One of my biggest (and scariest!) goals for 2015 was to learn to quilt. I grew up sewing and collecting fabric, but I’d never made a quilt before. It’s no secret that I would love to design my own fabric collections one day. Part of being a fabric designer (at least for quilting cotton collections) is making them into quilt patterns and quilts, so it was something I needed to learn to advance my career professionally. It was also something I wanted to know how to do. I studied quilts a bit in college and incorporated elements of them into my painting and art work. I even made a quilt top in college (that turned out rather horribly! I wish I knew then what I know now!), stretched it, and painted on it for my abstract painting class final (it is hanging in our living room!). I love quilts and the history in them. I love the mix of fabrics and the ability to put time and effort into something that can be used to cuddle up on the couch with and also pass along to children and grandchildren. Such beautiful works of art! I had also amassed a nice collection of fabrics and needed something to do with them!
You might remember this photo (above) that I posted on Instagram around this time last year. Last year for Christmas, I asked my dad to buy me a couple quilting books I wanted (LOVE this one) and some new fabrics from a local (to Southern IL) fabric store (the amazing Hancock’s of Paducah) to use in a quilt I wanted to make. My caption on this photo was, “Love, love, love all these new fabrics that I’ll be using this year as I teach myself to quilt! #2015 #makeithappen #starttoday” I’m so happy to say that I made it happen! I not only used those fabrics above (and more from my collection) to make this value quilt, but as you already know, this past summer I attended a Patchwork Weekend Workshop at Anna Maria Horner’s Craft South in Nashville with all the designers of Cotton and Steel. I learned some additional quilting tips there and pieced my Mod Hexagon Quilt. I did all the piecing on that quilt, but was nervous to do the quilting and binding myself, so I sent it off to a lady that I met at the workshop to long-arm quilt and bind it for me. It turned out wonderfully! But I’m happy to say that on my Value Quilt, I conquered my fears and did every single bit of it myself!! I pieced it (even designing a few of the fabrics myself!), quilted it, and bound it! I’ve done a lot of cool things this year, but making this quilt is perhaps my proudest accomplishment of the year!
Here are some photos from the process (with pretty afters!):
Pulling out fabrics from my collection and organizing them into light, medium, and dark values.
I had to set my old desk back up in my office to have a cutting table.
One of my greatest quilting fears was not getting the seams on the squares to line up correctly. I had a rather frightening experience with this when making the quilt top I painted on in college. But thanks to Alexia Abegg (one of the designers of Cotton and Steel), I did it! At the workshop I attended last summer, I asked her to show me her secrets to getting those intersections to line up perfectly. Turns out, it isn’t that hard! The secret is in making sure your blocks are the same size (I already knew that part), and then making sure you press your seams for the rows in opposite directions so that they nest into one another at the intersections. Before you sew, you nestle them together and pin in place. It worked wonderfully!
I was also really worried about whether or not I would even be able to quilt this on my basic Singer sewing machine. But it worked just fine! I did simple, straight line quilting on either side of the diagonals. Quilting it on a diagonal helped to reduce some of the bulk stuck under the neck of my sewing machine. Drew helped me pin baste the quilt sandwich together (you are the best, love!).
I also have to give a shout out to JoAnn Hinkle of In Stitches in Lebanon, TN. I fell madly in love with that black and white fabric (Faye Burgos of Marcus Brothers Fabrics, Medallion Trellis in Black from her Quartette Collection). But when I went to buy more of it online for the backing, it was out of stock everywhere! I guess it isn’t in print anymore. I searched the Marcus Brother’s fabrics website for retailers of their fabrics to see if I could find someone with it in stock. There weren’t any quilt shops that had it in New Orleans, so I looked around Southern IL (my hometown). Hancock’s of Paducah didn’t have it either. So I started looking at Quilt Shops in the Nashville/Lebanon, TN area (where my older sister lives). I got in touch with JoAnn of In Stitches and she tracked it down for me at a warehouse. Thank you so, so much JoAnn!
I had never made binding or bound a quilt before either, but it turned out wonderfully! These clips were great (there they are in a handmade bowl I threw in my ceramics studio!). The dark pink/wine colored thread that I used to hand sew the binding on the back of the quilt actually belonged to Marie, my first cousin twice removed (the daughter of my Papaw’s uncle Courtland). Her niece passed along a lot of her sewing things to me, mostly colorful spools of thread. Marie grew up on the same land that I did. Love that little extra bit of history included in this quilt.
Drew holding the finished pieced top up in City Park in New Orleans so I could get a nice photo of the top!
And now, the after photos:
This quilt is a memory quilt of sorts in that it contains fabrics from my collection through the years. Some of these I collected as a child for various sewing projects, some I bought in college for art projects, some I’ve collected as I’ve traveled – a cute fabric shop we went to in Portsmouth, NH on our honeymoon, some fabrics from Portland, OR, some from here, some from back home. It also contains fabrics from many of my favorite fabric designers, some of which I’ve had the opportunity to meet or get to know in the last year or two. I also designed a few of these fabrics and had them printed on Spoonflower. That rose pink floral on the eggplant background above is mine. That is a little rose I illustrated from the rosebushes we planted in the front yard of our apartment.
The handwriting fabric, above, is my Mamaw, Evelyn’s, handwriting. It is her telling me “I love you” on a note she gave me when I was little. I turned it into a pattern and had it printed. There is also another fabric in this quilt that is my handwriting saying “I love you” back. The small blue and white check next to it is actually a bit of one of my Papaw’s shirts.
I love the mix of colors along with bits of black and white (and metallic gold!). I have a slight obsession with black and white. I feel like you don’t see a lot of quilts that use black in them, but I love the sophistication it adds and helps to balance out the colors a bit. This quilt is so me!
I just love the way it came out so much! I love the simple diamond pattern on the back from the quilting.
I just finished sewing on the last bit of the binding last night. I can’t wait to snuggle up under it on the couch for movie nights! Violet loves sleeping under my last quilt, I’m curious if she’ll like this one just as much.
The flowers my dad gave me for Christmas look so pretty with it!
I put together this basic instruction guide on what I did, in case you want to make your own:
Some other helpful resources include: this tutorial on value quilting (with photos of some beautiful quilts), how to make binding, and how to hand sew the back of the binding.