I wanted to write a little about the art of piecing. I was originally going to say ‘the art of quilting’, but I really wasn’t talking about that. The most difficult, frustrating, and wonderful thing for me is still piecing a quilt together. I do not want to detract from the quilting process at all, merely to say that while the quality of the quilting can make a huge impact on the design as many people know, it takes a special skill to piece a quilt as well.
One of the things that Kay and I had discovered during our quilting journey, was how many of our wonderful long arm quilters weren’t necessarily great at the construction aspect of the process. It sounds like such an easy thing to do… pick out fabric, pick out/design quilt, cut said fabric, sew all of it together and then hand it to the “professional” to do the real work of quilting it all down. As I’ve said, I am not detracting from the artistry and difficulty of the quilter, but want to emphasize the first part of this whole process.
I can’t tell you how much fabric I’ve passed up even when I’ve fallen in love with a particular one. Yes, I do have some lone wolves in my stash that I could not resist, but they’re lone wolves because I couldn’t (yet) find anything to put them with. It’s generally a good idea to start with the pattern you’ve created or one you’ve seen rather than picking the fabric and then ‘stuffing’ it into a pattern. I have seen a collection of fabric however and made the purchase Hoping to find a pattern that I could use. With seasonal fabric, it is not as difficult.
Picking a pattern
This can be a tough nut… I’ve picked a pattern before and looked at it in all its ‘simplicity’ and then tried to execute it only to find out that I was bamboozled. What looked like an easy inviting pattern turned out to be a cutting or piecing nightmare that after I finished with it I swore I’d never attempt that again… or words to that effect! Another challenge loomed while working with Electric quilt, which is a wonderful product, but is time-consuming to learn and then apply your knowledge to build the pattern. The one advantage that I can see using the EQ product is that whether or not your pattern is unique among others is that you created it yourself and it might just be a one-of-a-kind pattern.
Another thought before I leave this topic is a personal opinion (be warned)… sometimes more is just, more.
Sewing and Pressing
I can’t for the life of me put enough emphasis on this… when ironing, press the fabric do NOT stretch the fabric. I realize that after sewing you might measure and find that you’ve lost an 1/8” or more off of what the finished size should be, but trust me on this if you stretch the fabric it’s going to do weird things after the first wash. Also, by paying attention to your seams and keeping them flat but not stretched, you will help your long-arm quilter avoid the “hills and valleys” they sometimes find in others work.
Sewing can be the swiftest was to destroy a complicated pattern. I should mention that not all sewing machines are alike, nor are their measurements the same. The biggest issue that I’ve encountered while piecing a quilt together was using multiple machines during this process. This error is second only to having a consistent ¼” when sewing. Don’t let your material boss you around!! As you sew, keep an even pressure on the fabric and keep the speed as consistent as you can.
I hope this post hasn’t been too preachy, I just wanted to lay down a few things to think about when contemplating your next project. Until next time, happy quilting!!