August 25, 2023

My First Quilt with Kristy Lea

Are you enjoying reading about first quilts as much as I am? It's so fascinating to learn what prompted our fellow quilters to try quilting for the first time. This month we get to read all about Kristy Lea's first quilts. Kristy is the FPP designer extraordinaire behind Quiet Play, a fabric designer, and one of the founders of Make Modern magazine. In fact, as Make Modern's submissions editor, she was the first person to accept one of my designs for publication 😊
My First Quilt with Kristy Lea |
You can connect with Kristy on her website and on Instagram.

Kristy doesn't have any pictures of her first quilts, but she did send this picture of one of her earliest designs. She also sent pictures of some of her more recent makes, so we'll have plenty of eye candy throughout the interview!
Red Herring blocks by Kristy Lea |

What year did you make your first quilt? What prompted you to make it?

I made my first quilt in 2011. Like many quilters, I started quilting when my children were little. I had always dabbled in various crafts, and I found as a mum that I wanted a hobby that I could enjoy just for me - but also make something practical. I'd always loved looking at fabric in stores, so I decided it was time to learn how to quilt. For my first quilt, I made a pair of small play quilts for my two children in bright rainbow colours.
Star Wars quilt by Kristy Lea |

What techniques were used in that first quilt? Did you quilt it yourself?

They were very basic with simple squares and triangles! I think I did simple stitch in the ditch quilting to hold it together. It was all very basic but I was rather pleased I'd made something that actually resembled a quilt by the end of it 😉

Who taught you to make the quilt?

My mum taught me the basics of using a sewing machine but quilting wasn't something she'd tried herself. So thanks to the advice and tutorials of many amazing quilters who shared on their blogs at the time, I taught myself the basics.  
Geo Bee by Kristy Lea |

Are the colours you chose for your first quilt ones you would still choose today?

Absolutely! Bright rainbow colours are still my thing nearly 13 years later! Sadly I don't have any photos of those first attempts but I remember the fabric was full of colour and little star motifs.
Rainbow Leaves by Kristy Lea |

Did you fall in love with quilting right away? Or was there a gap between making the first quilt and the next one?

Absolutely. I moved straight onto a new project - a pillow as a birthday gift for my Nan (grandmother). Then my next project after that was foundation paper pieced. I had no idea it was considered a difficult technique, I just really wanted to make the cute bird pattern I'd come across online! Once I started FPP, I was hooked. I still made a lot of traditionally pieced quilts, but FPP had the greater appeal. 

Where is the quilt now?

I think the quilts are packed up in a box somewhere amongst my children's baby toys. They became relegated to the toy box once the kids outgrew the size (they were very small quilts!). Now my children are teenagers, all those toys are packed away - quilts included.
In The Garden by Kristy Lea |

Is there anything you wish you could go back and tell yourself as you made that first quilt?

Oh gosh yes - don't use the cheap poly-cotton fabric mixed with quilting cotton! At the time I just chose fabrics where I loved the colours, having no idea about using similar types of fabric in the same project!

Anything else you want to share about your first quilt?

When I first started those little quilts, I had no idea that this was the start of something quite big in my world. Quilting became more than just my hobby, it's become my full time job. It's turned into designing my own FPP patterns, designing fabric for Riley Blake Designs, and co-founding the quilting magazine, Make Modern. I'm very grateful to my wonderful parents who encouraged that hobby, bought me the biggest cutting mat and ruler they could find and had complete faith I'd stick with the new hobby as more than a passing phase!

Thank you, Kristy, for sharing all about your first quilts! 


  1. I could have benefited from Kristy's advice about quilting cotton when I started out as well. I'm so glad you are sharing the arc of journeys here and I'm glad Kristy fell in love and stuck with it. She designs some of my favorite prints (and that's saying a lot since I primarily use solids)!!!

  2. Interesting about Kristie's first quilt. At least she HAD choices! :-) When I learned quiltmaking, 100 perfect cotton was practically impossible to find! We had no choice but to use poly-cotton blends. Ugh. My first quilt - an Irish Chain - faded so badly, I finally donated it to a shelter, thinking at least it could be laid on the ground for a homeless person to sleep on. Yep, it looked that bad. How times - fabrics, rotary supplies, and notions - have changed!


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