Adventures in Sewing: My First Quilt

So, I suppose you recall a couple of weeks ago, when I waxed elegant about my girl-crush, Jane Brocket? Of course you do. Well, as a result of feeling so energized about doing stuff, I made a trip to my local Jo-Anne’s. This is, for me, kind of a Big Deal: growing up, I hated fabric stores with the red-hot intensity of a thousand suns. My mother sews (she used to make my dresses for church—with matching scrunchies!) and in high school, my sister wanted to be a fashion designer, so we spent a lot of time at fabric stores, especially the big granddaddy, G Street Fabrics. It was a multi-level fabric store in Rockville, so the hours we spent looking at fashion and decorator fabrics was bookended with a nearly hour-long drive each way. Ugh. I decided at that point that if Hell existed, it was a fabric store. You would be tired and hungry and want to go home, but your tormentors family would insist that they “just need five more minutes, you’ll be fine!” for all eternity.

Agony. Just agony.

But no more! I got a bit distracted by how pretty everything was (and also, let’s be honest, by the adorable baby making faces at me in the cart down the aisle. I have no focus, okay?). It took a while, though, to find a couple of fabrics that I loved AND worked together. I started with a really bright red fabric with white polka dots, which reminded me I had seen a great solid navy blue earlier. Now I just needed a third fabric for the quilt top. I went to a new aisle and—BAM!—I found just what I needed to tie it all together. It was a medium-scale navy paisley with red, blue, and yellow flowers. Tie it all together with a red-and-white gingham backing and a bright yellow binding, and I had everything I needed.

I had planned on a finished quilt top size of about 50”×50”, with 5 squares per row. Since I haven’t really done much sewing since seventh grade Family and Consumer Sciences (where I made my stuffed pig, named Kosher, who has a wonky eyelid because I sewed it on wrong), I decided to keep it simple: just several very large squares of fabric, sewn into rows. The finished squares would be 10”×10”, so with a ¼ inch seam allowance on each side, the cut squares would need to be 10 ½”×10 ½”.

Just because I tried to keep it simple doesn’t mean there weren’t snafus along the way. On my third row, I ran out bobbin thread (if, like me, you know jack about sewing, the bobbin is the thread in the bottom of the machine), and had to refill it. Thanks be to the internet, I figured out how to do that; what I didn’t figure out was how to put everything back together, especially since the hook body came out when I removed the bobbin case, and apparently that’s not supposed to happen*. Thankfully, some friends from my old ward in North Carolina were in town for a family history conference, and when I explained to them what had happened to the machine, one of them (my friend Rachel, quilter/knitter/needlework extraordinaire) gave me a recommendation for a place to get it fixed: The Stitching Corner in Orem. I was able to get it fixed (courtesy of Gene, the very lovely gentleman who does the sewing machine repairs), and progress recommenced.

This morning, I finally finished my quilt top, and I think it looks rather lovely. Is it perfect? Not at all. The seams don’t all line up, and some rows have weird amounts of excess fabric, but for a first attempt, I think it is a fine quilt top. Now, I just need to contact some of Rachel’s old quilting guild buddies (oh yes, she was in a guild. This woman has skills) to help me finish the actual binding and backing and such, and it will be complete!

And I will play this song. Let’s not pretend I won’t.

Have any of you ever worked on a sewing project? How did it go?

*So, quick explanation: the bobbin (that thread that goes in the bottom of the machine from earlier) goes into a bobbin case, which in turn gets inserted into the hook body, which helps it oscillate in the machine so that the needle can pick up the bottom thread. All credit goes to Gene, the kindly older gentleman at The Stitching Corner in Orem who explained this and fixed the machine for me. If you ever need a sewing machine repaired in Utah county, go to Gene. He’s a gem.)


3 thoughts on “Adventures in Sewing: My First Quilt

  1. Pingback: Christmastime is Here… « marillenbaum

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