Sunday 8 July 2012

My First Quilt...

Yay!!! I've finished my first quilt. It's by no means perfect, but I am really happy with how it's turned out.

The hardest part of the whole process, was pinning the three layers together. I didn't have enough floor space without moving furniture, so I headed to my daughter's for this part. In retrospect, I shouldn't have attempted this on a shag pile rug. The rug was almost the exact size of the quilt and I just lay the backing on top without pinning or taping to the rug. As I was pinning, I had a nagging feeling that this would not be good, but I ignored it.

As you can see from the photos, this has resulted in puckering. If I'd used patterned fabric instead of the brown, it wouldn't be so obvious... LOL!!! Next time I'll roll up the rug and use pins or tape to attach the backing to the carpet.

I've quilted along either side of the seams following the zig zags and also a line in the middle of each zig zag. For the first half, I used my ordinary presser foot, but I felt the top fabric was stretching, so I switched to a walking foot. What a nifty little invention that is!!! Not only does it stop the fabric from stretching, but it has a moveable sewing guide. You can see which zig zags were sewn with which foot. The walking foot, good as it is, could not fix the fact that I hadn't pinned the layers evenly.

Do you know how hard it is to hold a quilt up? I'll have to build up my muscles... LOL!!!

Deciding on which fabrics to use took me a long time. I was determined to only use fabric from my rather large stash, however, as this quilt is for a man, much of my fabric was not suitable. I'm happy with my choices. Let's hope the recipient is, too.

The patterned fabric (front and back) was on special for $4 per metre some time ago at Spotlight. I have no idea where, or for how much, I purchased the brown and the solids. The only items I purchased were lots of curved safety pins, thread and the wool/polyester batting.

Cutting out the triangles was my first time using a rotary cutter. I still have all ten fingers intact and I'm wondering why I haven't used one before.. As you all probably know, the rotary cutter is very precise and will cut through many layers at a time.

I had no problems sewing the triangles together and was happy with how the corners lined up. As instructed, I ironed all seams. For someone who doesn't like ironing, that's a LOT of ironing!!! Funnily enough, I didn't mind.

Stitching in the ditch was a first for me. Sometimes I got it right, other times I didn't.

Cutting the binding should have been easy enough. Make the strips 2.5 inches wide. Why did I cut them all 2 inches wide, leaving no black fabric? Oh well, I made do. Instead of binding in the conventional way, I used this method I've used on pillowcase dresses:
  • Fold in half lengthwise and iron (keeping fingers away from the iron and the steam... well most of the time)
  • Open out so you can see the crease
  • Fold each half in to meet the crease and press
  • Fold in half again and press
  • Sandwich the quilt between the binding
  • Finish with a zig zag
I really should have changed the thread to black, but my reasoning at the time, was that the quilting was done in brown, so I thought it would match.

I don't think I'll ever get the bits of batting off. This is after using two different types of clothes brushes. Perhaps I won't use black next time... LOL!!! Is this why lots of quilts I see have white sashing?

Some questions for those of you who quilt. Thanks to those who have answered these questions on Facebook.
  1. Do you prewash your fabric?
  2. Do you pin or baste your layers together? Why? 
  3. Do you wash and then dry your finished quilt in a clothes dryer?
My sincere thanks to Ashley (Mommy by day, Crafter by Night), for hosting the Zig Zag Quilt Along. Ashley's instructions were detailed and easy to follow. I'm of course linking up to the Quilt Along Link Party.

I'm also linking up to the Learn a New Technique Link Party, run by Wendy over at The Crafter's Apprentice. I have learnt so many new skills in making my quilt.

And of course, I'm linking up to the Quilting and Patchwork Link Party, here at Threading My Way.

I have come across a few quilters who say they wouldn't be able to sew clothes. In my opinion, with the precision and skills needed for quilting, quilters can sew clothes!!! 

Have I thoroughly enjoyed my first quilting experience? At times I thought I was mad taking on this challenge... the aching back while pinning, the aching neck while quilting, the layers not pinned evenly. However, the satisfaction I felt upon finishing each stage and the enormous sense of achievement seeing my quilt finished, was worth every minute of it!!! Yes, I'll be making more quilts. I'm hooked!!!

... Pam


  1. Pam, what a great first quilt! Have you tried a lint roller to get those bits off? To answer your questions, no, I don't pre wash. Unless its a dark red or an older fabric from my mums stash. Even then I just test a small scrap by rinsing in warm water then laying on a white paper towel to see if any colour runs. I spray baste as there is less pressure on my hands and it's faster. I only wash my quilts when they need it (with colour catchers) and dry them on the line if possible. Personally I think its a waste of water and energy to wash and dry a quilt that's just been made. Though I wash if it's for a newborn. Can't wait to see what you make next!

  2. Pam, it's fantastic! Stop dwelling on all the little errors and revel in the fact that you've made a quilt!!! Must be very satisfying (nope - I haven't managed it yet). I think it's wonderful!

  3. I only prewash if the colors are likely to run, especially dark colors. Not usually with whites or lights, but always with batiks. I use retayne to set the color when I do, and I use Color Catchers to help me detect bleeding colors. Color Catchers can be reused for that purpose.

    I use 505 spray to hold my quilt sandwich together. Works great.

    I only wash them afterward if there is a reason to do so. Always when it is going to a baby.

    Your quilt looks great. Congratulations!

  4. First off- YAY YOU!! What a great first quilt!

    I also hate to iron but don't mind pressing while sewing, gimme a shirt to iron though and I will complain for an hour about it. ;)

    Now your questions:

    Do you prewash your fabric? Always unless it is precuts or anything smaller than a fat 1/8. Only because my Gramma told me to always prewash when I was but a wee girl and I always followed her direction. :D
    Do you pin or baste your layers together? Why? I used to use spray baste and I do love the result but not the sticky mess the overspray makes. The last few quilts I've done I have pin basted and as long as I don't go less than about 4 inches apart with the pins the results are as good as spray baste, and much cheaper as I can reuse the pins!
    Do you wash and then dry your finished quilt in a clothes dryer? Yes. I wash in warm and then dry in the dryer on the medium heat setting to give it that crinkly look, but the instructions to the new owner of the quilt say wash cold, dry low heat, no heat or hang dry.

    Again what a great first quilt and I'm sure the recipient will absolutely love it!

  5. Wow Pam, it's amazing! I can't believe it's your first quilt. The piecing is just perfect and you managed to stitch in the ditch! i can't do that...

  6. Oh Pam!! It is just beautiful! (In a very manly kind of way!!) I LOVE it!! Your first quilt!! Yay!!!


  7. You've made me giggle this afternoon Pam, I love your manly first quilt :)

    To answer your questions:
    Do you prewash your fabric? - I was taught to prewash but I'm always too eager to get cracking so unless it's a really strong colour that I think may be a bit dodgy later in the wash then I don't bother. I make sure though that all the fabric I use is either prewashed or not prewashed, I don't mix washing conditions within one quilt as I'm making it to stop uneven shrinkage later.

    Do you pin or baste your layers together? Why? - I sellotape the backing sheet taughtly to my wooden floor and then I layer the backing and top sheet. Next I put in basting pins (taking care not to damage the wooden floor too much!) and I pin and pin and pin - I leave a fist gap between pins and I'll even add extra - I've never had tucks/pulls/gathering/etc and I'm certain it's because I stablise the 3 layers so much (back breaking work but very well worth it)

    Do you wash and then dry your finished quilt in a clothes dryer? - All my quilts are made to be washed and dried in a machine but I'm not a fan of the crinkly look so I iron them while they're still quite damp to make them totally flat again. I use 100% cotton materials, thread and batting so my quilts can take the heat of a very hot iron.

    I hope you'll make many more quilts and look forward to seeing them all :)

  8. I can't believe this is your first quilt. I don't even see the puckering you mentioned, maybe you have to be there in person. It turned out fabulous. I love your tips and honesty with your process.

  9. Well done, it's beautiful.

    Answering your questions. No. Waste of time and energy. Many modern quilters don't either.

    I baste with a besting gun. Best quilt equip ever, takes only 5 min for perfect basting.

  10. Answers to your posed questions,
    No, I do not prewash, either for quilting or dressmaking. I like the feel of the fabric as it comes from the shop, and the crisp way it cuts. Once washed, it somehow goes soft, and doesn't cut as well.
    I pin. I HATE tacking (basting) and will either pin things or sew without. It would have to be pretty special to atart tacking. Blame the stupid sewing teacher who thought my tacking wasn't straight enough!

    I have yet to wash a quilt! So I will find out when needed!

  11. PS it is beautiful! Well done.

  12. Congratulations to your first finished quilt!
    I don't prewash my fabrics, I did for my very first quilt and haven't since then. I think the cutting is more precisely if you don't prewash, especially for precut fabrics.
    I usually pin the layers together because I don't like basting at all. Probably basting is worth the effort, though, because it keeps the layers better together than just pins, and you don't have to remove it for quilting through.
    I wash my quilts often because they are in constant use. I usually dry them on a line, but in case it rains, I put them in the dryer using the program for delicate fabrics.
    Best wishes and happy sewing! B.

  13. Pam, The quilt looks fabulous!! You did a great job on it and should be proud.:)


  14. wow, pam! looks amazing... recipient is gonna love it!!!

  15. looks great, Pam!! i love the turtle (are they turtles? or I guess they just look like turtles to me :-) ) fabric. Nice manly colors. :-)

    My answers to your questions:
    1. I ALWAYS prewash my fabric for two reasons: If the fabric bleeds you don't want it to stain lighter parts of your quilt, and I like it to be pre-shrunk so it doesn't shrink and look weird after washing.
    2. I have basted using saftey pins but recently found the amazing thing that is spray basting. Spray basting can also make a giant sticky mess so only do this on concrete (I've done it outside on the driveway before). don't spray baste on carpet. On really big quilts I'll spray baste and then add some saftey pins to add security.
    3. yes I wash and dry in the washing machine/dryer. I like the crinkly look that is achieved after washing.

    In regards to the batting bits, have you tried sticking the quilt in the dryer? that might help get them off.

  16. You did a beautiful job. Such precision with the corners! The colors are lovely and work very well together. I like the design as well. I've already shared my point of view regarding pinning (best to use basting spray or "sticky" batting). As for your other questions:

    - Yes I prewash my fabric. Not my batting. It gives a more controlled professional finish, in terms of shrinkage and warp. The less well behaved your fabrics are, and the more diverse they are, the more important it is to prewash. Truthfully though, for me it is a lot more pleasant to work with prewashed fabric rather than fabric with the factory smell.

    - I wash my quilt when done. The batting shrinks, giving the quilt a bit of a homemade crinkled look. The batting should not be washed on its own because it will fall apart.

    - I would recommend using quilting fabric for quilting rather than stuff from your stash. The difference is phenomenal, in terms of the control you get on the design, colors, and softness. It is more expensive, but you use 99% of it and it's worth it.

    - In case you don't know these quilting resources, check them out:
    - my quilting pinterest board:
    - the tutorials of the missouri star quilt co:

  17. Congratulations! You did a beautiful job.


  18. BRILLIANT!! It looks fabulous Pam - congratulations! I'm the same with ironing when I sew - I really avoid it unless absolutely necessary! but did it for every seam on my quilt and really didn't mind it!

    So when's the next one?? One for yourself maybe?

  19. Your first quilt!!! And it looks amazing. So much work and love went into it, the recipient is bound to love it! Well done you! As for me, I'm no closer to attempting one of these mammoth day...

  20. Quilting is one of those things that seems so easy at first glance but is actually really hard to get working right.. Yours is a wonderful first quilt and I'm sure it will be well received by whoever it's for!
    I love the zig-zag look, I've been wanting to make one for a while.

    I always wash and press fabric before any project but especially in quilting as there are so many farics together and I've heard horror stories of them all shrinking differently after a wash.

    I use the basting spray to stick my layers together then a few pins for good measure. But there's still a knack to both I haven't quite mastered!!

    I can't wait to see your next one!

    1. Thanks, Kate. It's certainly not easy, but the satisfaction is worth the work..

  21. Oh wow! Great job Pam.... there must be a quilting bug getting around atm... I noticed that Ros has started one too!
    I can't see me doing one this complicated any time soon :D Although I do like the look of the rag quilts.

  22. This turned out great Pam! I love it!! You did such a great job!! I am glad that you enjoyed quilting along with us all!! Thanks so much for linking up so we can all see how it turned out!! xoxo, Ashley

  23. congrats i just did my 2th quilt. i will get started on my 3th soon

  24. Amazing job Pam!! It looks like you've been quilting for years! I have finished my pinwheels but will have to leave it at that for the moment - I have to save some pennies so I can buy some more fabric for the rest of the quilt.

  25. Wowza!! You did an amazing job Pam, go you!!! Nothing like diving in head first (if that's the right saying;) That is one rather large first ever attempt, you should feel very proud:)
    Also your garden looks gorgeous:)

  26. Thanks for linking this to a Round Tuit!
    Hope you have a fabulous week!
    Jill @ Creating my way to Success

  27. Congratulations! A very nice first quilt. I like everything about it.

  28. Hi Pam! Your quilt is beautiful and your have done so great job! I wash all my fabrics first - for the colour and for the size. I use safety pins and haven't tried basting spray. Ironing every seam is very important. As everyone also me in the beginning didn't do it all the time, but then I learnt. It's much easier to work and the result is totally different when you iron after every seam. I like ironing. I'm sure you shall make many more quilts! x Teje

  29. Congratulations Pam, your quilt looks lovely and you are the only one who will see any problems, everyone else sees a colourful, beautifully pieced quilt!

    I usually pre-wash my fabric and always do if it is red. I love seeing the lengths of fabric fluttering on the washing line!

    I have spray-basted a mini quilt, which was easy to do, but haven't attempted to use the spray baste on a larger quilt. On a large king-size quilt I used a basting gun with tacks, and although it was backbreaking work (and even worse on my knees!) I think it was easier than pinning or basting.

  30. Well done Pam, your quilt looks great! I'm so new to quilting that I don't dare to hand out any advice, but its definitely interesting reading everyones opinions and picking up a few tips!

  31. Congratulations, yes I prewash (unless it's a precut!), I have recently sttarted using basting safety pins and they work great for me. The quilts I made for Siblings Together I machine washed and then line dried, the weather was hot/warm and the batting was 80/20 cotton poly so dried quite quickly. Enjoy!

  32. Well done on your first finished quilt, Pam. Your quilt looks beautiful!
    I am a pre-washer and I baste all three layers with thread starting from centre out, making 4" grids. I've tried pin basting on a baby quilt once but I ended up with puckers on the back thus I prefer the old method of basting. I use the machine and clothes dryer to wash and dry them and have had no problems so far.

  33. Yay! Congrats on your quilt! Have you thought about using your wall instead of the floor for basting your quilt? Check out this youtube video:

  34. Beautiful quilt Pam and congrats on your first one! I sewed clothing before I ever quilted and always washed my fabrics, I do the same with most of my quilt fabrics. I use the curved safety pins to baste my quilt. I always wash and dry my quilts to make sure I know how they will look for someone else plus I love the crinkly look.

    Using a rotary cutter is the only way to go and you will really love using it.....yes be careful of your fingers!
    Thanks for sharing.
    Quilting at the River Linky Party Tuesday

  35. That is a beautiful quilt, Pam!! I love how it turned out!

  36. Thanks for linking to Take-A-Look Tuesday over at Sugar Bee Crafts - you were featured today!!

  37. Great job! I sew clothes but just don't have the patience for quilting. I tried a couple of times and just about lost my mind putting the layers together. Kudos to you for a job well done. Thanks so much for sharing your project at Etcetorize this week!

  38. Welcome to the "Addicted to Quilts" club you quilter extrordinaire!! Congrats on your first quilt and all the wonderful things you have learned. Hopefully you will be able to keep your first quilt and watch your 'quilting growth'.

    To answer your questions:

    1. the only time I ever pre-wash my fabrics is if I am using a black, navy, red or some other darkish solid or homespun or if I use a hand dyed fabric. and then only in the way I would normally wash (eg for me that is only in cold water). The sizing used on fabrics by manufacturers makes them easier to handle when sewing, especially if you are piecing curves or blocks with bias cut pieces. Of course, there are many conflicting views on this issue but I can honestly say after making over 100+ quilts I have never had a problem.

    2. I never pin or baste my quilts - not since I have discovered spray basting - no matter how large they are (and I most commonly make queen sized quilts. Much, much quicker, no movement while sewing, no pins to remove whilst quilting. I have written a tutorial for this technique here

    3. There is absolutely no need to wash and dryer in a dryer - unless you want to!!

    Cheers, Karen

    ps - congrats on being featured on Sugar Bee Crafts (me too with my Melly Bag). Woo Hoo for Aussie Gals!!!

  39. Pam, this is FABULOUS!!!!! Great job!!! Maybe...just maybe I'll get my first done this year too. Maybe. Ordered my 1/4" foot we'll see!
    Yours turned out wonderful!

  40. Gosh, you have great taste - and such a good result for your very first one.

    I found this through Thriving on Thursdays. I have linked in bacon and scrambled egg rolls. Have a great week.

  41. Congratulations on finishing your first quilt! It looks great...good fabric choices for a man!

  42. Congratulations!
    Like you I have made an imperfect quilt or two. I didn't even know how to sew two seams together !

    Be PROUD of yourself! :) It's a big endeavor!

  43. I love the pattern, well done for completing it!

  44. Beautiful-and I am so impressed that this is your first quilt. I am *thinking* of doing a small quilt...just thinking about it now.

  45. It's gorgeous! Great job on your first quilt.

  46. Great job Pam, and the puckering looks like it's part of the design! thanks so much for inspiring us on Craft Schooling Sunday!


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