Get Your Creative Juices Flowing: Sewing and Quilting

Hello Readers!  I know a lot of us want to be creative, but we may lack the artistic ability to paint or draw.  Some of us may have tried over the years and we most likely have failed.  I know there are a few of you that probably gave up on ever being creative or crafty.  But, let me tell you about a different way to be crafting and creative: sewing and quilting.

Believe me.  I’ve been there.  I am an awful artist!  I envy people who can be creative enough to draw something better than a stick figure.  While I do love to write and I do quite well with writing, I still want to do crafty and artsy things with my hands.  Lucky for me, I grew up with a quilting addict which has taught me how to sew and quilt for another way to get creative myself.

My mom and my grandmother love to quilt, and their efforts are everywhere in my own home!  I have roughly seven quilts they have made for myself or for my family, from my childhood Log Cabin quilt that graced my bed for a decade to our son’s Sun Bonnet Sue and Sun Hat Sam quilt that they made for our baby shower.  We have them everywhere, and so do they.  Between the two of them, they’ve made over five dozen quilts in twenty years.  That’s a lot of sewing.  And neither one of them can draw anything better than a stick figure.

Despite what you’ve heard, quilting is actually pretty easy to get down.  It’s a matter of cutting fabric and sewing it together using a machine.  I’m not kidding.  There is some measuring involved, but a lot of quilters can tell you that it’s easy to measure and cut that fabric, especially since they most often stack the fabric like you would with paper and cut it at the same time.

You see, when you buy fabric, you typically buy it in yards from what’s called a bolt, or the cardboard device that holds the fabric.  You pick up the bolt and tell the cutter that you would like as many yards as you need of the fabric.  And then they measure and cut as much as you need.  The fabric is already folded once on the bolt, and it’s all the same width of 45 or 60 inches, depending on the size of the bolt.  From there, you can fold the fabric again and again to get it into more manageable parts.

Now, when you quilt, you often have several cuts of the same size from the same fabric, or repetitive pieces.  Rather than cutting them out individually, which would take forever, folding the fabric over and cutting all of the pieces at once helps tremendously!  Plus, almost all pieces for a quilt are simple geometric shapes: squares, triangles, and rectangles.  There may be some five-sided pieces like the the pentagon or polygons, but most of your quilt pieces will be simple.  This is why it’s easy to stack the fabric and cut a lot of pieces at once.

Every now and again you will do a quilt that requires a fussy cut.  A fussy cut is simple, though it can be time consuming.  A fussy cut is a specific cut of a fabric, typically a square, around a picture or object in the fabric.  For example, I have a cat quilt my mom made for me years ago as a lap quilt with fussy cuts.  In the center of every foot-long square, there is a picture of a cat from the fabric in the center square.  She picked out the fabric, chose the cats to feature, and cut identical squares with each cat in the center individually.  This takes some time, but it can make all the difference.

Once you have your quilt pieces cut and ready, then it’s a matter of piecing them together like a puzzle.  Patterns help a lot with this step, and most patterns repeat for the entire quilt.  So after a couple of foot-long blocks sewn together, you begin to get the hang of it and your quilt comes together fairly easy.  Just keep in mind that all quilts will have a mistake, but it will not make any difference.  Most people will never find the mistake.  I received a quilt for my wedding day from my mom and grandmother nearly two years ago and they informed me that there was a mistake in the quilt.  And I still haven’t found it even though the quilt has graced my bed since my wedding day.

So if you are interested in quilting, check out your local craft or fabric/quilting store for more information.  The attendants can help you find an easy pattern and measure the fabric for you for your size.  I highly recommend starting with a lap quilt first and working your way up.  And from there the rest is pretty easy.  Be sure to ask the attendants at the store if they know of any quilters or people who machine quilt afterward.  These are people who take your final quilt top, your batting, and your backing, and they sew it together with a design through the layers.  Not only does this enhance the beauty of your quilt but it also keeps the quilt together so the batting doesn’t slide out of place.  You can buy the machine, but the average cost of a quilting machine is about $5,000.  My mom and grandmother have been quilting for about twenty five years each, and they just pooled their money to buy a machine of their own this last year.  So, even experienced quilters don’t always own the expensive machines.  And they are bulky.  They can be about ten feet long and take up a lot of room.  So, save your money and just hire someone to do this part.

So tell me, Readers, have any of you made a quilt?  What was your experience like?  I’d love to hear from you!

Until next time,

-BBM

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