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Monday, May 28, 2012

My First Quilt

Since getting a sewing machine during the holidays, I have been creating little projects for myself. Now I wasn't absolutely new to sewing when I got it, but I have never done anything complex like clothing (well except for a few costumes, but those don't count.) or anything like that. So one of my resolutions this year is to get up close and personal with my machine and grow beyond my novice level.

I have used it several times by the time I started this project, so I felt like I was ready to take it up a notch. I have been contemplating for about six months what to do with my daughter’s room since she is ready for a big girl bed. I knew that I wanted a trundle bed just for the added benefit of an extra mattress in the house for guests or future sleepovers. (yes, I am thinking way ahead!) And I also wanted a little something that she could have forever like a quilt.

I signed up for a free quilting block on craftsy which I have looked at all of 3 times (I know, bad me). I just realized after watching the assignment how-to videos that the repetition of cutting up my hard work would probably drive me nuts at this point in my sewing journey.

I have noticed a lot of attention has been given to rag quilts lately on the internet. I looked at several tutorials like the one on The CompleteGuide to Imperfect Homemaking (thank you pinterest!) and decided that even I could handle this one! So I have been working on this for 2 months (husbandless nights when he is up late working and occasional naptimes) and I am very happy with the results!

I don’t think it would be necessary to go into a tutorial with you since there really are several good ones online already. But I thought I would share with you some simple embellishments I added and how I organized the layout - which seemed a little overwhelming once I had 120 squares sewn. 

Laying out the Rag Quilt
The Fabric I wanted on the outside was sandwiched between batting and a slightly larger square
from an old King sheet. I added the extra fabric for added warmth in the finished product.
Then I sewed them together with a simple X to save time.
So what I started out with is a piece of paper and a grid. I separated all the squares to figure out how many of each fabric, so I could allocate them in a balanced way across the finished blanket. Then I just started laying down squares on the ground and messed around with them. I sewed… and sewed… I worked my way in from the outside. Once I had all the pieces sewn in strips, I went about the task of bringing the strips together… This actually got more and more challenging as more pieces got sewn together because it was LONG and HEAVY.

Backing up a bit, you will notice in some of the squares there is extra fabric. I decided to add a little heart embellishments to a couple squares. This is something I dreamed up since I didn't see anything like this in any tutorial. It was very simple and looks great in the finished product!

Adding a Quilted Heart to Rag Quilt

These squares were sewn before all the squares were put together.
Once it was all sewn together I made the "rag" look by cutting all the extra fabric around the seams. This too a LONG TIME. After about 10 minutes of this, I put it away for the night and the next day headed to Joann's Fabric Store to buy me a nice pair of fabric scissors. Much better!
I did not cut up the outside of the quilt. Instead I chose to cut off the excess fabric and add some finishing fabric to it. I noticed that the other tutorials online finished it up by ragging it out like the rest of the pieces that are put together. My reasoning behind spending the extra time: 
  1. I want it to wear well with my little one. And be usable in 10 years.
  2. If it was my blanket, I wouldn't like the fringe against my face when I sleep.
Finished Quilted Heart
At the fabric store I would have had to purchase about 6 packages of seam binding to the tune of $5 each. Now, I don't think it is an unreasonable price because of the folds. But I wasn't about to pay that much when I just spent about $45 on the quilt fabric & batting (the batting alone was $20 on sale with a coupon). In my crazy mind, I thought to myself, "I have plenty of extra fabric, I'll just sew it together and press it. No problem! Won't take any time at all." 

Well in the end, it took a very little time to sew pieces together and a lot of time to iron the creases. But sewing it on around the perimeter wasn't a difficult task. I am very happy with it. I do hope it holds up the way I envision it to.

Finished Blanket before washing
After all this, it was time to wash it. The fabric was not pre-washed because I wanted the edges to fray. I was so excited to see it finished! Once the wash is done, you will have to scrape all the thread out of the wash basin. Then in the dryer, I stopped it two times to empty the lint. (You would not believe the giant pile of lint I acquired!) When it was finally finished it looked great and linty.

I went through it and cut any long strings. Then I went over it with a lint roller, after about 15 sheets it was done! The night before Sarah's 2nd birthday. I felt that it was necessary to wrap it since this was (and her bed) her birthday present from Mommy and Daddy.

Here is the finished bed from the Bed Project. Looks Good!

To be honest, she wasn't very excited to find a blanket under the bright wrapping paper. And I didn't get a very good picture out of this memory--so sad.

But she really likes it on her bed! -- You might not be able to tell by this picture...

Find this post at the Blog hop on FrugallySustainableTatertots&jello, and Make it Pretty!