Earlier in the year for my birthday present my husband paid for a quilting course for me. It was for two and half hours per week for six weeks at Leven Crafts. There were 6 of us starting the course on that Monday morning in March and we couldn’t wait to get going!
We started out being shown how to accurately measure and cut the pieces of material we would need. I am a knitter and crocheter at heart and am used to being able to start again if I make a mistake without having ruined my materials. Cutting was a whole new ball game and I developed a bit of a phobia about it. I was incredibly slow and nervous every time I had to pick up the rotary cutter.
If you are going to be taking up quilting there are three bits of essential kit you will need to invest in. A self-healing mat, a ruler and a rotary cutter. The mat and cutter should be the biggest that you can afford. The first ruler I bought was far too small so I had to keep folding my material making it harder and less accurate to cut. In the end I bought a bigger one but they are very expensive and it is best to get this right first time. The same with the mat, as you don’t want to keep having to move your material up – it may lead to mistakes. The rotary cutter I have requires you to press in a button on the handle to bring the blade out. This is a brilliant safety tool as it means when you place it back down the blade will go back away. They are so sharp you really don’t want to be having any accidents with them.
The first block we constructed was a called a 9 patch as it consisted of 9 small squares. Two of these placed together with two large plain squares and we had our first block! The quilt used four of these blocks with the 9 patch pattern all pointing towards the centre of the quilt. The middle two blocks were windmill style and look really effective.
Once we had all the blocks it was time to put them together to construct the front of the quilt. The best tip I picked up on the course was ‘snuggling’. When pinning ready to sew blocks together it is important to make sure the joins are lined up correctly or it will not look good when you open it back out. Looking at the block above the top two square were sewn together and the bottom two were. When putting them together in a complete block you had to ensure that the corners of the pink squares lined up exactly. You achieve this by pushing the joins together as if they were snuggling up. The edges lining up is not important as you can trim the size of the complete block at the end. The joins MUST be accurate.
All of the blocks were joined together by placing sashing in-between them. I chose a bright pink for mine. It was going to be given to my daughter and the colour would match her bedroom perfectly.
Once we had the wadding and backing materials cut to the correct size it was time to put them together. There are various ways of holding the layers together whilst you quilt. You can pin or baste. Both methods are a little time consuming and will require removal at the end. We used an adhesive spray instead. It was called 505 and you spray it onto the wadding because although it is safe to use with your material it may stain if sprayed on directly.
I found the quilting very hard work on my arms. There was just so much material to try and manoeuvre through the sewing machine.
Once it was all quilted together the final stage and the final week had finally arrived. I seemed to be much slower than the other people on the course and after every session I always left with homework to complete so I could start the next session at the same point as everyone else. We all arrived with our almost finished quilts and it was fabulous to see how far we had all come. And of course despite the fact that we were all following the same basic pattern our quilts were amazingly different.
Ruth showed us how to make a long strip of material the same colour as our sashing and then machine sew it onto the front of the quilts. I must say this was the part of making my quilt that I liked the least. I don’t know why because I had to be just as accurate when I was quilting the layers together. I found mitring the corners a little tricky but I was able to get the binding sewn all the way round on the front just a little late for the end of the final session.
Once again I was sent home with some homework, but so did everyone else. We were to sew an invisible hem by hand all the way around the quilt to attach the binding to the back. It took me a whole afternoon and evening in front of the TV to complete this task but it was worth it in the end.
The quilt looked beautiful.
And as it was going to be for my daughter I decided to add a tag documenting when it was made and who by. Now it can be an heirloom piece!
My next quilt is going to be for my son. He picked out the material himself and it is red with skull themed!
Leven Crafts is based in Guisborough and offer a range of quilting courses. The one I did was the 6 week beginners course. They also offer day workshops and sessions where you can bring your own projects and they are on hand to help you if you need them.