#9: The One That Started It All

This quilt took a while to be finished.  In fact, at one point in time, I wasn’t sure it was EVER going to get finished.

When I decided last year that I was going to pick quilting back up, I never anticipated how that simple decision would turn into The Quilted Thistle.  I just knew that I grew up watching my grandmother and great-grandmother take scraps of fabric and turn them into precious quilts – and I wanted to follow in their footsteps.
After all, no one else in the family quilted, so it felt like a good way to carry on traditions and take my sewing hobby back up.

So, with that idea in mind, I went to Fabric Depot and quickly lost myself in the possibilities.  After walking around with starry eyes petting all of the beautiful cottons, I just wasn’t sure which ones to choose for my first project.  In fact, I was suddenly really overwhelmed with all the possibilities. Where to start?  Clearly, I needed a different tactic than just randomly walking around the seemingly endless bolts of beauty.

So, I took a moment to collect myself and redirect my efforts.  I had been doing a lot of quilting research via Pinterest, and was curious about pre-cut fabrics and what it would be like to make a quilt out of them.  That’s about as far as I had taken the idea – but when I found myself in a fabric store unsure of what to do, I remember grabbing onto the idea of precuts and taking myself over to the precut section to check out what was in stock.

Again, I quickly found myself overwhelmed by possibilities – this wasn’t going to end well if I couldn’t make a decision and get started.  After all, I had a new mantra:  “Done is better than perfect.”  I had a lifetime of not finishing things because of my perfectionist tendencies, and I wanted to change that.  So, as I went back to choosing precuts with that in mind, I quickly settled on a charm pack of batiks – well actually two different charm packs of batiks – so I grabbed them both and quickly checked out.  I didn’t have any other idea in mind other than “these fabrics are so beautiful.”

Now is probably a good time to admit that I tend towards the “not sure what this is going to end up looking like, but I’m going to have fun figuring it out” process when it comes to art.  I’ve since discovered the term “Improvisational Quilting” – but at the time, I was absolutely unsure what to do with these little 5″ squares of batik fabric.  I’m sure at least a couple of weeks went by while I was “researching” ideas.  Eventually, just like when I found myself in the fabric store – I decided I just needed to get started and see what would happen.  So I started making pinwheels.

When I got all of the charm packs sewn into pinwheels, I quickly realized they were not enough by themselves to make a quilt top – so back to Fabric Depot I went.  It was easier this time – I was only going to look at their Batiks.  This was sooo much easier!  After about an hour of going back and forth between the aisles trying to choose, I went with two fabrics, one green and one cream.  I went home and quickly assembled them into a quilt top – my first finished top ever (I have several UFOs in storage tubs – but we’ll save those for another day.)  So, I found myself ready to quilt – and again I got stuck.  I just wasn’t happy with the options I had for finishing the quilt on my domestic sewing machine.  What now?  Out came the fabric tub with my previous Unfinished Objects and in went the folded quilt top.  I was committed to finish this one – but I had more research to do…

…which led me eventually to longarm quilting.  And learning how to longarm enabled me to finally finish this quilt top:

Which I had decided was going to be a Christmas gift for my parents (deadlines work wonders for me when it comes to finishing things.)

It’s not a perfect quilt.  Since it was my first, I didn’t know anything about the correct way to add borders or how to keep a quilt square.  My pinwheels aren’t all perfectly pieced – but I learned how trimming them up can fix a lot of issues.

I also ended up with wavy borders that I had read plenty about – and now understand why people recommend taking them apart and redoing them before loading on the longarm.  I didn’t – so I had to figure out how to densely quilt and make tucks in places that wouldn’t be as noticeable.

I also fell in love with the crinkled texture that comes after the finished quilt is washed for the first time.

And I decided that I’m going to make a lot more quilts with micro-fleece for backing:

It’s soooo wonderful to touch and keeps you super warm!

Throughout this project, I just had to keep reminding myself that “done is better than perfect.”

Although now that it’s done, I now think that it is absolutely perfect, just the way it is!

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