Sewing my first quilt: Lessons Learned

riley blake quilt full

When I took up sewing again 3 years ago I had no intention of ever sewing a quilt.  In fact when I bought my machine I remember looking around the shop at the traditional looking quilts displayed proudly on the walls made from (in my opinion) tired, old fashioned fabrics and couldn’t imagine why I would ever bother to make one of these.  Tell me I’m not the only one?

THEN, I discovered the wonderful world of modern quilts and the excuse it brought to purchase and sew with an array of adorable designer fabrics and make something useful and gorgeous for my (then) baby!

So I began my first quilting project using this free pattern from Riley Blake “On the Go” using the collection “Peak Hour” by Kellie Wulfsohn.

riley blake quilt large

I was a bit shocked at how much it was going to cost for me to purchase all the fabric so instead of making the full size, I decided to make a smaller version intended to be a play mat for my baby.

When the fabric arrived I was thrilled to discover that the prints were actually Australian themed, complete with kangaroo road signs and the newspaper print advertising cars for sale in the suburbs of Melbourne.

Riley Blake On the Go Quilt- sewoutnumbered

After having carefully calculated the amount of fabric I needed for more smaller version, I began to cut my strips, only to discover that I’d made it sooooo much harder for myself because for a number of the fabrics, I didn’t have the width (or length) required to cut continuous strips for some of the pieces.  This meant spending a LOT of time piecing strips together so it wasn’t totally obvious they weren’t continuous.  I think I did a fairly good job but this was such a time consuming process and I nearly gave up on the project a couple of times.

Riley Blake On the Go Quilt- sewoutnumbered

Riley Blake On the Go Quilt- sewoutnumbered

After finally finishing the front of the quilt, I pinned it all together and then being unable to decide how to “quilt” it together (and the scare factor of not having done it before), this quilt sat patiently, untouched for about a year.  I know, A YEAR!!!

I eventually decided just to stitch in the ditch around all the strips – hooray!!!  Nearly finished!!

Riley Blake On the Go Quilt- sewoutnumbered

Maybe not…it then sat for another 6 months or so waiting for the binding to be attached.  I REALLY didn’t want to have to handstitch it but after being reliably informed by my friend’s mum (who is an INCREDIBLE quilter) that it’s the only way for it to look neat, I gave into my need to get the old needle and thread happening.

I finally gave myself a deadline of Christmas last year and yes, there I was sitting on the couch on Christmas Eve, handstitching the binding to the back of the quilt.

Riley Blake On the Go Quilt- sewoutnumbered

So much for the baby play mat… my 3 ½ year old really loved his Christmas present intended for 2 years earlier haha!

It now sits proudly on his bed as an extra layer of warmth in the winter months and despite loving it, I’m so disappointed I didn’t make the full size.  It’s still gorgeous though and I learned a lot through the process.

Riley Blake On the Go Quilt- sewoutnumbered

Here are a few lessons learned if you’re thinking about making one of your own…

  1. Allow WAAAAAYYYY more time than you think to complete your quilt!
  2. Don’t be a tight arse – purchase the quantities of fabric that the pattern suggests.
  3. Handstitch the binding to the back of your quilt (says the quilter of over 30 years experience).
  4. Give yourself a deadline – or it may never get finished.

Have you got a long term quilting project on the go that you haven’t finished yet?  I’d love to hear about it and give you some motivation to get it happening!!

Happy quilting!

Nat.

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