rainy days picnic quilt

Flashback Friday: My First Quilt

My friend Jenn at A Quarter Inch from the Edge recently began a Throwback Thursday link-up where she encourages quilt-bloggers to share oldies but goodies–quilts from before their blogging days. Since I usually post my Color Inspiration posts on Thursdays, I have yet to participate. Plus, I think I only made two quilts, one wall hanging, and one table runner before beginning to blog, so you haven’t missed all that much! Since I’ve been sick (unfortunately Lyme tests came back positive, so I’m now on antibiotic treatment for that, hoping that my joint swelling and pain and extreme energy-level fluctuations will taper off and that we caught it early enough to avoid any long term Lyme crazies), I’ve been laying low without much sewing or inspiration to share. Since I missed Thursday anyway, I figure today is as good a day as any to dig through my photo archives for some pictures of the first quilt I ever made: my Rainy Days Picnic Quilt.

Rainy Days Picnic quilt first quilt

At the end of July, 2010, I purchased my first fabric bundle, Rainy Days and Mondays by Melimba and Beccabury for Riley Blake Designs, from FabricFly Shop on Etsy. With 15 fat quarters, and zero knowledge about quilting, I planned on making a quilt the only way I knew how: cut squares and sew them together. In my mind, this fabric was perfectly ironic for a picnic quilt: if there were rain and umbrellas all over our picnic quilt, then it would never rain on our picnics. Perfectly logical, right?

rainy days picnic quiltA picnic quilt was the perfect starting point, since it helped the stress level go WAY down. It was my first time ever making a quilt, but because it was slated to be a picnic quilt, with the knowledge that we would flop it down on the ground and spill food all over it, surely change diapers on it, drip lake water and watermelon juice all over it, smear avocado into it, and all of the other love-filled-things that happen on picnics, I was much less worried about imperfections. And boy, has it seen its share of babies and picnics!

Picnic quilt in use
Clockwise from top left: Picnic quilt in use at a playground, the beach, our front porch, and our back yard.
canoe island picnic
Lunch on an island in the Great Pond Mountain Conservation Trust. We had a family canoeing day trip here in 2014, and of course the picnic quilt came, too!

At around 60″x60″, I remember thinking how HUGE it would be–perfect for picnics! Now that I really quilt, and now that I see the quilt laid out and finished, I realize that a picnic quilt for a family of 5 really should be at least 84″x84″ or even larger. For now, it is wonderful.

I don’t remember exactly when I finished this quilt, but it was definitely well into 2011 or even 2012. I remember quilting it on our kitchen table while my husband took Maddie out for a daddy day. Boy, I thought it was huge!

Overlap binding: double fold bias tape novice methodThis quilt makes me laugh now because of how little quilting knowledge I had at the time. I actually bought double-fold bias tape, folded it over the edge and top-stitched it on. What method did I use to join the ends? Overlap and top stitch! I laugh because if I had even googled “how to bind a quilt” I could have learned how to actually bind a quilt. But honestly, I probably didn’t even know that the edging could be made with actual fabric and that it was called binding. Oh how far I’ve come in the past 3-4 years!

Despite all of these novice bits (or maybe because of them) it’s hands down our most used and loved quilt. (Although Maddie’s Rainbow Jellyroll quilt and my Doe Layers of Charm quilt are quickly becoming contenders with their permanent snuggle status on the couch).

picnic quilt
It should be noted that I broke many of my quilt photography rules in photographing this quilt today. But when I realized I didn’t have any photos that actually showed the entire quilt, I brought my little helpers outside to remedy that. Knowing the shortness of their arms and attention spans, I opted to use the most sturdy and level structure around: their new skyfort playground, in full sun. C’est la vie.

This Rainy Days Picnic quilt is special because it embodies my motto: just try it. I didn’t know how to quilt, so I did what I knew: I bought fabric, cut it into squares, moved it around until I thought it looked good, sewed it together, layered it with batting and backing, sewed straight lines corner to corner to hold the layers together (I used whatever thread was laying around and the same regular sewing machine foot I used to piece it), sewed a “binding” edge on and started using it. Everyone has to begin somewhere!

Do you remember the first quilt you ever made? I’d love to hear about it!

I’m linking up with Throwback Thursday with Jenn at A Quarter Inch from the Edge.

14 thoughts on “Flashback Friday: My First Quilt”

  1. My son -in-law was diagnosed with Lyme disease, took the looonnggg antibiotic regime but is now back to normal. He has to have his liver checked about once a year now.


  2. I loved your story of your first quilt, especially the comments about the binding. I used bias tape for my first bindings, too. And even in 2003 (and for another few years!) I wouldn’t have found good info online to help me learn to do it right. You’re living in a golden age for learning to quilt, for sure! I actually posted about rotary cutters today. They didn’t always exist!

    I am so happy for you that you have a positive diagnosis. I’m sorry to say that, but I know how bad it can be (a close relative’s experience) of not having that good info early. Do your antibiotics as directed and you should get good results. I wish you the best.


  3. I love this quilt – my first quilt is the one I made with scraps before I went off to college. The next quilt I made is still the one I carry in my car at all times: vacations, beach days, picnics – you name it, it’s been there for almost 40 years. Those early creations stay with us ~ full of memories and the things that matter most. Feel better!


  4. My first finished quilt was only two years ago. I made a Queen sized quilt for my sisters wedding present. I lacked your common sense in starting with a low pressure quilt!
    Highlights include – sewing the binding down on the way to the airport (to fly from Melbourne to London with an 8 month old in tow).
    Deciding to make a pieced back and to make my own bias binding (I made so much I still have enough for a couple more quilts).
    Using painters tape to quilt straight lines – sticking it down on the whole quilt before taking a stitch and the taking it all back off when it stuck to itself after being squashed though my tiny old domestic machine.
    There were many more Boo Boos but my sister loved it and her husband thought I’d bought it, not made it, which I took as a high compliment. The quilt is in my IG feed and is a bunting/flag design from a Film in the Fridge block tutorial (IG @Good_Starter)

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane and I have you in my thoughts for a quick recovery, but take it easy on yourself until you do.


  5. I made a queen sized quilt for my dad. It took me probably 4 years to finish. Every square was cut one by one using a cardboard pattern. The backing was… pierced together though not well. I can’t remember if I used bias tape or just didn’t have a binding and sewed it together inside out like you would a pillow case. The batting was cheapo. It was all hand tied. That’s how my mom did it so so did I!
    It was all done in blue and white and even though it’s terrible as far as quits go, my dad really appreciated it and still uses it today, and it means so much to me that he does. Also, I have since introduced my mom to the rotary cutter and pointed her to some tutorial videos and she was amazed!


  6. I love it! I’m jealous of how well those blocks lined up for your first time, that’s something I still struggle with! Lol. And my first quilt was never photographed as far as I know and it’s likely I will never see it again. It was given to a relative of my husband and was made out of her late-brother’s shirts. I was finished quilting and binding it on Christmas Day, literally minutes before I left for the party where I gave it to her! LOL.


  7. Lovely quilt and a great story to boot! Sometimes I think the foibles of our early quilts are there to make us love them all the more! And no worries about that binding. The bias tape looks a hell of a lot better than the “real” binding I put on my first one. Ugh. Thanks for linking up to Throwback Thursday! Flashblack Friday is the perfect compromise (it worked for Granny Maud’s Girl too!)


  8. Memories of our first quilts and seeing our arc of progression are what have me so excited about Jenn’s link up. My first quilt was a “Quilt in a Day” pattern by Eleanor Burns and it was anything but a day project! So gal my grandmother and mother helped and taught me.


  9. Neat! Great it gets so much use in your family! I have already shared my first quilt, I went with hexagons since I find squares a bit boring, lol.


  10. That binding is hilariously sweet! I remember hand stitching the binding down on my first quilt (I had the benefit of quizzing Grandma Sparkles on the ins and outs of quiltmaking) and those first stitches are awful! They are giant, going every which way, but I decided to leave them in there. Now I can look back and see how far I’ve really come and like you, be proud of that journey!


  11. Ahh Kitty, this is such a sweet post. I love hearing everyone’s stories about their first projects. Love your bias tape binding and all of the sweet pictures of your family using the quilt.
    Hope the antibiotics work and quickly. Take care of yourself.


  12. I hope you’re feeling a little better now. Your story reminded me of so many of my early quilt experiences. I made really tiny minis. I didn’t know how to set the walking foot up, and was really confused about why it was hard to feed the sandwich through. I also used bias tape as binding. I made it myself, but it was pretty much just how I thought edges of everything were finished when you couldn’t hem. I’ll thank my highschool for that one.


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