26 February 2012

My first quilt: the Values Quilt

For the last couple of years trawling through sewing tutorials and blogs, I noticed that quilting tips are twice as easy to find as anything else. Maybe because the main change is the design but the rest of the principles (like binding and quilting) remain the same. In the clothes sewing world there are just thousands of techniques to learn; making pockets with welts is a whole different kettle of fish to using boning, say. I'd always thought, 'Don't people get bored making the same kind of thing over and over again?', as well as 'How many quilts does one person need?!' One day however, I decided I needed to see what all the fuss was about. So I looked at a number of different websites and hundreds of designs until I found Katie Pedersen's Values Quilt. My mind was made up, I was going to make a values quilt.

I normally look at a project and think that there are a number of things I don't know how to do in it. I usually then ignore this and bulldoze right in there. But this time, I heeded the advice of many master quilters who recommend first-timers not to tackle a huge first project, mainly because it gets very difficult to quilt the damned thing when you have a huge wodge of fabric and wadding crammed into the little arm of your sewing machine. And although my quilt was a modest 140cm x 140cm, those ladies are right. I was really wrestling with it and kept getting a serious arm ache, not to mention the tedious unpicking when my stitches came up really small because the feeders couldn't move the quilt through steadily under the needle (even with a walking foot). Saying all this, I'm very pleased with the result. I also have serious respect for those women that rattle out kingsize quilts and remain totally zenned.

Scroll down towards the end of the post for a confession...

*Click here for the tutorial.*

The colours I chose mainly revolve around pink (I have a soft spot for pink of any variety) with some bright blues and greens just to even the balance a bit. 
Here it is--

When I first looked at it laid out, before sewing it all together, I felt like I was on mescaline. All those loud colours looked like they were pulsing. Perhaps I have just got used to it, but I don't see that any more.

I really like the binding that I finished it with, I think it makes the colours of the quilt pop out if you know what I mean. I stood in the fabric shop for about an hour with the front piece made up racing around and picking up every bolt of fabric in sight, holding them alongside it. My poor boyfriend sat on a chair trying to remain helpful and enthusiastic whilst he was withering inside... He was on crutches at the time; on reflection I feel mean because he couldn't make a quick getaway. Anyway, my guilt aside, this is a close-up of the binding, border and one of my favourite fabrics on the quilt--

I have two little sisters (really little, they're three this May) and my step-mum is Chinese. The little girls on the fabric remind me of them.

Above is the back of the quilt. Close up it's actually pale pink with tiny white polka dots. Also, you can see a tiny hint of it here, but when you hold it up to the light you can see the medium and dark colours through, so its a bit like a stained-glass window. An unintended but cool effect.

This is my little addition to Katie's values quilt: a border and two mini triangles at every corner. This was a practical addition, as my quilt came up slightly smaller than I had thought it would, but I think my quick-fix measure has actually improved the look.

I did do one other unorthodox thing to my quilt. To all faithful quilters out there, I apologise: *cough* [mumbles] I used polyester wadding, not cotton. That's it, I've got it off my chest, I have owned up! I'm just a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind'a girl (Julia Roberts as Vivian Ward in Pretty Woman). I'm joking, I'm actually quite uptight about doing things properly when it comes to sewing. I'd go so far as to say I'm a sewing snob. The reason I chose this is most quilts I see look flat but I really wanted that nice puffy look to show off the triangles. I chose quite a high loft batting--also against the quilting gurus' advice for beginners. I've noticed a very small amount of bearding (what a funny word--at least quilters have a sense of humour!) but not enough to make me regret my philistine wadding choice.

I hope I've inspired any non-quilters to give it a go.

Alix xxx

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