Post by Andrea PadenWorking at a quilt shop and being surrounded by bolt after fabulous bolt of fabric can really give a person the itch to stitch! Up until this year, I had never sewn a thing. Except during junior high home economics class, and since I don’t remember a thing, I don’t think that counts. I really am a novice. I didn’t know how to thread a sewing machine needle, where to put a bobbin, or where you keep your feed dogs. But I really do love all the different lines of fabric with so many fun patterns and prints in every style that you can imagine. I had to have some. And then, I needed something to do with it. I just needed to sew something!
So, after getting some sewing basics and learning my way around a machine, I signed myself up to take Sandy Thompson’s Introduction to Quilting class (*see below for more information on this class). What a great place to start, right? I got my class supply list, borrowed a sewing machine (since I didn’t have one of my own yet), and went wandering the rows of fabric in the shop for inspiration to make my first quilt.
First thing’s first. I had to get my supplies. Mechanical pencil – I knew what that was. Glue stick – I couldn’t imagine what we would need one for but I knew what that was. Rotary cutter – yep, seen those in the shop. Pins – okay. Monofiliment thread – huh? Had to ask about that one, but I am now the proud owner of both clear and smoke. Walking foot – well, yeah. I have two but I didn’t think that my left and right feet were actually what Sandy meant so I had to ask about that one too. I honestly didn’t even know there were different feet for a sewing machine, let alone an entire wall of feet to choose from. And, ouch! That was not an inexpensive item. But now that I know a little bit more, I realize that it is a complete necessity for quilting and worth every penny. After making only this one small quilt in class, I already understand the need for this special foot.
I was so excited to take my first class. Sandy is a wonderful teacher, as so many of you already know. She is patient and understanding – just what every nervous needleworker needs! The class is in five parts, so not only do you get to complete an entire small quilt, but you get some great knowledge for quilting, tips and even a little history of quilting. The Intro class quilt is based on four 12 ½” traditional blocks. One is Log Cabin and the other three were of our choosing from a list Sandy provided. For the block we made to learn the template method, I choose Cry of the Loon, then Mosaic #8 and Sunflower.
I choose fabrics from the shop that reminded me of my daughter and would compliment her bedroom. This quilt is a small size and I thought it would be great for her since she is small sized, too. She is three and loves all bright colors, soft things and flowers. So the Boutique line by Chez Moi for Moda was just perfect.I think that choosing fabrics with the right color, compliment, and contrast can be one of the hardest parts of quilting. Luckily, Sandy helped me choose some of my fabric so I wouldn’t end up with a quilt I didn’t like. I was originally choosing everything in the same tone and I wouldn’t have had enough contrast in my quilt top.
Once we got to sewing, I started to get anxious. I lean toward “perfectionism” (although I am trying to give myself a break as I get older), so I was frustrated that my points weren’t lining up as nicely as I wanted. They weren’t perfect! When we had to square up our blocks I really got frustrated. To make them all equal sizes, I had to trim some down. Of course the ones that had to be trimmed were the ones with lovely triangle points on the edges, and those were all cut off to measure up with the other blocks. Urggg! I matched up my seams carefully, pinned and could sew a straight line, but I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. I thought I was doing it right. But, no. The Sewing Gods were not with me on this one. This was a learning quilt and I was meant to learn and that means making at least a few mistakes. So I gave myself a break and trudged forward on my quilt.
When I finished connecting all four blocks with lattice and cornerstones (not the kind you find in the garden, I learned!), I stretched out my kinked neck and fingers and thought, “Wow! This looks like a quilt. A real quilt. And I am doing it.” That’s a pretty proud moment for someone who didn’t even know how to sew a few weeks prior!
Next it was time to attach the backing and do some quilting. Sandy teaches “In-the-ditch” quilting for the Intro quilt. After getting a sore neck and forgetting to breathe for what I’m sure were full minutes at a time, I learned I do not love “In-the-ditch” quilting**. Uughh! I agree completely with Maureen who describes it as “barbaric!” It is definitely not something that comes naturally for this novice quilter. It makes me so tense! For me, it’s kind of along the lines of learning to balance a checkbook. Something you have to learn how to do, but probably won’t want to very often.
With my quilting done, it was time to add the binding. That’s the last step! What a thrilling thought. I was about to finish the last step in making my first quilt! I was almost done! I had to do a little dance in the middle of my sewing room, but don’t worry, no one saw my embarrassing display.
The best part about this class and project was that when I was done and looked at my quilt as a whole, I didn’t notice all the little imperfections. I was so proud to have actually made my own quilt that all I saw was all my hard work, all the things I had learned, and all the love I put into this project because I was making it for my daughter. In making my first quilt, I have rarely felt such a feeling of accomplishment. Like all things that are really worth doing, it took time, effort, and patience. I learned what I needed to feel confident in myself, and I earned the right to call myself a Quilter!
Here's my happy girl with her new blankie. She says she loves it sooo much!
So, now the only thing that is left to do is to figure out what to make next!
*If you would like to take one of Sandy's Intro. to Quilting classes at Cozy Quilt Shop, check our Class Schedule on our website for the next installment.
**Skill Update: I am proud to say that I have now Mastered "In-the-Ditch" stitching, and although I don't think I would quilt an entire project this way, it is a good skill to have in your pocket! I even used it on a Professional Tote bag that I am currently making in a "Bags for Friends and Fun" (BFF) class.