My Adventures in Quilting
I wanted to talk for a bit about mistakes I’ve made in the short while that I’ve been quilting. I’m wishing that other beginning quilters will read this and have a big sigh of relief that, “OK, I’m not the only one”. I know this is a bit of a long post, but hey, I said I’m a beginner and making mistakes is kinda what we do.
Obviously I’ve done things that make us all feel stupid. Used the wrong thread color, forgotten to change feet, forgotten to drop or raise the feed dogs, oh, and my personal favorite, I sewed it wrong sides together. I’m going to skip those for now. We will always make those mistakes. We are human after all…most of us. These are mistakes that I have learned from and never plan on making again, maybe. Hopefully you can learn from my mistakes, identity with them, and laugh at them a little too.
This quilt was a pain. I don’t know why; the pattern looked so simple. But I had so much trouble with it. I think it was just a reflection of my lack of skills. This was one of the first quilts I did when I started quilting again. The white didn’t want to lay where it was supposed to lay. The seams didn’t want to line up. I knew nothing of fabric selection. Ugh, it was a nightmare. At some point, I just wanted it to be done. This is the point I should have realized it. This is the point at which epic failure entered my future. I had finally gotten the top pieced and I painstakingly worked out where the details on the back would lay so that when I quilted the whole thing it would look good on both sides. I thought it would be awesome.
I pin basted it together making sure that the back lined up with the front. My first mistake was basting it on carpet. I thought, “it will hurt my knees to baste it on linoleum”. Plus, my apartment at the time was so tiny that there was nowhere else to lay the whole thing out. I should have done it on my table and just basted a portion at a time. That was lesson 1. Lesson 2 came during the quilting process, or rather, after it. When you are straight line quilting something, or any kind of quilting something, once you have a small section done, lay it out and check both sides. I was so ignorantly confident in my pin basting that I didn’t even look at it until I had the whole thing done. The front looked good, but the back was absolutely atrocious. It had pleats sewn in, baggy areas, nothing lined up properly. Goodness. I tried pulling some of the stitches and re-sewing it to minimize the damage, but it was way too late. Lesson 3 is that I should elongate my stitch. They came out so teeny-tiny that pulling them became futile. Believe me, I tried. Plus they made the front bunch, so any beauty that was left was marred by that factoid.
I keep this jacked up UFO folded up on my shelf to remind me to slow down and enjoy the process instead of just focusing on the end product. Now, I don’t plan ahead so detailed, but I enjoy it all so much more. I think of each step as a product, the top, the back, the quilting, the label, the actual finished product. Too bad, too. this was going to be really pretty. Oh, and why is there a bit of binding on it. I thought that if I just finished it, the messed up bits might not bother me so much. My mind changed on that quickly.
I watched Tula Pink on Sewing with Nancy and fell in love. I ran right out and bought her book “Quilts from the House of Tula Pink” and some fabric so that I could make her hounds tooth quilt. I wanted to make a picnic blanket so I decided to skip the batting. Ultimately, this project came out pretty good. And even though the defect in it bugs the crap out of me, no one else notices it unless I point it out. There’s a little black triangle where an orange should be. See if you can spot it. On several occasions, I considered fixing it. And at a few of those points, it wouldn’t have been that difficult. I now realize that I should have early on because there is no way in Hades that I am going to now. Again, though, it functions as a reminder. A reminder that, no matter how hard we work to not mess something up, we may still do it. And we need to accept that about ourselves.
This wasn’t so much an error as it was complete ignorance. I talked about this quilt in an earlier blog when I talked about how I got started quilting. But I thought this warranted talking about here. I used cheap polyester batting (because I didn’t know just how much better the cotton is). It does not hold up over time and is not terribly warm or cozy. Also, just look at that binding. I used pre-packaged binding (which is fine for some projects) and basically just sandwiched it on and stitched. I was all the way down one side when I realized that I had no clue what to do once I got to the corner. So I winged it.
I have since decided that I should do a little research before trying a new technique or material. There are a zillion resources out there. Books, magazines, local guilds, YouTube, Google. There is literally no excuse for ignorance anymore. At least, for me. I keep this one on the couch in the basement. It is stained and already getting worn out. I swear, it is not very old. My dog love it because it covers us both when we cuddle, and that’s good enough for me.
I hope you have enjoyed listening to my hardships. I know this was a bit of a long post, but I think it needed to be. We are all human (again, most of us) and we need to remember that. It is OK to make mistakes as long as we learn from them and grow into better people, quilters, sewists… Good luck on your own adventures. Identify with mine? Have a few of your own? Share in the comments.