November 12, 2011

my very first quilt + quilting 101 summary

several months have passed & i realized i never wrote about my quilting 101 experience. i began the class back in may as a total quilting virgin. while i had learned the basics of sewing during my spring sewing 101 session, i went into this class not knowing a single thing about quilts (and up until this point, i had it in my head that they were granny-ish and meant for country cabins).  boy, was i wrong.

during the 6-week course, we learned about piecing, quilting techniques and block designs. 
we learned how to make at least 9 different blocks which would be used to make a sampler quilt. every week, alexia taught us a new block or two, and we'd usually have to work on them independently at home throughout the week.

the initial stack of fabrics i chose to work with grew during this time - i envisioned yellow & turquoise as the predominant colors - and it was interesting to see how that evolved to include more browns. it was neat figuring out which fabric(s) would go best in which block - keeping in mind alexia's hints about scale, color and value - in order to create a nice visual harmony.

each week i grew more an more confident with my sewing machine and my fabric-cutting abilities. i checked out quilting books at the library and learned more about the history of the craft. i started reading more quilting blogs and buying more and more and more fabric. i didn't quite realize it at the time, but i was becoming obsessed.

when the class series ended, we chose a date several weeks away to reconvene. our goal was to have all of our blocks sewn together with the sashing and border- basically, complete the whole quilt top. at this point, i laid out a few different alternatives before i settled on this, which has similar blocks at opposing ends (a slight method to the madness):

it was crazy to see how it all came together.  as i sewed the sashing, i realized the importance of PINNING, PINNING and PINNING! 

quilt top, complete!

when our group got together in august, we basted our quilt sandwiches (top, batting layer, and back) and learned about the different quilting methods (hand sewing, tying, machine quilting). and that was that! we said our goodbyes and were now left to quilt the quilt on our own.

i was so scared to actually start quilting. i was afraid i'd botch it somehow and end up ruining all my hard work.  but, i had a goal in mind: textile fabrics wanted to do a display window filled with alexia's students' work, and she invited me to participate. i had about a month to finish it up.  i was honored to be asked & i couldn't pass up this opportunity.

i practiced a little bit, then opted for a simple horizontal straight-line quilting pattern using a light blue gutterman thread.  because my quilt was kinda big (i don't know the exact dimensions, but it grew from having 9-blocks to 16), it was really hard to maneuver - very heavy and awkward.  as time went on, i got more comfortable. it took awhile - several days of sewing for several hours, but finally, i finished.  next up - binding!  making and sewing the binding on was easier and faster than i expected it to be. i chose a turquoise fabric with a very subtle print.
quilt back - nicey jane hop dot in 2 colors
 i dropped my quilt off to alexia the next day, and a few days later, it was in the window!

at the start of 2011, i didn't know the first thing about sewing. it blows my mind that half a year later, I MADE A QUILT.  i guess that's the thing about having a passion. you spend all your spare time learning, practicing and thinking about that thing.  figuring out ways to improve and make your own mark. i feel very fortunate that i found something i love doing so much.

if you're interested in taking one of alexia's classes, learn more HERE or email her:

some of the fabrics i used in this quilt:

joel dewberry deer valley - floral drop in barnwood
joel dewberry modern meadow - herringbone in pond
denyse schmidt DS quilt collection for fabric traditions / joann
studio e - brooke by cp designs (biding)
heather bailey - nicey jane hop dot in sky and cream (backing & sashing fabric)
eleanor grosch - zoo menagerie - geometric green
spring street by carolyn gavin - raindrops in blue
innocent crush by anna maria horner - bubble burst in turqoise
dena designs - kumari garden sashi blue
atelier akiko - tiny dot chocolate
alexander henry - april showers


  1. Hey Katie,
    Your quilt looks great! Ever heard of "Project Alabama", Natlie Channing?, you should google her if you haven't.....She is a lady who did a documentry on quilting a few years ago. From there she ended up designing garments based on hand quilting techniques. Her garments have been featured in everything from Vogue to the window in Textiles. She may have changed the name Project Alabama to Alabama Channing, not sure. She has a few books out too, I think you would enjoy her stuff. Tiffany Buckingham

  2. thanks, tiffany! i just spent the past 20 or so minutes checking out her stuff - quite beautiful! thanks for sharing, i appreciate it!

  3. I still can't believe you know how to quilt. I love the one I've seen. I can't wait to see what else you make! xoxo