My First Quilt!

Last year my local library held a yarn and fabric swap, so I went to see what they had and to drop off some fabric. There wasn’t much yarn on offer, but several large tables were pushed together to display a wide array of fabric. There were large pieces and small scraps and everything ranging from polyester knit to thick upholstery fabric. The organizers had thoughtfully arranged the bits of quilting cotton by color and encouraged me to take whatever I wanted. I chose a pile of pink and red fabric scraps for a quilt that I might make “someday”.

A quilter's workspace including large and small squares of quilt fabric, a rotary cutter, acrylic rulers, and cutting mat.

“Someday” arrived at the end of December when I bought 2 acrylic square rulers and started cutting my fabric stash into 8 1/2″ and 4 1/2″ squares. I did that for about 2 days, with Netflix documentaries playing on the t.v. next to me. To my amazement, my bits of fabric resolved into 2 orderly piles, and with the addition of 2 yards of muslin from my stash I was forming a solid plan.

A quilter's workspace including a vintage Singer sewing machine and squares of quilting cotton in the process of being pieced together

I sewed the 4 1/2″ squares into four-patches, and ended up with almost the same number as my 8 1/2″ squares. I played with a few different layouts in my mind, and on graph paper, until I settled on a checkerboard arrangement. Then I cleared a space on the floor and spent a day arranging and rearranging the squares, until I liked the placement of the colors and patterns. Even with a completely random assortment of scraps I managed to create a perfectly uniform pattern, with clear diagonals running in both directions across the quilt top.

A sewing machine and stacks of patchwork quilt squares with post-it notes on top of each stack

After determining the final layout, I gathered up all my squares by rows and marked them with post-its so I wouldn’t get confused about the sewing order. I was still worried that I would make a mistake and mix up the layout, so I spent every spare minute sewing the squares into strips and sewing the strips to each other until it was done, so I wouldn’t forget. I did mix up the order once, but at that point I had enough of the squares put together that I could see my mistake right away and fix it.

Quilt batting, muslin backing fabric, patterned binding fabric, and a finished patchwork quilt top all folded and neatly stacked

One week after I started cutting my fabric I had a finished quilt top! With 9 squares wide and 10 squares long it measured about 72″ by 80″. I bought 3 yards of 90″ wide muslin for the backing, which shrunk a few inches after washing, and a package of Queen size cotton batting. Then I spent a weekend joining the layers with safety pins and basting stitches.

A photo of the finished quilt top showing the diagonal arrangement of 8 inch squares and 8 inch four-patch squares

I had to wait a week for a walking foot to arrive in the mail, and then I started quilting. I was really worried that it would be difficult to manage such a large piece of fabric, sew straight lines, and keep the layers from shifting, but it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. The worst part was rolling up the sides of the quilt to fit on my machine and supporting the weight of it while I sewed. I finished the quilting in two days, trimmed the edges, and folded the backing over to make a self-binding.

The finished quilt draped over a futon

I LOVE my new quilt! It’s lightweight and warm, and the colors make me so happy! Making a quilt was easier and more fun than I expected, and I am already planning the next one.

Thank you for reading about my quilting adventure! Next time we will return to our regularly scheduled knitting.