What I learned on My First Quilt.

Hi!  My name is Alyssa and I am a Quilting Addict. I am new here and new to quilting. After having only recently finished my first quilt, and having learned a lot along the way, I will bring a little comic relief to the blog post this week.

Things I learned working on my first quilt:

1.   When Nikol has the fantastic idea to submit quilts into the State Fair... don’t get all excited and agree to participate. Especially when they are due in 5 weeks and you are going on a 2-1/2 week holiday. So yes... That means you have 2-1/2 weeks to complete said quilt.

2.   Piecing a 76 different fabric log cabin style quilt is a lot of work. One block at a time. Oh and Ps.... Red Cross! Hahaha! I thought this was hilarious when I was ironing it at 2 am... it was pretty funny.. at least I thought so... uh.. moving on.

3.   There is this really cool technique called chaining when making multiples of the same block. I learned this when I called Nikol to have her help me figure out what size all the pieces were in the block because the silly pattern didn’t tell me... She responded with, ‘Are you cutting out each piece individually and sewing them together one at a time?’ Can you hear the incredulity in her voice. Then, I think she said, Oh cricket... no, no, no... this is what you should be doing! Boy was that an enlightening lesson and did my life get a whole lot easier....

4.   Piecing a 76 fabric quilt is a lot of work. Maybe I said this before. I might have forgotten the in 2-1/2 weeks part though.

5.   Well, after that wonderful chaining lesson I moved right along .... but ran into a few seam lining up problems and again... rang Nikol.. ‘This is really fun, but I am really have trouble lining up all these seams.. it is making me batty..’ (A perfectionist by nature..) She shared this other fun quilters secret... iron one seam to one side and the one you are matching to the other side and put them together. All I could say after this  was, “WOW!’ was that a life saver for someone who suffer from mild OCD... :)

6.   Now it was time to lay out... Do you realize when you have 75 different fabric blocks you can move them around forever and not ever be totally at peace? Nikol and I looked and moved and looked and moved... and then moved some more... till our eyes were buggy.

7.    I’ll be honest at this point I did come to tears... I had been sewing non-stop for days and I had decided to make the quilt bigger to fit my bed... After looking and moving a lot, I realized that the rows weren’t making sense to what it should be.. This is the point where the creative needs to stop and you bring in the accountant. So, my accountant friend came over to see what I was doing and he did some quick math to realize I had too many blocks in each row and that by moving all those blocks I would have the right number of rows. Smart one, he is.

8.   Back to that wonderful seaming technique... sewing the blocks into rows... more seams to line up! Ok.. this wasn’t so bad.... actually making the rows was quite fun as I had now officially made new fabric!

9.  But then.... those pesky rows need to go together to make the quilt top.... which means more seams only from both directions. There was nothing fun about this and my OCD did have to go out the window a bit.. but only a bit. Oh.. and post-it's are fabulous for keeping track of where everything goes!

10.   I may have forgotten to mention that the base color is white.... and one thing I have definitely learned now is to buy extra fabric of the main... no matter what the cost. After buying up the rest of Sewtropolis’s Kona white... Nikol was kind enough to put in another order... only to find out white seems to be the new black and it was on back order! So, I quickly ran over to Glad’s...(Ok, I drove.. but it sounds better if I say ran... :) ) and no white to be found.. no white to be found... my heart was starting to race. But then one gal said, ‘I think there may be one bolt in the basement.’ Thank goodness! There was.....

 11.  Have I mentioned yet that piecing a 76  fabric log cabin style quilt is a lot of work? You may have forgotten along the way as this is a long story, so I should mention it again.

 12.   I have to admit finishing the quilt top was pretty exciting at 2 in the morning. I wanted to call Nikol.. but she usually falls off the texting around midnight. :)

 13.. You’ll note the back... that is one heck of a lot of pieces...  Oye. There are days when I still want to see the back to be honest... it was really pretty amazing.

14.   Ok... one more thing I had to learn twice.... buy extra fabric of the main! I did a measure once cut wrong... not a measure twice cut once... for the two large pieces of white on the back.... so, back to Glad’s as we were still waiting for the Kona to come in at Sewtropolis.

15.   Well, now to put this bad boy together. I had pieced the back.. Wow, does one giant cross and 2 giant panels go together quickly! Much fast than the quilt top! So... I bring it over to the shop.. because of course, I cannot do this alone.. I need the quilting expert by my side and not just on the phone... Plus,she has this really fantastic big table in the back of her shop which is perfect for pinning a quilt together.

16.   So, Nikol showed me how to stretch the back and smooth out the batting and now came the fun part... putting the top on. Then a pinning away we went... I learned that there are two kinds of safety pins... Quilters ones and normal ones.. and normal ones are not fun to use when pinning a quilt... Now, I own a lot of quilters pins with the sexy arched back for easy closure. Very smart whom ever invented these.. thank you! To think I thought they were just safety pins with defects when I first saw them! :)

17.  Yes.. now to go home and quilt this bad boy. I get home.. and get nervous.. What do I do? Yep, call Nikol... Pretty sure she was getting excited this quilt was coming to a close at this point with all my late night calling and texting.. :) So, she suggests a walking foot. A what? I sew on a 1970’s Riccar with a normal foot, a zipper foot and and a buttonhole foot. Oh, but wait... I just bought my daughter a new machine.. I bet it came with a walking foot.. Phew! It did. So, Ricky had to sit this one out.

18.   Moving on. Stitching in the ditch is a lot of work. I thought piecing was but boy was I ever wrong. :) Just think I still have to sew on 75 buttons for the final quilting.

19.  Have you ever sewed 75 buttons onto a quilt? I can tell you that is what a thimble was made for. I had not ever needed to use one until this point.. Stab your self a few times and you will want one too. Blood on the quilt is hard to get out when one is not going to wash the whole thing... this fact has been proven. So now you can see, blood, sweat and tears went into this bad boy. Oh and in case you were wondering what my daughter was doing while I was sewing on 75 buttons.. (because of course it was easier on the big table..) Yup.. she was downstairs on her hands and knees scrubbing the floor at Sewtropolis. Seriously. Now, if I could just get her to do that at home!

20.   So once you have all the quilting done it is time to bind... I started my binding at 2 am, The quilt was due at 9:30 at the State Fair grounds. You may have missed this... but this was my first quilt. Meaning I have never bound a quilt before. This was by far the worst detail on my finished quilt. Why you ask? Because it was 2 am and Nikol my quilting guide was in bed!

21.   First problem, how does one manage 12 yards of bias? I thinking I mentioned I am slightly OCD... if not.. now you know... Here is what I came up with at 2:30 am. Good idea, right? I thought so, too!

22.  Second... how do you get it to be even on both sides of the quilt!? Yep.. this is the part that never got figured out. I said to heck with with and just rolled it all over so it would be all consistent. What did I learn from this experience, make sure when I am starting something new Nikol is up to help me... :)

23.   Well, by 5 am I had a finished quilt. The best part I think was being wrapped up in it while sewing on the binding and being all cozy.

24.  The two biggest lessons I learned. Never do a 76 fabric long cabin pieced quilt in 2-1/2 weeks as your first quilt and if you do always have a Nikol on speed dial! :)

Thank you and Good night.



  1. Hi Alyssa - It turned out gorgeous! Great job on your first quilt. Ellen

  2. It is a beautiful quilt! Some learn best under pressure and/or a time crunch...a lot like studying for finals! Keep up the great work.

  3. You make me wanna learn about quilting, Alyssa. I love sewing, yup part of it bcoz my mom made me doing all the cutting pieces when i was...err in Standard 4 i guess. All for my sisters' and my new "baju kurung" for our celebration every year then. Your story really has opened up my heart to the quilt things. So, from your experience, where and how should i start?

  4. Entertaining story. The rest of your quilting should be a piece of cake!


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