You talkin’ to me?

[Please note this giveaway is closed. See bottom of post for winner's name.]

Yes, I’m talking to you.

I’ve seen your boards on Pinterest and the comments you leave on blogs and on Facebook. You say things like, “I don’t quilt, but if I did…” or, “someday I’ll learn ….” Or maybe you don’t even comment, but you lurk on Etsy or linger over the quilt magazine section of the newsstand, your head full of all the beautiful projects you’ll make when you finally learn how to quilt.

So what are you waiting for?

No, seriously — what are you waiting for?!

More time? Don’t worry, once you get hooked on quilting you’ll feel like you never have enough time anyway, so you might as well get used to that feeling sooner or later.

The right equipment? All you really need to get started is a needle, thread and scissors. It’s called hand piecing the old-fashioned way. To upgrade to more modern tools, you’ll need a rotary cutter, cutting mat,  acrylic ruler and a basic sewing machine. And maybe some straight pins.

More money? Quilting doesn’t need to be expensive. Remember, quilting is associated with thrift and “making do” for a reason. You can start small. Check eBay, craigslist and maybe even Freecycle for sewing machines. Shop fabric sales and thrift stores. Yard sale season is gearing up — hit one or two first thing on a Friday morning. While it’s easy to drop a pretty penny on quilting supplies, it’s also very possible to quilt on a budget.

When I started quilting waaaay back in the mid-1990s, I did so before I got a sewing machine. I guess I wanted to make sure I really liked it before I invested in a large piece of equipment. Our family friend Kathy lent me her copy of Quilts! Quilts!! Quilts!!! by Diana McClun and Laura Nownes, and I slowly worked my way through it. The first block I ever made was one of the first blocks in the book, a fence rail. My seam allowances ended up being closer to 3/8″ and I think I was getting maybe four or five stitches per inch — I don’t recommend a strip-pieced pattern if you’re sewing by hand. But I kept at it until I had nine blocks, which I put into a sampler that I hand quilted and gave to my grandmother about two years after I’d started.

Grams quilt 1 1024x768 You talkin to me?

If the blocks look like they might not all be the same size, it’s because they’re not. I sashed each one individually to make them uniformly square (again, I don’t recommend that approach). And about the sashing — yeah, that was an interesting choice of fabric. What you can’t see is that because I thought quilts were supposed to be poofier than the cotton batting I bought, I used two layers. Hand quilting it was an experience to say the least.

I’d like to add that in the two years I worked on this quilt, I also read lots of quilt magazines. There weren’t as many different titles then as there are now, and the Internet was a brand-new thing to most of us, but quilting had resurged and was about to boom. Even though I was an absolute beginner, the one magazine I subscribed to was Quilters Newsletter. It’s no small thing to me that I work here now.

But anyway, I finished the quilt and gave it to my grandmother. And now I have proof that I’ve made a 54-40 or Fight block.

I share all this to say, your first quilt won’t be the quilt of your dreams. Don’t worry about it. Just start sewing.

If you’ve read this far, I think you deserve a reward.

giveaway 5 You talkin to me?

That’s right, it’s free fabric giveaway time! We really, really want you newbies and novices to take the plunge and start quilting, so we’re giving away some lovely, springtime fabric to help you get going. Well, more than just some fabric: two bundles of eight fat quarters each from Maywood Studio; eight fat quarters and one panel from Mary Fisher’s Earth Dancing collection for Troy Riverwoods; and three 5″ charm square packs of Kona Cotton Solids from Robert Kaufman Fabrics in bright, pastel and white. We’re also including copies of our 2010 Best Weekend Quilts and 2011 Best Fat Quarter Quilts special issues, as well as copies of the two most recent issues of Quilters Newsletter. With this prize package, you’ll have inspiration right at your fingertips.

For a chance to win this free giveaway, leave us a comment before 11:59 p.m. MDT on Sunday, April 15. We especially want to hear from those of you who are new — what have you been waiting for? Why do you want to quilt in the first place? What inspires you? Talk to us, and you may just win this great package. One comment per person, please. Those who’ve won something from Quilters Newsletter in the last 90 days are not eligible. And remember, the best way to learn about our fabulous giveaways is to Like us on Facebook.

UPDATE: We have a winner! The random number generator chose #103, Melanie S. Congrats, Melanie! Thanks to all who entered!

About Mary Kate Karr-Petras

Mary Kate is an associate editor at Quilters Newsletter.
This entry was posted in Mary Kate Karr-Petras and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

278 Responses to You talkin’ to me?

  1. Gwen W says:

    I love quilting because it brings a sense of order to my life. I would use these fabrics to encourage my daughter-in-law to start quilting!

  2. judith larman says:

    i had been sewing clothes since i was about 11-12 years old, but stopped about 16 years ago. my sister introduced me to quilting and i absolutely love it. it is something that makes me stop thinking, and worrying about everything else and allows me to become so immersed in it that all the things that are on my mind disappear. in short, it helps keep me sane.

  3. Dorhonda Baxter says:

    I used to cross stitch. It was something my mom got me into. Then I got hurt on the job & can’t keep my head bent like that anymore. I was tired of being home bound & our local quilt guild was having a show at the fair grounds. I was amazed at all the beautiful pieces of art! Quilting was nothing like I thought it was. Went & bought a book, fabric etc & started my 1st quilt. Learned a lot on that quilt, never did finish it but will always remember it. I think I still have apiece in my closet, lol.

  4. Barbara Spurr says:

    I wish someone had of said these things to me a long time ago. I had wanted to learn to quilt for such a long time….and was always to busy. Just got started about 3 years ago….and have loved every moment of it!! I think of all the years that past that I could have been quilting!!!

  5. Jean says:

    I was a photographer for a newspaper covering all kinds of events – including quilt shows, which inspired me. I already knew how to sew and then I started working in the fabric department at a Wal-Mart, which gave me another boost. I started with simple squares and did my own quilting – I was a little worried about the quilting, but the quilt ended up hanging high on the wall at work, so no one could look close enough to see mistakes. I know I also made some rag quilts – it was at the beginning of their popularity – and that’s what got me started.

  6. Mary K Cook says:

    I took a hand quilting course at the local “Ben Franklin” store. I made a pillow. That was before my daughter (age 28) was born. I sewed clothing and costumes for her until she was out of college, but have now returned to the quilting about 6 years ago. I get side tracked to clothing to this day but incorporate the quilt blocking into her clothing. the latest project was a skirt with over 400 blocks of fabric. It is definitely a rainbow of colors and prints. I love to sew and love to piece fabric together. It may not end up on the bed, but it will be quilted into a bag, skirt, throw or whatever I can dream up.

  7. Tim D says:

    I have been sewing and quilting for a short time. I really enjoy the creativity. My mother is my inspiration, and one of my teachers. It is too bad we live so far apart. I find the greatest barrier to quilting, as a new quilter, is the cost of it all. Once you have the machine and the notions, I find the cost of the fabric is what holds me back. Thankfully, my mother lets me raid her extensive stash when I visit!

  8. Carol H says:

    Quilting got its hands on me in the 1980′s when I started hand quilting a quilt top that was started in the 1850′s. Hey, I just finished it a couple of years ago! I have loved having it on our bed, but sadly, the little flowers are decomposing. So now, I want to make some new ones all my own. I love color and can’t wait to make a new bed quilt. Guess I’ll have to start with some smaller projects first. I’ve been collecting fabric and ideas. I’m ready!!!

  9. Sharon L. Meyer says:

    My best friend got me quilting.started making small graduation quilts for our kids. then i found quilt shops and found batik fabrics. still got lots to learn and i look forward to learning

  10. Carla G says:

    I’ve been sewing garments & bags for a few years, but only just started quilting. I made my first quilt top in March, but haven’t had time to finish it. Other priorities came up. I am inspired by all the bloggers out there making fabulous quilts and all the quilt books that I’ve borrowed from my local library. I have lots of inspiration, just lack the time right now. I’m also a little nervous about quilting my first lap sized quilt on my machine… but I research everything I need to know online and from books as I don’t have anyone to quilt with. Thanks for a chance to win this wonderful giveaway! :)

  11. Bibi says:

    I became interested in quilting just recently after walking into a craft store and noticed that they had a quilting section with lots of quilts hanging up on the walls. They were so beautiful and I thought I wish I could make a quilt at least to say that I had made at least just one in my life time. After walking down the aisles of beautiful fabric and touching it all. I started to become more and more interested. I started looking at quilting magazines at the store, reading up on quilting on the internet, checking books out on quilting from the library, going to the fabric stores and looking at all the fabric and all the quilting notions available. I started talking to the ladies at the fabric stores about how or what I needed to do to start quilting. Then I started taking advantage of the sales. Little by little I started buying my supplies that I thought I would need to start this wonderful adventure I was getting so excited about. I bought my first rotary cutter, mat and rulers then more and more stuff that I just had to have. I then started buying some fabric, a little here and a little there so I had a small stash. I kept reading some more and found some free patterns on line. Then after months of doing lots of research I decided it was time to start my first quilt. I was nervous and thought how am I going to do this. I did not or have not taken any classes but I finally started my first quilt. It took me an entire day just to get all my cutting down and I thought wow this is alot of work but it was fun at the same time. I am enjoying finishing up my first quilt and have decided that this is way better then playing games on facebook LOL

  12. lynda says:

    I have collected some material and found a couple of good books and videos, so now I just need to get off the computer!

  13. LeAnne L says:

    I have been quilting for quite a while but don’t really get much done because work and life interferes with my plans. Then if I do get a quilt done, it seems someone else needs a quilt more than I do and I give it away.

  14. Maureen says:

    I agree that you just have to dive in and try something simple to start with. My first project was a set of 4 placemats in a checkerboard pattern of 2″ squares with a border. The pattern was in a book for beginners and explained each step like making a mini quilt. Sampler quilts are good starters too.

  15. Judy Kooi says:

    I’m not new to quilting, but I am ALWAYS looking for new ideas, fabric and quilt patterns

  16. Jane says:

    My first quilt was done in the lap quilt method and had a beautiful white scolloped border. It was a grandmother’s fan design and took me 5 (!!!) years to hand quilt it. It was very dirty and I washed it in warm water. The beautiful quilt now has permanent brown marks from the marking pen. A lesson well learned!!!

  17. Kim Hanson says:

    Mary-Kate – Although I am not a quilting newbie (and would not expect to be entered into the fabulous draw!) I loved reading your article. You’ve definitely captured the essence of “making one’s first quilt”. Your article took me back to the 70′s!

  18. Annie says:

    Since I started sewing as a little girl, I have always wanted to make a quilt. No one in my family did any sewing except mending, so I was on my own. When I retired 8 years ago, I bought books on beginning quilting and many quilting magazines. My first sewing machine was a Singer Touch & Sew and I still had that machine, but never got along with it….so I bought a 3/4 size Janome Gem. Heck, I didn’t realize that sewing machine wasn’t big enough to make a bed sized quilt….anyway….I taught myself to quilt….and many quilts later and MANY sewing machines later….my life is all about quilting. I read books about women who quilt….I only read magazines about quilting….and I dream about the next quilt I am going to make while I am finishing up the quilt I am making. And yes, you can also add that fabricholic thing too to my repertoire!

  19. Ninna K says:

    I have made patchwork since I was about 10 years old. My first major project was a bed quilt with grandmothersflowers, later a large bed quilt with the trip around the world. These two quilts I sewed by hand, a lots of work and time. In about 15 years my time for patchwork was closed down , but last year I started in a class with patchwork done on the sewing machine and my interresse was soon back, and I love it. There is so many possibilities with a sewing machine.

  20. Kaye Mattson says:

    I have sewn clothing since I was a kid but got into quilting much later. A friend loaned me a stack of Quilter’s Newsletter magazines and that opened my eyes to a whole new realm of the textile world! I love it and there is always something new to learn.

  21. Dolly Foster says:

    A quilter friend took me to a quilt show where she had her grandson’s quilt as an entry. I bought material for appliques and one of the quilters ask “Why did I buy material, not being a quilter.” I decided to take a class and surprise both of them. Now I am addicted to material, especially fat quarters and loving it.

  22. Marilyn Guidry says:

    I started quilting using the panels with quilting lines marked on them. I was proud of what I made. It was many years later when the real call to quilt hit me. I now design my own quilts and still look for new ways to finish quilts. Right now I am working on machine quilting. I was amazed how easy it was to do once those feed dogs are down. I look forward for the next quilting adventure.

  23. Lynn D in NC says:

    I love fondling fabrics and looking at all the colors. I also like the idea of making something original that I won’t see at anyone else’s house.

  24. Danielle says:

    I started quilting to meet people. I was a single mother and needed some me time and there was a guild in my small town so I thought I would give it a try and fell in love with the women and the quilting

  25. Lin Weinbaum says:

    I have been quilting for over 30 years, I started when I was expecting my dauhter. It’s gone from that knotted mess to belong to a guild, teaching a class and running trips to quilt shows. I quess I’ve been bitten by the quilt bug!

  26. Pingback: National Quilting Day Giveaway | Inside Quilters Newsletter

  27. Renata says:

    I use wall hangings in place of paintings. I like being able to make pictures in fabric.

  28. Evelyn Al-Misnad says:

    I am trying hard to finish some UFO’s its much more exciting to try a new quilt but I have to finish some older projects. I haven’t tried many of the designs on the quilt above maybe I need to try.

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