My First Quilt: Jenny Doan

My First Quilt: Jenny Doan

It’s March, and we all know what that means, it’s National Quilting Month, an entire 31 days dedicated to cutting, sewing, basting, and all kinds of creativity in between! This month, we want to share with you some inspiring stories from our Missouri Star team, and the reasons why they sat down at a machine and started quilting! The first story up is from Jenny! Read on as she shares how her quilting career began.

When did you make your first quilt?

I was actually quilting before I knew I was quilting. As a girl, I often sewed quilt squares together for my grandmother, but I took my first honest-to-goodness quilting class in 1995 shortly after we moved to Missouri. It was a quilt in a day class about the Log Cabin pattern. It was held in Chillicothe at the Vo-tech school. And I haven’t stopped quilting ever since!

Why did you make it?

I made my first quilt because I have to sew! It is my creative outlet. I sew, and when sewing is your “thing” and you don’t need any more clothing, and your children won’t wear matching clothing, and no one needs a costumer, you jump at the chance to quilt!

Who did you make it for?

I made it for my son Alan. He still has it.

My First Quilt: Jenny Doan

This log cabin quilt is one of the very first quilts Jenny ever created. She sewed this one for her son Jake, who requested the purple and orange fabric, more than 20 years ago.

Is it the kind of quilt you would make today? Why or why not?

It IS the kind of quilt I make today! I gravitate toward quick and easy projects, so that was a great one for me to start on.

What has changed since that first quilt?

For me, the main change was the onset of precut fabrics. They make quilting so much easier for me. Also, the Internet has changed everything! You can learn all kinds of neat things from the Internet.  

After reading Jenny’s story, are you ready to make a Log Cabin Quilt of your very own? Here are some of our favorite log cabin quilt tutorials to help you get started:

Log Cabin Quilt Snips

Curved Log Cabin Quilt 

Summer Camp Quilt

Check back throughout National Quilting Month for more quilty stories! And be sure to share your creations and your first quilt stories with us on social media using #makesomethingtoday and #msqcshowandtell!

  • Alycia Maurer

    Very first quilt I made was a sampler quilt from a class I took at a LQS in the spring of 2016. We followed a book by Alex Anderson. I had to drop out of the class a little over half way through because my mom was diagnosed with cancer and I was trying to help her. The LQS was SO nice and would answer any questions I had and I could bring my quilt top in and get assistance. I chose batiks and I loved them. I’ve since finished the quilt top and had it quilted. All I need to do now is hand sew the binding onto the back. I am inspired to quilt because my Grandmother quilted. I used to play under her quilting frame as she hand quilted. Before my mom passed, I was able to take the Double Wedding Ring quilt top that my Great Grandmother and Grandmother pieced so she could touch it. It made her happy in her last days. I have since had it hand-quilted just as my Grandmother would have done. Quilting is a creative outlet for me and sets my mind free. I have happy memories of quilts and want to be able to pass the quilts my Grandmother made and the ones I make to my daughter. #makesomethingtoday #msqcshowandtell

  • Jean Eighmy

    I have never taken a quilt class but have been sewing since I was in HighSchool. My Grandmother made quilts for all of her grandkids and she tied them so that is how I have made quilts for years. Jenny”s tutorials though have encouraged me to reach a little further, thanks!

  • Maralyn Mecham

    The first quilt I made many years ago was the “bow tie” pattern. I made it in different red and white materials. I was only in my early 30’s and I was so proud of it. One of my granddaughters has it now. I am now making another bow tie quilt, the blocks are much smaller and it is made from scraps of all colors. I have made Several nice and cute quilts, I love to sew it is a great accomplishment, as well as a creative way to spend time. I have sewn since I was 12 years old, and I am now 81 in a couple of weeks.

  • Bonnie Taylor

    The first quilt I made was done in a class at our Technical Community College in 1987. Our teacher taught a different technique each week, and we completed the square before the next class. We had to use templates and didn’t learn about cutters and rulers until we completed our first quilt. I have done all kinds of sewing and needlework, but quilting is my first love.

  • Irene Busler

    My first quilt was a queen size tee shirt quilt. I have sewn for 40 years but never made a quilt. So when asked to make one I agreed. I quilted each block then sewed them together in columns and then joined the columns. Came out great. Since then I have retired from clothing sewing and am now quilting runners, king and queen quilts and even placemats. I love quilting!

  • Janis Volpe

    I’ve always sewed clothes for myself and my two daughters. I started in high school, making a simple skirt and blazer. When my babies were born, it gave me even more reason to continue to sew from me, as well as them thru-out our lives. Turning 71, sadly my husband passed over, leaving me alone and not sure of my future of living alone after 50 years of marriage. My friends were all quilting at this time, and I said “No way, I am not starting to sew again, especially a quilt. I was still making clothes for my recent granddaughter, but no way was I going to make a quilt. With the encouragement of my friends, and seeing their beautiful quilts, and also finding Jennie’s website, I got the bug. Seeing all the beautiful fabrics on Jenn’s site, I just had to give it a try. It’s been quite the year for me, and my quilting has given me the challenge to continue with my love of sewing, in a new direction. Thanks to my friends, and Jennie and the many encouraging people I’ve seen on many more sites. Attached is a picture of me and my first quilt. My granddaughter came over for a visit, and I asked if she would like it. Of course to my pleasure, she said yes, and has been sleeping with it every night.

  • Barbara

    The second quilt I made was a log cabin quilt with the red block as the heart of the home. But the first was a puff baby quilt. I actually made a few of them as gifts.

  • Diane Ragan

    My first quilts were baby quilts for my Scottish college friend having twins. The cottons available at the time at Hancock Fabric had medium prints. It must have been spring, because one of the prints was lambs cavorting on a tuft of grass, with a close repeat. You can see where this is going, yes? My grandmother, the proud owner of 5 sewing machines, helped me every step. As soon as we made strips for the around the world pattern, those lambs lost their heads. I remember how we laughed sewing the lamb chops. My grandmother and I made two more quilts together before she passed, and as luck would have it, we gave them away. I still laugh about all those lamb butts going around the world, literally, as the Texas assembly was mailed to Aberdeen, Scotland. Thank you, grandma. Wish we had done one to keep.

  • Shirley Andrews

    We were visiting my grandmother when I was about 12. She and my aunt were quilting, my aunt cutting out pieces by holding a cardboard piece up to the light and slicing away with long bladed scissors. I expressed interest, and was given a box of cut pieces to take home and put together. They were quarter circles and squares with a circle cut out. I asked the name of the quilt. Grandmother thought for awhile and then said “Circle in a square.” It was many years later when I realized the name was “drunkards path.” Grandmother would not have said those words to me. It’s finished — many many years ago– top stitched on my brand new 1960’s Singer, not knowing anything about anything. Embarrassed now at the primitive and poorly done quilt, I decided to take out all those stitches and reassemble it properly, but my daughter pointed her finger at me and with a smile, said “Mother? Don’t you dare.” So my first, and worst quilt is still evidence of an earlier time.

  • Colette Gentes

    Some twenty years ago I use to take in dance students in the summer and during the school year for those who danced full time. One of my summer regulars came back one summer with the story of the wonderful woman in her neighbourhood back home who cam to her school every Thursday and taught the students how to quilt and how I would be fantastic at it. I had made all my own clothes and sewed dozen upon dozens of dance leotards for dance schools but I thought that quilting would be way too slow for me. But come fall one of my full time students was telling me about her mother and grandmother who quilt. So I bought a six inch square, we picked through thirty years of scraps and went to work. We soon had a whole pile of six inch squares, sorted them by dark, light and medium. We laid them out and called ourselves quilters! We put them together with the serger (it is a quarter inch seam) and had a lady who had once quilted a bedspread for me put it together. Everybody think it’s theirs, my sons who remember the fabrics from their boxer shorts, the drapes they had as little boys and my daughter who can count every birthday dresses on it.
    And so it began, a lot of reading later and a couple of quilt classes and I’m a quilter who closely follows Jenny’s phisolophy. What a great time I’m having!

  • I had made a Quilt Of Valor for my husband many years ago, but didn’t get bitten by the bug until last year. The bedspread on our bed was getting ragged and threadbare, but we couldn’t find one we liked to replace it. So I decided to make one. I hadn’t sewn in years, but we went together to the local quilt shop and picked out the colors. I got a Timeless Treasures 10″ square pack and a matching 2 1/2″ strip pack, plus some black fabric for sashing. The shop owner suggested a pattern, and with the addition of a wide border, backing and binding, my king size quilt was born, and I was bitten by the bug. I have made close to a dozen quilts in the year since then.

  • Margaret Paredes

    What a wonderful story. I would love to see a picture.
    Not sure if they post it on here but you could send it to me at
    Happy quilting

  • Margaret Paredes

    It was 35 plus years ago I wanted to do something special for my twin brother and his wife. They drove truck cross country for a few years after finishing college, which was the inspiration for my quilt. I hand embroidered the state flowers of all the states the drove into and the two they hadn’t so my quilt would be complete. Every night after I would put my children to bed I would sit and work on their quilt. It ended up being big enough to fit a king size bed and took me two years to complete, but the joy on their faces when I gave it to them was well worth it. I don’t do hand embroidery anymore but that quilt started me on my journey of making quilts for family and friends.

  • JJTX

    My first true quilt was done on a serger in an heirloom sewing class at a convention twenty years ago. Lace, embroidery, the whole bit. I found I really don’t like quilting! Insanity, I know. It just seems a never ending process with all the cutting, sewing, cutting up what you just sewed and sewing it all again. And it still isn’t done! Yeesh! At least a garment is done when you’re done. Fashion sewing is really my thing. I made another more simple quilt a few years later and confirmed my opinion. However, after two heart attacks and forced retirement I needed a hobby that I could manage with my more limited circumstances. RA won’t let me embroider anymore. One can only wear so many clothes, and there isn’t a fabulous fashion fabric store in my town. My ASG chapter is mostly quilters, and one of the ladies told me about a new Quilt of Valor chapter starting at a local shop. I thought, “you can do this, even if you’re not a big fan..” And they will longarm it for free! So,I started on a simple quilt with a panel and a jelly roll. Then Harvey hit the coast .. I started making a baby quilt to send, then a throw. The California wildfires added a few more. I went back and finished the first QofV top and made another one last month. Still don’t like it, but I know how, I can, so I will. I do enjoy the planning and design part. Hate little pieces, love precuts. Shoulder injuries make free motion impossible so my walking foot gets a workout on the “disaster” quilts. I have to limit the size so I’m not manhandling too much fabric. Or let my granddaughter do the quilting. She’s fifteen and asked for a new sewing machine for Christmas. Hers now rivals mine for bells and whistles.

    Jenny is my hero for producing videos of easy methods to make beautiful quilts.

  • Marla Brown This was my first quilt ever……..An Ohio Star for my mother. Only took me 11 years to finish it…….

  • Wojo

    When I was a teenager I tried to make a quilts; but my engineering brain rebelled. It would not allow me to cut up nice big pieces of fabric into little pieces just so I could sew them back again into big pieces. Then life intervened with 4 children, a high pressure job, grandchildren, building two new houses, etc. BUT, now in 2017, at the age of 75, I got the quilting bug soon after getting a Bernina with an embroidery attachment and seeing the delight on my grandchildren’s faces when they received their customized T-shirts and pillowcases. My first quilt was a log cabin kit (purchased from you and quilted by MSC.) I was so careful stitching everything just so perfect. But once I took a picture of it I found that I had sewn two blocks on center rows backwards. Out came the seam ripper so I could get them out and re-sew them correctly. After looking over the quilt with a fine tooth comb, I sent it off to MSC for quilting. I was so proud when I got it back, hurried and hand-binded the quilt and hung it on the back of my living room chair, showing it off to everyone who came to see us. After about a month, one day something popped out at me as I was admiring my masterpiece. There was one little center piece of one of the blocks that was placed going the wrong way. I was so upset because after being quilted, etc. there was no way I could fix it. (And you know how us women have to fix everything for everybody; but I could not fix my first masterpiece.) My quilter cousin consoled me by telling me that all quilts should have at least one small flaw because only God is perfect. I knew I was not God anyway, so why did this have to happen? This helped for a little while but what helped the most was figuring out how I could fold the quilt and place it over the back of the chair so the small flaw is not visible. Now no one sees it, even though I still know it is there. I’ve made 5 more quilts since then, each one quilted by MSC. One for each of my grown children and two for a couple of my grandchildren (more quilts to follow.) I tend to like quilts now that have more angles, brighter colors, and even paper piecing for those precise angles. I’ve learned everything I know about quilting from watching MSC tutorials and from You Tube–thanks Jenny! Maybe one day I’ll take a quilting class to learn what I’ve been doing wrong. Precuts make it a lot easier too, but sometimes I just like to use my own color choices, even though I’m a little color challenged when it comes to matching some of my fabric. What’s changed? I cut and sew a little straighter and have more confidence. I’m not a fan of just sewing square blocks together, but enjoy patterns that are a little more challenging with snowballs, dog ears, half-square triangles, sashing, hearts, etc. Yep, I’ve gotten the quilting bug and I look forward to getting in my sewing room because it’s my therapy. The worries of the world and the arthritic pain seem to go away with each stitch of the needle. It’s there in my own little world when I’m stitching away, that my pains and worries nearly disappear..

  • Jane Bunker

    The Amish call that their “humility square” and there is one in every quilt they make. At least that used to be true, I’m not sure is they do that in the ones they make and sell. I learned that for myself when I was the second person on the round robin quilt we did from retreat to retreat. My round was 1/2 ” log cabins (done by hand – not paper piecing – which I don’t particularly like to do). At the retreat the following year, someone spotted it. Well, wonder of wonders, I won the quilt! Guess what I did when I took it home :o). I still have the “wrong” log cabin tacked up on my board above the sewing machine… and love the quilt and the great memories.

  • Jenn Burwell

    My first full quilt was for my Daddy who was fighting cancer and couldn’t get warm. I knew he loved our country so I chose shades of red, white and blue and created my own pattern. My husband embroidered nine squares of the first verse of America the Beautiful as well as 2 other squares. I also found two panels that fit the theme. The choice of batting was tough because it had to be warm but lightweight. My SIL (who has quilted for years!) suggested fleece. After hours of piecing it all together, I only knew how to quilt straight lines back and forth and up and down. SIL says I quilted “stitch in the ditch”?!?

  • jan mckeage

    I have loved quilts all my life and decorate my house with them including my livingroom window treatment.In 2012, I met a new friend who saw my love of quilts and asked me if I made them. Heck no, I told her. I can’t even sew. It turns out she was a quilter, took me under her wing and taught me to sew . I had never seen anyone in my family make a quilt, but as a small girl, I had slept under my grandma’s tied quilts. All made of old clothing from her 14 children or numerous grandchildren. So to honor her, that is what I wanted my 1st quilt to look like. I picked all sorts of flowery fabrics, cut them into 5″ squares and sewed row after row together till I had a king size quilt. I didn’t tie it together but had it quilted. I hadn’t quite graspped the 1/4″ seam concept yet, so alot of the seams don’t come together perfect. But I sleep under it everynight and truly love it as the beginning of my quilting experience. .I’ve since made many more quilts, most given as gifts and have plans for many more. My wonderful quilting mentor passed away last year from cancer. I think of her everytime I sew and the wonderful gift she gave me.

  • SueJean Heinz

    My grandmother was a quilter and she made a lot of quilts for her many grandchildren by hand. At some point, she got a sewing machine and continued making quilts. When she passed on in 2012, my mother gave me her sewing machine and all of her UFO’s. The worst was a Texas star that began as a kit. She’d sewn most of the diamonds by hand but her seams were all sizes from 1/8″ to 1/4″ and everything in between. The project was way beyond my sewing skills and I’d never quilted. I made my first quilt as a way of earning the right to finish her UFO’s and started off with a jelly roll race quilt. I’ve made dozens of quilts since then, but that Texas Star is still just out of my reach….Oh well, more practice!!

  • JillRae

    I got the quilting bug when mom and I were cleaning out a closet and ran across an unfinished quilt top, a broken star. Mom wanted to throw it away but when she told me it had been made by my great aunt, I rescued it. It was hand stitched to a large sheet, given green borders and hand quilted by the ladies aide sewing circle at our little country church. I love that quilt because it started me on a lifetime of making and giving quilts. I have made tons of quilts over the years and the only one I have for me is that first broken star.

  • Sue

    About 1975 I was living in a single wide mobile home in California. I made most of my own clothes as well as curtains, pillows etc. and had a lot of scraps with not a lot of storage room. I decided it would be a good idea to make a quilt and wanted it to be big enough to completely drape the water bed. It was a chore to try to cut out shapes anything like square with just scissors. When the piecing was complete, I needed a large enough area to make the quilt sandwich. The only way was to lay it on the living room floor. The recliner, sofa, bookcase, etc. went either out onto the small front porch and into the hallway to clear the room. When I laid out the quilt, it went wall to wall. I tied it with yarn about 5 inches apart to keep it together. Several years later, I sold the quilt to a woman who said her blind niece would enjoy the different textures of the wide range of fabrics I used. Flash forward 40 quilt-free years and a couple of years ago I decided to try my hand a quilting again after my mom gave me a quilt that had been made for my aunt by her great aunt around 1951. It is soooo much easier with today’s tools and Jenny’s videos have taught me volumes. Quilting has now become an obsession.

  • Sharon Plumlee

    My first quilt was a simple 9 patch, with Bible verse squares. My husband fell off the roof and I almost lost him. He had a severe brain injury. My daughter stayed with us to help with him for a few days. He would walk out of the house and we would have to find him. She said I needed to do something to keep close supervision of him. She said since I could sew, I needed to make a quilt. That was 10 years ago. I had no modern quilting accessories. I pieced without a 1/4″ quilting foot, used the front porch to pin my layers together and did a simple corner to corner quilting (on a king quilt). Those were the days. My husband recovered and I went to chiropractor!

  • Sharon

    I made my first quilt 55 years ago, the blocks were embroidered with “Now I lay me down to sleep..” My third son was buried in it, and I didn’t quilt again until my oldest grandson was born 26 years ago. He still has that quilt and his daughter sleeps with it. I now have 10 grandchildren and most of them have gotten a quilt. I am working on a couple for twin granddaughters now. I also have 5 great grandchildren and they all have quilts. The older they get the larger the quilt has to be. I love making baby quilts, so make them for every baby I know. My daughters say they will have a fabric store when I’m gone.