Sunday, December 27, 2009
a first quilt is momentous for a crafter, so bear with this very long post.
Our friends Megan and Marty are expecting their first baby very soon. I think the due date is still a couple weeks away, but of course it could be any time now. I decided to make a quilt for their baby gift. I guess I wanted to try something new. I have this book, Bend the Rules Sewing, which features a project called Easy Lap Quilt. This is the pattern I used for my first foray into the world of quilting.
They don't know if the baby is a boy or a girl, but Megan did tell me that the nursery features an apple theme, which I think is adorable. I found the apple fabric on Superbuzzy. I loved the pattern and thought the green would be good for a uni-sex gift. I made all of my other fabric choices based on the apple fabric.
I have done very little sewing in my life so far. I made a terrible sweatshirt and pair of drawstring pants in Mrs. Burnhardy's sewing class in high school 10 years ago. Since then, only hemming up of curtains. When I read the directions for this quilt, I thought, "Well, I can sew a straight line. This will be easy." There are some straight lines on this quilt, but there are also crooked lines, thick lines and thin lines, all kind of lines. Suffice it to say, this project was a lot more difficult than I expected. I'm so used to working with paper. Paper is easy. It wants to be cut in a straight line. Fabric wants to move and fold and shift. I made great efforts to cut my strips very straight, and to lay them out very straight, and to cut my backing fabric very straight. But somehow I ended up with a lot of crookedness on this quilt. It was frustrating while it happened, but looking at the finished project, the crooked lines don't bother me much.
I chose to do a red binding because red is across from green on the color wheel. I thought the complimentary color would add a little pop around the edge. That it does, but I wonder if the blanket looks a little too 'Christmas-y' as a result. I also decided to sew the entire quilt with red thread, for the same reason as the binding. I now realize that the red thread acts as a flashing red spotlight pointed directly at each mistake I made. Oh, man. I have to laugh. This seems like such an obviously bad decision now. But I didn't know! Plus, I thought there wouldn't be mistakes, because it was just straight lines! I was so wrong, but it's okay.
I had a lot of trouble with my machine locking up. I figured out the problem, took it in to the local Brother shop and was told that to get it fixed would cost more than the machine originally cost. Bummer. So I guess this is my last sewing project for a while. Anyway, every time my machine locked up, I had to stop sewing, obviously. That resulted in a lots of broken lines in unfortunate places. When I started sewing again, I was careful to line up the stitches to the end of the interrupted line, but these little spots started to slowly unravel. I still don't understand how to properly start and end a line, maybe. All this to say, I had to repair some spots where my stitched lines were broken / unraveling. These spots now look awful. Really, they are so messy. It made me sad to add such sloppiness to my end product. I decided it was better to reinforce those trouble spots than to give a gift that might unravel with use and care. I sacrificed a little beauty for function. I'm okay with that, too.
These were the things I loved about making this quilt:
-carefully selecting all the fabric.
-sewing when my machine was working.
-adding cute hand-embroidered details. Wish I would have done more of them, but was too impatient to finish.
-hand-finishing the binding with the quilt on my lap, keeping me warm as I talked with my family and watched Home Alone.
These things I could have done without:
-uncooperative sewing machines.
-crooked lines everywhere.
-going 0 for 4 on proper corner-binding technique. Oh well, I get four more chances on the next one, I guess.
Overall, despite its many flaws and beginner's mistakes, I feel that this first quilting endeavor was a huge success for two reasons.
This quilt will keep a little baby Smith warm for a long time to come.
Every stitch, whether frustrating and curse-inducing or completely successful, was sewn with great love for the recipients.
Megan and Marty are going to be amazing parents. I can't wait to meet their little person!
Also, I'm looking forward to more sewing in the future. I might have to wait until next Christmas for a new machine. That will give me plenty of time to plan my next project.