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Friday, August 31, 2012

The first quilt that I ever started is no longer a UFO!

Hectic Eclectic Quilt

This is the quilt that started all of the madness back in February 2008. This is the reason that I now have three large plastic tubs of different fabrics stashed away for a rainy day. This is the first quilt that I started and the one that I have most recently completed, making it my sixth completed quilt. (Although I now have at least another ten quilt tops in various states waiting their turn). The pattern for this quilt is from the Australian Better Homes and Gardens Magazine February 2008, pages 22, 162-163. The quilt is called Hectic Eclectic.


 I actually purchased the magazine for gardening tips, as at the time I was trying to design and landscape the yard of my first home. I fell in love with this quilt and thought to myself... ‘Well I could do that, lots of women have done it before, all the instructions are here…why not?’ The next day I went out and purchased a sewing machine from Kmart and some fat quarters from the quilting supply store.

I didn’t expect that cutting up all of the fabrics would take so long, so I got a bit discouraged and distracted by other quilts and projects that I’ve already posted about (such as my son’s quilt, which I wanted to finish and which at the time took priority). I also began to detest the cutting up process and berated myself for choosing a quilt with some many different pieces for my first attempt at quilting.
Since it stated in the pattern that this was a scrap quilt I wanted to stick to that ideal as much as possible. Only problem was it was my first quilt, and previously I wasn’t into sewing and hence not a ‘hoarder’ of fabric. So I had no scraps. Well not in the beginning…
I asked around and before I knew it my mum, nanna, aunt and a friend who worked in a dress making store had all given me a little something to get me started and help me stick to the scrap quilting process.

 There are batiks, cotton and even some blended fabrics in this quilt. Some of the fabrics are probably over twenty years old, so good luck to anyone that ever has to ‘date’ this quilt sometime in the future.

There is a pixie style print is actually from clothing that my mum made for me when I was a baby. There’s also a patch of fabric from a dress which she made for me when I was a child. There are fabrics that I have used for other quilts such as my French Braid quilt, and also some fabric that my mum used to make me my first quilt which was a sea themed quilt. There is even fabric that was left over from my mum making a wall hanging heart shaped quilt.  So for me this has become a very special quilt, not just because it is the first one that I have completed and finished entirely on my own (I even quilted this one myself on the machine). But also as it now holds fabric memories from my childhood.

The backing of the quilt is a navy homespun fabric. The backing I’ve sewn from two rolls of fabric to make it the size that I required.  I’ve quilted this quilt with two different shades of variegated thread. The top thread is a yellow, green and blue and the bottom thread is a variegated thread of three different shades of blue. Both were $15.00 for 100mts from a quilting shop, and I still have about half left of both; so I can use them for quilting another quilt later on.

 For the binding I’ve used purple homespun fabric (purely as I already had plenty of it and decided that I needed a ‘block’ colour for the binding). I am very impressed with the effect it has against the cream borders on the top and bottom of the quilt, I think that it really makes it ‘pop’. The batting was purchased from Lindcraft and is bamboo.

 The quilt is constructed of 104 blocks.  I’ve made it to be 188x198cms and 13x8 blocks. The original pattern called for 13x7 or a total of 91 blocks and would have made a quilt 138x184cms. I originally planned to have this quilt on my queen sized bed (though it’s more the size of a double bed quilt).

The blocks are meant to measure 5x8in. But this was my first quilt and I know that it isn’t perfect (though I’ve been assured that it looks great). The dividing white strips measure 9.5x 1.5in and 6x1.5in. All in all there are 514 (1.5x1.5 inch) post squares in this quilt. Some of the post squares are left over from my first French Braid quilt and would have otherwise been used as the scrap bit of fabric used when started to sew to keep the ‘tails’ of sewing off of the work.

I found it very relaxing to get out my cutting mat, rotary cutter, ruler and some fabric and sit in front of the TV after a day at work and cut up some fabrics while watching some mind numbing show. It is like I was trying to justify to myself that I was still doing something productive with my time, even when I wasn’t doing too much. So I guess, as much as I started out impatient to start sewing (or piecing, as I now know it’s called) I am now able to trick myself into enjoying the cutting process.
I started to piece this quilt before I had finished cutting out all of the pieces of fabric, as I was itching to start sewing and watch the blocks form.

I’ve attempted to quilt in the classic ‘stippling’ style. I found quilting this quilt very enjoyable, though it took hours and after wrestling with so much fabric under the machine my shoulders and back ached.  I’ve read somewhere that it feels like wrestling an angry octopus, and I can say that I believe that analogy is spot on.  I would be hesitant to quilt a bigger quilt by myself without a long arm quilting machine.

 This would be the perfect quilt to make if you have been quilting for some time and have various sizes of fabric scraps to use up. In hindsight I’ve really started this whole quilting caper a bit back to front!
It’s strange to think that this is my first quilt, but only the sixth that I have completed. I have so much fabric left over from other quilts that I’ve started to cut up and piece a second Hectic Eclectic quilt, this time the same size as the original pattern which will make it perfect for a single bed. Hopefully the next Hectic Eclectic quilt doesn’t take me five years to complete.  I already have too many projects that I’ve started that I need to complete!

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