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Learn how to quilt: Cold on the homestead

My daughter is turning 9 in a few weeks. Among her request for Paper Jamz (*le sigh*), was a request for an $80 quilt from Target that had owls on it. My heart ached because I REALLY wanted to buy it for her- it was beautiful, and I understand that the combination of moving to a new room (new apartment) this month, with her blossoming maturity prompted her to request something a little more interesting than her frilly hand-me-down bedspread. After all, what child requests new decor for her room? Mine. *heartbeat*

I can’t justify buying a quilt from a factory for 3x’s the cost of making it. And let’s be real- it feels impersonal, and it’s not as cute. By now you’re probably wondering why it’s June going on July and I’m thinking about quilts. It’s still in the 50’s and 60’s here in Maine, with heavy rainfall, and we will still require a light blanket straight through the summer, ending in September. For fall and holiday crafting, this is when to start as well, because quilting is a bit of a process.

Now let’s get down to business- one of the most useful and enjoyable skills my mother ever taught me was how to quilt. And by taught me, I mean, bought me “Quilts! Quilts! QUILTS!!!” by Diana McClun and Laura Nownes, and spent hours with me in JoAnn Fabrics.

The best part about this book is how it’s structured. It walks you through the entire process, from choosing your fabric to gathering materials. The quilt patterns are easily legible and set up like a recipe.

This book should walk you through everything you need to know. My mother says though, that there is one skill that is hardest to learn, and that is picking your fabric. The book is very helpful, but one tool that I’ve begun to use is actually my camera and computer. When picking out your fabric, you must have adequate contrast and pattern variety. Sometimes fabrics that don’t seem to match or go together can make your quilt the most interesting. When first gathering your fabric, think about the colors you want, and make sure you have both light and dark colors. Then, variegate our patterns by making sure the graphics are not all the same size. And lastly, make sure your graphics are both geometric and organic. That means you’ll need both flowers AND stripes! To make sure I’ve got this process down, I gather up my fabrics and take a picture. Then I use my photo editing software to make the photo of the fabric black and white, and then turn up the contrast. It will look like this:

As you can see, I may need to mix up my pattern SIZES for the top row, depending on the pattern I choose. I am considering doing a simple nine patch. I also think I could use a couple more very dark fabrics. What do YOU think?

And last but not least, go easy on yourself. Fabric stretches, seams fall out, quilts sometimes don’t lay flat, etc. Here is a natural progression of my quilts since 2003. Try not to laugh πŸ˜‰