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).
As soon as I finished my brother’s quilt, I started on another one for my cousin. This time I wanted to try out triangles. She picked out the grey/yellow/green color scheme, and I got to work. Along the way I have learned a LOT. This quilt is still in progress, but I thought I’d share how it was going so far.
So far I have half of the top sewn together (top right), and it was an ordeal to get me there. I cut around 300 triangles so I had some extras to play with during the layout. In the end, I decided on 14 down by 20 across, which meant a total of 280 triangles used. In the middle two pictures, you can see how I laid everything out on the floor of our spare bedroom. I had to move almost everything out, but it worked. Once I had the layout, I carefully picked up each row in order and kept the rows separate from each other. I also made a giant chart of every triangle and what it was. I obviously didn’t do it well enough, though, because on the bottom row of the sewn top you can see that one of those green triangles matches up with another same fabric triangle directly above it. I could pull it all out, but I’m not going to. It would involve ripping the row as well as ripping several triangles. It will bug me, but it stays.
Once I figured out how to join the triangles together, things went really well, but before that, it was several hours of sewing, ripping, and questioning what the heck I was doing. In the bottom left picture, you can see how I put together the triangles at first. The problem with this, of course, is that when I join the rows together, those pretty points will become blunt tops. I had half a row done before I realized that. (And had ripped out triangles again and again trying to get that point.) The bottom right picture is what I actually needed. I need that point nestled 1/4 inch in so I can have the crisp point when I joint he rows. To get this, I actually drew in my quarter inch seam allowance on the back of each triangle. The point where those seam allowances crossed was the recessed point I wanted. It added a little time, but saved me a ton of grief in the long run.
Overall, I’m pretty pleased with how this quilt is coming along. My lines are straight, my points are crisp, and everything seems to line up fairly well. I’m excited to finish the top and get to the actual quilting. I haven’t decided what I want to do for that yet, though.
One of the hobbies I recently picked up was quilting. I enjoy sewing, but have learned that clothing isn’t necessarily my forte (though that might just be because I need more practice). My great-aunt was an amazing quilter-doing everything by hand. She had a set number of quilts she would do in a year, and it was always filled as soon as she opened up bookings for the year. She charged a pretty penny or her creations, and everyone who commissioned one thought it was money well spent. So I guess it was inevitable that I would eventually give it a try.
I decided on a Craftsy course that taught beginning sewing methods. When I signed up, the course was free, so it seemed like an excellent way to try quilting without too much investment. I started with the mug rugs, because I had enough scraps from other projects to not need to purchase fabric. I probably made about ten different mug rugs before I decided I was ready to try something big.
I know myself, I work better when I have a purpose, so I enlisted my brother as a client. He gave me colors and helped me pick the fabrics. It took me forever to complete because it was always a secondary project-something to work on while I was between other projects, but it is finally done. I can see all the flaws in it, but I also have learned how to fix them or avoid them.
Would I do the course again? Absolutely. Not that I need to, but I found it very informative and helpful. Plus, the “patterns” were super useful, and I can use them again any time I want. Not all Cratsy courses are the same, so you might feel differently about others, but I really liked this one. As for quilting? I’m already practicing small scale in preparation for the next one.
Right before I moved, my mom had asked me to make a few baby related projects that she could give to some of her friends that were pregnant or that had just given birth. Knowing that I would have some free time, I was excited to jump into the projects. Today’s project, the rag quilt, was the perfect started project for me! You will need:
- Fabric (I used minky and baby fleece)
- A sewing machine
- Thread and scissors
My mom sent me several pictures of rag quilts, but no tutorials. Luckily, I found this awesome tutorial. You can also check out my pin on my Crafts as Gifts board.
I loved how simple this project was. The pictures my mom sent me were all squares, so I went with squares instead of strips like the original tutorial. I had never attempted anything like this before, so I was worried about my ability to make straight lines that lined up “perfectly.” Luckily, I found this awesome additional tutorial that made me feel more confident about making perfect squares. This is also pinned on my Crafts as Gifts board.
One of the parts that was hardest for me during the entire process was the final snipping of edges so they would curl nicely after I washed thru quilt. My normal sewing scissors weren’t able to cut the small seam allowances as well as I wanted, so I ended up using some embroidery scissors. I have never used those for a long period of time, and, while they did the trick, they also started to hurt my hands!
I didn’t get a “final” picture of my quilt because I was in a hurry to box it up and send it off to my mom so she could give it to her friend, but I was super pleased with the final result. In fact, I already have squares cut and ready to go for my next quilt!