Friday, November 14, 2014

Notes from a novice quilter

Last month, I finished up my first twin-sized quilt! Here it is in all its wonky glory:

Scrap quilt

This is a scrap quilt in the truest sense of the word. Honest-to-goodness scraps, recycled -- some old shirts of Douglas' and my dad's, an old pillowcase, sewing project scraps, etc. It was backed with an old sheet. The only thing I paid for was the batting, which I think was about six bucks at Walmart.

This was a "learn by experience" project for me, so I didn't want to spend a lot of money on it. I'm quite comfortable in the realm of garment sewing, but quilting is a whole different world. I had to Google a lot of things as I went along. :) I'm writing down some things I learned, for any other complete novices out there reading this. (And if you are more experienced and see a correction or addition that needs to be made to my list, please let me know in the comments!)
  • Use a rotary cutter as much as possible. Don't cut out your squares or shapes by hand if you can use a rotary cutter instead!
  • When you are piecing your quilt top, set your stitch length a little smaller. I set mine at 2.
  • Utilize chain piecing.
  • No need to press seams open. Press them to one side or the other.
  • I hand-basted this quilt together using a plain ol' needle and thread, because I was using what I had, but it was fairly time-consuming and cumbersome. Next time I would probably spring for some basting spray -- I haven't used any before, but I'm guessing it would be easier and faster.
  • When quilting with my walking foot, I set my stitch length a bit longer, at 3.
  • I decided to "stitch in the ditch" because I thought that it would be easy. Nope. It's actually pretty tricky!
  • I used this method to machine bind my quilt. It was adequate, but there were some spots on the back that didn't get "caught" by the stitching. Perhaps I should have pinned more. I wonder if using basting tape would help? I just couldn't face all that hand-stitching!
  • Last but not least... quilting takes a long time. It is a big project. Only embark on a quilt if you love the fabrics and design (even though I usually love scrap quilts, I am pretty "meh" about this one).
Right now, the quilt is on Edmund's bed, as he really needed a warm quilt! It's serving its purpose. I told the kids they can drag it around, make tents with it, etc. I don't mind if it gets dirty and well-used. Now that I've got a little experience under my belt, I have some more ideas and plan to make two more twin-sized quilts for the big kids. Looking forward to learning more as I go along!