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Just the Basics, Ma’am.

I’m working on the Lazy Gal’s Guide to quilting and should have the first post up next week.  I’m working on a version of this quilt.  Nice and easy.  But before we get moving, let’s discuss some basics.

Number One:  And I’ll say this a hundred times during this series.  I really have no clue as to what I’m doing.  No formal training.  Nada.  I’m pretty lazy as I don’t care if it’s 100% perfect.  I think that fact is why I continue to quilt.  I see the final product: a blanket for my family to use.  And that little vision is what forces me finish it.  A perfect final product would never work for me.  Perfection would have squashed every single quilt I’ve ever made.  Not one of them would be completed if Perfection was lingering.  I don’t give a shit about super straight lines or perfectly bound corners.  I care that my family is able to eat dinner on one of my quilts.  I care that when it’s nap time, someone fights for the t-shirt quilt.  I want everyone I love to be drapped in a blanket made by me.  Perfection is a killer of that dream.

If you love being perfect, that’s fine.  It works for you.  But I won’t indulge it and I won’t say, “Do it again!” unless it’s absolutely necessary (which is rare).  You know your quirks; go easy on yourself.  Think about the final product.  Don’t let perfection kill your goal.

Number Two: You need some basic supplies.

  • A sewing machine
  • thread (I always choose white machine quilting thread)
  • fabric (More later.  It’s the first post.)
  • batting
  • a seam ripper is handy
  • scissor
  • self-healing cutting mat (Mine is 18 x 26 or something close…  I told you I was lazy)
  • rotary cutter
  • long clear acrylic ruler  (Years ago, I bought a similar set)
  • iron
  • extras: If you really think you want to get deep into quilting: a walking foot and piecing foot are fantastic.  But I think we can make the quilt without them.

Number Three: Super basic advice?  Learn how to use your sewing machine.  Learn how to sew 1/4 inch seam allowance.  Take two small pieces of material and line up the raw edges.  Push it through your machine and make sure the stitches are 1/4 inch from the raw edge.  That’s it.  A lot of times it will be the width of your pressure foot.  But sometimes it isn’t.  Check it and if you need to, take a Sharpie and draw a 1/4 inch guide on your machine.  That’s the line that you’ll always line your fabric against on while sewing.  Seam allowances won’t be extremely important for this quilt, but you will have to be consistent (using the same allowance for the entire quilt).  So it might be easy to use your pressure foot as your guide.  I did that for years and had good results.

Number Four: I never check my bobbin’s tension until it’s too late.  Because it’s on the underside sewing, I just forget.  It’s a little hard to see in these pictures.  A Macro lens would have been fantastic…  Make sure your underside sewing looks like the one on the left: like actual stitches and not just a long line like the one of the right.  Read your manual to adjust if necessary.

Number Five:  Here are my favorite books that I keep reaching for over and over again:

Number Six:  Start thinking about your final product.  What do you want to create?  I’m making a baby-sized one, but you can add more blocks to create a larger size.  Who do you want to give your blanket too?  Keeping it?  Perfect. What do you want to do with it?  Picnics?  Beach lounging?  Cuddled up by the fire?

Y’all know I love a good story and that helps me create a theme for my blankets.  I found one fabric and decided to build on that one.  I’m thinking mine is going to have a rocking, kickass, Granny feel.  Like the kind of Granny who wears awesomely bright and tacky clothes to the grocery.  Maybe she dyes her hair to match her favorite sweatshirt.  The kind of Granny who drinks 2 martinis with lunch.  The kind of Granny who tells you stories of her wild days and pushes you to create your own wild days right now.  That’s my quilt’s backstory.

Next week I’ll have the first post on how to choose fabric (I’m not giving you my favorite places to buy fabric online right now.  Because I think it’s real important to visit a quilt store.  I know it seems scary (I was nervous the first few times), but I’ll help you get through the door.

In the meantime, dust off your machine and get cozy with it.

p.s. Feel free to share your photos or link to progress on my Facebook wall.  I’d love to see them!

  • imene - Great now I actually have an excuse to go thrifting and fabric shopping. I got the two first books from the library. I am so looking forward to startMarch 25, 2013 – 1:55 pmReplyCancel

  • Anonymous - Thanks Erika! Making my own quilt has always been on my bucket list! In a future post, can you address how to timebox the quilt making process for those of us who find it hard to make (or find) the time?March 25, 2013 – 3:26 pmReplyCancel

  • Vanessa - Ooh- I might just be in for this. I have to figure out where to set up my machine in our rental, but….April 9, 2013 – 9:49 pmReplyCancel

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