right now

right now

Jan 23, 2011

Learning a new skill...

I finally got around to it!  My previous 2 forays into the sewing world were post #1 where I tried to clean and make peace with a 20 year old machine with a little whiskey for courage, and #2 where I did my first project of Christmas gift bags.  Other than that, I knew nothing other than the basic how-to on sewing a straight line.  I've put this off until I could have an organized area to learn in, and knocked out a few other things on my "to-do" list that had more priority.  Yesterday was my chance...

Why quilting?  Why not? I have always loved the look of the 30's & 40's style quilts but do not decorate that way in my house.  I am a huge fan of mid-century modern and scandinavian style and it occurred to me (lightbulb!) that a quilt can by any style I want, not just country or folk.  (Which I do love, by the way!)  The creativity here is the hook!  

I am normally a fan of getting used or library books, but for my first foray into this world, I used a gift card and splurged on a new, nice spiral bound "Quilting 101" type book.  It has the latest basic techniques and takes you step-by-step through 4 basic beginner style quilts.  I tend to want to "do it all" right away, but I know with my low patience level I needed to start small and figure out the basics.

The biggest challenge was figuring out what to do with all this "stuff" I had purchased, meaning all the cutting and measuring, oops probably not in that order :)  By the 2nd set of squares I was getting the hang of it.  For those of you put off by the "random and abstract" concept of knitting, this is the complete opposite I've found.  It's all math and geometry and it's easy to visualize the final product during the process.  Loch my little math whiz was pretty interested in this part of it.  I want to thank Mama Pea & APG for telling me the basic sizes of cutting mat and grid ruler I would need, you were exactly right - they worked for everything I needed without having to spend extra $$ on stuff I wasn't familiar with yet, and for any newbies, these supplies aren't cheap - use coupons and use the sales for everything, they usually go on sale every other week at a fabric store, and if you have a local Craigslist, check there since this seems like one of those things where people with lots of $$ buy everything and never do it so they sell it, kind of like a treadmill, hahaha!

For my first quilt, I channeled my inner Marsha Brady and went for a nice retro floral print and peach, and the border and binding chose a dark fabric to hide my beginner stitchery!

 Here's the blocks after cutting, just laid out into the pattern that will be the quilt top.  This is a basic style called a "single patch" quilt.  Already at this stage my head was spinning with possibilities of adding other colors and shapes, I had to remind myself to slow down and start easy with something I won't end up in tears over.  If you want to see tears and have a laugh at my expense, see the post of my first time learning to knit :)

This was the not-fun part, but only because of my machine.  Hubby saw that I was ready to sew on that thing and disappeared to a buddy's house to go build "an obstacle course" for their mountain bikes.  Even the kids disappeared into their room!  I had to disassemble the shuttle 15 times to dig thread out, had to completely remove the stop-motion knob in order to wind a bobbin, and Mama Pea, check out your pink duct tape!  I had to use that as a 1/4" guide since my machine has no markings smaller than 5/8"!  But all in all, the machine DID sew the quilt top, and my sanity is still intact.

Above, after sewing the squares into strips... so that's how they do it, I didn't even know that!  Below, the finished quilt top:

Today I will move on to the next lessons on the actual border, quilting, backing and binding...

The reason I was able to get this all done yesterday is that I finally got my seed order put in Friday evening and was able to tackle and do our taxes yesterday morning, the two big things that have been weighing on my mind.

Taxes already, you say?  You betcha, thanks to hubby being deployed for the past year in a combat zone, our taxable income according to the government indicates we should be living in a cardboard box under the freeway - so that means refund time!  I don't waste time when it comes to getting money, and after some bills are paid, I'm hoping to stimulate the economy by getting a new sewing machine!


  1. Man, you are so clearly throwing yourself down rabbit holes. Should I send you some fiber and spindles? Hmmmmm?

    That's a lovely start -- I have yet to figure out machine quilting, and though I love hand quilting, I'm starting to think I'd like "finished quilts" even more. . . You go, and be inspirational!

  2. First off, it should be Chicken Mama who gets full credit for the pink duct tape. I'm glad to see it came in useful for an aspect of your quilting, but we're all still waiting for your talented hubby to put it to use on the project for which it was intended! Yes, folks, it does involve "bondage" but not the kind you're thinking of. Get your minds up out of there! (Hee-hee-ha-ha-ho-ho-ho!)

    Secondly, WOW you are (again - sigh) AMAZING. With the way your mind is thinking ahead to different shapes than merely squares, I see a real quilter developing rapidly. (And, yes, with Loch's mathematical mind, I can see him jumping in there, too! He'll be doing the math to tell you how big a square to cut to get the right sized half-square triangles before you know it! Can I hire him to do the math for me, too??)

  3. Wow it looks beautiful! How impressive for your first try at quilting. I am not an 'exact' person, so I won't even attempt quilting. Can't wait to see it finished.

  4. Excellent! I am very proud of you for holding yourself BACK actually. It is sooo easy to see something fabulous and think you can dive in...only to get completely discouraged and give up.

    Yeah for you Erin!! My MIL just picked up "The Quilters Acadamey" Freshman and Sophomore years and they are very nice books. I was impressed with the detail and explainatins. Junior year comes out soon I believe. I am glad you got a great book! They come in handy when your brain farts!

    Keep up the great work!!! Can't wait to see how it comes together for you!

  5. Wow! You don't waste time. What a wonderful quilt. I can't wait to see the finished product.

    Quilting is something I haven't attempted yet so I'm interested to see the steps you took to make your quilt.

    I still need to finish knitting my hat! LOL!

  6. Way to go! My brother was into quilting several years ago, so I have several of those basic quilts around my house. I used his equipment to make one for my future-in-laws. I'll just say, I don't have the patience for that! His sewing machine worked great, but I don't have the patience to sew in nice straight lines! Once I finished the top, I was done. He did the backing and finishing work. I applaud you for taking on that sewing machine and getting it done!

  7. Beautiful! I love the colors. Maybe someday I'll have time and room to quilt again. I've got several in progress that I have never managed to finish. THAT's my problem- I start another one before I finish the first one. Probably because I have the most fun with the color selection/design part.

  8. Stefaneener, you aren't kidding, what the heck am I doing LOL?!

    MamaPea, I couldn't even attempt this stuff without you there to spur me on! I really hope you don't laugh at my crooked lines though :)

    Jane, I'm not exact either, I just chose dark fabric because I knew that heheehee!

    APG, my head's already spinning at what I WANT to do, I just need to give myself the time to learn, it seems to have worked for knitting, so I just need to be patient! I'm going to have to check out your MIL's blog for inspiration when I get frustrated :)

    Sparkless, stay tuned, I promise close-ups of my mistakes!

    Kaytee, ohmigosh I can't sew a straight line either, but I'm winging it with duct tape as a guide LOL!

    Judy, I remember when I first started knitting I couldn't even imagine finishing one thing and really couldn't understand how someone could have so many UFO's.... HA! Now I have a bunch so I imagine once my fabric stash starts to breed the same thing will happen there. I, too, would love to see you get back into it and post some of your stuff... or at least let me come raid your stash, are you still using that pretty dresser as a stash-house? :)

  9. Great looking quilt Erin! Can't wait to see the final product. I knew you'd do great!

  10. Lisa, I "SEW" wish I would have spent less time goofing around and more time in Home Ec class, you should have dragged me in there mother style "you're gonna thank me one day"... LOL! I feel so behind the curve learning at my age, but I'm sure I'll be thankful to get this part out of the way so when I have more time as the kids get older I won't have to deal with that pesky learning curve :)

  11. Your quilt top turned out great! I really like the colors you picked. The last time I tried quilting was in the early 90's and I did it all by hand - didn't turn out that well... I've been thinking about making new pillows for the living room, but I can't decide if I want to try my hand at (machine) quilting or crocheting granny squares - or maybe I should do both. Geez, I need more time in the day and more money to afford all the things I want to do... ;-)

  12. Ooooh, I am so jealous! I've been wanting to learn how to quilt for some time now, and the hubs got me a new sewing machine last year so I have no excuse. Can I ask you, for us beginners, what is the basic sizes of cutting mat and grid ruler we would need?

  13. Erin, I think EVERYONE goofed off in HomeEc. Education is wasted on youth. I sure wouldn't mind taking a LOT of my old classes over again, now that I've -ahem-matured!
    Loved the retro print.

  14. Great job Erin! I used to do a lot of quilting back when I was about your age. I was crazy, designed all of my own and stitched and quilted them by hand! It's a lot of fun especially if you love the geometry and precision of it all! Oh, and the colors!!! I really should make a quilt for my grandson. When I do, I will most likely sew the top together with a sewing machine!!

  15. oh - it looks beatiful. Me, though, I've never been bit by that quilting bug. I LOVE the quilts family and friends have made for me, but the thought of doing one myself? NEVER crossed my mind. Taxes...I heard the feds aren't taking itemized returns until sometime in February. blurgh.

  16. That is going to be beautiful. You are doing a wonderful job so far.

  17. meems, sorry I didn't see your question until now! I purchased a cutting mat that measures 24"x36", got it during a "50% off cutting supples" sale at Joann Fabrics, then went back when they were on sale again and bought a 6"x24" grid, and a 6"x6" grid - this would be all you need for most things, and a rotary cutter and extra blades of course (sale too!) They are expensive, like the rotary cutters are about $25 so when you see a coupon or sale for craft or fabric store, buy them half off. If you get around to trying it, let us know!