Thursday, September 15, 2011

Making Memories

Josh is a little over halfway through his 3 weeks of sabbatical/vacation and, thankfully, we've been so busy having fun that sitting at the computer to record it all hasn't been very high on the priority list. Since my last post, when we had just returned from the Dispatch concert, we have ...
  • spent a weekend with Josh's family and three other families who were on their church planting team in Brazil to celebrate the 30th anniversary of when they all moved there 
  • relaxed in Cancun for four days - sans our son
  • had a sweet and wonderful girls night to celebrate and pray for a dear friends' upcoming adoption 
  • hosted a Sip & See for one of my former cell group girls who now lives in Colorado and brought her precious 7 week old, London, to Arkansas for a visit
  • explored the Gentry safari
  • enjoyed our first fall hike
  • reunited with friends & church kiddos at our first community group & cell group of the year

It's been a busy 2 weeks, but they've been awesome! Each of these events deserves it's own post, complete with pictures, which will come. For today, though, I just wanted to celebrate yesterday's completion of a project that has been consuming my evenings for the past two weeks.

My first baby quilt!

 (Warning: what follows is way more detail than anyone will want to read about quilt-making, but the way I approached doing this for the first time was so ridiculous that I want to remember it so I can continue to laugh at myself later).

I have been thinking about wanting to learn to quilt for a while, now, mostly because I LOVE looking at fun fabrics and it seemed like a way to make fabric perusing a productive activity. I also love giving handmade gifts and was inspired the couple of times I saw friends receive handmade baby quilts at showers. So, back in March-ish I decided to just dive in and learn how to make a quilt.

But first I had to learn how to use my sewing machine.

I'm gonna go out on a limb and say if you've never completed an unsupervised-by-your-mother sewing project before, you might want to start with something that has fewer than the gazillion steps involved in quilt-making; but if you share my habit of biting off more than you can chew and calling it fun, then go for it!

I decided to make a quilt for little London, whose Sip & See I mentioned above. I knew her sweet mommy was decorating her nursery in orange and fuschia, so armed with color inspiration and a simple quilt pattern I found here, I started with the really fun part - picking out fabrics. I bought all of my orange fabrics in a charm pack that I found on Etsy (a charm is a 5x5 square of fabric & you can buy packs of them precut, which gives you a good variety & saves time cutting ... don't be impressed, I knew nothing of this quilting lingo until about 6 months ago). Then I found my pink fabrics at our downtown quilting shop, The Rabbit's Lair, and at Hobby Lobby. I bought my backing, binding, batting, and the tan fabric on the front of the quilt at Hobby Lobby as well (in addition to all the needles, thread, cutting mats and rotary cutters that I came to learn I would need as I went on).

  I worked sort of haphazardly on the quilt front during the spring, hoping to have the blanket finished in time for London's baby shower in May, but then we had to cancel the shower because Kayla couldn't travel; and then Josh broke his foot, so the quilt got put on the back burner (or off the stove) for a couple of months. About the middle of August I realized that we were less than a month from London's rescheduled celebration, so I finally got busy working on the quilt again. If I had known what I was doing, this project probably would have taken a week, at max. BUT, I did not. Once I got past the "easy" part of piecing and sewing the quilt front, I had to painstakingly research how to do every step. I mean EVERY step. 

"How do you make a quilt sandwich?" Google. "What is a darning foot?" Google. "How do you change out the pressure foot on my sewing machine?" Browse the 1968 manual to my grandmother's Montomery Ward sewing machine. "How do I thread the bobbin, again?" See manual. "How do you free-motion quilt?" Google. Youtube. Google again. Youtube again. "What? I have to make binding? How do I do that?" Google. "Should I attach the binding by hand or machine?" Google. Call mom.

I didn't quite keep track, but I'm pretty sure that researching how to make the quilt probably took as long as actually making the quilt. Needless to say, if you're ever thinking of learning to quilt and need some good online resources, I can help you out.

I also wasted a fair amount of time driving to Hobby Lobby over and over again. I had so little faith that I would actually complete this project or that I wouldn't totally ruin it, that I only bought what was needed for the next step. No sense in spending money on what you need four steps down the road if you're going to crash and burn before then.

 However, much to my delight, I did not crash and burn. I finished it! It is SO imperfect - it is by NO means a perfect rectangle (sort of a wavy one) and all the way up until a few hours before I gave it to Kayla yesterday, I was "fixing" little places where I had missed a bit of the quilt top when I was binding it. BUT, I loved working on it and I was so happy to give precious London a gift I had spent so much time thinking about. 

And, now that I know how to do it, I feel a little addicted ... much to the dismay of my husband who has been calling me his 85-year-old wife, as I've spent so much time quilting (and cross-stitching, but that's another story). I know I won't have time to do this for everyone I know who has a baby, but when I get the chance I will love it. In fact, last night I ordered some fabric for my next one .... shhh, don't tell Josh!



Meaghan said...

That is absolutely beautiful. I would be amazed if I did anything that beautiful. let alone the first time! I am not surprised by you though. Great job!

BrookeS said...

The quilt is amazing! I am a secret closet quilter wanna be.. I cant tell you how many artsy quilting books I have read and dogeared in hopes of doing my own. I am so proud of you!! Tackling the unknown, what an encouragement. It's beautiful :)