I have finally boxed up and mailed off quilt number 2, so I figured this is a good time to discuss just what I learned from it.
Actual Sewing Lessons
- I can’t sew straight. That’s not totally true, but when sewing over long distances (such as the binding), I found that I wavered…a lot. I had some serious difficulty keeping my lines straight any time I had to sew something longer than 10 inches.
- Stitch in the ditch is hard. Stitch in the ditch is when you try and sew in the seams you made when joining two pieces of fabric together. If your lines weren’t perfect to begin with, this will be difficult. My problem seemed to be with when I ironed seams. I wasn’t getting my seams to fall completely flat, so stitching in the ditch meant I sometimes ended up sewing over an ironed seam that wasn’t quite where it should have been.
- Seam ripping happens. I did a lot of seam ripping on this project. Some of it was productive and really enhanced the final product. Some of it wasn’t as productive and meant wasted time.
- I need to work on “squaring up.” If you don’t sew everything exactly perfect, your final product won’t be exactly square. This can be a problem when you’re trying to do things like miter corners. There are tips and tricks for making things square, but, at the end of the day, they only work if you’re a fraction of an inch off over the entire project. I need to work on having more consistent internal seams, but I also need to work on these little tricks too.
- It’s okay to take your time. Several times during this process I would find myself ripping the same seam over and over again. I would get frustrated that things weren’t going as well as I wanted. So I’d step back. Sometimes I just took 10 minutes to do something else, other times I took an entire week to do something, anything, else. If I hadn’t stepped back when I needed to, for as long as I needed to, I would have ended up with a much sadder final product. I need to remember that taking time and taking breaks from projects doesn’t mean there isn’t progress and that things aren’t getting done. It means I care enough to do it right, and I know that means I need to be in the right frame of mind to do it properly.
- Draw out your path. When I was working on joining the triangles, I drew in my seam allowance on every triangle to help me make sure I was doing things right when pining and sewing. Without those lines, my triangles wouldn’t have had as sharp of points, and my rows wouldn’t be as even. It’s okay to map out the path you intend to follow, especially if this is the first time you’re doing it. In the future I might not need to draw my seam allowances on triangles (and in fact didn’t need to when I was playing with hexagons), but that’s only because I spent so much time trying to do it right with my initial run through.
- You’ll always see all the things you did wrong, but that isn’t what others see. Every time I finish a project like this, all I can see is every mistake. I see every wobbly line, every blunted point, every misplaced thread. But that’s not what others see. They see the good because they didn’t sweat the process and see every mistake being made. They can look at it as a whole while I still see individual parts. While they might notice the stitching being off here or there, they don’t see it as part of a catalog of everything that is wrong like I do. When they give you a compliment, take it at face value (and don’t mention problems x, y, and z).