pick up a sewing machine to be able to mend clothes and start a new hobby by making a quilt for my new baby. I picked up a refurbished machine and mended the clothes we had that needed it, excitedly waiting for the fabric requirements for the quilt along to go up.
I wanted neutral colors. We didn’t know what gender we were having, and I wanted to be able to get started before the new baby was born, because I figured that a new baby and a small toddler would take up a LOT of my free time. I picked out my colors and got started cutting the fabric. I didn’t have a rotary cutter or a cutting board, so I was cutting out individual squares.
And it turned out, cutting and sewing was easy. And then recutting and resewing was easy. This quilting thing wasn’t bad at all! My first major screwup came when I was trying to square up the blocks to sew together and finish the top. By then, I had a rotary cutter and a small cutting mat- but the mat was smaller than the blocks. I measured wrong and ended up cutting rectangles instead of squares. No big deal, right? I made all of the blocks the same dimensions and sewed the top together. The back was easy. The width from selvage to selvage was long enough, I just needed to cut it to an appropriate length.
Then we started talking about the actual quilting. Free-motion quilting terrified me. I tried it and I had horrible tension issues, so I figured, I’ll just quilt by hand! I had no quilting hoop, and I’d picked up some high-loft batting by mistake and it was just taking forever. I ended up doing about a third of it, and then it sat on a chair for months and months.
It wasn’t until we came up with the idea of doing another quilt exchange that it got finished. I was making a quilt to be donated for Quilt For the Kids and I wanted to get the first one finished first so that I wasn’t coming at the new one with no real idea on how to quilt it. I pulled out all of the hand quilting, threw out the high-loft batting and replaced it with “regular” batting, repaired the top (some of the seams had started to come apart) and sat down at the machine, determined to get this thing quilted if it killed me.
It didn’t. I ended up stitching in the ditch and found that this was pretty easy too! I ended up cutting off a lot of the sides in order to try and get it straight, so it’s a lot smaller than it was originally intended to be. But my son loves it. And I love it. And so, 10 months after picking out my fabric, my very first quilt was done.