My first quilts, don’t look too close

I’ve been without a sewing machine for a week while mine was being cleaned and repaired. Why I always wait for it to break before getting it serviced, I can’t tell you. Probably procrastination combined with not wanting to be without the machine.

In the meantime I’ve been scrap booking. I made it to 2009, which was a big year. My first niece was born, I got married and that was also the year I got serious about quilting.

I took up the hobby as a way to fill my time after graduating from college in 2007. I was used to a full class load, spending 30 hours a week at the student paper, another 10 or 15 at an internship, plus drinking far more than I’d like to admit. Oh the days when I could drink a bottle of wine and still make it to an 8:30 class without a hangover the next day. But going to just working 40 hours a week left me bored and in need of something to do.

Right after I got married my local Guild held a Quilt Expo. Until then I’d figured out most of what I was doing by reading Internet tutorials, and there weren’t nearly as many as there are today. And my aunt showed me the right way to do binding. I may have sewn the binding for my first quilt to the quilt top only. I know, really dumb move.

So when I showed up at the Expo and walked through all the tables where members were demonstrating various skills, I decided to become a member right then and there. I started taking one or two classes a month through the Guild and at local quilt shops. I learned I was doing some things right, and others very wrong. My mind was blown when I discovered not all presser feet are quarter-inch presser feet and I finally learned why all my seams were a perfect three-eighths of an inch.

Deanna baby quilt

But back to the oh my God, please don’t look to closely first quilts. There’s a strip pieced crib quilt, in which I ripped the strips because I didn’t know about a rotary cutter when I started the quilt. Half of it was quilted sans walking foot and the other half was tied for a friend’s baby shower.


Then there’s a ballerina crib quilt I made for my first niece. I attempted triangles for the first time in this quilt. I cut off all my points.

Illini Quilt

And then there’s the Illini quilt I made for my husband. This was the first quilt I designed and I could have strip pieced this one, but instead cut and sewed every square together one at a time. I also made this one before I knew about quarter-inch presser feet, so the joins are pretty awful. You can’t see it in this picture, but I also hand quilted the Illini chief into the negative space. And by hand quilt, I mean I put every stitch in individually, pulling the thread through every time because I didn’t know how to rock the needle.

But no matter how terrible my first attempts at quilting are, it doesn’t minimize the love and appreciation the recipients had for them. More than five years later my husband still uses the Illini quilt every day. He even asks how to properly wash it so that it will stay nice.

The crib quilts too were loved and helped keep babies warm in their car seats during cold Midwest winters. So the next time you’re not so thrilled with how a quilt turned out, just remember that the people who get our quilts can’t tell. They will love them because you made them, not because it is perfect.

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