My First Quilt

The first quilt I ever made was back in high school, meaning it was a very, very long time ago…. It was my senior year and I was taking a sewing class.  I don’t really remember how I got the idea to make the quilt but somehow I figured it out and decided to make it with log cabin blocks.  I knew next to nothing about quilting and didn’t really ask anyone how to do it.  I was just winging it.  Looking at the quilt now, this is painfully apparent!

I chose to use blues and browns for the color schemes.  I didn’t know that it would be best to use fabrics that were all one weight.  Instead, I chose cottons of all sorts, mainly based on whether I liked the colors and patterns.  Unfortunately, I used some very thin, lightweight cottons.  Over the years, these wore out quickly.  To make each block I used a sort of quilt-as-you-go method that I made up. (Not like I invented it but I had no instruction so I had to figure this out on my own.) I cut a block of muslin as a backing and centered a small square on it.  Then I created each block by sewing strips around and around that center block. This was a huge project at the time. I decided to make the quilt for a queen sized bed. If I was going to make it, I wanted to be able to use it for a long time. After weeks and weeks, I finished all of the squares. I sewed them together and, not surprisingly, my corners didn’t match.  At the time, I wasn’t really aware that they should.  Blissful ignorance!

This was back in 1978 and the batting that I was familiar with was mainly fluffy polyester. My Grandma Josie was looking at my quilt top and told me I should fill it with a blanket so it would be warmer. Once again, I didn’t know any better!  She gave me a huge and extremely heavy wool blanket. Ever obedient, I used this as the filling of my quilt.  I used a (very) thin muslin as the backing. All together this quilt weighed about twenty pounds.  Definitely warm and with the wool blanket in the middle, not easily washable! I had no idea about machine quilting, the only thing I had heard of was tying it.  So I tied it with yarn at each corner of the squares, nothing in the centers. It was so heavy and the muslin so thin that the yarn ties broke free from the muslin.  Really the backing floated freely and the quilt top was tied to that oh-so-heavy woolen blanket!

I loved this quilt and used it for years.  I even took it to college with me.  A queen sized, woolen filled, heavy-as-lead quilt to college on the central coast of California.  The weather is usually in the 70’s there so you can bet I was nice and warm at night.  Plus, I had to fold the quilt to fit it on my single size bed in the dorms.  Doubly warm! After college it was our quilt in my first home when I got married.  Here is my first baby snuggled into the quilt when he was just a few weeks old.  So, circa 1985.  Clearly this was taken before moms were taught to put their babies to sleep on their backs.  This poor little guy is face down, on a quilt, and….. on a waterbed. Yikes!! But just look at him….. so sweet.

quilt with andrew-3

The next baby came along in 1987 and yep, still face down but on a regular mattress by now. This quilt was so loved.

Over the years, the quilt has completely worn out.  I am now taking it apart so I can try to restore it.  I removed the ties and that weighty woolen blanket and I can now work on the top.  I think I will be able to replace some of the frayed strips. I will find some neutral fabrics that looks relatively similar. I am going to have to fuse the strips in place and applique the edges. Then I plan to create a new backing and use cotton batting in between.  I will machine quilt the top pretty tightly so that the worn strips will be held in place.  Can’t wait to give it a makeover!

With the scraps from the log cabin quilt I also made a tiny log cabin quilt for my babies to use.  I loved that it matched our quilt.  When each of my boys were newborns they used the quilt while they were still cozied up in the cradle that my father made. This quilt was filled with a puffy, poly batting and then stitched in the ditch for quilting.  No binding – I didn’t know about these details.  I just made it “envelope” style, sewing it right sides together and then flipping it right sides out.

BABY QUILT 1


After the first quilt, I made two more simple patchwork quilts in the late 1970’s.  These were filled with a poly batting and hand tied with yarn.  Both have worn out completely.  I wish I had pictures of them.  Fast forward 35 years and I am, once again, happily immersed in this quilting hobby of mine.

 

Linking up with Richard and Tanya’s LAFF, CrazyMomQuilts, and Link a Finish Friday.

20 thoughts on “My First Quilt

  1. Super Mom - No Cape!

    I loved reading about your adventures making your first quilt! I think it’s great that you are restoring it. I made my first quilt when we were posted to Germany back in the late 80s and had no one to ask how to go about doing it. So like you, I did the best I could to figure it out on my own.

    Reply
    1. Bernie Post author

      Hi Supermom!!
      Thank you for your kind words. Restoring this quilt is certainly a challenge. I hope it will come together well. Do you have any pictures of that first quilt? I would love to see it.
      Take care,
      Bernie

      Reply
  2. Snowcatcher

    What an intense project, both times! I so admire you for hanging onto it all these years and for the patience that will be required to restore it. The matching little quilts sound awesome, too. Family heirlooms! Best of luck in the project; can’t wait to see the restored version!

    Reply
    1. Bernie Post author

      Thank you Snowcatcher!! I have dragged this quilt with me over the years as I couldn’t bear to just get rid of it. It looks pretty shabby now – very well used!! I think that I can restore it to being usable again. I will post again when I finish – certainly will take a while tho!

      Kind regards,
      Bernie

      Reply
  3. Mari

    Family heirlooms for sure! I don’t think I have my first quilt any more, so kudos on saving it for all this time. (My daughter was also born in 85 and we put her to sleep on her stomach all the time too!)

    Reply
    1. Bernie Post author

      Hi Mari,
      Isn’t it funny how times change…. no putting babies on their tummies anymore! Thank you for reading my post and for your kind words.

      Take care,
      Bernie

      Reply
    1. Bernie Post author

      Hi Dona:
      Thank you for reading my post and leaving these kind words. I love that you used your quilt to make the Christmas stockings. What a great idea – you can still keep and cherish it. Creating herilooms!!

      Take care,
      Bernie

      Reply
    1. Bernie Post author

      Hi Charlotte,

      Thank you for reading my post. So glad that you enjoyed it! I think keeping the quilts we made in the early times, or at least pictures of them, is a great way to chronicle our progress. I love thinking of how I put the first couple of quilts together vs how I do it now.

      Take care,
      Bernie

      Reply
  4. rose e glasses

    Oh, your colors are still timely. Loved your story and smiled with you about those babies!!! A very worthy project. Priceless…. Good luck!!

    My first quilt was a log cabin too, faded but in good shape, pretty much the same time line as you…… Bindings were not the way we finished our quilts in my family. Envelope was standard….along with old woollen blankets for batting. I did a tie yarn too. We do our best until we learn better!

    Still, I think those wool blanket quilts are the best quilts….I have one from my Great Grandma circa 1965….I have used it for decades….they have weight, but still breathe….so if you like to, your long arm machine quilter should be able to quilt the quilt with the woolen blanket if you choose to reuse it.

    Reply
    1. Bernie Post author

      Rose,
      I do still love the colors that I used that first time around. I am so pleased that you loved my post – thank you.
      I have taken that quilt apart and that woolen blanket was so worn. I guess that shows how much we used the quilt. So at this point I have tossed out the original backing and the blanket. Now I have to figure out if I replace the frayed strips first, before washing it. It is soooo dirty. But I think if I wash it before doing some of the repairs, it will disintegrate! Trying to work out a plan….. Loved having your input. Please come by again.

      Take care,
      Bernie

      Reply
  5. Leanne Parsons

    Those pictures of your babies on your quilt are adorable! I loved reading about your first quilt, and the mini one you made from the scraps. Thanks for linking up with me today 🙂

    Reply
  6. Wendy

    This is a great story, Bernie! I can only imagine how heavy that wool blanket must have been! I remember my grandma talking about how old blankets were used as batting. Back then, upcycling wasn’t even a term, it was just something they did because it made sense (most of the time) to do so. It is fun to see how loved your quilt has been through the years, with each baby, etc. It has lived life right along with you! Hope to see the makeover!

    Reply
    1. Bernie Post author

      I took that quilt apart several years ago. It is all folded up and waiting for me. I hope I get around to it at some point. It deserves another chance! It has so many worn spots and needs to be washed. It will be quite a project.

      Reply
  7. Lisa

    Wow Bernie: What a lot of work your first quilt was. It’s wonderful that you are restoring it. It’s wonderful that you put it together without knowing the corners should match. Ah the confidence of youth.

    Reply

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