Helping you create a home by hand.

The First Quilt I Ever Made

Over the coming two weeks, to coincide with Spring Quilt Market, Amy over at Amy’s Creative Side is hosting the Bloggers’ Quilt Festival where quilters from around the world can show off their quilts.

I’m going to start out by saying that I would never expect to win any prizes with this quilt; not for construction or quilting or even for style. And to be perfectly honest, that’s the reason I’m sharing it.

Allow me to explain. The quilt pictured below is the first quilt I ever made.

Grandma's and Grandpa's Fiftieth Wedding Anniversary Quilt

Back of the 50th Anniversary Quilt

It was made for my maternal grandparents 50th Wedding Anniversary in January of 1987. I started the quilt early in 1986 so that it could be finished and mailed to arrive in time.

You see, we were posted to Lahr, West Germany from 1984 to 1988. Making this quilt was my way of taking part in the celebrations from afar.

I had never made a quilt before. I had no idea how to go about making one and no one to ask. I can’t even remember now how I came up with the idea for it. I may have seen it in a craft magazine or perhaps a book I got from the base library.

The fabric used was solid color broadcloth because that’s all that was available.

I made paper patterns, pinned them to the appropriate fabric and cut out the pieces for each block.

On the center snowball block, I embroidered my Grandparents’ names. (The base store where I bought the fabric didn’t have any gold broadcloth so I used that bright yellow instead.)

Embroidered blocks on 50th Anniversary Quilt

Surrounding Grandma’s and Grandpa’s block were blocks with their children’s and their spouses names. Next came the grandchildren (and spouses) and great-grandchildren.

Dave's and my block
This is Dave’s and my block.

Each generation’s snowballs had different color centers.

In a way, the quilt is a memory frozen in time.  Since the making of it, both my grandparents and an uncle have passed away.  There have been births, divorces, marriages and remarriages.

Separating the snowball blocks are plain white squares that I hand quilted with a rose.

Hand quilted rose
On some of the blocks, it’s even difficult to tell that is a rose.
Back of the quilted rose
Here’s one of the roses as seen on the back of the quilt.  At the time, I didn’t know that the thread should have passed between the layers of the quilt when I moved from section to section while quilting.

The batting was one of those polyester bats that came in a bag.

I had no idea how to bind it. To be truthful, I didn’t even know what binding was. I simply made a wide border that folded over to the back and was hand stitched in place.

Wide Border slip stitched to the back
Now when I bind a quilt, I use a ladder/invisible stitch to sew the binding to the back of a quilt. But back then, I used a slip stitch.

By now you may be asking yourself why I’m posting to link up to the Bloggers’ Quilt Festival where there will be hundreds of beautifully executed, hand-crafted quilts to check out.

After my grandmother passed away in 2005, my mother mailed me the quilt. When I spoke with Mom on the phone after I received it, I mentioned how sad I was that they hadn’t used it.

Mom asked wherever I’d gotten that idea. I replied because it looked almost new.

She went on to assure me that the quilt had been on Grandma’s and Grandpa’s bed for many years; it had just been very carefully cared for.

I found myself crying… knowing that they had indeed slept under it.  It had been loved!

I decided to share the quilt and the story behind it so that if there is someone out there who is considering making a quilt for a loved one, it may seem overwhelming after looking through all the quilts that will be on display. You may be tempted to throw up your hands and say, “I could never make anything like that.”

And perhaps at this time, you may not have the skills to complete some of the more intricate quilts. You may not even have what you think are the required tools. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t make a quilt that will be loved and treasured by those you are making it for.

There was a huge gap in time between when I made this quilt and when I took up quilting as a hobby in 2008. Back then, there was no such thing as rotary cutters, rulers and cutting mats. All I had was the basic tools… paper, pins, fabric, scissors, thread, needles, a bottom of the line sewing machine and the desire to make something for two very special people in my life.

If you have that desire too… then take whatever skills and tools you have right now and make a quilt for someone you love. They, like my grandparents, will look past any imperfections and cherish it simply because you made it.



I would be so pleased if you chose to share by clicking on one of the buttons below!


  • Afton
    May 27, 2015 11:57 pm

    I think “first quilt” stories are very interesting. Thanks for sharing this special story; it’s good to reflect on the meaning of quilts. It’s great that you are encouraging others to show their love through quilting, regardless of current skill. Recipients really don’t mind whether a quilt is an award winner, they just appreciate the gift of a homemade token of affection.

  • MaryAnne
    May 22, 2015 6:16 pm

    Absolutely wonderful post! Thank you for sharing such a special story, and for showing us your very first quilt. Everyone has to start somewhere and it’s encouraging for those contemplating learning to quilt to know that there’s no expectation to create a showpiece right off the bat.

  • Susan
    May 19, 2015 12:32 am

    It’s beautiful, as are your encouraging words. Thanks for posting it and talking about it.

  • Linda
    May 16, 2015 9:51 am

    your quilt and story are what used to be the norm- making quilts to use and love. Now it seems everyone is obsessed with how much stash they can acquire and how many tops they can make for someone else to finish. Granted many are beautiful but are more art than quilt . To each their own but I prefer the ones made by hand with love.

  • Pat in WNY
    May 16, 2015 6:40 am

    It seems every quilt has a story to tell, and yours is delightful, both the quilt and the story! What a super first quilt, and now every time you wrap up in it, it’s like a big hug back from your grandparents…priceless!

  • Janet
    May 16, 2015 1:35 am

    What a beautiful story! And a fantastic effort with the quilt.

  • Shami Immanuel
    May 16, 2015 12:21 am

    Nice story and the quilt is really beautiful in solid colors.

  • Claire
    May 15, 2015 10:24 pm

    Always good to be reminded that quilts don’t have to be perfect to be loved and that we all have to start someplace.

  • Pamela
    May 15, 2015 4:52 pm

    Beautiful quilt and story!

  • corina
    May 15, 2015 4:50 pm

    What a lovely story! Thank you for sharing with us 🙂

  • Debra
    May 15, 2015 3:28 pm

    I just love this quilt AND the story!! 🙂

  • Cindy S.
    May 15, 2015 2:46 pm

    I’m sure they treasured it, as will your own children, in time. Family legacy does not live in perfection. It lives in loving thoughts and gestures. There is much love represented in your quilt. I think it is beautiful!

  • Raewyn
    May 15, 2015 2:29 pm

    Beautiful post and such a heartfelt quilt. Did you label it? Maybe you could print this post (condensed maybe?) onto fabric and attach it to the back. It’s lovely that it came back to you.

  • Rachel
    May 15, 2015 12:50 pm

    Well done – a valiant effort, with no advice and no backup, and how lovely to have heard that it was actually used!

  • wendy
    May 15, 2015 1:44 pm

    What a lovely story!

  • Leslie
    May 15, 2015 1:30 pm

    What a sweet story. Who among us doesn’t treasure our first quilt. I have the small baby quilt/sampler that I made for my second son……mostly done by hand with puffy poly batting.

  • Karen
    May 15, 2015 11:22 am

    very nice story – I have a quilt something like this that I gave to one of my brothers a long time ago to use – he still has it almost 30 years later – I didn’t know what I was doing with – it was poorly made – but yet he keeps it

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