The holiday season makes me love being at home and being warm and cozy in the evenings. I change all of our bedding over to flannel sheets in November already, and I’m one of those people who has a Christmas bedding set for my bed, because decorating isn’t enough. I have to sleep in Christmas too.
A few weeks ago, while shopping in Hobby Lobby and rolling through the fabrics section, Judah asked me “Mama, can you make me a Christmas blanket like you have on your bed?”. My response was an immediate YES! I had actually planned to make him something, but the fact that he thought of it, made me happy. I’ve sewn him a few bed sets for his ‘big boy bed’ already, but I couldn’t wait to start this one. I wanted to try something new and try to make an actual quilt. He picked out his own material for the front and I helped him match the fabric for the backing and the green holly pillow cases. He chose what he liked best and I have to say, the kid has great taste.
Judah, thank you for picking out something sweet. I love your style.
I’m not a great seamstress and I’m not very crafty, but both my Mum and my Omi were, so I think I inherited a little from them both, thankfully. I still remember my Mum making matching dresses for me and my sister. She would sew for hours at the kitchen table, late into the night, and whenever we needed to try the half-sewn dress on for size to make sure the measurements were working out we would inevitably get stuck with a basting pin. But when it was done, it was beautiful. We were two very well dressed little girls in church on Sunday morning.
My Omi made quilts, and if you were lucky enough to know her, you most likely have a handmade quilt that she gave to you for your wedding, or for your first baby. I remember both her and my great-grandma making these quilts for overseas missions as well. Thousands of blankets were sent to missions, over the course of many years, and many children and families were warm at night because of the love, and time, they both spent making these blankets for people who needed them. I wish I had a tenth of the kindness and generosity that both of these women had. The jewels in both of their crowns are abundant.
Anyway, I learned a little about quilting from watching and helping my Omi, so with incredibly basic skills learned from her and my Mum, I set out to make my very first quilt. I’m sharing this with you to encourage you to try yourself. I really have very basic, beginner skills, but you can really make something lovely and homemade on your own. I know if I stopped and didn’t try most things I do nowadays, I would never accomplish anything. I often fail horribly when I try things I’ve never done, but I try not to let it get to me. I have learned to laugh and learn from it. Hence this blog about quilting. Trust me now, this is not a ‘how-to’ on how to quilt. It’s more of a ‘how-I-didn’t-totally-screw-it-up’.
Go out there and try. You might really surprise yourself at what you can do. You may discover a passion for something you didn’t even realize!
I decided to sew together the backing of the quilt first. Because it’s the easiest part. I like to start with confidence. AKA – a straight line.
Then I pretty much just cut my 4 top panels, placed them on the floor and measured and cut the batting to match each piece.
I’ll stop right now and answer your question. No, I didn’t have a plan or a pattern. I totally winged it. Not the best plan really, but it happened. And it’s going to become painfully obvious soon.
I decided to sew 2 panels together, then start the stitching of the batting to the front panels to hold them together and frame the panel pictures. It went great for the first one.
Then when I started the same process for the second piece that was already attached, I realized that I had to stuff the entire first panel through the machine as I rotated it, and it was incredibly awkward, puffy and not so well thought out. I should have done each panel separate. You can imagine all of the rolling of my eyes at my thought process.
But somehow I managed to stuff the massiveness of the quilt through my machine for all 4 panels, get the batting attached and sew all 4 pieces together.
I have to say, it took me much longer than I thought to sew around the horses and try to keep consistent with my framing out of the picture. Being my first time, I was incredibly slow. (This is also about the time I actually cried. No joke. Years ago, when I had a question about a recipe that my Omi made, I would call her and just ask. I would have done the same with this quilt. I sometimes still go for the phone to give her a call and then remember I can’t just ask anymore. That moment of sadness never goes away).
Then I did what my Omi used to do and I laid it all out on the ground and got to work using yarn to pull thread through the entire quilt in various spots. This is somewhat decorative in it’s purpose, but it also ensures that your batting inside the quilt cover will not move or bunch inside. Yes, I sewed the batting to the front panels, but the back was not sewn into that, so I thought better safe than sorry. And Omi would have done it. So I should too.
I liked the way securing it with the yarn looks. It’s old fashioned, and matched the style of fabric well I think.
In the end, I came out with a quilt that looks way nicer than I ever thought it would. Sewing is quite easy for me, and I’ve done quite a bit in the past couple of years, but this was new territory for me. Thankfully, my lack of planning didn’t mess things up too badly. Judah was completely in love with his Christmas horse blanket for his big boy bed, and is proudly sleeping underneath it every night. He keeps hoping it will bring him dreams of Christmas horses running in the snow.
Oh, sweet little boy of mine, that’s exactly why Mama made it for you. I like to think that one day he might be a little nostalgic for his childhood, and keep little things like this to remind him of his ‘good ol’ days’, just like his Mama and Dada both have.
Always hold on to those special homemade gifts that loved ones have made for you. It’s nice to know that with every stitch, cut and fold of that fabric, that person had you in their mind the whole time. And go and try to make something homemade this year for someone you love. I can guarantee the joy it will bring, will go further than anything you could buy. My quilt sure was not very fancy, but I tried, and it turned out quite well, and my little boy, well, he just beamed with excitement and pride. So was it worth it? Oh my, yes it was.
Oh, and if you have any tips for easy methods of doing the stitching around pictures on panels when quilting, please let me know. Any ideas for how to make it easier next time would be lovely. Please and thanks!
– The Homesteaders Wife