What new hobby does one learn when working full time, making costumes for fun, DIY around the house, and travelling like a rock star? Oh I know: quilting. Said no one…except me! I knew it would be a huge undertaking, even for the smallest of baby quilts. Thankfully I have a friend who sews like she was born to do it, a specialty quilt shop in Houston Heights, and a ton of caffeine. I made two quilts at the same time: a baby quilt for a friend’s newborn, and a small throw for another friend’s toddler. Here’s my process; good, bad, indifferent, and perfectly acceptable.
The first step was selecting a pattern and fabric. Without help, this would’ve been overwhelming and discouraging. But Tea Time Quilting in the Heights was lovely. The lady at the shop helped me pick out fabric groupings and a pattern that was idiot proof (my words, not hers). I went with Atkinson Designs Yellow Brick Road pattern, which is perfect for fat quarters (quarter yards of fabric) and beginners (definitely me). I was told that the basic building blocks are the squares, and those squares can be be arranged any which way you like. Read: you can’t possibly screw this up, Sheila.
The pattern is basic and methodical. For the most part, I followed the instructions to the letter. My saving grace was a rotary cutter, and why the hell didn’t I know about this destructive little jewel before?! Fold, line up, cut, stack, sew, iron, stack, cut, sew, iron, group, organize, sew, iron…and on and on. All went well until I got cocky…
I arrogantly thought “oh goodie, extra squares, let’s just make this quilt bigger!”…well, not without consequences. I enjoyed making the square arrangement and seeing everything come together. The patterns were fun! It wasn’t until I laid out the quilt top (with border sewn on) that I realized my quilt was larger than the backing I purchased for this quilt. Oops! Back to the store for more!
Before you ask if I have a long arm sewing machine (the one needed to make the neat swirls that attaches the top to padding/batting to the backing), I don’t. I do know a quilt lady (Kaye at Trixie’s Quilting Room) who did this for me. I let her use her artistic license with thread color and design, and she managed to make my kindergarten creation look legit!
All that was left was the binding, which I barely managed without burning down the house. I found a machine binding tutorial with step by step instructions (with pictures!) that was a tremendous help. Thank you, Beech Tree Lane Handmade!
Holy crap, I made a thing! Yes, I know my threading isn’t pristine and many of my squares don’t completely line up in the corners but that was FUN! I hope the baby girl I made it for likes it. Since quilters name their creations, so I called this one Red Brick Road. Ok, onto the next…
The other one I made during this learning curve was for a little boy. Bright colors, and I mean really bright crayon type colors. Toddlers like that, right?
I used the same pattern as the quilt above, and arranged the squares as best I could without going insane or blind. Cutting is easy, sewing is easy but time consuming, arranging squares is like playing Tetris, and adding the border is like framing a picture. I wouldn’t call it easy, but the process is oddly therapeutic. Which is why I do most crafty things.
I sent this quilt (with the other) to Kaye to have finished. I loved the pattern she chose for each quilt. As much of a control freak as I am, I enjoyed giving up this part of the decision making process. I also let her select the batting, which she provided and was included in her charges.
I used the same binding method as mentioned above and closed everything up nicely.
Hey, this crayon quilt looks good(ish)! I called this quilt Crayola Brick Road.
Time management is huge to me. So from start to finish, the process took me about 3 weeks total (and that was rushed!):
- a couple hours for pattern and fabric selection
- a half day for rotary cutting and square sewing
- about an hour for border
- two weeks for quilting (by Kaye)
- a half day for binding (I feel I might be unnaturally slow at this step)
So should I keep going? And are there any pointers you seasoned quilters might have for me?