a few months ago, i started and finished my very first quilt. it was a present for my best friend's second baby, so i didn't want to ruin the surprise by posting it on the internet before giving it to her. i wanted an easy pattern for my first quilt, and baby-sized seemed appropriate too. i love geometric shapes and found an amish shadows design in a book. it looked pretty easy to make without the pattern in hand, so i drafted up my own pattern. i used 10" squares with 3 colors evenly spaced diagonally on half of the square, and muslin on the other half.
at the time, we didn't know if it was a boy or girl so i went with some minty green colors, which now actually look more blue. it was a girl - oops. i actually wanted to do red, pink, orange and yellow with beige but the fabric store in savannah was really lacking colors (they kept pushing me to buy these horrible "marbled" fabrics to hide the mistakes that they thought would automatically happen on my first quilt...I told them I'd rather not make the quilt at all).
in the end, I think it turned out pretty well! I definitely learned a lot and my quilting stitches dramatically improved from the start to finish of this one. the quilted hearts are a bit cutesy, but it is for a baby so I thought it was appropriate.
to make the quilt, i bought 2 books, and asked a few questions to my boyfriend's mom, who is a wonderful and very experienced quilter herself. the books, especially the Complete Guide To Quilting by Better Homes and Gardens was AMAZING.
it explains every step, in detail with reasons why on everything, with pictures and text. EVERYTHING related to quilting is covered - picking out materials, fabrics, thread, techniques on cutting, piecing, how to use the rotary cutter and ruler to make perfect strips, templates, appliques, machine piecing, hand piecing, machine and hand quilting, needles, batting choices, basting, binding techniques, etc. it's pretty much the bible of quilting, in my opinion. it even explained the difference between ironing and pressing - who knew??
the other book (It's OK if you sit on my quilt, book), I admit, I bought almost because of it's title...and it's cover. and it was $2.50. it also had great reviews. it's not nearly as comprehensive as the other book, but it is an EXCELLENT supplement. it covers in detail a 'new' approach to piecing together your squares. it takes a more holistic approach and it explains how you can save sooo much time by chunking your piecing rather than stitching together individual shapes. some of this technique is covered in the Complete Guide, but Mary Ellen goes into more detail. she also covers how to visually think about a quilt to come up with some pretty interesting designs. AND she includes hundreds and hundreds of square patterns for you to mix and match into your own quilt design, which is worth the $2.50 alone. together, the complete guide covers all of the basics and serves as an excellent reference book. and once you read through that, mary ellen's book is an excellent way of rethinking quilt designs by focusing on the piecing part of the process.
right now i'm working out the designs for another quilt...more to come on that soon...