My Beginning Years…

I’m an apparel sewer by nature; it’s what I learned to create first at the tender age of 5. Sewing doll clothing opened up a whole new world of possibilities.  

As I grew older, reading a pattern, cutting the fabric, and conceptualizing how it would transform into a wearable piece of clothing was liberating. Seeing things come together in the third dimension was incredibly satisfying. It gave me an outlet to express who I was through my wardrobe and accessories.

I made bags, dresses, corsets, undergarments, home decor, everything and was pretty confident in my sewing skills. I could pick up a pattern and have it sewn up within a few days, at most. I had spent years honing my particular skill and was always looking to expand; from French to Hong Kong seams, I knew which was the warp and weft (sometimes woof), and zippers and drop-ins didn’t scare me. 

Experimenting…

So naturally, when I made the leap from apparel sewing to quilting, I had a fool hardy attitude that it would be essentially the same as all my other sewing endeavors. You cut, sew, and voila! You have a quilt, right? RIGHT?! 

Oh, my. How wrong I was. I have a whole new level of respect for quilters. And it’s not that I didn’t have any respect for them before, it’s just that I wasn’t entirely aware of all the time, skill, and love that goes into making a quilt. 

For Example:

  • Picking Fabric. You have to get juuuuuuuuuuust the right amount of contrast, volume, and color that correlates evenly or else it looks like mush. Don’t ask me how I know… : /
  • Pattern. There are so many amazing patterns and ideas that you can do with even the simplest of blocks. How to choose?! 
  • Quantity. There is nothing worse than running out of one specific fabric right as you’re about to finish. Ugh. Luckily, I’ve found the Robert Kaufman Quilt Calculator app which has really helped me in making my newbie fabric buying decisions easier. If you haven’t seen this gem, check it out. 
  • Triangles. Seriously, what’s up with them?! I know I’m supposed to offset them, but still, whaaaaa-?
  • Sandwiching. This is the part where you take a break and have a snack, right? Ha! Everything from picking the backing to which kind of batting to different types of basting together. Figuring out what’s going to work best with your project. 
  • Quilting. I feel like this should be an entirely different hobby in and of itself. Choosing which design to quilt to actually implementing it is NO JOKE. I can’t even get into it right now, but expect another post on the intricacies of it. 
  • Binding. Oh, you thought you were done? Not even close. Well, actually, kinda close. But choosing the binding can make or break a quilt. Too bold and it detracts from the overall aesthetic. Too bland, and no one notices the craftsmanship. Then, hand sewing it down. Yeah. That’s dedication.

After doing all these things and then some, you finally get to enjoy the fruits of your labor. I understand now why quilts become loved and cherished. Part of the family history and handed down as heirlooms. They are a direct representation of hours of thought and care and meticulous crafting to specifically bring YOU joy. That’s pretty incredible. 

Fear Not! 

I know I’ve missed some things, and have a whole lot more to learn. And I know that these things will even out and lighten up as I continue my quest to becoming a better quilter, but dang! Nobody let me in on these little secrets! 

And while I’m surprised at all the unexpected knowledge I’ve gained, I’m truly happy I decided to embark on this adventure. I have a new found and very thirsty desire to expand, create, and support some awesome quilts and quilt makers!

Tell me, what pointers would you give a new quilter? Comment below, I’d love to learn!

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4 Comments on "What Quilting Has Taught Me."

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Kristen
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I’m just now allowing myself to say out loud that I’m a quilter. Still so much to learn, but if I’ve learned anything immensely helpful, it’s to starch my fabric and PRESS not iron before cutting and piecing.

ihavereallypurplehair@gmail.com
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ihavereallypurplehair@gmail.com

That is a great tip! It can be tricky, tricky getting your fabric to lay just right and it’s a total bummer when your fabric becomes distorted. Boo! Thanks for the comment!

thutchison41@gmail.com
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thutchison41@gmail.com

I am a new quilter myself and the advice I have is: befriend other quilters. Having quilty friends is a safety net for me; if I fall, they catch me. I don’t get hurt in the fall because my friends are there to stand me back up and get me going again. My friends celebrate my accomplishments along side me and encourage me when I’m unsure. An essential piece of quilting (and life) is definitely friends.

ihavereallypurplehair@gmail.com
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ihavereallypurplehair@gmail.com

I totally agree! Whenever I’m stumped with something, I know I can turn to my trusted friends who have been doing this longer than me. It’s such a fun journey, isn’t it?

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