To practice quilting BEFORE I did any on the baby quilt, I made this little table mat from a free pattern at Perkins Drygoods.
I love the way it turned out! It is strip pieced, so it went very quickly, but the scalloped borders make it look unique (and more complicated than it is). I am also in love with the fabric I used, although the pitfall of buying fabric at Alco (which is like Wal-Mart's country cousin) became apparent. The girl who cut it out for me was obviously annoyed to have to come cut the fabric, and she was muttering and jerking the scissors around (I don't think she was upset with me, just frustrated with the fabric, which wasn't on bolts but folded). The cuts of fabric I got weren't straight at all, and varied two to three inches between the low side and the high side. For one of the wide border sides, I had to piece two rectangles together because of the badly-cut material. You can hardly tell, though, because the print is so busy.
I also had to piece the batting together because I was using odds and ends leftover from my Christmas projects. There was a large piece that was big enough except a square was cut out of one corner, so I just cut a square to fill it in and zig-zagged the two pieces together.
I don't think I attached the bias binding in the approved quilter's way of attaching bias binding. I thought about it, but my only instructions were the "Quilting for Dummies" I borrowed from the library, and I couldn't make heads or tails the directions. So I made bias tape and put it on like I usually do, folding it in half across the raw edge and stitching through all layers. The top looks fine, but I had to go back and tack down some places on the back where the stitches didn't catch the back half of the bias tape.
The pattern was very clear and easy to follow, however there was one small error. I emailed the owner of the site/pattern designer, and she told me she'll get it fixed soon as she can, but just in case, be aware. The "outer border" instructions say to "Cut two strips 3.5" x 20.5" Those strips actually need to be about 22.5" long. Just to make sure, cut the first two (16") outer border strips, sew them on, and then measure to see exactly how long the last two outer border strips need to be. For this kind of project, especially if you are a beginner like me, it is probably better to measure all the border strips and do them as you go instead of trying to cut them all out beforehand. That way you don't waste any material cutting to the wrong measurements if your seam allowances are a little too wide or narrow.
I am getting addicted to this quilting thing. It allows me to buy small amounts of fabric, and in patterns that are cool, but that I would never use for a whole garment. Also, to make someone a quilt gift, you don't have to know their measurements.