My First Quilt

Up until a few months ago, I was quilt-indifferent. I had nothing against quilts. In fact, I was very loyal to a particular twin-size comforter from Target all throughout college. It just never occurred to me that I should try to make a quilt. Quilting has always seemed so distant from the kinds of things I like to sew.

I’m not sure exactly when my switch flipped, but I can say that meeting Suzy of Suzy Quilts opened my eyes to the wonderful world of modern quilts. I met Suzy this summer at a photoshoot for Oak Fabrics, and I have been gleefully stalking her gorgeous Instagram feed ever since.

holding bow and arrows quilt

While I had big plans to make a queen-size quilt to fit my bed, I soon realized that was waaaaay too ambitious for a first project. This is the baby-size Bow and Arrows pattern by Suzy Quilts, which came as a free download when I signed up for the SQ newsletter.

I used fabric from my stash for every piece of this quilt. I initially bought the blue and red florals to make an Alder Shirtdress, but the material was way too sheer (it’s cotton lawn—I should have known better), and I was afraid of looking like a picnic blanket/tablecloth. Luckily, those fabrics worked well for a red, white, and many-shades-of-blue quilt. I am an American, after all.

bow and arrows quilt full

The dark blue denim comes from an old pair of trousers, the medium printed denim is for a soon-to-be Morris Blazer, the grayish striped fabric is a chambray from my stash, and the in-your-face graphic red sateen is leftover from my beloved Cardamome Dress.

bow and arrows quilt red closeup

I knew I was holding on to those scraps for a reason! Now I see a whole new world of possibilities for my random, too-small-to-do-me-any-good remnants.

Batting is the one item I should have bought anew. Veteran quilters: I am a dummy, and you should make fun of me for what I’m about to admit. I had just enough Insul-Bright for the baby-size quilt, and that’s what I used. If you’ve ever used insulated batting, you know that it is very loud and crinkly. And, I’d imagine, a lot stiffer than your average cotton or poly-blend batting. Luckily this is going on the wall, not a bed. No one (but you) will ever know. Shhhhh.

looking bow and arrows quilt

Since this was very much a learning process for me, I figured I’d simply share…

What I Learned Sewing My First Quilt

Quilts take forever. There’s the cutting—so much cutting. Then the block assembly. Laying it out to check the design. The quilt assembly. Just when you think you’re starting to get somewhere, BAM! You realize you’re only one-third of the way done with the quilt top. And then once you finally finish the quilt top (hooray!), the actual quilting (you know, what makes it look like a quilt) is there to laugh in your sweaty face. That said, it was worth it in the end.

Precision is key. When it came time to “square” the quilt, I lost a couple inches of width at the edges, most likely because I didn’t cut perfectly on the grain or measure my fabric carefully enough before cutting. Also, a 1/4″ seam allowance means 1/4″. Some of my arrows are sharper than others because my seam allowance mysteriously grew in certain places…

bow and arrows quilt closeup quilting

I need a thimble. I used Suzy’s tutorial to create and attach the binding. Per her recommendation, I decided to secure it by hand for a clean finish. I like this type of simple hand sewing because it’s so meditative. But after two long hand sewing sessions, my right ring finger was killing me. I’d been pushing the needle through multiple layers of fabric with the sensitive skin next to my nail. Oops! Pure, absentminded masochism.

There are many ways to hang a quilt. The quilt is done, yay! I even found the perfect spot for it. Horizontally above my bed, in case you were wondering. Now, how the hell do I hang it? Suzy suggests sewing a fabric sleeve to the back of the quilt and hanging it on a piece of plywood. Martha Stewart’s guru uses plywood and velcro. Craftsy suggests quilt magnets. Then there’s the self-leveling Hang It Dang It rod. What would you do?

bow and arrows quilt corner

Looking at these photos, I probably should have added a few more lines of vertical quilting stitches on the arrow sections. But you know what, I was tired of quilting and ready to be done. So I stopped, and no one gave me an F. Oh, the beauty of a hobby that’s 100% your own.

It is so very far from perfect, but I am pretty pleased with my first attempt at a quilt. Are you a quilter? Do you have any required reading or tips for a beginner?



alcoholic seltzer

Alcoholic Seltzer: My New Obsession

If you’ve followed this blog for awhile, you might be wondering, “Where have all the cocktails gone?” It’s a valid question, and I have a few answers for you.

1. I started to second guess whether I was “qualified” to write about cocktails. I’m not a bartender! I’ve only taken one cocktail class in my life! I realize that those reservations are stupid. I love cocktails. I buy books about them. I make them at home. I order them at fancy (and shitty) bars. I share them with friends. And I will continue to write about them if I so well please.Read More »

Flint Pants, Meet the Flint Pants!

I could not get the Flintstones theme song out of my head when sewing these pants. I’m sorry if this song gets stuck in your head, too, because we all know earworms spread like the common cold. I could talk earworms all day—good ones (thanks Queen), bad ones (eff you Styx)—but we’re here to talk pants.

Specifically about these high-waisted, wide-leg, cropped Flint Pants by Megan Nielsen Patterns.

megan nielsen flint pants sewing pattern
Flint Pants
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sewing tools and notions

10 Sewing Tools and Notions Under $10

Some of these sewing tools aren’t very sexy. Some are—I’LL SAY IT—downright flimsy. But I love them all. If you’re new to sewing, this is a great starting point for your sewing tool kit. If you’re a seasoned pro, tell me what’s missing! Better yet, tell me which pieces warrant forking over a few extra bucks.

I’ll include links to exact or similar items, but FYI—this post is not sponsored! I simply find myself reaching for the same items again and again, and I figured many of you probably do, too. Sharing is caring. Without further ado:

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maritime shorts closeup back

Maritime Shorts in Canvas

When Rachel from Oak Fabrics asked me to take part in a photo shoot for an upcoming project, I figured “Why the hell not?” I’ve loved her shop for years now. I even took a pillow sewing class there (then called the Needle Shop) when I was a wee sewing noob.

The shop is a beautiful, well-curated oasis in Chicago, which is unfortunately somewhat of an indie sewing store desert. Obviously, I wanted in on whatever Rachel was up to!

maritime shorts grainline studio oak fabrics
Rachel made these to showcase the collaboration| Oak Fabrics

When I found out the project was a collaboration between Oak Fabrics, Grainline Studio, and Leah Duncan, I knew it was kismet. If you haven’t heard yet, Oak Fabrics is offering limited edition kits that pair Leah Duncan fabric with Grainline Studio patterns. Above, I’m wearing the Maritime Shorts with indigo Lines & Shapes canvas. And you wanna know how creative I am? Huh…. huh…. HUH?!

maritime shorts closeup

I made the same shorts from the photoshoot… for myself!

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mccalls m6044

True Blue

Growing up, raccoons were rampant in my suburban hometown. So much so that my dad had to bungee-cord our garbage cans to the fence to keep them from scattering trash all over our yard each night. Those grubby little hands can do a lot of damage! I prefer my rodents in cartoon form, where they’re exponentially cuter and less likely to pillage your garbage.

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