Friday, August 30, 2013

Every quilter should.....Go

Here is  a little list of ten things every quilter must try.  Once you try it, take the time to perfect it.  The trying is the journey, the perfecting it the goal.  Either way, you will be enriched and your skill will grow and your quilts will be amazing.

1.  A miniature quilt.  It doesn't have to be complicated.  My first one was a six inch school house block.  The seams were 1/8".  I quilted and bound it just like a bed-sized quilt.  I gave it to a quilting friend who moved away.  She loved it.  Our friendship was sewn into that tiny quilt and my love went with her to her new home.

2.  Go to a quilting retreat.  Even if it is just a quilt-in-a-day.  Being totally immersed in a project with like minds is so relaxing and liberating.  You will return rejuvenated and full of inspiration.  If you can go away for a weekend or a whole week, it's even better.  Good luck with that.

3.  Hand piece an entire quilt.  Say whaaat?  I once read an article in a quilting magazine that suggested this.  I tossed the magazine in a basket and scoffed at it.  Yes, I actually scoffed..out loud.  Two years later, I cleaned out that basked and found the article again.  I felt that it had found me and blamed me for scoffing.  I put together a carrying case (one of those little clear plastic bags with a zipper that sheets come in; aren't they great?)  with needle, thread, tiny scissors, a dresden plate template, a marking pencil and a few bits of cloth.  I kept it in the car. Whenever I had to wait, I cut and pieced.  It turned into one of my favorite projects.  It's been 14 years, it's almost done and it is part of me and I it.  It holds the memories of doctors appointments, soccer practices, long car rides and too many Veggie-Tale movies.  Priceless!

4.  Curved piecing.  Everyone said it was easy.  It looked to me like a sure way to fail badly.  One day, I felt bigger than failure and made a template (afraid that if I bought one and failed that would be double failure).  Guess what?  It is so easy and fast and I made two baby quilts in one week.  And had to stop because my family was getting really hungry.  

5.  Pieced borders.  Anyone can cut strips of fabric and sew them onto the edges of quilts.  Personally, I like a little one-inch black border to frame my work and then one or two larger borders to pop the color and make the quilt bigger.  This is such a cop out.  Even if all you do is chop up your left-over scraps and sew them into long strips, your quilt will be enhanced ten-fold.  But pull up your big-girl panties and and do a few intricate borders.  There are jillions of border patterns out there.  Yes, I know you thought you were done piecing, but you are not.  A simple flying geese will take your quilt up twenty notches.  The Seminole patterns are stunning; make up your own.  There are not border police coming to check for historical correctness on this.  Bedazzle your quilt for goodness sake.

6.  Foundation piecing.  I will admit that I do not love this method.  To me it is cumbersome and it wastes fabric.  But it does bring another element to the game.  You might really enjoy it.  I find the shreds of paper at the end to be a bit annoying.  I guess I just love the accuracy of my 1/4" foot...we have a real thing going on.

7.  The "Y" seam.  Why, yes I am talking about hexagons, thank you for asking!  This is like a drug.  Just try to go to sleep once you have tried this.  Moda Bake Shop is coming out with pre-cuts.  I'm not sure that I can take it anymore.  Get a clear template that has multiple sizes printed onto it.  It is very easy to slide it around to get the size that you want.  It comes with directions that are one paragraph long. Make a small pillow and I predict that you will be hooked on this.  It's just so stinking adorable.

8.  An historical tribute.  I was at ground zero for Hurricane Andrew.  What a mess.  We were a month without electricity in Florida's summer heat and three months without phone...pre-cell phone era 1992.  Everything was crushed, crumpled and destroyed.  My Bernina had sea water in it.  Talk about devastating.  But quilters are special folks.  The local guild put out a challenge to make hurricane quilts.   My home was too devastated to sew in but I went to the quilt show where they were all on display and it lifted my spirits.  Some were filled with sorrow, some thankfulness for survival, some pure grief and some were really funny.  If you don't laugh,  well, you should.  When the power came back on  and the seaweed was cleaned out of the bobbin area, I began to heal through a quilt.  That quilt is raw emotion. I could control absolutely nothing at that time of my life, but I could command a needle to be precise and accurate and I began to heal.  I love spectacular amounts of color and I used the colors of mud, dust and fog in this.  That should tell you how I was feeling.

9.  Hand Applique.  I use freezer paper.  I will not judge you if you don't.  I learned this from a sweet lady named Bernice.  She taught with a heart template so you could learn points and cleavage.  We laughed our heads off.  Hand applique is a great way to center yourself after a stressful day.

10.  Clean out your stash.  Please forgive me but you will never use that poly-cotton blend with Strawberry Shortcake printed on it.  I know.   Trade it, donate it, anything.  Make room for something that you love.  Clear away the clutter and you will set yourself free.  

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