Here’s the next post in my series of updates from the past couple years. This one is all about fabric/sewing/quilting. If you’re interested in what else I’ve been up to, you can check out the main post here.
First off, some things I have learned during this adventure:
- There is so much knowledge and information on youtube and the internet in general; a fact I definitely already knew, but a reality that I have been remarkably thankful for as I’ve tried to advance my sewing/quilting skills. I’ve looked up everything from ‘different hand stitching methods’ to ‘how to stop the quilt top from wrinkling.’ I have compiled a small playlist of videos I found helpful, for my own reference, but thought you might find them helpful too.
- Having a pattern or a plan can be helpful too, but definitely not as necessary as some might lead you to believe. Experimenting, improv quilting, and going with the flow has very much been my friend through all of this!
- Cutting straight lines (especially with a rotary cutter) can be incredibly helpful! At first I thought improv quilting just meant sewing any two pieces of fabric together without concern…and as much fun as that thought is, it didn’t go exactly like I have hoped. Which brings me to:
- Irons and pins are way more essential than I realized. Things seem to turn out very wonky without them (again, not always… but often enough that I am taking the time to use both now. It can still be improv and fun without being a wrinkly, uneven mess.)
- I have learned about products like fusible fabric and silicone thimbles; I have researched different types of batting and the environmental impact of different cushion materials. It’s all been in small doses, and I still have so much to learn, but I do think I know more than I did a few years ago at least!
- Sewing doesn’t have to be a crazy expensive hobby. Yes, I have spent money on fleece for the backs of t-shirt quilts and I have splurged on some patterned fabric from Etsy… but honestly most of what I have been working with is secondhand material – offcuts from the t-shirt quilts, ruined jeans, scraps from old projects. Plus, I even got lucky a few years ago and found this diverse collection of thread while I was out thrifting with my mom, so I haven’t even bought much of that. All that being said, I’m sure my projects aren’t as glamourous or ‘technically correct’ as some other peoples’… but I’ve had a lot of fun with what I’m making and with the fast fashion industry being as insane as it is, I feel good about repurposing old garments into new creations.
- Speaking of thread, I definitely have more to learn about thread! When I did finally buy some new stuff, I am pretty sure I bought the wrong kind… it’s too thin for what I wanted and breaks easily. I have found ways to make use of it (more delicate stitching) but next time I need to restock I am planning to research the weight/material I want ahead of time so that I’m not hit with the same indecision and overwhelm I was when I ended up buying the easily broken thread.
- Having a decent sized space is absolutely essential if you’re going to make something large. Thankfully I currently live somewhere where I can rearrange my furniture enough to make room for the things I have worked on, but as I’ve been considering downsizing or even the possibility of tiny house living, one of the things I have had to consider is the fact that I will probably need to scale down my quilt sizes.
- Organization is so helpful! I’ve started organizing my scraps into different sizes and different colors to help me find them, to help keep them flat, and to help my space not turn into a complete hoarder mess.
- Not everyone has the same taste. This, like the first item on the list, is something I knew. But as I’ve been getting more immersed in the quilt world it is fascinating to me how different people’s taste can be! I tend to combine simple, solid colored fabric into looser, rather chaotic designs. The only way I’ve found so far that I like to use patterned fabric is monochromatically. This might not be your taste or style and that’s okay – to each their own! But it has been helpful for me to be able to identify my own taste so that I can focus on making things that I genuinely like rather than considering ‘what might sell’ or what it ‘should’ look like.
- And as a final note, on the topic of inspiration, here are some makers I recommend checking out as they’ve been a huge inspiration to me:
And now, onto the things I have made. Here they are!
My First Quilt
Last thing to share today on the topic of quilting is my first quilt. I made this during an after school program in elementary school when I was 10. It all happened quite by accident actually… I didn’t get any of my top choices for classes so I got stuck in a line dancing class with two other kids. Turns out three kids really isn’t enough to make line dancing work, so I was moved during the second or third week to the ‘Advanced Quilting’ class, even though I hadn’t taken the prerequisite ‘Beginner’s Quilting.’ I started off behind, having joined late, but it ended up being such a great experience for me and obviously something I’ve carried on with me in life. I was so proud of this hand-stitched little quilt at the time and it still holds a special place in my heart.