Though the title of this post makes it sound like I am about 5 years old, I began this quilt a few decades later.

It was fall of 2012 and both my daughters were about to go away to college (one for the second time), and I thought it might be nice to make them each a quilt to take with them. So, after living in Napa for nearly 20 years, I finally wandered into the local quilt shop to see about taking a class.

rows upon rows

rows upon rows

After seizing upon this brilliant idea, Howard was assigned to a job in Los Angeles, about 500 miles away, so I decided I’d make a  quilt for him first.

The only classes available at the LQS at the time were for a Bargello quilt (a little past my skill level) and one called Girl Power ~ basically 12″ squares of a single fabric surrounded by lots of different sashing. I figured I could make it masculine by using Parson Gray’s debut line of fabrics in blues, greens and grays.

Unfortunately, the shop only had a few of the fabrics in gray/beige/taupe colorways. I went ahead and bought them even though I was less than enamored, and took the class.


basting with pins and spray

I’ve been sewing since I was 11, so the hardest part of the process, really, was getting used to a 1/4″ seam allowance. The instructor was great at teaching all the basic quilting skills, so I learned a lot, though I didn’t finish very much during the class.

The trouble was that I disliked the pattern – it really called for a feature print – and the fabrics themselves. I really, really wanted to put it aside and begin a new quilt, but I made myself finish this one first. Mostly because I knew I’d never pick it back up again if I didn’t.

I have no words

I have no words

When I finished the quilt top and showed it to Howard, his response was, “Oh, that will be so … warm.” Faint praise indeed.

I made a pieced backing, quilted the whole thing on my Bernina using straight line and wavy line stitching , and made my first binding.


back view

During the time that I procrastinated and cursed this quilt, both girls left for college, Howard went from Los Angeles to a job in Eureka, and I grew another year older.

Howard currently calls this “my useful quilt” and someday, I hope to make him one that he calls beautiful.


√  To sew a 1/4″ seam;

√  To sew point to point in order to match seams properly;

√  Not to use a fabric or a pattern I don’t absolutely love – or at least like;

√  That I don’t like large outside borders;

√  Not to use spray baste in the house (despite multiple moppings, our dining room floor was a sticky mess for weeks);

√  The dining room table is a much better place to quilt than the sewing table;

√  Even a small throw quilt weighs 2 tons when you’re resting it on your shoulder like a floppy cotton bazooka and trying to wrestle it through the small throat of a home sewing machine.

Till next time,



6 thoughts on “The Learning Curve: My First Quilt Finish

  1. I actually love it. Totally not my color set, but it looks like a beautiful ethnic rug. Maybe you can reframe your idea of what you wanted and learn to love it, too.

    As to the spray basting, yes. If you use it in the house, put an old sheet down under your work. Any overspray (as long as you’re not spraying too much — go lightly!) will end up on the sheet, and then it can be washed out.

    • Thanks for the tip! I will try that next time I decide to do my own quilting.
      I exaggerate my dislike of this quilt — it is the first thing my husband reaches for when he’s watching TV, so I think he’s secretly pretty fond of it.

  2. Even if you’re not in love with the quilt, you managed to finish it, which I find quite impressive! I’m sure your next quilt will be much more fun when you pick fabrics that you do love.

  3. I absolutely love this quilt! The mix of patterns caught my eye as I scrolled down a sample of blogs with the tag “creating”. The muted colors let the prints take center stage and to my eye this is a happy combination. The choice of patterns together with your stitching creates a natural texture that is very pleasing. But most of all I love your story of how determination won out over boredom to complete this project! Not many of us could manage this outcome. Cheers!!

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