Friday, March 30, 2012

First Quilts and Craft Room

My mother was (and still is) an avid crafter.  She made matching quilts and giant floor pillows for me and my siblings, and there are plenty of instances where she sewed matching dresses and pajamas for me and my best friend.  Since I had an early penchant for crafting alongside her, she taught me how to use a sewing machine when I was in elementary school.  We started out easy: sewing straight lines on fabric scraps, experimenting with different stitches, loading bobbins, learning how to thread the machine.  It wasn't long before I started helping her finish her quilt blocks, making clothing for my stuffed animals, and made my first throw pillows.  Once in high school, sewing fell a little to the wayside.  She helped me make my own prom dress and I experimented making some other pieces of clothing, but without a sewing machine in college, I didn't get much practice.

I purchased my first sewing machine when I moved to Seattle in 2010.  I did little things at first...hemming pants for myself and friends, fixing things, nothing ambitious.  I didn't have much space in the first rental I lived in, so breaking out the sewing machine meant clearing my desk of my laptop, textbooks, and homework and fishing out the giant IKEA bin of random tools.  Ryan came to Seattle and we moved...twice.  The second time, we made sure to have an adequate space for our various hobbies, and for the first time since living with my parents, I had a craft table!

My side of our gloriously spacious office, before the brew station was added.
I was itching to use my machine when a perfect excuse came along: my sister's pregnancy!  She and her husband have lived in Alaska for at least ten years, and I found no better fabrics than a colorful fat quarters collection of woodland creatures.  Here's a sampling of what I found with Fox Trails by Riley Blake Designs:

I needed something easy for my first quilt, so I decided to go with Elizabeth Hartmann's Charm Squares Baby Quilt.  The instructions are available online, and no fancy shapes required!  I followed her tutorials for making a "quilt sandwich" and making and sewing the binding and it came out better than expected.  I machine-quilted some loop-de-loops across the rows, which you can kind of see in the brown sashing fabric.  i forgot to take a picture of the back, but I decided to go easy and did a solid orange fabric.

Digby tests out the first tummy-time quilt!
 With the baby quilt under my belt, I had a boost of confidence and decided to go for a larger one. I bought some (admittedly hipster) Birch fabrics with birds and bikes printed in bright colors, and scaled up the Charm Squares pattern to fit a full-size bed.  The instructions online give adequate detail for scaling to a twin-size bed, so I just added a few more blocks to make the quilt wider.  It wasn't long before I realized that a full-size quilt was much, much harder to handle than a baby-sized one, so I ended up forgetting the fancy machine-quilting pattern and doing an easy square pattern, 1/4" off the seams of the quilt block.  The back I lined with gray flannel with a solid turquoise stripe down the middle...mostly because I mis-measured and didn't have enough flannel for the backing!

It turned out better than I expected, but I think I'll need a break from quilting for a bit.  I'll practice on some other projects before coming back to a task of this scale...overall, though, I'm really happy with the results!


  1. Those are so awesome!!! :)

    Also, those gigantic floor pillows your mom made are such a nostalgia trip... I LOVED those things. Perfect for watching movies in your basement during those dinner parties.

  2. Thanks! :) Those were the perfect movie pillows! I wish I had brought them with me when I moved, but alas, they took up too much precious space in the car (and I'm pretty sure taking one on a plane would be so far out of the question...).