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Jul 1, 2011

First Quilts on the First: Lee of Freshly Pieced

Jul 1, 2011
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The next installment of the First Quilts on the First guest blogger series on GXQ is here for us today!  Please welcome Lee of Freshly Pieced.  She is a friend of mine with the most wonderful eye for coordinating fabrics.  Her quilts are simply fabulous.  Lee has a great First to share with us today.  I think all our Firsts are a little "scary"!



Thank you, AnneMarie, for featuring my very first quilt! Around my house, we like to call this one the "Scary Monkey Quilt." And it lives up to its name. It's scary on multiple levels. : )

I made this quilt for my oldest daughter, who was then about 14 months old. I started it just a few weeks after getting my first (and only) basic sewing lesson. Not surprisingly, my earliest sewing talent turned out to be buying fabric, and one day while I was ogling the goods at Fat Quarter Shop, I came across a quilt kit for this sock monkey quilt. "Beginner friendly," it said. "Top can be made in one day." The kit provided everything I needed, including pre-cut charm squares. I thought, "How hard could it be? I'm gonna try it!"

My first problem occurred before I even turned on my machine: I pre-washed the fabric. Allof the fabric. Including the charm squares. To any newbies out there: Don't do this! Needless to say, charm squares don't launder so well. When I pulled the frayed, tangled mess out of my dryer, it didn't take long to figure out that I had to go order another batch of charm squares.

Next problem: I ignored the pattern instructions about pressing seams. Why? I don't know. Didn't realize it really mattered, I guess. Maybe I thought the pattern author was just OCD or something? I have no clue why I didn't think this part of the instructions applied to me, but wow, those seams were a mess. All over the place. And of course I didn't realize how much of a difference they made to the accuracy of my piecing or how the quilting turned out. I just forged ahead, blissfully ignorant of how much harder I had made things for myself.

Not surprisingly, I had never appliqued anything before either. So, all things considered, I think the big monkey in the center of the quilt turned out surprisingly cute. I had no clue how to stitch around the edges of the monkey, so I bought embroidery floss and basically embroidered around the edges. Strange, yes, but I actually think it sort of works with the sock monkey look. Not that it was an intentional design choice or anything. : )

And then came the quilting. I honestly don't remember how I basted this thing, but I'm completely amazed it's not a wrinkled, puckered up mess. Beginner's luck, I guess. Of course, I had no idea how to bury my knots, so I just backstitched when starting and stopping, leaving these little messes all over the back of the quilt. Even the monkeys seem alarmed to be a party to this!

Binding was by far the worst part of the process for me on that first quilt. Check out my "mitered corners." LOL.

And here's where I connected the two ends of the binding. I'm not entirely sure what I process I used here, but I know I don't recommend it. : )

Despite its problems, this quilt lived in my daughter's room for about a year. But when she got a little older, she suddenly started putting it away in her closet. I would find it in there and get it out, and she would put it right back in again, every time. Finally, I asked her about it. "There's a scary monkey on there," she told me, in all seriousness. She even pointed him out to me (see above). And I have to admit, as cute as I think this quilt is, she has a point. This guy is a little scary. Even the monkeys around him look nervous. Is it just me, or is the way he has his arm around that other guy a little menacing? He's like the Tony Soprano of the sock monkey world.

But overall, I'm very pleased with how this quilt turned out (considering my general cluelessness at the time), and I'm actually quite proud of it. I just kind of muddled along, learning as I went, and what do you know, I made something that looks decent and didn't fall apart. Victory! So there's no question this quilt holds a special place in my heart, even if the scary monkey keeps my daughter from loving it the way I had hoped she would. Everybody has to start somewhere. This quilt is my starting point, and I love it if for no other reason than that.

And it's definitely fun to compare it to my newer work. My most recent completed quilt is my Supernova quilt, which I hosted as a quilt-along this spring. I now love piecing, choosing fabric, picking colors, and designing my own quilts. It's a world of difference from the Scary Monkey days!

Thanks, AnneMarie, for giving the Scary Monkey quilt its day in the sun at long last! And please come visit me at my blog, Freshly Pieced, to see more of my projects.
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15 comments:

  1. LOL, Lee, you crack me up! Your narration on this is too funny. It's a cute little quilt! And for what it's worth, i still don't know how to bury my knots. I pick my quilting designs specifically so they go off the edge of the quilt and I don't have to knot.

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  2. What a great first quilt! Loved your story. And yes, that monkey is scary!

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  3. Love the story of your first quilt. I am waiting to hear things like that come out of my munchkin's mouth someday. Your latest work is stunning :)

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  4. Oh my goodness, what a great first quilt story! I love the part about the scary monkey... he does look rather menacing, especially since the monkey next to him has x'ed out eyes!

    Kudos to you for keeping this quilt, even though you made some newbie mistakes on it. It has some great memories attached to it!

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  5. Scary monkey - too funny!! He does look a little bit scary! Isn't it fun to look back on how different we are as quilters from our first quilt?

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  6. Your storytelling makes me laugh! I made a T-shirt/Monkey quilt for my DD. I'm going to have to go look for that scary monkey - but don't tell her!!

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  7. Good quilt story, & I love how far Lee's come - I love what she does!

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  8. This story had me giggling all the way through!! Tony Soprano monkey, that's classic!.. I loved that you thought the pattern maker was ocd and didn't iron your seams. Oh it's all funny!! But it's a very cute quilt! What a great idea to showcase First Quilts!!

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  9. Ha scary monkey. I enjoyed this post; thanks, Lee!!

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  10. What a cute story....I LOL'd at the scary monkey part!

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  11. Love it. The appliqued monkey did turn out great. What pattern has applique listed as beginner?

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  12. What a great story - thanks for inviting Lee to share it.

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  13. Hi,
    I'm your newest follower. I really enjoyed Lee's story about the scary monkey quilt. It had me smiling while drinking just the first cup of coffee, and that's sayin' something'!! Please come visit me at my new blog, Ric Rac and Polka Dots. I'm brand new but have lots of fun things planned to share with everyone. I hope to see you and your friends there!
    Julie

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  14. I love this story, and I'm quietly gratified that my first quilt turned out less problematic than yours. Feel free to jump over to my blog to have a look http://handmadebyclairebear.com/2011/06/09/the-first-quilt-i-made/

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