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Diary of a Quilting Virgin, Chapter 2 posted: 5/15/2003
by Janet Hawks Printable Page
Category: General Method: All Series: Diary Of A Quilting Virgin
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Chapter 2: One Down, Many To Go

The Sewing Part

As I begin my ("first time") sewing, I find that it is surprisingly easier than I thought it would be. I have these neat little lines to sew along (which, by the way, I still have trouble sewing straight lines, even with the lines on the paper to guide me), and I don't have to cut a single piece to exact measurements or even straight lines. I am also wielding a handy-dandy add-a-quarter ruler that gives me a perfect seam allowance (yet another quilting term, I am starting to get the hang of this quilting stuff!). This suits me fine because I have never been an exact, detail-oriented kind of gal. Give me the big picture and I'm good, but don't bog me down with particulars or those nit-picky "exact measurements".

I am suddenly struck by the thought that I am probably cheating in the "quilting" world using my sew-along-the-lines paper pieces. (Do I care as long as it fills my house with pretty quilts?) That thought doesn't stay for long because I am further struck by the fact that I am creating something out of fabric that actually looks good (if I do say so myself!). Not good in the "I could show this off" sense, but good in the "wow, I did this myself and it doesn't look too terrible" sense.

Forgetting the fact that if my sewing machine suddenly ran out of thread or had to change a setting, I would be back to my previous "duh" state, I am actually SEWING! I had never thought of myself as a sewer, my mom wasn't really a sewer and it had never really appealed to me before. Just sitting at the sewing machine for endless hours did not seem like fun to me. But now I find myself slaving away for a couple of hours at a time without realizing it. Now that I am (mostly) over my sewing machine anxiety, I can just sit and sew.

Of course, with two kids under 3 (how do I get anything done?) and a part time job I work from home, it is not easy to find the time to just sit and sew. I find myself sneaking into the guest/sewing room to sew one piece to my trees or another piece on my mountains whenever I have a spare moment. However, my little cabin in the woods quilt usually has to take a back seat to kids, work, laundry, dinners, and baths!

Oh, The Wonders of Paper Piecing

Let me sing the praises of paper piecing. Without that little line to sew along, I believe that my little cabin in the woods would have looked more like a dilapidated shack strewn with wrecked cars and trash you sometimes find along the road of a run down little town. Since I also don't think I could cut straight to save my life, paper piecing is the way to go for me. I love it, it is kind of like color by numbers (but without the third grade feel) and there are so many patterns available today. Speaking from a beginnerís point of view, it takes the fear out of quilting (well, ok, some of the fear) and gives you a great place to start. For me, it may be the beginning, middle and end of my quilting career!

Ok, despite all of my ramblings on my future as a great quilter, remember I am still a beginner. If I had a dollar for every time that I sewed a piece on backwards or on the wrong side of the paper, I would be a very rich woman (know anyone who would pay me to do that?). I was getting very good at ripping (is that the correct quilting term?) my just perfectly sewn stitches out, and resewing them not as perfectly. It rips my heart out to have to unsew something that took me so long to sew in the first place. Now, my MIL can sew so fast that sometimes she sews her finger onto her quilt (she did it at my house once, not a pretty site, I can assure you). Not me, I could be crowned "Slowest Sewer In Texas". If my foot starts bearing down on that pedal like I am in the Indy 500, I get so nervous that I have to stop sewing for a minute for fear that the machine will go crazy and take over (I've heard they do that).

Reflections

So, what you really want to know and the reason you are reading this is, did I finish my first quilt and lose my status as The Quilt Virgin (and did I also feed the dog)? Well, yes and no (and yes, Murphy is enjoying some kibble right now). I did finish piecing my little cabin in the woods quilt and even put a border around it (although without the lines to sew along, it is a bit crooked). However, I shipped it off to MIL to bind and quilt, so in my mind I haven't actually "finished" a quilt yet and can retain my status as The Quilt Virgin. Nonetheless, I am quite proud of what I did accomplish. In the end, I altered the pattern from the book, which had a picket fence and tulips in front of the cabin (which I replaced with grass, not a tulip-y kind of girl), but hey, while it's her prerogative to put them there, it doesn't mean I have to sew them. I like to think that makes my quilt unique!

If you would have asked me this time last year if I would be sewing now, I would have looked at you like you were "multiple personalities, schizophrenic, running for the hills, need to be admitted insane". But now, although I wouldn't admit it to just anyone, I might just have a small kinship with those "crazy quilting ladies". Mind you, I am not about to start wearing funny quilted clothes or big red hats yet (I am only 30, give me some time), but I can see why they love it so much. Quilting has not really caught me in its clutches yet, but it could happen. Although, you may not agree with me when you see what I try next!

Tune in next time to see what complete damage I can inflict when I attempt to veer away from my sacred paper piecing...

©2003 The Quilting Virgin

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