Sharing the Story of Your First Quilt | New Quilters

Sharing the Story of Your First Quilt

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Every quilter makes a first quilt, and every first quilt has a story behind it.

We’re gathering quilters’ stories of their first quilts to feature here on our blog in the coming months. We’re also planning to include two or three of the best stories we receive in the new expanded version of our book, Quilts for Beginners, which will be published in September 2018.

We’d Love to Hear about Your First Quilt

  • How old (or young) were you when you made it?
  • Were you influenced by a quilting friend or relative?
  • Did you use a pattern, and if so, which one?
  • How did you get help when you ran into questions or problems?
  • Did you feel proud when you finished the quilt, or frustrated by things you thought weren’t perfect?
  • Where did that quilt end up?
  • Did you keep photos?

How to Share Your Story

If you’d like to tell your story,  just fill out this simple online form. We’ll be taking  submissions until December 15, 2017.

My First Quilt

I made my very first quilt when I had recently come back to the United States after spending four years living in Korea and Japan. I had two young children and a husband who traveled all week, every week, for his management consulting job.

I was lonely and sad because I was grieving for my mother, who had just died after a long struggle with ovarian cancer.

I felt a desperate need to bring something creative and fun into my life — something light and easy that would fit into my daily round of housekeeping and taking care of my family. I was a professional writer and had a novel in mid-stream, but writing fiction didn’t mix well with the demands of two toddlers.

What gave me that light and creative feeling? Fabric!

I had made a couple of dresses in seventh-grade home economics and knew that I wasn’t good with three-dimensional objects. Quilts were flat — that sounded a lot easier. The only problem was that I knew nothing at all about quilting.

In typical fashion, I jumped in at the deep end, bought a sewing machine, bid on a big stack of of 4″ purple squares on eBay, and decided to make a twin bed-sized quilt. (What was I thinking?)

Why didn’t I take a class? Honestly, I found the local quilt shops and quilt guilds terrifying. Everyone seemed to know so much more than I did. I was so ignorant about quilting that I didn’t even know what questions to ask or what class I ought to take.

Instead, I bought a few quilting magazines from the local big-box fabric store, where I could shop without having anyone show the slightest interest in what I was up to. From the magazines, I learned that there was something called a quarter-inch seam allowance. That was all the encouragement I needed to start sewing together four-patch quilt blocks.

I learned each step of quiltmaking as I went along, improvising when I came across concepts I couldn’t figure out, like how to create a mitered corner with my binding. I used a separate binding strip for each side of the quilt so I wouldn’t have to make my binding turn a corner.

The photo at the top of this post shows the end result.

I loved making that first quilt. Just looking at it gives me a feeling of pride and accomplishment. Not to mention that I love the interplay of all those purple fabrics.

I originally planned to give it to my daughter, but when she got older her color tastes changed, so it has stayed at my house.

Lessons Learned from My First Quilt

If I were starting to quilt today, I would do a few things differently.

#1, I would start with a small project like a table runner or a pillow. (A bed quilt! What was I thinking?)

#2, I would get help!  There are so many more resources for quilters now than there were when I started. I have learned a lot from books like Quilts for Beginners, from YouTube videos, from sites like, and from quilting friends.

I hope you’ll decide to share the story of your first quilt and the lessons you learned.


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