Recently, Mollie, one of my readers and commenters asked what was the first quilt I ever made. I can answer that by telling you about the first quilt I ever completed.
A little background . . .
Our daughter graduated from high school in 1989. I wanted to make her a quilt to mark the occasion. (What was I thinking?) Although I had a strong background in sewing, I had never quilted. But I jumped in with both feet and selected a pattern I thought looked simple enough (hahaha!) and the two of us picked out fabric.
I didn't know all of the fabrics should have been 100% cotton. Two of the three pieces were, but one was polyester. (Big mistake.)
The pattern called for templates to be made which were then placed on the fabric, traced and cut out with scissors. What a chore! Considering this was the way all quilting was first done, I quickly gained a huge amount of respect for the beautiful works-of-art quilts those dear, old gals of days gone by turned out.
Long story short, I had no idea what I was doing and shortly found myself way over my head and had to abandon the project. Nothing was going right and I didn't know how to fix it.
A year or so later, I made my second attempt at quilting. This time I started smaller and tried to make a simple nine-patch baby quilt for a good friend's daughter who was pregnant with their first child. All went fairly well until I tried to quilt it. I chose to do so by machine because hand quilting doesn't hold up very well if a piece is going to be laundered frequently.
I didn't have a walking foot for my old clunker of a machine and every line of simple, straight stitching I did smooshed, smashed, and wrinkled the fabric and made a terrible mess of the top, batting and backing I was trying to put together.
That effort ended up in the trash. Is it a wonder I tried again?
Well, I did. In 1994 I joined a quilting group, some members of which were much more talented than I and were a big, big help.
So to finally get to my first (completed) quilt, Mollie, here it is in all its (long since lost) glory.
It's about the simplest patchwork one can do and the only fabrics I had were pretty ugly, but I think it's passed the test of a (utilitarian) quilt because it's lasted all these years.
I still didn't have the proper tools for quilting it by machine so I tied it. One can tie a quilt using yarn or embroidery thread on a stout needle. You go down through the front to the back and then through the back to the front again and tie a knot with the two ends of yarn or thread showing on the front side. I used several strands of an ecru embroidery thread to tie my quilt. You can see that not only are the blocks of fabric faded now but the thread is worn and much shorter than it originally was.
This little floral fabric I used as one border is also what I used for the backing.
Where does this first quilt of mine live now? In a box of emergency supplies in the back of our Suburban truck. We figure it could be spread on the ground if we had to change a tire or had other vehicle problems. In the winter it could provide warmth should that be necessary. It's been used as packing for moving furniture and appliances after it was replaced as a couch quilt, extra warmth on our bed in the winter, picnic cloth and floor covering for visiting infants.
Because I've had it and used it for twenty years (and it's still hanging together), I so wish I had made it with more attractive fabrics. But if nothing else, I can truly chalk my first quilt off as a humble beginning to my quilting endeavors.
The Homestead at the End of June
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