Wednesday, December 30, 2015

My Very First Quilt

I'm back!

I hope you all had a fantastic holiday season. Mine was filled with craft fair sewing, travel, get-togethers, family, cooking, playing and some much needed rest.

Very little selfish sewing has happened which explains my absence from the blog world, but I'm ready to jump back in .

While hanging with quilty friends over the holidays the topic of our first quilts came up some how and I described how horrible my first quilt was.  I went right home and dug it up and yep, it was put together as badly as I remembered it.  But, before I share it with you let me set the stage...

It is 1991, and I am a freshman at the University of Florida.  I have a stack of high school t-shirts that I don't want to wear anymore but definitely do not want to get rid of.  I had seen an ad in the back of a Seventeen magazine for a company that would turn your old shirts into a quilt and LOVED the idea.  I of course had no money being 18 and a college student.  So, I decided to make it myself.

 I went to a local sewing and vacuum shop and bought an old, green,  abandoned machine for $40, the cost of its repairs. Then bought some royal blue broadcloth fabric to sash the blocks I planned to cut from the shirts, and of course a bag of polyester batting.

Now, I had NO sewing experience AT ALL!  Remember this is before the internet.  There is no google, pinterest, instagram, no blogs or online tutorials.  It never donned on me to check out a book from the library or take a class, I just drew a plan and got to work.

Here it is in all of its glory.

It is exactly what I thought a quilt was, squares separated by sashing and hand quilted in the ditch.

It was all measured with a measuring tape, marked with pencil, and cut at my table with scissors.  I had no idea that a rotary cutter or big acrylic rulers existed.

After I finished the top, I cut a backing the same exact size (it wasn't, I ended up short and had to stitch in an extra inch on one side :)).  I sewed it up on 3 sides right sides together, like a pillowcase, and then turned it right sides out. And are you ready for this, I then cut the batting to the same size and fed it into my "pillowcase" trying to get the batting all the way to the corners.  LOL!!

As a result the corners are not quite filled in.  Check out this corner.  Some sad empty fabric right there.

To close it up, I whipstitched the ENTIRE top.  I must have used an entire spool of thread.  Clearly I did not yet know how to make an invisible stitch.

The only quilting I had seen was hand quilting in the ditch, so that is exactly what I did.

I did this laid out on the living room floor of our apartment with no hoop.  And you can see from the back that there are all kinds of puckers and giant knots.  I had no idea that you could bury a knot.

Big-stitch quilting before it was cool  Ha!  I was such a trend setter.

And clearly my choice of fabric left much to be desired.  I mean you can see straight through that fabric and polyester.

And it looks like I must have run short on that blue fabric and had to return for some more because it looks like I bought 2 different shades.

With all of its obvious flaws, I loved this quilt and was so very proud of it.  I used it all through college.  AND, I was hooked on quilting.  I didn't start another quilt until my junior year, but when I did, I checked out books from the library and read all I could.  Then I took a couple of classes. As I was introduced to new tools and techniques, this quilt got tucked away because suddenly all I could see anymore were its flaws.  But, now I can see past all of the glaring flaws, and again love this quilt that started me on my quilting journey.

I shared it with my kids and reminded them that, "The expert in anything was once a beginner".

Speaking of beginners, I am still a beginning blogger.  I wish I knew how to add the linky ability at the end of this blog.  I would love to hear your stories and see all of your first quilts too!!

Join me on Instagram @tracysbitsnpieces and use the #thefirstquiltievermade to share your first quilt!

Thanks for stopping by!



  1. Oh Tracy, that is a wonderful first quilt story. You learned so much but even better you learned you love to quilt. I've been blogging for quite a while but I have no idea about doing linky parties. Perhaps you should snoop around the next time you join one. I bet there is info from the sign up page that might tell you what to do. Good luck.

  2. A delightful trip to your first quilting experience. I started in the 70s before the rotary cutter was invented (I think). So drew pieces with templates and cut with scissors and sewed by hand. I was delighted to be introduced to strip piecing on the machine and began making log cabin quilts. I don't have photos of those first ones, but I know the corners did not meet. Visiting from NTT. claire aka

  3. Thank you for the trip down memory lane! Didn't we all start somewhere just like that? Maybe making a few of our own similar or even unique choices that make our first quilts truly one-of-a-kind? I think this is a terrific first quilt, and I'm so glad you hung onto it so you could tell this story!

  4. What a lovely first quilt story! And I wonder if you'd still have those t-shirts if you hadn't made them into a quilt?

  5. What a great first quilt and your story to back it up!

  6. What wonderful story of your first quilt! The t-shirt squares look nice and square and I am sure the t-shirts are bringing back good memories.

    I found this video on you tube about linking posts, I hope this helps

    1. Thanks Heide! I really need to figure that out!

  7. This was a delight to read from beginning to end. I love how you persisted in making what must have been a very challenging project. I think it looks great, and I'm glad you still have this important part of your quilting journey.

  8. Great story. The important thing is that you formulated a plan and finished it ! You have to admire your tenacity.

  9. I just love that Whipstitiching to close it up. Glad I got to see it in person in all of its glory. It was great getting together and everyone showing their first quilt. What great stories.

  10. I just love that Whipstitiching to close it up. Glad I got to see it in person in all of its glory. It was great getting together and everyone showing their first quilt. What great stories.