Thursday, January 2, 2014

Embracing 'Mistakes' :)

First I want to say thanks to all that took the time to pop on over to my blog from Lily's Quilts and Sew Fresh Quilts!  And thank you all for the lovely comments! So encouraging to read :) I have been lurking around on various blogs for a long time but never commented even though I have gotten so much inspiration from them.  I spent a good amount of time yesterday reading and commenting on the various blogs linked to the Small Blog Meet, Fresh Sewing Day and Let's Be Social! What wonderful talent there is here in blog land. Thanks ladies and gents for making my 'to do' list even longer!  A huge thank you to Lily's Quilts and Sew Fresh Quilts for providing the opportunity :)

Writing this blog has me looking back at the process of making my quilts.  I have a bit of perfectionism in me ;) and I find I struggle with this a lot when it comes to inaccuracies - in sewing and matching up seams, picking material, FMQ and the look of the final product.  The pattern for this quilt is called Falling Charms.  The quilt was made from an Island Batiks charm pack and Kona Solids Leaf Green Jelly Roll.  The border and binding were purchased from an LQS.  For the first time, I used wool batting. More on that later. The tutorial was another of Jenny Doan's and can be found here.  I use this quilt to snuggle under every morning :) Here it is (just took these pictures so it is washed and well used):

Here is a close up of the FMQ.  I used stencils for the first time on this quilt for the leaf that is located under each of the double squares.  If you have not tried using stencils, I encourage you to do so!  I thought it was 'cheating!'  I don't know where that thought came from but since this first quilt I have embraced the use of stencils.

With this quilt, I found I was having major issues with cutting accuracy.  I could not for the life of me figure out what the problem could be. I thought I was being very careful with my measurements and cutting.  Why was everything so off??? I ended up squaring up every square prior to sewing the quilt together and continued to be completely baffled as to how those blocks ended up so wonky!  With time, a little more experience and A LOT of reading, this is what I discovered:

1) There is a HUGE difference between ironing and pressing! I know, some of you are saying duh! But as a new quilter, I had no idea and I had read and watched some tuts on ironing and thought the entire time - "Really? How much difference can that make?"  As I have said before, my theory is all rules are meant to be broken and I thought this was a good one to test :) Not so much!  Here is a good tutorial from Nancy's Notions on pressing.  I admit it, I press my seams open.  It works for me and it has increased my accuracy significantly.  I do press to the side when pressing curved piecing but other than that, my seams are pressed open.  Again, this is personal preference and I read once that wars were started over less than the controversy in the quilting world over the pressing of seams... I believe it! Again, as a rule breaker, do what works for you :)

2) A FLAT cutting surface is essential - I was using my sewing cabinet which has a large area to the left.  There is an extension that can be put over the top drawer when it is open.  I had my cutting mat on this extended portion of table and it extended over where the extension and the table met.  There was a bit of a slant at that connection and it was throwing off my cutting accuracy!  Even a very slight variation in your cutting surface will make a difference!

3) Rulers make a difference. I was using a 'Quilters Ruler' that had raised black ridges on the side that was on the fabric.  I had also bought a Creative Grids ruler and was using both of them when I was cutting.  Alas, there is also a good reason there are many, many posts, hints, tuts out there that advise using the same brand of ruler!  It doesn't matter what brand you use, just use the same brand for all of your go to rulers. 

OK so now for the embracing the 'mistakes' part of this post.  After the blocks were sewn together, I watched the video again (OK, so I had watched the video over and over again as I was making the quilt to see various details as I was working through the project.... good thing those videos don't have a watch limit!) and realized - my quilt doesn't look like Jenny's quilt!!  GASP haha I looked at the video again, looked at my quilt, looked at the layout section of the video, looked at my quilt... I think you are getting the picture.  I couldn't figure out what I did 'wrong.'  So I went to the forum at Missouri Star Quilt Co's web site, posted a picture of the top and asked the question - what did I do 'wrong?'  The answer to that question in the end is NOTHING! I think it looks great the way it is :) What I found out was that I laid the blocks out in a different configuration. What I ended up with is what I call "Double Falling Charms" haha Embrace those 'mistakes' that really are not going to make a difference in whether a quilt will function as a quilt.  I still struggle with this, but I'm getting better.

Wool batting - LOVE it! If you like a bit of loft to your quilts but don't want to use polyester batting, this is the perfect alternative!  I have only made a couple of quilts since this one that did not have wool batting.  I love it that much!  It is a dream to FMQ on, it is a little loftier (which I prefer) and I think it makes for a softer quilt.

As always, comments and questions are encouraged and appreciated!  

In my next post, I will talk about the good, the bad and the ugly of working with Minky.... Until next time, keep on quilting!!


  1. I have come via Lilly's Quilts. Isn't that a great linky?? I love wool wadding, but I prefer wool/poly because it is more washable and user friendly. Still has a good loft, and is nice ans soft when completed.

    1. Thank you for visiting! It is a great link :) I haven't had any issues with wool batting being user friendly or washable.... I would love to hear any issues you have had! I have washed and dried the wool batting quilts I have made in cold water and low setting on dryer and have had good results.... This is only one washing though so I'm not sure what the test of time and multiple washings will bring....

  2. I am going to add a couple of extra points for you to consider re accuracy.
    1. Make sure the corner of the ruler you are using is not "chewed". Accurate corners (i.e. ones which have not been damaged) are essential for accurate corners to squares etc.
    2. When cutting strips - if the fabric is folded, you often get a bit of a bubble at the fold, so always check that the section where the fold is has been accurately cut.
    3. When you are ironing - doesn't matter if you fold over or open seams, but I prefer to fold over (there is a whole essay there!). Make sure there isn't a tiny nip of fabric at the seam where the fabric folds back on itself. This is hugely important if you are making heavily pieced blocks. I have just made some 6" Road to Oklahoma blocks and there are at least 4 seams across the width and length of each block, so half a millimetre on each seam there would be 2 millimetres, or about 1/8" on each block in each direction. Multiply that across the quilt & its a huge variation.

    1. Dasha, thank you for posting the additional tips! Yes, that Quilter's Ruler I was using was decades old, had been through several moves with little consideration regarding 'ruler integrity' . . . that ruler is VERY chewed! I find when I am cutting strips, that little 'bubble' at the fold is caused by not having the fabric folded on grain... and I also measure the strip at the top AND bottom of the fabric to make sure it is the same :) Isn't that the truth about the essay on ironing! An yes, that little bothersome nip of fabric at the seam that does happen from time to time can make a HUGE difference (and causes havoc when quilting too!). Pressing on BOTH sides of the block seems to help with this little annoyance!


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