The Quilts of Increasingly Fewer Mistakes

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The face I routinely make when attempting to sew.

Last fall, I knew that I would need to make more quilts to bundle and cozy myself up through the winter. I wanted to become a better seamstress, and I wanted to learn how to quilt my quilt myself rather than pay and have my project sent off to a shop. My mom bought me a new sewing machine that would better handle the demands of quilting, I promised to make her a throw in exchange for the sewing machine, and then I sat down to make approximately a thousand mistakes per quilt. The teacher in me reminded myself that you learn by making mistakes. The student in me sighed and rolled her eyes.

My mom and I both wanted to have a fox throw quilt, and I wanted at least one practice quilt I wasn’t overly sentimental about for the said manufacture of a thousand mistakes. I picked out a charm pack that was on sale online and chose the free Fresh Diamonds pattern to practice on. From there, I picked out some beautiful coordinating fabric at my local quilting store.

Even though I wanted a “cheap” practice quilt to learn on, I still wanted to practice on something else first. Out of some leftover fabric from an old project, I hobbled together a smaller scale quilt sandwich to practice the free motion quilting. I broke a needle. I broke my brand new sewing machine’s needle. I broke the needle on my practice attempt at quilting old fabric scraps. The universe may have been trying to send me a sign of some sort to desist, but nope: I am far too stubborn for that kind of nonsense. I changed out the broken needle, and I tried again.

My diamond quilt turned out okay. I definitely made mistakes that involved ripping out seams because I had sewed down parts of the quilt that shouldn’t have been. Making the diamonds quilt also gave me some much needed confidence to tackle my fox quilt, which involved much more piecing and making mistakes of a different variety, such as unintentional cropping of one of my fox’s ears. I’m still not sure where the measurements went wrong, but that mistake was not one I could readily fix with a seam ripper (though I certainly fixed other mistakes that way!).

I had intended to knock out all three quilts back to back so I could improve my skills in quick succession and cozy up the house for the winter, but I fell behind when my graduate course started. I had prioritized finishing my quilts rather than my mom’s because I prefer to make more mistakes on projects for myself. I won’t pretend that her quilt was mistake free, but the bulk of the mistakes (and the worst ones) were on my own quilts. I managed to finish her quilt just in time for Mother’s Day… and then summer. My timing is spectacular, but I think the quilt makes up for it.

In addition to improving my piecing skills, I learned how to free motion quilt and then improved upon that skill. I sometimes struggled to end a series of meanderings through the quilt smoothly, and I jerked a stitch or two  outside the smooth contours I had been creating. In addition to these skills, I learned that I absolutely loathe making the binding. I find it a tedious and frustrating process. Although I did hand sew the binding for my first queen-sized quilt, I cannot ever imagine doing so again. Machine sewing the binding, though more expeditious and presenting a plethora of decorative stitch options, offers its own drawbacks, such as fabric slippage. Ripping out decorative stitches on your binding when you are mere inches from having finished is not a particularly good way to end an evening of sewing. But, as I reminded myself later when I tackled another quilt’s binding, I sure did learn from that mistake.

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My cat, Mischief, increases the coziness quotient of my new fox quilt.
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