A Meandering Observation about Quilting

My Baby Quilt with “Sewing in a Straight Line” by Brett Bara

I’m new to learning how to sew on the machine, and I’ve been working on different small projects this summer because as the adage goes “practice makes perfect.”  And so I have been tormenting myself with a baby quilt for the last couple of months.  It’s a beautiful and simple design by one of my favourite crafters, Brett Bara.  (I really can’t say enough nice things about her.)  However, I just can’t seem to get the quilt sewn without varying stitching lengths and puckering.  With trial and error, the former issue has been resolved with both adjusting the tension and a new needle.  The latter is still causing me a headache.

How I currently feel about the baby quilt

I read a beautiful book called the Little Bits Quilting Bee by Kathreen Ricketson that I checked out from the library which posited a radical thought.  The author said (and I’m paraphrasing since I’ve already returned the book) to not practice too much because perfection is not possible.  Her point was that if all we ever did was practice, then nothing would be accomplished.

Good point, right?  (Ok, keep that in mind.)

So I went to the county fair this summer and was so impressed by all of the sewing (and knitting) entries.  Even though I am a novice, I looked at a lot of the traditional quilts and realized that I could probably make them.  I realized that I could actually enter a competition someday, and even though I may not win a ribbon, it would be a fun adventure.  (Can you feel the excitement?)

Then recently, I had the pleasure of viewing old quilts that were being sold in an antique shop for a pretty penny.  It was there that I realized that Ricketson was only partly right as I spotted flaw after flaw in these old quilts.  I knew that if I were to make a quilt, that I would want it to be of heirloom quality, and that it needed to be good enough that a novice wouldn’t be able to identify errors.  A quilter needs to do good work.  (And back to reality I go.)

With that, I’m going to go back to that baby quilt I’ve been working on and rip it out again.  Unless Wren wakes up from her nap first.

Alternate Perspective of the Quilt Top


8 thoughts on “A Meandering Observation about Quilting

  1. I’ve been reading a lot of quilting technique books trying to find out how to get the backing and batting to stop bunching. Here are some of the recommended solutions I need to try:

    1. From “Quilting School,” sew the quilting stitches in the same direction. (This is the opposite of what I was told by an expert quilter, but it’s worth a shot since her method is not working for this quilt.)
    2. From “The Complete Guide to Quilting Techniques,” start in the middle, go one direction. Return to the center, and go the other direction. This was for gridding, but it could apply since I want to run straight lines across the quilt.
    3. From “Material Obsession,” quilt closer stitches for a cotton batting. The book recommends as much as every 1/2″ to 3″.

    Do you have any other tips for the quilting?

  2. I love that book too. Had checked it out from the library, but didn’t have time to make anything from it. The quilt looks great!

  3. Are you pressing (very, very) carefully before you stitch? On my first project I thought I’d just sew it straight because I didn’t have an iron. On my second project I borrowed an iron and it made a great deal of difference. On the third project I bought an iron.

  4. Nevermind, for some reason I had it in my mind that you were piecing. I don’t guess pressing would be helpful with quilting because it would squish your batting. For quilting, what I was advised was to start in the middle and work outward. Except for the quilt that I machine-quilted long diagonal lines across the whole quilt. The lady at the shop agreed that starting in the middle would make a visible mess of backstitching at the most prominent location and advised me to start in one corner but pin it (very, very) carefully. 🙂

    • I’ve read so many books about quilting I’m losing track, but one of them said that you wouldn’t have to run backstitches as long as you insert the needle a few stitches back and that it should be enough to hold it in. Maybe that would work? Or maybe that was simply a solution for when the bobbin runs out in the middle of the work.

  5. Pingback: The Quilter’s Progress | Polly's Blog

  6. Pingback: 2013: The year of making stuff | Polly's Blog

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