Yesterday was a relax and recharge type of day, so I got a lot of little things done but nothing too big. At some point I’ll probably post them, but today I thought I’d write about a big project that I did this past year.
I’ve tried quilting in the past, using a quilting kit that puts out a quilt block every month for you to assemble. At the end of the year, you assemble all the quilt blocks together and voila! You have a finished quilt. Or nearly finished anyway, you also have to buy the finishing set and figure out how the heck to bind the quilt.
I have found said monthly sets in various craft stores at the end of the year, when they have extra monthly sets left over. I’ve bought the entire years’ worth at half price or less, so it’s a very good deal. Usually these monthly quilt sets are quite expensive – easily $15/month and $40 for the finishing kit. I only assembled one, years ago, with zero knowledge of quilting and very little ability. The quilt did end up coming together eventually, but I have no idea what happened to it. Undoubtedly I gifted it somewhere. I don’t even remember what it looked like, my abiding memory of the project is many ends and corners that did not line up properly, and a vast amount of frustration.
Since I do want to learn how to make quilts from scrap and “for real”, I searched on Craftsy for a beginner quilting class. I took a shot at one while it was on sale that is actually the beginning of a series of four. This particular class is called Learn To Quilt: Charming Baby Quilt. It is taught by Amy Gibson, a refreshingly straightforward and no-frills instructor who actually makes you think that you can do quilting as well as she can! And perhaps someday I may be able to.
The class comes with the option of buying a kit with it, and I have to admit that the idea was tempting. The pattern on the quilt squares was indeed charming. What was not so charming, however, was the cost of the kit. Instead, I went to my local Joannes and managed to get all of my needed supplies for under $25. It turns out that Joannes has blocks of 5 inch precut quilt squares! How handy!
Once obtained, and the class watched through once already to know what I was getting into, I sat down and pre-arranged my quilt blocks. As you can see, I had multiple canine helpers for this step.
The goal was not to have any block in any row repeat itself, or have any block repeat itself too close in another row. This was only moderately successful, as it turns out that the number of different square patterns that I bought was not enough to keep things from repeating too close to each other. Next time I’ll know better. I’m still upset about the two identical squares in the middle that ended up right next to each other. I didn’t see it until the whole thing was assembled!
I should pause here and say that Amy’s Craftsy class was excellent. If you’re a beginner and looking for a good class to introduce you to the technique of quilting, this would be the one to take. However, don’t spend $40 on it. Craftsy regularly gives discounts on their classes. Wait for the right time, then buy. I think I bought this class for $10.
The next step was making what Amy called a quilt sandwich. Essentially, you layer the quilt top, batting,and quilt backing together, and sew them all together around the edge. This particular quilt is not finished with binding. Instead, you put the right sides together and layer similar to how you would when making a pillow or a stuffed animal. You simply leave an unstitched space to turn it inside out once most of the sides have been sewn up, and sew that remaining space up by hand once the project is right side out.
The final step is to use ties in every other square to keep the quilt top and batting from moving away from each other or bunching during use. This is a fast and easy substitution for binding the typical way, which uses a sewing machine and a walking foot to crisscross the quilt and stitch everything in place. This technique is introduced in the next class, and I’m looking forward to it. I was not a fan of these tie binds. To me, they look jarring/amateur and do not seem to go with the rest of the quilt.
I never took a picture of the backing, but it was a plain brown fabric that coordinated with the colors on the front. I also attached a label that showed who the quilt was made for (and by) and when it was made. Amy covers how to do all of these things in her class. Again, it was surprisingly easy.
While I didn’t like the way certain pieces of the quilt turned out, and I would do it differently next time, I was pleasantly surprised at how cheap and easy the whole thing was to put together. As I’ve said before, I highly recommend the Craftsy class. And the recipient was very pleased with the gift! I hope he gets many years of use out of it.
The biggest compliment any crafter can have is seeing their product being used and enjoyed the way it was intended. I hope to see this quilt, dirty and battered, being dragged through the mud toward me at some point! And I really can’t wait to meet this little nugget. Look at those cheeks!!