The colors were what she had requested during her baby shower, so I let that guide my selection, and I have to say, I like her taste! The turquoise and lime green are sweet and happy, but not too girly-girl. And I love the design of the quilt--modern, and it really makes the bright colors pop. (Directions for this pattern can be found here.)
In retrospect, this was probably not the ideal first quilt. I looked at it and thought "Oh, it's all straight lines and squares! How hard can that be?" Hard, it turns out. Sewing together the center four patches went smoothly, but joining together the framing strips of squares turned out to be a bit more difficult-- they stretched out, and with so many seams, there were plenty of opportunities for inaccuracies to mount. I ended up having to do a fair amount of easing in order to line them up, and I did have some puckers, but I decided I didn't care that much, and neither would the baby. :) Now that I've tackled this once, it's a pattern I would probably use again, but maybe I'll wait until I try a few other quilts first!
I used turquoise flannel on the back. This was largely a nostalgic choice, as my aunt made a quilt for me when I was born that was backed with pink flannel, and I loved sleeping with my "fuzzy" quilt as a child. The downside, of course, is that a plain back showed my not-yet-impressive quilting skills in all of their, uh, glory:
I went the simple route with the quilting, being too nervous to try something else and on a bit of a time crunch. This would have looked pretty with all-over quilting, or even just straight lines over it, but I went with stitch in the ditch (which was a little harder than I thought it would be!) I'll try something else on my next baby quilt. I think quilting is the most intimidating part of this whole process to me, but I'm sure I will get better at it.
--Easy to figure out spacing since I was following the existing pattern of the blocks.
--So much turning of the quilt! Yikes.
--Straight lines can be harder than they look.
I thought laying out the quilt was a lot of fun. The most appealing aspects of quilting to me are the fabrics and colors, so I loved getting that first glimpse of what it would look like when it was finished. My cat loves this part too--you can see a threatening paw in the top right corner of this photo.
Adding in the sashing strips was fun too. I didn't have a lot of trouble lining up the sashing and posts with the blocks (a testament to my mother's assistance in squaring up the blocks, which were pretty off after all of the stretching and easing I did!)
My binding choice was unremarkable, but I think it looks nice. It was just one of the medium-range turquoises I used in the quilt. In the future, I think I'll play around more with prints and stripes in the bindings, but it seemed scary on this one! I accidentally used a machine binding tutorial, but sewed it by hand-- this meant that I sewed with the machine on the back first, and then did hand tacking on the front! Oops. Fortunately, my hand stitching is pretty neat, and it looked fine at the end. It took me a long time to sew on, and I watched almost half of the first season of Deadwood while sewing it on! Wild West whorehouses, gambling, violence, and a neatly hand-stitched quilt binding. What a hobby. :)
Since I'm new to this, it seems right to list some of the big lessons I learned with this quilt.
1. Just because there are only straight lines doesn't mean that a quilt is "easy." Lots of seams can really complicate things! One should be prepared to be very, very accurate and to know that there will probably be some difficulty getting things to "fit" due to stretch and inaccuracy.
2. Stitch-in-the-ditch has its appeal, but it's not necessarily the easiest method of quilting--or the fastest.
3. No matter how things look when it's going together, it will probably look ok when it's done. I looked at some of my blocks when I was making them and wanted to cry because they looked so off-kilter or had so many puckers. At the end of the project, the overall effect was still a good one, in spite of the inaccuracies and mistakes.
4. When hand-stitching a binding, machine-stitch to the front first, not the back.
5. Most importantly--perfection isn't required! I can be a perfectionist in some parts of my life, but early in this project I was able to abandon that expectation. I decided that this was my first quilt and that I was just going to forge ahead and see what happened, since it was pretty unrealistic to expect perfection at this point. And you know what? I loved how it looked. There are some strips that are different sizes than others. There are a LOT of puckers on the front. My stitch-in-the-ditch veered out of the ditch routinely. This sucker isn't winning any quilt shows. But the overall effect is great, the colors are lovely, and--most importantly--my best friend loved that I had taken the time to make a gift like this for her baby.