I'm about to show you photos of my first ever quilt... Some might think this is a brave thing to do because there's enough wrong doings for the Quilt Police to lock me up and throw away the key!
Before I unleash the quilt in question let me just fill you in on some of my background.
Two years ago I had no idea that I'd be a quilter. I'd dabbled in a bit of easy sewing off and on in my life. One day I got it into my head I'd like to make some shirts using bright modern fabric for GBF. Whilst cruising the internet I'd come across some amazing fabric stores, in particular the ever wonderful Quilthome. Amy Butler's Belle range was the rage and I fell in love with the orange and turquoise colourway.
Around the same time, again on the internet I noticed The 2008 Craft and Quilt Fair was on at Darling Harbour, Sydney, that weekend. I mentioned it to GBF and he agreed it would be nice to look at some quilts so off we went the next day. Needless to say I came home with a rotary cutter and cutting board. In no time I'd planned and picked some fabrics from Quilthome. I was conscious not to pick the fabrics from the one designer. I felt there was more challenge in finding fabrics that matched from different ranges. Quilthome has a tool called a design cart that helps you see your chosen fabrics next to each other. I ended up with gorgeous fabrics by Joel Dewbury, Anna Marie Horner, Tula Pink and of course Amy Butler.
I also found this fabulous fabric from Alexander Henry that I like to think looks like me.
I didn't think to have lessons or even get a book, but I did have a magazine article on how to make a baby quilt with squares and I thought squares would look great. Armed and dangerous with a rotary cutter my adventure began.
Using a rotary cutter was a bit strange at first. My only experience with such a tool was cutting pizzas. It was all so much fun whizzing away that I wasn't very accurate with my cutting. I do remember at some point wondering out aloud what the margin of error might be.
Soon I had lots of squares!!! When I laid them out they filled the lounge room of the apartment we were living in then. I played for ages adjusting their positions but still managed to get some like ones next to each other. I'm positive a naughty pixie swapped some blocks around when I wasn't looking.
So the sewing began, I'd heard about quarter inch seams but I figured being all squares it wouldn't matter too much, so most of the time I just used the edge of the foot on my machine. ( I was sewing on an old 1960's Bernina that had been rescued from a garage sale ). It was fun sewing the long strips of squares. Vroom, vroom, vroom, I drove that machine like a racing car!
It was when I started sewing the rows together I discovered that accuracy whilst cutting and sewing really IS important! I don't think ANY of my corners match up. Oh well, at least it looks handmade said GBF encouragingly.
By now I'd started read as many books about quilts as I could borrow from the library. And in particular I discovered Material Obsessions first book which full of quilts using the bright modern fabrics that had initially attracted me. That book combined with Quilting for Dummies really opened my eyes to techniques and the ways things should be done.
My decision to hand quilt was based on the fact that I wasn't brave enough to machine quilt a queen size quilt and more importantly I would have been too embarrassed to send such a crooked looking top out to be longarm quilted.
Boy was I shocked when I saw the Between needle!! Here I was, hand sewing the biggest, chunkiest thing I'd ever sewn and I was being sold a teeny weeny tiny little needle. " Are you sure?" I said in disbelief. I was assured it was and not one to back down from a challenge I took my needles home and threaded up. It took me a while and a lot of big uneven stitches to figure out what I was doing. It's such a shame that quilting should start from the centre because by the time I got to the rows along the edge my stitches were passable.
I chose to quilt each square differently as the fabric's pattern determined. It was a good way to try sewing in different ways.
An important lesson I learnt was to not use pale yellow backing when using dark brown thread.
I started my quilt at the beginning of August 2008 and finished towards the end of October 2008. It measures 88 x 96 inches so it was a biggy for my first quilt. While I was making it I would come up with all sorts of names but the one I thought suited it the best was Siesta Fiesta but I always call it "The Rachael Quilt" so that's become it's name. I know its full of blunders and boo boos but every time I pull this quilt out to use I just love it to bits, crooked seams, big stitches and all!!
So finally without any more delays... I now present...