The Learning Process…

I’m a self taught quilter.  Many years ago, as a young newly wed who was trying to decorate on a budget, I kept seeing quilts in magazines and loved how homey and comfortable they made a room look.   I wanted one..or maybe two?  When I finally ran across a couple for sale I was floored at the prices.  I realized if I was going to have a quilt I’d have to make it myself.

I didn’t know anyone that quilted, there were no quilt shops, but there was a library!  It had a couple of books, which I brought home and started reading.  This was waaay before the internet.  It was over 30 years ago!  The knowledge I got from those books and the pics in the magazines was sketchy.  There were a lot of blanks.  I saw what I now know as Trapunto.  I loved the look and wanted to try it.  This wasn’t my first quilt, but it was early in my quilting.

I decided on a wall quilt, which I thought could be draped on a dining table as a decorating option if not hung?

I thought if I quilted a nice feathered vine border and then densely quilted the background area I’d get that look.

Umm..well, sort of?  I didn’t realize I was supposed to stuff the feather and vine bits!  LOL




I quilted it ridiculously close. I quilted the bejeebers out of it.  The rest of the quilt isn’t quilted as heavily, so it’s kind of a fail?  It isn’t perfectly square.  I could add more quilting, but it’s kind of pointless to spend more time on it

I was disappointed with the  outcome and folded it up and put it in a cupboard.

I thought maybe I’ll try that again later sometime?


I pulled it out recently and was surprised to see that one of the blue fabrics I used had a fugitive dye.  It’s fading, even though it’s never been exposed to light.

The cream colored fabric is just muslin.  It’s what I could find back then in the years when Polyester was king.  The blues were just what was available in my local fabric store.  Not heirloom quilt quality, so no matter that the quilt didn’t turn out the way I wanted.  It was a learning experience, as I like to say when things don’t go as planned….


Skip forward to a couple of years ago.  By this time I’ve read more books, seen more quilts, and magazines, and the wonderful internet is here! I have a better idea of how to do Trapunto.  I gave it another go…

This time I chose to do a whole cloth quilt.  It has a wreath of Oak leaves in the center, with branches of Oak leaves with acorns coming out from it, in a spoke-like fashion.   Very hard to photograph. 

Like the other quilt, this was folded and smushed into a cupboard so it has creases, and was pinned over another quilt for taking pics.  It’s not pretty.



It’s so difficult to get a good pic on this one.

I did better this time.  I stuffed the raised pieces with yarn that I thread through after quilting.

I’d like to tell you I’m very happy with my result this time…but I don’t want to lie to you.

Seriously, why did I use brown?  The finished piece has the appearance of a very fancy moving pad.  You know, the ones that are used to protect your belongings when packed on a moving truck?

I don’t know what I was thinking?

Oh well…it was a learning experience…..  ;










Tags: , , ,


  1. Blue.Ridge.Girl

    I think they are both are wonderful…they tell the story of where you have come from…they give you something to show to young aspiring quilters so they, too, will know that all is not perfect when first starting out. I say “Hooray” for our first attempts because perfection, although nice, can be rather boring with no story to tell.

  2. Oh, I think you are too hard on yourself! In the photo, the blue and white quilt fugitive piece kind of makes a cool quilt even more interesting. Anyone would be happy to claim that as a first quilt! The brown one is great, too, but I love brown. There are lots of white ones out there!

  3. I love the brown one!….the quilting is beautiful and to me its all about the quilting!!. and so great to hear about your journey into quilting,. Im so glad I got started after the internet!!

  4. Your first paragraph sounds exactly like me and why I wanted to learn to quilt in 1987. I feel really lucky that I found a class taught by a purest. She was all about everything being done by hand and everything cotton. I always admire people who can read something then do it, I am a hands on person when it comes to learning. Anyway I think your work is wonderful. And love that you shared your experiences with us. It is very inspiring.

  5. The blue quilt is impressive for one of your first quilts — the quilting is really nice, and I would have never noticed the faded fabric since it looks intentional to me. It’s so interesting to read about your quilting journey.

    I love the brown quilt. The color is so rich and your beautiful quilting adds such nice depth (also love the oak leaves) — there is no way this reminds me of a moving blanket.

    It’s nice to know someone who is even more critical of their own quilts than I am of mine :)

  6. You forgot to mention that you HAND quilted these beauties! Oh my, I do love the brown one,….and the quilting on the white/blue one, well, it’s gorgeous! Stand back and look at them as if they were made by someone else, I’m sure you will see the beauty in both of these pieces.

  7. That is amazing that you decided on such a difficult project for your first quilt! I think they are both beautiful and look how much you learned from them. I am way behind you! If I ever get brave enough I will post about my first applique and first hand quilted item, very scarey!!!

  8. Are you kidding!?! Look at that amazing hand quilting on the blue one! Holy cow! That echo quilting is WONDERFUL! Sheesh! That gorgeous feather simply winds it’s way around all that fabulous stippling! Yay! And the brown one glows! I love that it’s on brown… has a softer elegance than any white one would have. And your quilting on it is beautiful! These should BOTH be OUT and hanging proudly on walls! They are gorgeous!

  9. I hand quilted my first quilt too. Not anywhere near as impressive as yours. I’ve only attempted it once since then for a whole quilt. (Gave up when I got to the borders and machine quilted those.) Congratulations for sticking with it. Both your early quilts are great. I agree with Sharon — pretend they’re not yours — and you’ll be really impressed!

  10. I learned from library books too! How fun to see your first quilts and although you don’t love them now look at how much work and love went into them at the time. They are treasures.

  11. I was self taught, but I grew up in a family of sew-ers and we’d try anything. I love the fact that we are still learning, and I love your blue project ~

  12. Your quilts are wonderful!! The blue one has such visual impact and well the brown one is unique in color and the quilting is beautiful. It’s great that you have your first quilts. I made and gave away all my quilts for the first 18 years of quilting so I can pretend that they were all perfect LOL.


  13. Ann, your hand quilting is so beautiful even when you were a beginner. Both the quits are wonderful and tell a story… I like the design you chose for the whole cloth design. It looks amazing!

  14. Your whole cloth quilt is wonderful and so not a moving pad, although that made me really chuckle.
    I was self taught at first and made funny quilting choices (mistakes).
    Thanks for sharing your learning curve!
    Funny about the fugitive fabric, huh? I thought it would need light, not just air to change.

  15. Ann, I loved your little journey through time! I started my first quilt in 1969, collecting scraps from co-workers, w/ contents ranging from cotton to poly, blends, some heavy wovens. Took me ten years to complete it, I tied it and used a fluffy poly fillter,and then my sons grew up snuggling under it and now it’s in tatters in places. Some fabrics wore better than others, some bled, many faded. Not sure it’s worth repairing. This quilt became my standard (of what not to do!) on future projects. Also self taught, it’s been a long journey, one which has been made easier by the introduction of cutting tools, mats, readily available quality cottons, and of course, information via the internet.

    I really like your blue and white quilt, even if you didn’t do the true trapunto! I also have no objection to your lovely brown quilt, in fact, I think it’s quite a beautiful piece of work :)

  16. I really like both of your projects shown here. You put the blue and white one in the closet after all that work!?! I think it looks lovely. I’ve been wanting to try trapunto myself – I’m hoping the LQS will have a class on it. I like the brown one too – the quilting design is so interesting.

  17. Both are terrific handmade treasures! The moving pad line just cracked me up. Whole cloth quilts are quite a challenge and you should be proud of all your work.

  18. “Very fancy moving pad” Screaming!!!

  19. Your quilting is beautiful , Ann! I can’t belivee how good you were as a “beginner”….I love the brown whole cloth, so rich. (what s on the back?). I reminds me of the very old [ rt terms?] calimanco or linsey-woolsey whole cloth quilts. Thjey were often subdued colors, sometimes with a chintz finish.

    And the blue is interesting too, I love the twirly bits, I guess Storm at Sea? Snail Trail…I enlarged the photo (just click) and the quilting…I m in awe.

    loved seeing your learning curve…you should be so proud!



  20. Beautiful – both of them! I really love your brown whole cloth quilt! it’s really the perfect color for the quilting design. your blog is always a treat!

  21. Anne, I absolutely love the fabric colors and pattern you are doing here or should I say non pattern… I have been wanting to make a cover for my new mixer and you just gave me the perfect type pattern to do…