Sunday, December 19, 2010

So, You Don't Sew?

I must have been out of my mind! I signed up for a nine month Block of the Month club at our local quilt shop. This would normally be a fun thing to do—if I knew how to sew- but I don’t, not at all. In fact, I was not certain how to use the sewing machine but it came with instructions. We purchased a used Pfaff from a Singer sewing shop several years ago. It was a trade in; however, the store didn’t service that brand which was fortunate for us. It must do everything. There are enough buttons and displays that it should require some sort of certification to operate. I figured out how to make it sew forward and back but that’s about all, and in any case that’s all I have needed up to this point.

Sewing is an essential skill, one of those goals I have set for myself, plus I couldn’t let this machine go to waste. I saw an advertisement for a new Block of the Month quilt project in the next little town and I decided to sign up. The owner explained that we would not sew on site but she would demonstrate how to make each block. I had 30 days to get one 12 x 12 block completed plus the price was right. We pay for the pattern which comes with fabric to make the first block. If we come back each month and at least attempt to complete it, the fabric for the next block is free- providing we sit through her half hour advertisement for upcoming events and new products. Perfect- I can do this! How hard could it be?

It was hard. They didn’t sew as I thought they would. I suppose my definition of demonstrate was different than theirs. I envisioned one person cutting the various shapes and showing us how to sew them together. Then, if there were any questions, we could ask before we went home for the month. No, that wasn’t the plan. They simply hung up the pieces on a “felt board” so we could see them.

The pattern is an entire packet and one page provides the instructions for cutting and piecing material, not that I understood a single instruction. To make matters worse, she called all the other ladies by name. They are all quilters. There was only one non-quilter in the room of 40 women and she didn’t sew. Guess who that was? I was done for!

But wait! I did have another resource: You Tube! Yes, you can find anything you need on You Tube, in color, close up and from several different angles. I started adding them to my “favorites.” Then I started measuring and cutting, which is another story all in itself. I had no idea I would truly ever have a need for all those angles and formulas they tried to force feed me in high school. “This was supposed to be fun,” I sobbed as the tears came flowing out. To make a long story short, it was only with the help and guidance of my very patient, carpenter husband that I was able to make heads or tails out of anything.

I made the first block. Then the second. Then the third. Now I have #4 finished and I’m hooked! I may not be very good. My quilt may have mistakes but I discovered even the quilter ladies make mistakes – frequently. I look at them and tell them that it’s not a bad thing; in fact, it’s what makes their quilts perfect. All those little “goofs” make it very personalized and filled with love, unlike the foreign mass produced bedspreads that are identical to every other one in the world.

The class will continue until May when we decide if we will make the entire bedspread and purchase the finishing packet plus that “fluffy stuff” that goes inside (did you like the techie term there)? Once I am done piecing everything I will have someone machine quilt it due to time and space constraints.

What did I gain through all this pain? They say whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. This didn’t kill me, although it came close to causing a breakdown a couple of times. I am trying to move outside my comfort level. Maybe I’ll need to know how to sew someday or maybe not but either way I can chalk up another couple of skills and my confidence level is growing.


Mary Christine said...

Beautiful square! I was going to suggest you first try piecing by hand. I find machine piecing requires a lot of skill. Hand piecing takes forever, but it is beautiful and would give you the feel for piecing. But it looks like you have done a splendid job on the machine. Congrats!

Kathy Felsted Usher said...

Thank you! I'm getting better at it but still have a long way to go. I pressed this one a little too flat but I'll fix that. I'm pretty impressed by the icons you created and posted in a photo recently. Beautiful. Maybe you could write about Catholic symbolism. I don't think many people know much about that and it would be so interesting. Maybe I could even incorporate it into a quilted wall hanging someday.