Raw Edges: The Diary of a Clumsy Quilter by Andrea Paden
March 16, 2010
Last night, I completed my first sewing project! And even though it isn’t a quilt, I sure feel a sense of accomplishment. I actually sewed something together and it didn’t fall apart. Hooray for me! And in just this one small sewing project, I learned six important lessons that have given me a great beginning education to the world of quilting.
What did I make if it wasn’t a quilt? Well, I guess you may know that I spend quite a bit of time in the shop so I see lots of fun things to sew. I recently brought home my new Bernina 240 and I was itching for a project to break it in. So I got the idea to make my Mom something for her upcoming birthday. Who wouldn’t love a handmade project from their daughter? But… (sigh) a quilt still seems a bit more than I am ready to wrestle.
Then I saw our sample for Jan Hayman’s latest BFF class. [BFF stands for Bags for Fun and Fashion] What a cute handbag! Lots of pockets. My Mom loves handbags. I was pretty sure that was something I could tackle, especially if it was taught in a class. I figured I could get some basic sewing skills under my belt to help my quilting, too. And if I made a bag for myself in class, I would be less apt to mess up my Mom’s birthday gift! So I signed myself up.
Before my class started, I got the supply list and learned that we should purchase, cut and fuse our fabric beforehand to get a jump start. Fuse? Uh-oh. I had no idea what that meant. Luckily, I work in a quilt shop! There’s always someone around to ask for help.
Lesson #1 – Fusing is the process of applying an interfacing product (like Pellon Fusible Fleece) to your fabric for added support to the finished project. The interfacing is ironed to the wrong side of the fabric with the right side of the fabric facing up to prevent burning the interfacing.
So I bought some PFF. Then it was time for the fun part – picking out my fabric.
Lesson #2 – Buy fabric you love. It’s one of the best parts of quilting!
This was one of the first pieces of advice I ever got in the shop. Since day one, I have heard many customers and quilters repeat it. If you don’t love the fabric, you probably won’t love the finished project, right? I have seen fabrics in the shop that I love since the day I started, and I finally had a chance to use some! I have always been drawn to Art Gallery fabrics with their bold, colorful graphic prints and their unique fabric texture. So that was the first place I looked. I chose Spellbound with a dark navy blue background because it had some accent colors I liked and I thought a darker-colored bag would be best for a mom-on-the-go like me. Then I was ready to prep for class.
I got everything home and opened up the pattern to get started. Background fabric, check. Pocket fabric, check. Lining fabric, check. Cutting instructions, check. Ready to follow the pattern for the initial sewing and fusing before class (I was always a good student). First line of the pattern… and I’m already stumped. It just doesn’t make sense to me. I read it over and over and it isn’t any clearer. I know I am an intelligent woman, but I just don’t get it! I have only learned a little about quilting/sewing so far but it really seems wrong. So, fine. I give in and just do what it says even though it still doesn’t make sense. I have to be prepared for class. But I don’t go any further because I figure if I did this wrong, I’ll have to fix it before I move on.
Lesson #3 – Trust your knowledge. Patterns are written by people, and people are not perfect.
I guess you know where this is going. I got to class early and showed Jan my first piece, sewn as the instructions described, with Wrong Sides Together (uh-huh WST!) Of course that wasn’t right, Jan confirmed. That would put my seam on the outside of the bag. How silly. We re-read the instructions over together and sure enough, first line of the pattern has a typo. I knew it! Well, at least I brought my seam ripper.
Lesson #4 – Sewers and quilters are some of the friendliest people around.
The vintage Singer pictured above belongs to Rosemary. I asked her about it because it just looks so pretty. She bought it just recently because it was made the same year she was born, 1947. We spent some time talking about her sewing machine, her family, and other things. And as I’ve noticed often happens with quilters and sewers, you can feel like you have a new friend in just a few minutes. What a lovely lady.
Class went on, and although we didn’t finish our handbags that night, we got more than half way done. It was a lot of fun for me to see the different fabrics everyone chose. Here are a few for you to see.
Lesson #5 – Show off your work! Quilters and sewers are such supportive people and they have fabulous ideas and suggestions if you are open to them.
I still needed to sew up the lining and sew on a button for the top closure. Diane looked at my fabric and button and suggested I layer two buttons together instead of one. How cute! I like the contrasting colors even better than with one alone. And when I mentioned being nervous about hand-stitching up the lining to finish the bag, she mentioned how she just makes a tiny fold and sews it right on the machine. It ends up on the inside-bottom and is so small it’s hardly seen. Perfect solution for me! Thanks, Diane.
Lesson #6 – Make what you want, how you want it.
This is my favorite lesson because I made it up myself! As I was admiring my own work, studying my fabulous new purse, I realized I had covered an awful lot of the fabric I loved with four big pockets on the outside per the instructions. I ended up with nine pockets on the inside of the bag. Now, I have a lot of stuff to carry, but not that much stuff. Did I really need all four outside pockets? Nope! So I ripped two of them off! Now my project is complete! So what that it’s not identical to the pattern. It’s just the way I want it which makes it just right for me.
And that’s how life should be, shouldn’t it? Just the way we want it. Another great lesson for me to learn. Now that I have finished my handbag and learned these valuable lessons in sewing, I think I just might be ready to make a quilt!
[If you would like to find out about our BFF classes, check our Classes & Clubs menu on Cozyquilt.com!]