Tools and tricks of the trade, the process, and a few things I have learned along the way
My Happy Place (aka my sewing room)
I am lucky enough to have a whole room that I can dedicate to my hobby. I do share my space when we have company stay at the house, but for the most part, this is my space for sewing. When I started 10 years ago, my son was only six years old, so my sewing was limited to my girls weekends and occasionally time at my best friend’s house while our kids played. As he got older I would sew at the dining room table while he played close by. Then we changed our spare room into my sewing room. I have the one large storage shelf dedicated to fabrics, books, and supplies for quilting (picture 2). The other shelf is for my knick knacks and other crafty type supplies. I have also added hooks so that I can hang projects in process (picture 3). I have a large table for cutting, a table for my Cricut, and another table behind my sewing machine (this is so helpful when quilting as the fabric doesn’t pull when on the back side of the machine). I have plenty of hooks for all of my rulers mats to hang on the walls. My space, my way, and a no husband, no child are! My supplies are always where I left them and not buried under their stuff.
Useful General Supplies to have with any type of quilting
There are a few supplies needed in any type of quilting, whether you are doing memory quilts, regular pattern quilts, or specialty projects. You need a good pair of scissors that is used only to cut fabrics (make sure they are hidden from spouses and children!) and a rotary cutter makes cutting faster, smoother, and more precise. You will need good thread (Gutermann is my favorite brand), cheaper threads break in the middle of sewing. Rulers make cutting faster and more precise as well. I have a lot of rulers collected over the last 10 years, but to get started, a long rectangular ruler (~24 x 5 inches), a smaller rectangular ruler (~18 x 3 inches), and a few square rulers (4.5, 6.5, 8.5, 12.5 inches are my most used). Batting, you need that in all of your quilts. I have used fleece blankets as the batting in past projects, but the large roll means I always have batting when I am ready to start quilting a newly made top. Straight pins are a necessity for holding fabric together precisely while sewing. Clips can be used as an alternative in many projects (memory quilts are a great example). Safety pins are my preferred method for the holding the top, batting and backing together for quilting. A small pair of scissors for clipping thread, small needles and a thimble are a requirement for any hand sewing that needs to be done (my preferred method for binding).
Interfacing is a MUST for any stretchy fabric when trying to make squares and rectangles (for the assembly of the memory quilt). This was the piece I was missing when I first started quilting, my firs several projects didn’t have a square square in it because of the stretch of the t-shirt/sweatshirt material of the baby clothes. One of my favorite parts of making quilts is the actual quilting of the quilt, for me, I love free-motion quilting. I love the designing of the stitches, it can bring so much more to the final product. For the past several years, the 501 Quilting Motifs book has given or inspired much of my quilting patterns. I tend to like to work on one project at a time, but my bestie, she likes to work on multiple projects at a time. She has taught me much over the years, so whatever she is working on, I am usually working on as well. Therefore, I tend to have multiple projects going at the same time. Containers to hold each project is a must to keeping your projects organized so that you can jump into a project at any time and have all of the supplies ready to go.
The quilting process and the many decisions to make, some before you get started, some as you go through the project.
There are many choices to make for each project. Choosing the pattern to use for your top, whether you choose the pattern or you choose to do a mystery quilt where you don’t know the final product. Then you have to choose the fabrics to go into the quilt. Once the top is sewn together, you have to choose what fabric(s) to use for your backing, what weight batting to use in between your top and backing, what pattern or stencil will you use for the quilting, what color thread to use for the quilting. Once all of that is decided then you have to choose the type of binding you want to do and what fabric to use for the binding. So many decisions that can make the same pattern top look completely different depending on the choices you make throughout the process.
Same pattern with different fabric choices creates three different finished products. I love my girls weekends, especially when we work on the same project with our own fabric choices. I really enjoy how different they turn out.
Another girl’s weekend project, same pattern, different fabrics, amazing results. So much fun!!
A few bloopers along the way, a seam ripper is a must have in quilting!
I had the quilt top completed for months, hanging in my sewing room before I noticed that my top light purple border was sewn with back of the fabric facing out instead of the right side of the fabric. Thankfully I noticed before I quilted it, much easier to fix at this stage!
This one was pure genius! I was using my stencil to draw on the quilt when I messed up some of the lines so I used my iron to “erase” the lines (I have heat disappearing pens I use for drawing patterns on my quilts). Unfortunately, I didn’t move my stencil far enough away while “erasing” my lines and I melted my stencil. Thankfully, this was my first stencil I made with my new Cricut, so I was able to cut a new one relatively easy (compared to having to hand cut, so much harder on your hands and fingers).
I didn’t realize the mistake in the first block I made (left block in picture 1) until I had started sewing the left and right blocks together, the black point should have met with the right block. So I had to recut and sew all of the left blocks I had made. In doing this, I made myself one all black, 12 x 12 block short to finalize the top of the quilt. I had to come up with an alternative way to do the four corners with the material I had (I searched for the black fabric to purchase more but couldn’t find it anywhere). My first attempt was picture two but I didn’t like how the corner ran into the main pattern. My brilliant bestie came up with the third picture idea, better than the original pattern!