It’s funny how long I’ve wanted to quilt. I told my mom a few years ago that I was going to teach myself to quilt and she said that she always wanted to learn how to do so, and that she would have loved to see me quilting. I had never known this before. The last time I sewed anything was when I made this dress. Funny, how in re-reading it I said how I couldn’t wait to learn how to quilt. I had bought a book that was supposed to teach me how to do it, but I didn’t understand some of it. I am one who learns when it is shown to me. The book sat on my shelf. I brought up wanting to quilt a few times to Rob, and it was just a notion.
At our Mennonite church we attend, a woman stated how she wanted to teach quilting to women interested. I right away let her know I wanted to learn. She was hoping she’d hear from many women. Apparently she had started to teach a few women but they never finished what they started. She was taught by an Old-order Mennonite woman 16 years ago (the kind that wears the cape dress and cap. . .which we don’t in the new-order Mennonite church). She started to come over to my house and said that she had bought a quilt kit (where the pieces are pre-cut, you just have to piece them together and sew them). I was so excited. She was glad to know that I already knew how to sew, so she didn’t have to teach me too much. She gave me “homework” by leaving me several blocks to work on. I finished them within the week. She was in shock. She thought I’d do one a week or start it and have her help me finish it each week.There were a few weeks where my teacher couldn’t make it to me home because she has an elderly husband (he’s much older than her). When she arrived again, she taught me how to do applique and left me with the remaining blocks to work on. I finished them within the next week again. She couldn’t keep up with me and said she hadn’t finished a quilt in 3 years while I had the majority done. I was most nervous about that ribbon on the block that is pictured below. I had to hand sew a portion of it and then I sewed it on. I was afraid it wouldn’t fit or would look terrible, but it came out nicely and Rob came home and I showed him my success. He laughed and said, “It looks great!”The next part was the setting. Apparently the kit she had was from 2006 and was out of print and no longer was sold and she didn’t have the setting to teach you how to piece things together and had more fabric pieces included. It took her over a month to tell me we’d have to just start finishing similar fabric and work on piecing it together. She came over with a little bit of fabric and we were able to measure and configure out a row which was very simple (she is shown below fixing tension issues with my basic sewing machine I have owned since 1999). However, there were many rows that wold require adding pieces to blocks. She said she’d help me with those the following week, but she couldn’t make it. I got so in the mood to want to finish this quilt that I started working on Leto’s quilt which I was able to finish the top so quickly that I had to wait again. I finally went out to buy fabric that I though would go well with the rest of the quilt and used a tiny picture as a reference to the rest of the quilt top to be completed (I am holding up the picture of what I had to figure it out from two pictures down from here). I finished it within two weeks and shocked my teacher again. She said I was going to have to teach her how to quilt.I told her I didn’t know how to sandwich and she said she’d help me with the backing. She couldn’t make it, so I did it on my own and sandwiched it on my own. She also wanted to send in the quilt to have the final quilting pattern put on it. She never did her own final quilting and didn’t know how to do it. “Oh no!” I told her I wanted to do the whole thing myself (which also would save a lot of money too). She was so impressed by how I was coming along and how easily I took off with quilting, that she gave me a quilting sewing machine (she had 5). I was so touched and blessed. The machine that my teacher gave me however, had a terrible issue with its free-motion quilting foot. The metal piece that usually hangs behind a bar that goes up and down kept dropping and causing my needle to not want to go into he quilt. It made me so crazy! I just wanted this quilt done with. I started it in September and it was so pretty and here January was and I couldn’t finish it. I found a free-motion spring foot that worked slightly different for my sewing machine. While waiting I traced leaves all over the quilt which took me a night and an afternoon (about 6 hours) to do. Of course the ink pen ran out and I had to get another at one point, and some of it faded from sitting for so long waiting to be traced with the sewing machine.
When I started to use my new free-motion-quilting foot, the tension was terrible. I continually tried to fix the tension but after an hour of testing it out, the machine stopped working! I broke my teacher’s gift! I was so sad about it. The pedal stopped going and I had fabric that got stuck in the feed even though the feed dogs were down. I set the machine aside and waited another month before Rob got me a new machine with our tax return money. The older machine he tried to fix for me and it was so nice of him, but the pedal still did nothing, though we cleaned the machine out well enough otherwise. The new machine worked immediately. Therefore the free-motion-quilting took me about two to three days with a few hours at a time to do. It was done other than the binding. I then had to wet the entire quilt which I did while watching a movie in order to get the blue from the pen marks out (most people put it in the washing machine but I don’t have one and didn’t want to pay money to wash out the marks).
I didn’t know how to do binding so I called my teacher to help me out because I knew she knew how to do that. After a week she arrived and she loved my new machine and said how she missed the machine she gave me. I explained how it didn’t work anymore but she wasn’t bothered by it and would get it fixed (I told her I’d get it fixed for her but she didn’t seem to want to be apart from it any longer). Funny how those things work out. She showed me how to bind and left me with my project which I finished. A quilt that could have taken me maybe a few weeks to do took me months! I had so much fun and it was well worth it. There are few mistakes here and there that I see, but for my first quilt, I am very satisfied. It fits perfectly on my full-sized bed (which I haven’t taken a photo of yet). What I love most about working on this quilt was that I learned so many different things all in one quilt. I don’t know if I’ll do a kit again in the future because I enjoy figuring things out and piecing them together and cutting the fabric myself. Keep in mind that although I just finished my first quilt yesterday, I am already on my 4th quilt and have seen the progress made as I work more.