I mentioned Monday and yesterday I was working on my very first quilt. I haven’t completed it yet, but I’ve definitely made it far enough to learn several valuable lessons. Karen’s tips proved to be more helpful than I could have ever expected. Some of the tips I’m glad I listened to…and then there where tips I should have listened. Today I wanted to share with you all what I’ve learned so far.
1. Having good quality tools is important. Even if it’s your first quilt and you don’t know if you’ll ever make another, buy a good rotary cutter and cutting mat. First I used scissors and that was a pain, then I switched to a rotary cutter but the blade was dull. Halfway through my first round of cutting I managed to find a newer rotary cutter and it made the process a million times easier. If I hadn’t finally used a decent cutting tool I probably would have seriously considered quitting.
2. You really should read the directions all the way through in the beginning. I honestly wanted to skip this step, but Karen knows much more than I do, so I read all the directions. It definitely was easier to go through each step after already getting an idea of everything I was going to do before I even started.
3. You should also reread where you are in the directions when you are returning to a project after a break. After taking a break, I came back to the project and picked up where I left off. I completely forgot I needed to sew the pieces right side together and ended up having to redo several pieces. If I had taken the time to look over the directions before picking back up I would have avoided that mistake.
4. Sewing a test piece of fabric before starting your official project is another tip I thought I could skip over. Thankfully I didn’t. As I settled in front of my TV at home to do major work on this project, I decided maybe I should actually do a test run. Lucky me, my machine broke the very first stitch. Fortunately I would able to fix it and begin on my project.
5. Time spent pressing the fabric is actually worth the time. I know this is very “beginner” quilter of me, but I went into the process thinking I didn’t actually need to use the iron as much as it said to. Turns out pressing really does matter. (I know many of you are shaking your heads at me right now.)
6. When it says press the seams, press the seams. Then pay attention to them when you’re sewing over them. I have a few places in my quilt top that don’t have the seams going the right way.
7. Pinning your fabric is another item that you might think you can skip over. Don’t skip over this step. I started out using as few pins as possible and ended with using as many pins as possible. It only took having to rip some seams a few times to learn that pinning actually saves you time.
8. Measure twice, read twice, check twice, pretty much check everything more than once. All those things will be faster than ripping out a whole seam because you sewed it on backwards. (I may or may not have done that.)
9. Be very, very organized. Karen gave me the brilliant tip to use fabric scraps to organize my material from A to H. I moved them around to the order I wanted, then taped them down to a piece of paper. I could then label them and use the piece as a reference for the rest of the project.
10. Chain piecing was another way to keep pieces organized. (Also another great tip from Karen.) It kept all the strips together for when I was ready to separate and press them.
At the end of the day it really is only fabric. Karen was right (again) when she said the beauty in handmade is the little flaws that come along with it. My quilt might have more than a few little flaws, but it works and I’m really proud of myself for sewing it all on my own. I would definitely recommend this quilt for a first time or beginner quilter.
P.S. If you want to win the fabric I used to make my quilt, visit yesterday’s post!