I haven’t done any sewing at all in several days – I worked nights over the weekend and I’ve been all STRESSCASE at work (which, let me say, is getting really old) and have just collapsed in a heap at home the last couple days. I did make the effort twice this week to cook, though, so I guess that’s something! Might not be much, but it’s something. In any case, I haven’t done any sewing for such-and-such reasons, but I’m posting anyway because one of the bloggers I read, Melissa at My Fabric Relish, decided to do a linky for First Quilts Ever.
I’ve kind of sort of talked about the my first quilt in the past – my navy and off-white nine patch was the first quilt top I ever worked on, but it’s still not finished! The top is finished, but that’s as far as I’ve ever gotten. I did buy a lot of fabric for the backing last year, but I didn’t end up liking the fabric enough – it was too royal and not navy enough of a blue. So I’m still sitting on that one for now.
But if we’re going to get technical and require a first finish to mean an actually usable finished quilt, then my first finish ever was a baby quilt for an online friend of mine:
I wish I had a better photo of it, but this is all I’ve got from back in the day (c. 2004 or 2005, I think). It’s all made with flannel, with hourglass blocks and it was quilted in the ditch diagonally and around the borders. I seem to recall having started with larger borders, but then trimming it down to this narrow size so that I wouldn’t have to figure out how to quilt them! I also imagine my mom did most of the quilting herself, because I was using her sewing machine and it always hated me – I’d get tangles and birds’ nests just for looking at that machine the wrong way and EVERY way was the wrong way. All of the fabric was bought at WalMart and I backed it in solid yellow flannel. I’m not in contact with Mandy (the friend in question) any more, but if I were, I’d love to know how the quilt held up! I can easily imagine it having fallen apart in the wash, though of course I hope it didn’t!
My next finished quilt after that was also a baby quilt, also done entirely in flannels. By that point, I’d bought/been given my sewing machine, and was living on my own in Saskatoon. I was in university and had no money (seriously, I grocery shopped with a calculator and kept track of the pennies and tax to be sure I’d have enough food to last out the month!), but a friend of mine was having a baby and at the time I didn’t have a fabric stash, so when I got some of my student loan funding, I went and spent a bunch of it on flannel at a fabric store I can’t remember the name of, but which was close to Midtown mall (if there are any Saskatoonians around to tell me the name, feel free, it was/is? right across the street at the Sears end).
I was never quite certain how the Mum in question felt about this quilt – it was garish and bright, but soft and cushy. I tied it with black embroidery floss and backed it with a kind of crazy print flannel:
I wasn’t totally sold on that fabric, but I let the shop owner talk me into it (it DID contain all the colours from the front, so…) and while I’m still not crazy about it, I suppose it does work for a child’s quilt. At the time I did this, I was terrified to try properly binding a quilt (I don’t know why! It’s so easy!) so both this quilt and the previous one had roll-over bindings. On the first, I rolled the yellow from the back over to the front and stitched it down, and on this one, the border fabric from the front (the plaid) was rolled over the back and stitched down. I’m not sure that’s the most secure method of binding a quilt, but it felt less terrifying somehow and I was always able to get my mom to help me start it out. (I was confident enough to sew it down, but never confident enough to START sewing it, so I’d have to get her to do the first couple inches and then I’d take over, until I got to a corner, at which point I’d enlist her help again.)
Neither of these are particularly embarrassing first attempts at quilting, but to begin with, I started out with the hand-pieced nine-patch (which would be hard to mess up completely) and then dove into these, which were both VERY simple. Most of my embarrassing early attempts were related to block swaps. The first swap I participated in, I used cheap and (I have to say…) ugly fabric to make really piss-poor Shoo Fly blocks. I’m pretty sure all the blocks were the wrong size and that all the people in the swap wanted to refuse to swap with me again! The next time we swapped, though, I made paper-pieced stars and they turned out pretty spectacular (That one would be the red and white star closest to the front in this quilt.)
Anyway, that was a bit of a twofer “first time” but it didn’t feel like there was much to say about the actual first finished one, and having not seen it in so many years, I don’t have any insight on how good a job I did (or didn’t!) do with any of it. I can imagine the binding coming unstitched or maybe the cheap fabric kind of wearing through with use. But I don’t mind if that’s what happened with it, so long as those quilts DID get used. Whenever I give quilts to parents these days, I tell them that they’re meant to be used, to be thrown on the grass in the backyard or used as a beach blanket and rolled around and ground into dirt and puked and spilled on and just… used. They can be machine washed and they’re not delicate heirloom quality, so give them a work-out because I’d be more offended to learn they sat on a shelf to keep them pristine for…. what?
Anyway, I’ve got the weekend off work, so I’ve got plans! Plans to make something for my last giveaway (there are two somethings in mind, and they’re both useless but hopefully will turn out beautiful!), plans to piece together the quilt back for my Star Surround quilt, and possibly maybe plans to quilt that quilt. (I’m thinking just plain jane straight-line quilting, just kind of… 1 or 1-ish inches apart, with hopefully a bit of an organic wave to them. I wanted to do free motion, but I’m recalling just how much difficulty I’ve had in the past when trying to do it, and I want to build some more practise sandwiches to work on before trying it on the Real Deal.) I also have a very loose plan to Clean The Fuck Up. (Pardon the language, I try to keep my potty mouth in check around here, but much like the book Go The F*ck to Sleep, sometimes the swears just make the title of the thing what they need to be.) I need to Clean The Fuck Up. And I’ll try to make a post about that. A before and after post, hopefully, but it’s going to be a big, embarrassing job. So we’ll see how that goes…