My First Quilt
8.3.2018

First Quilt

It all started 46 years ago. I was given some sample fabric squares from the department store where I worked, and decided to make my very first quilt. After all, they were already cut into squares and I had a sewing machine. It would be simple, I thought! I was 18, and I didn’t know anyone that quilted. The internet didn’t exist yet, there were no classes, or quilt shops, so I decided to figure it out myself.

Judy's First Quilt

I started sewing the squares together in long strips using a 5/8” seam allowance. I pressed the seams open because that is what we learned in Home Economics for sewing clothes. My stitch length was too long so years later things started coming apart.

First Quilt Project

It wasn’t long before I discovered I didn’t have nearly enough fabric. I started gathering up old clothes, old curtains, any kind of fabric I could find just to finish my quilt. I found my Mr. Peanut bell bottoms pants (yes, I really wore them), my mom’s orange and brown curtains from the 60’s, clothes I made in high school, and lots of other fabrics that are now fun memories.

Judy's First Quilt

I learned not to put different weight fabrics together because the thin fabrics wore away over time.

I didn’t have quilting rulers so after a lot of trial and error I cut a piece of sand paper into a square.  I traced around the sandpaper onto the fabric with a pen and cut the squares with scissors. After I had all of my long strips sewn I started sewing them together. Hmm, were the seams supposed to match? I didn’t think about it and didn’t pin anything. Once in a while, when a seam did match, I thought, “Hey I’m pretty good at this quilting stuff!”

I used a bed sheet for the backing, sewed around the edges, turned it right-side out and tied the quilt with some yarn from the dime store. I was so proud of myself, and since I was officially an expert, I made another one for my sister! It wasn’t until I started working at Connecting Threads 20 years ago that I picked up quilting again, and I have come a long way since that first quilt all those years ago! Here’s a more recent project I made for my granddaughter. The pattern is the Fancy Forest Quilt Pattern by Elizabeth Hartman.

Fancy Forest Quilt Pattern by Elizabeth Hartman

What about you? What was your first quilt? Tell us about it in the comments!


13 comments

  1. April Spolnicki - August 3, 2018

    My first quilt was a flannel baby quilt with a mint green and baby blue. I made it before i had kids. It’s a checkerboard pattern on the front, with a white, blue and green back that was from the matching fabric line. When my second daughter was born, I gave it to her since a friend had made one for my oldest. She loved silky edges on blankets, so I added a silky binding to it and she still uses it on her bed at 11 years old. She’s proud to have my first ever quilt, quilted with a walking foot in x’s across each block.

    Reply
    • Judy - August 6, 2018

      That is a sweet story. I’m sure your daughter will treasure her special quilt forever!

      Reply
  2. Sandra Walker - August 3, 2018

    My first quilt was made for my Barbie bed from upholstery swatches my mum had gotten in a big book of them…no clue why, as I don’t recall any reupholstering being done, but I was young, maybe 11. Anyhow I cut squares and sewed them WST by hand, turned RSO, stuffed them with bits of cut up old pantyhose to make a little pillow which finished at about 2″ and then hand-whipped the little pillows together. I remember being so pleased with my intelligence when I realized I could cut a rectangle, fold it together and eliminate one side of a seam! I made about 2/3 of the quilt by hand and then when grade 7 came and with it Home Ec, I was allowed to use Mum’s old sewing machine, a Kenmore and I finished that little quilt on the machine. I still have it. I love the story of yours, and the “gee I’m good at this quilt stuff!” LOL

    Reply
    • Judy - August 6, 2018

      This brings back a lot of Barbie memories. It’s great that you finished it later and still have it.

      Reply
  3. Linda Klein - August 3, 2018

    My first quilt was a Sunbonnet Sue in 1977. I think I used polyester from the j. C. Penny catalog and machine zigzagged around Sue’s body, clothes. I backed it with a sheet from the same catalog. I did hand quilt it. Been quilting ever since and I AM pretty good at this quilting thing NOW. 😁

    Reply
    • Judy - August 6, 2018

      That is quite an endeavor for a first quilt!

      Reply
  4. Marilyn Hommer - August 4, 2018

    I was given several antique completed Dresden plate blocks by my fiance’s grandmother. This was is 1969. I appliqued these onto white blocks and changed the centers to a solid blue. I worked on these while in Nursing school. I did have blocks completed by graduation. A friend of the family hand quilted it as a wedding gift. It was well used and loved. I had put quilting aside after that and devoted myself to hand embroidery. I made a few baby quilts along the way but didn’t return truly until 2 years ago. Since then I has made 9 quilts with many more planned. No surprise that applique is my favorite technique.

    Reply
    • Judy - August 6, 2018

      What a treasure for a first quilt!

      Reply
  5. Laura StLouis - August 6, 2018

    My first quilt was a bunch of scraps from my high school scrap box. It was all kinds of fabrics and I backed it with an old bed mattress pad I found in my Moms attic. I tied it here and there and It lasted for years. I wish I still had it because all the square and rectangles were different sizes and colors,like the history quilts in the museums from years ago. Times were so bad the women used anything they could get their hands on to put in them. If you have never seen quilts from different times ,take a walk in the past some day! <3

    Reply
  6. Judy - August 6, 2018

    That is a well used first quilt! You are right about the quilts from hard times. Quilting today is quite different.

    Reply
  7. Kathleen - August 7, 2018

    Love your story. Your first quilt story is very similar to mine. You made a much smarter choice for backing than I did. I used some kind of double knit fabric on one, and some kind of very harsh heavyweight fabric on another. And I had no idea of the proper way to tie a quilt, so I went right through the center of each square instead of the seams. I made my square template for tracing, using the board that comes on the back of a legal note pad, then cut the fabric with scissors. I made one quilt out of all corduroy fabric, and a couple more from regular cotton fabrics. Except for the backing, all the fabrics came from leftovers that I had from making clothes for myself and my sister.

    Reply
    • Jusy - August 8, 2018

      Ha Ha we learned by trial and error!

      Reply
  8. DAWN - August 8, 2018

    My first quilt was when I was 13.in history class we learned that young girls would make quilts to have when they married. Mine was squares too but of polyester scraps from making 70s clothes.lol I made my own clothes and my Mom did too so lots of poly scraps. It was tied in yarn as well. Not sure if it is still at Dads or not.

    Reply

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