This is the story of my first-ever quilt.
It was an improv strip quilt using the contents of a Moda Scrap Bag and an old towel for batting!
I loved doing this project so much that I am now completely addicted which is why this blog now has it’s own quilting section!
I actually started this quilt after starting my Learner’s Quilt which is all about learning more traditional quilting blocks as well as quilt-as-you-go techniques so it’s not surprising it took me a bit longer.
I also wasn’t in love with the fabric from that one, so I was less motivated to see it all put together!
So not the first quilt I started but the first quilt I actually finished!
This post was originally published on our sister blog, Scrap Fabric Love.
I loved the fabric from my Moda Scrap Bag, however, even though it was a total surprise ‘lucky dip’ sort of purchase.
I didn’t even use the whole bag either, as you can see from the photos – I didn’t use the blues or the bee prints, so I can use them for something else.
I decided to try to make a baby-size quilt and I wanted the front to be what I think might be called a half log cabin – but one big large one.
Anyway, I couldn’t figure out exactly what that look was called, which meant I also couldn’t find a tutorial, so I made a number of rookie errors with it straight off the bat.
First of all, I started at the top with the long strips instead of down in the bottom corner with the smallest piece! Whoops!
I also tried to partially quilt as you go by sewing the strips directly onto the large bath sheet towel I used as batting (more on that later!).
I think that would have been fine if I was doing strips straight across, but because I was trying to do this stepped sort of look, I really needed to piece the strips and then add it to the batting and the back, I think.
Lesson learned for next time.
In any case, I figured out I was probably sewing the strips in a less-than-logical way pretty early, but rather than pick the stitches out and start again, I just found a workaround.
My workaround was to sew each strip up to the next one, leaving a 2″ gap unsewn with a little tail on my strip.
Then I folded over the end of the tail to hide the raw edge and top stitched it down over the strip previous.
So this kind of gave me the look I wanted but with less tidy edges than I had originally envisaged.
Using my cheat technique, the front came together pretty quickly. I then needed to think about what to use for the backing.s
THE BACKING – AFTER QUILT STYLE
So essentially, you use some of the leftover scraps from the front to make the backing.
So I cut up (another!) old cot sheet (the others are going in the Learner’s quilt but the one I used for this one was thankfully 100% cotton, so that made it much easier to use).
I then made some scrappy improv blocks using the white cot sheet material as the main fabric and added bits of the strips that had been cut off to make my quilt top.
In the end, I probably like the back of the quilt better than the front!
Maybe because it actually took me longer to do, or maybe because it has so much white space.
I’m discovering the more I get sucked into Pinterest looking at quilts that I like white space.
In any case, the back also gave me a chance to try sashing around the blocks to make them fit.
I’m sure there are lots of mistakes on the back about blocks not being exactly the right sizes, and the sashing is a bit improv in itself.
It didn’t go between all the rows as that would have made it too long – so forward planning in terms of the math on the back is the real downfall, I suppose, but I still love how it turned out.
The only real mistake I made on the back – or, more accurately, with my choice of batting – was not considering that the peach stripes on the towel would show through the white backing in certain lights…hmmm.
Note to self: if you are going to use non-white batting, you probably should use non-white fabric, too!
One of the reasons I wanted to try this second quilt when I was already in the throws of my Learner’s Quilt was also to test out just how hard it really was to quilt a whole quilt top (albeit baby size!) on my machine.
It is the thought of wrestling quilts through the arm of my machine that has attracted me to the QAYG methods out there that I am trying in my Learner’s Quilt.
Turns out it was difficult – even with a small quilt like this one.
The final quilt is 25″ x 33″ – sort of…the bottom width might be a bit closer to 24″ due to some reluctance on my part to cut off a section at the bottom during my squaring-up process! It’s a bit smaller than even a standard-size baby quilt – is a baby lap quilt a thing?
Part of the problem with the quilting, of course, was that, like everything else in my life! I couldn’t settle on one easy quilting design; I wanted to vary it between the strips on the front.
The result of this was lots of having to pivot and rotate the quilt – not my best idea.
I like the look I ended up with, but I would probably try something simpler if I were going to quilt a whole quilt at once like this.
I ended up alternating from strip to strip between 4 quilting designs.
I didn’t accomplish any of them 100% accurately, but I did quite like the look of a couple of them.
One was just lots of straight lines – I really like this one, and I also like how it looks on the back. I think if they were all over the quilt, it would be a bit much, so I think maybe this is one I could try on individual QAYG blocks in the future.
The next one was a kind of a cog or a zipper kind of a look (see photo). Again, I like this one, but the amount of turning it required was probably a bit much for this project.
The easiest one was when I just did two borders or long rectangles along the edge of each strip. It’s a less dense quilting effect, which would probably make the overall quilt feel softer if I did it all over. I wasn’t in love with this technique except for how easy it was, but I did like it in contrast with the others.
Lastly, I did another design with two straight(ish) lines going across the strips horizontally, then up along the edge of the strip for 7 or 8 stitches, and then back to two lines.
So again, it was less dense but ridiculous for the amount of times I had to turn the quilt and push it through the arm. I still like how it looks, but I wouldn’t recommend it if you aren’t doing a smaller QAYG block.
One of the things I was nervous about for my first quilt was putting on the binding. I had in my head that it would be really difficult, for some reason – it wasn’t.
I followed a machine binding tutorial from Melanie Ham’s YouTube Channel, and it was super easy to do.
P.S. I knew right off the bat I wasn’t interested in hand-sewing it, so I didn’t even go there!
She had some great tips, like zig zag stitching the edge of the quilt sandwich before you even start attaching the binding.
I used some leftover jelly roll strips I had that weren’t from the scrap bag, but I thought they coordinated pretty well.
I actually loved this step because a) it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, and b) I could see it all being finished off as I sewed!
ON TO THE NEXT QUILT!
So that’s it – My First Quilt!
I love it – especially running my hands over the texture of the quilting.
I’m properly addicted already. I’ve already pulled out some more scraps and a few fat quarters and started a larger scrappy improv quilt.
If you liked this post, you’ll probably like these ones too:
- Mini Quilt-as-you-go Keychain
- Scrappy Disappearing Nine Patch Quilt
- Sewing for Charity
- Sewing Room Organization Ideas – No Cost Before & After Makeover
- Quick Denim Quilt (Improv Quilt with Instructions)
- DIY Denim Quilt from Old Jeans (Reversible Picnic Blanket)
- Or have a nosey around our Sewing section!
If you liked this post and you want to come back to it later, don’t forget to pin it!