Sunday, September 18, 2011

A labor of love: the making of my first quilt

Well, this is actually my second quilt if you count the other one I made in 7th grade Home Ec class. This one was a much larger scale, measuring out at roughly the size of a double bed. It was a gift for a dear friend; a congratulations on her wedding and marriage.

I started this journey the day I received the save-the-date. I knew the two of them, especially him, had spent a lot of time thinking about and creating a meaningful symbol that conveyed a sense of who they are as individuals as well as a couple. A wonderful, modern graphic emerged and its statement was crystal clear: the love that surrounds them is what warms their hearts. And I thought a quilt could keep them warm as well!

I started with the fabric. Oh so difficult. I settled on soft cottons in beige and two shades of both gray and orange (not the purple above!). After I washed, dried, and ironed all the fabric, I was ready to go.

I knew I wanted one side of the quilt to consist of triangles: a mixture of the beige with the lighter and darker colored triangles mixed in. I wanted to convey some sort of story, so after all the cutting I arranged (and rearranged) the triangles until I liked the pattern.

I finally ended with a similar version of the bottom right photo. After this stage, I started pinning and sewing the strips of triangles together--what a challenge! It took a lot of concentration and exact measurements and utmost consistency behind the machine.

To make the quilt a little bigger, I added parallel strips of the beige between the rows of triangles and also along the sides (don't tell anyone, but this also hid some mistakes as well).

When that side was ready, it was time to decide on the other side. I chose alternating-widths of the two shades of gray. I hate to say it, because of the work required for the first side, but I actually liked this side better.

After sewing the the second side together with all the strips, I lined up the sandwich: top trianges, middle batting, and bottom striped side. Because it's a quilt, it needed to be quilted: that is, sewn all together. I chose to sew along the parallel strips with corresponding, matching thread (ie, gray on bottom and beige on top). This step took LOTS of pinning--I love pins! 

Finally, I had the first view of the quilt! The final step was the bias band--a nifty invention that consists of material, cut on the bias or the diagonal, and then ironed in a way that will inhibit fraying and also nicely 'finish' the edges of the quilt. It was impossible to find a matching bias band for this quilt. [I miss Bay Area craft and fabric shops so much. Britex, Stonemountain Daughters, and even Micheal's would make so many people here so happy.] I finally opted for teal ribbon, which probably won't last as long, but it will do the trick. 

First, I ironed the ribbon in half--all 7 meters of it. Of course, once again, I pinned, pinned and pinned again. I also basted the whole thing--sewing it by hand, like a rough draft for the sewing machine. Finally, with some fantastic matching teal thread, I sewed all the way around--first learning how to miter quilt corners--and then... I. Was. Done. 

Almost. Actually, I was so excited to finish I forgot to take one final picture! 

With matching triangles, I made a small tote for the quilt, wrote the card, and then came the coordination. It would have cost an arm and leg to mail it (nearly 200€), so I coordinated with my KLM flight attendant neighbor to take it to San Francisco and meet up with another girlfriend who would see the new Mrs. at book club the following week. It all worked out perfectly smooth. Incredible! 

I can now officially post this because the gift has been gifted! A special thanks to Ilonka and Bethany for going out of their way to get this to her. I learned so much, and I'm super excited to start the next one. 

Maybe this time, I'll keep it for myself though. ;) 


  1. OMG - the making of the quilt is truly as beautiful as the quilt itself! I promise to take a final pic to round out the process as soon as I charge up my camera. Meredith - you have outdone yourself; this is the most endearing and personal gift of love and warmth, always. Thank you sweet friend! WE LOVE IT!
    the Simons'

  2. Wow! I'm sure you made the bride really happy! You'll be the first to know when we are expecting... wink-wink ;-)


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