Friday, November 14, 2014

Notes from a novice quilter

Last month, I finished up my first twin-sized quilt! Here it is in all its wonky glory:

Scrap quilt

This is a scrap quilt in the truest sense of the word. Honest-to-goodness scraps, recycled -- some old shirts of Douglas' and my dad's, an old pillowcase, sewing project scraps, etc. It was backed with an old sheet. The only thing I paid for was the batting, which I think was about six bucks at Walmart.

This was a "learn by experience" project for me, so I didn't want to spend a lot of money on it. I'm quite comfortable in the realm of garment sewing, but quilting is a whole different world. I had to Google a lot of things as I went along. :) I'm writing down some things I learned, for any other complete novices out there reading this. (And if you are more experienced and see a correction or addition that needs to be made to my list, please let me know in the comments!)
  • Use a rotary cutter as much as possible. Don't cut out your squares or shapes by hand if you can use a rotary cutter instead!
  • When you are piecing your quilt top, set your stitch length a little smaller. I set mine at 2.
  • Utilize chain piecing.
  • No need to press seams open. Press them to one side or the other.
  • I hand-basted this quilt together using a plain ol' needle and thread, because I was using what I had, but it was fairly time-consuming and cumbersome. Next time I would probably spring for some basting spray -- I haven't used any before, but I'm guessing it would be easier and faster.
  • When quilting with my walking foot, I set my stitch length a bit longer, at 3.
  • I decided to "stitch in the ditch" because I thought that it would be easy. Nope. It's actually pretty tricky!
  • I used this method to machine bind my quilt. It was adequate, but there were some spots on the back that didn't get "caught" by the stitching. Perhaps I should have pinned more. I wonder if using basting tape would help? I just couldn't face all that hand-stitching!
  • Last but not least... quilting takes a long time. It is a big project. Only embark on a quilt if you love the fabrics and design (even though I usually love scrap quilts, I am pretty "meh" about this one).
Right now, the quilt is on Edmund's bed, as he really needed a warm quilt! It's serving its purpose. I told the kids they can drag it around, make tents with it, etc. I don't mind if it gets dirty and well-used. Now that I've got a little experience under my belt, I have some more ideas and plan to make two more twin-sized quilts for the big kids. Looking forward to learning more as I go along!

14 comments:

  1. hooray!!! I think you are so smart in your approach. Quilting is a background project for me - I usually have one quilt on the go and I've found I much more enjoy handquilting with perle cotton than I do bunching it in under the walking foot or doing traditional handquilting with tiny needles and stitches. I have (on Ben's quilt) mixed machine quilting with some rows of handquilting - that was a nice balance.

    I baste my quilts by masking taping the layers to the floor and then safety-pinning through all three layers. I have thought about using basting spray, though.

    I love binding my quilts! I always handstitch the binding to the back - I pick out a good movie or two and wait until the kids are in bed. Also fun to do on a long car trip. I have made many many bound potholders over the years for my etsy shop, and these mini-quilts are really good practice for working with binding (I usually make my own and I don't cut on the bias) and mitered corners.

    Best wishes on your quilting journey!! I'm always happy to talk quilting if you wish.

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  2. Thanks, Margo! I think we're on the save wave-length when it comes to quilting. It seems like I'm always "re-pinning" your pins to my "quilting inspiration" board on Pinterest. :) I really like the scrappy look of your hotpads.

    Good tips. I re-made my daughter's "lovey" quilt, which was completely falling apart, and handstitched the binding. It wasn't TOO bad... ;-)

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  3. I have some true shirt scraps almost just like these, already cut and waiting for something grand to happen to them. Maybe this winter? Thanks for the inspiration!

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    1. Yes! Go for it! Can't wait to see something grand! :)

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  4. Laura, your 'wonky' quilt is very special...all the love and memories tied up in the shirts and fabric scraps...makes me sentimental :) Also, the flat cap is really sharp, and it makes me feel like Edmund is a little man already...time goes WAY too fast! I love the photo - you are an excellent photographer. I see you changed blog formats...so you laid the original Quietude format to rest :( Sending hugs and love in Jesus to you, dear friend.

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    1. Thanks, Jacqueline! Yes, Edmund is so grown up, it boggles my mind too. Thanks for letting me know about the blog format; it was just a little something my husband had changed but the graphics weren't showing up! It's a testament to how behind I am that I didn't even notice... lol. I talked to my "tech support" and he quickly fixed the problem.

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  5. I am thinking that it's time I got a rotary cutter, as my so-called measured pieces often don't end up being the same size. I make do, but it would be nice to have at least some uniformity to depend on. :D

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  6. Yes -- if you can make your pieces as uniform as possible, it makes for less stress when piecing, that's for sure!

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  7. Have you heard of the board basting method? It is an easy, quick and perfect way to sandwich your quilt. On a table, seated on a chair; no more crawling over the floor with feelings of your back and knees being broken. In just a few hours it will be ready for quilting!
    It's my personal favorite way of basting a quilt and I have helped many quilters out. Once you have done it that way you can learn it to others and spread the method :>)
    Videos can be found on youtube.
    Good luck and enjoy!
    Cheers,

    Jeanneke.

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    1. Learn to others? I mean teach, ofcourse...

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  8. You might check out the Quilt in a Day shows on Youtube. I use safety pins to put my quilts together. Then remove them as I go along. I have also been known to HAND TIE a quilt such as the one you made. I have made a quilt out of old jeans that my husband and sons wore out. It was very bulky so would have been hard to quilt. I used light weight red yarn to tie it in each seam section. Then cut the ties to about an inch long. That quilt has been through 2 sons and 4 grandchildren now and is still being used. It is much loved. I am sure your quilt will be much loved too.

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  9. I have just finished my first quilt and gave it to my sister-in-law (see link below). I did a 6 week course and watched one of the free online courses by Craftsy which I found more useful than the course I attended. Since then I have purchased several courses from Craftsy when they are discounted as they are so good. YouTube was ver useful for instructions on the binding. I now on to my next three quilts. Yours looks great, well done.

    http://jo-stophaveachat.blogspot.com.au/2014/11/my-first-quilt-finished.html

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  10. I use safety pins to baste my quilt - even when I'm planning on hand quilting it. Lots of people love the basting spray because it is so fast, but it's nasty stuff and frankly, after trying it once I never used it again. It smells (and is) very toxic, and the overspray gets everywhere.

    Your first quilt is lovely! Wishing you joy with your new hobby.

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  11. I've heard a lot of horror stories about basting spray but basting pins are awesome!! They are basically bent safety pins and work wonderfully and muchicj faster than basting!

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