Thursday, September 16

Further Quilting and A Few Lessons Learned

I'm taking further baby steps on my quest to become a quilter.  I made this quilt for my new little niece.  She lives far away, so I had to find another baby to stand-in as a model.  *Wink*

I learned many things while making this quilt, but mostly, I learned what not to do when quilting.  Here is my short list: 

1.  Don't sew together the pieces if you plan to add a binding.  With the patchwork quilts I previously made, there was no quilting involved.  The fronts were squares sewn together.  Then, I sewed together the front, back and batting, flipped it right side out, and voila!  With this quilt, and all of my future quilts, I expect I will actually quilt the pieces together and then add a binding. 

2.  When the pattern for the binding says "baste together", pay attention to the word baste.  This ties to number 1 because I sewed the quilt together, and then took it all out.  But, then I did it again when the seaming instructions only told me to baste the pieces together.  This time, I couldn't take out the work, or I would have risked putting a hole in the quilt, and that would have led to patching, and so on. 

3.  Use a medium loft batting, or at least not the lowest loft.  This isn't just because it's softer and becomes more yummy and plushy when washed.  Also, the higher the loft, the more hidden the quilting will be (if you need to hide your quilting as you're learning what the heck you're doing, like me).  I used brown thread to quilt, and I really regret it.  It's just tacky, and when I realized this, I thought that it would disappear into the batting better once it was washed. 

4.  Don't rush.  I actually learned this lesson on the previous patchwork quilts I made.  Instead of quickly trying to finish the work I was doing, I left the quilt on the machine with the needle down to hold my spot.  Then, I went to bed.  While I made countless mistakes on this quilt, I would have made far more had I not stopped when I was exhausted.  Each time I stepped away, I realized things as I was dozing off that I would have otherwise missed. 

5.  Use a pattern.  I learned the colors of my niece's nursery - pink and brown, then shopped for fabric.  Shocking as it was, I wasn't able to find many fabrics at the store that were exclusively pink and brown.  So, I purchased what I could find (and liked) and decided to work from there.  It is common for me, unfortunately, to try to design something, and then I work out the math incorrectly.  Remember the ridiculous camo blanket?  I found a square that I liked, and it involved the number of fabrics that I had purchased.  I decided to replicate the square as the quilt itself, and then computed cuts.  Of course, my math was wrong.  Very fortunately, a little sashing with the backside fabric, and I'm actually happy with the correction. 

6.  Be good to your machine, and it will be good to you.  I did a side project that I think bent the arm on my machine.  Now, I can't use my 1/4-inch presser foot or the needle hits the foot and breaks.  Shooting broken needles across the room (and directly at my eyes!) is scary!  I'm now having to make-shift 1/4-inch seams because even the markers on my machine are off, due to the bent arm. 

That's my short list so far, but I have more projects coming! 

I'm truly enjoying sewing, but I miss knitting.  As the weather is turning cooler, I had to visit one of the over-priced baby clothing boutiques in Hoboken.  I spent $32 on a small knit sweater for my little girl, and that was after a 20% off coupon.  When I stopped for a brief visit at my former job today, I was asked by my friend and former co-worker, Stephen (who also happens to be the greatest quilter, hand and machine sewer, and all around creator of all things fabric, fleece, and fur who ever lived), whether I made it.  I told him how guilty I felt buying it.  My husband, little girl, and I are hoping to take a trip soon, and if we do, perhaps I'll finally make the Baby Surprise Jacket I've always wanted to make.


Lisa said...

very stylin' quilt and even cuter model! Sorry about the machine problems. When I was finishing needlepoint I learned to wear safety glasses because I was breaking needles left and right. Safety glass, they're a good thing!

Mindy said...

That's a great idea! My father has worked in safety for years, and while he has taught me to always back the car in, use hand rails, the proper way to manage a kitchen fire; he hasn't taught me how to be safe while sewing. I'll certainly inform him of his shortfalling in this area and suggest that he start doing some research in the area. :-) Thanks, Lisa!

Sandy Harris said...

Hi, Mindy. Your quilt is pretty but I like the model best. I check your site everyday for news and photos. How are you and my dear nephew doing? I love you all and as my dad would say "My arms are hungry to hug you!" My email address is or I do have a facebook page if you are so inclined to respond or send pictures.
Love, Aunt Sandy (in NE)

Robin said...

The quilt looks great, and so does the model!