My First (and Imperfect) Quilt

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I always had an interest in quilts. I can look for a very long time at a pattern or a finished quilt. That may sounds odd to some, but for me, looking at a quilt is like looking at a painting. There is an overall feeling and then there are the details.

There’s a lot to see in a quilt, beyond the colors and the shapes. Of course, at first glance, that’s what I see. Which gives the overall feeling of the work. Then, I start to notice the color or fabric combinations, the choice made by the quilter as to where to put each color or fabric, which one next to which one, the number of repetitions, etc. After that, my mind moves to the technical details: hand-sewn or machine-sewn, paper-pierced or not, if there are appliqués or not, etc. And last, the finishing details hold my attention: hand-quilted or machine-quilted, the color of the threads, embroidery, beads, ribbons, etc. Well, noticing all that takes many, many minutes.

After looking at quilts and patterns for years, I was bound to start itching for some squares and triangles sewing. That looked easy. I have been sewing clothes for many years by then and I thought “Well, if I can make pants, I can make a quilt in no time.” That was about 20 years ago.

I bought an old-fashionned rose-print cotton fabric in shades of pink, green, white and blue and a pink cotton. As for many fabric bought every day in the world, this one ended up in a closet, and stayed there a few years. One day, I took out the fabrics and cut 4” squares with enthusiasm. Into a bag those went. A few years later, I brought those squares to my sewing machine. In my mind, they were perfectly squared squares. Ha! My thought was that I should make rows and sew them together afterward. So I made long rows and aligned them on the living room carpet (that was flat enough for me) and liked the result (of course). Back to my machine I went, to sew the rows together. Well, the freshly sewn quilt top was tossed back into the bag in an unceremonious manner. Most of the corners were not where they should be and some squares didn’t look like squares anymore. Of course.

Many, many years later, I stumbled across an article into which the importance of being precise when cutting fabric was explained. The author was teaching a few more basics every new quilter should know. I reviewed mentally what I have done and a lot became clear. I went into a search of the so-called quilt top that was now in a far corner of a closet. I ironed it and had a good look at it. I could see exactly what mistakes I have done. I decided to make an other attempt at making something out of this. The 4” pink squares became 2 3/4” squares. The old-fashioned fabric became hearts appliqués hand-sewn on light-beige 2 3/4” squares. Then I sew the squares again. The result was far from perfect, but much better than the first time. It is said that we learn from our mistakes. What I certainly learned is that sewing clothes and sewing quilts are two different things. Like playing classical music vs playing jazz. Like painting in the Renaissance style vs in the Cubism style. You get the idea.

I finally was able to finish the quilting in 2009. I practiced my quilting on this top after taking a course about hand quilting. The binding is not quite straight and the quilt is not quite flat. Some squares still doesn’t look like squares. But who cares? I have learned a lot doing this quilt and I cherish it as my very first.

France

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2 thoughts on “My First (and Imperfect) Quilt

    • I love reading quilters’ stories about how they learned their craft and what inspired them for a particular quilt. So I thought that maybe someone would like to read my story of this first quilt. Seeing that you loved it totally made my day. Thank you.

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