Chapter 3: Very Slow Progress
Where have you been?
You may have wondered, "What has happened to that
Well, I can assure you that she is still alive and well,
but very busy. I actually have done very little quilting in the five months since
my last update. To tell you the truth, quilting has been the last thing on my mind.
I know, I know, many of you cannot imagine going a day without at least adding a
few stitches or dreaming your next quilt in your head. But, alas, as you may know,
I am the Quilting Virgin for a reason. I have not yet caught the all-consuming
passion that many quilters I know have (I might even side-step it altogether).
So, in between my work, kids, and never-ending loads
of laundry and stinky diapers, I did squeeze in another project (my first gift quilt).
Some friends of ours are having a baby, (as a matter of fact, she is in labor on
this very night that I write this), and I thought it would be nice if I could make
them a baby quilt (I figure since they are smaller, there is less to mess up).
Still Paper Piecing?
Although I still think paper piecing is the way to go,
I mistakenly thought that I was ready to go out on my own since my first quilt
turned out well. I thought that I was ready for the big time of quilting—sewing
without a net. Or in this case, paper. I picked a pattern on this site that
was for beginners and looked relatively easy to do,
(picture at right is the way it should look).
After all, I thought I qualified as a beginner, although that could be because
I don't think they have a level lower than that!
My friends are doing their little baby girl's room in
sage green gingham and pink, so I went to my favorite fabric store (that made me
sound like a real quilter, didn't it?) and found the cutest toile in those colors
as well as some coordinating fabrics. Everything was set; it was going to be the
cutest baby quilt EVER (ok, my sights might have been set just a tad high from
the beginning), with the toile fabric highlighted in the middle square and the
other colors around it. Or so I thought...
Is That Supposed to Be a King's Crown?
Nothing went right. The one block I did make looked
like my 3 year old did it, ok, I admit, maybe my 18 month old. It was just plain
awful. How awful could it be, you ask? None of the seams were even; a few of them
somehow missed the machine and didn't even get sewn. None of the corners matched,
my poor little King's Crown block looked like it had drunk too much mead and fallen
off its throne. Witness Exhibit A!
I know, many of you are saying "You're exaggerating,
you should have seen my first project, it was pretty bad". Well, you can see for
yourself, I am not overstating my complete and utter failure to sew a straight line.
However, on the bright side, I do think that if they were giving out medals for the
"Worst Sewn Block Ever", I could be going for gold. It also solidifies
my position of Queen Quilting Virgin; I doubt my crown could be overthrown anytime
soon, so I've got that going for me.
I couldn't tell you how this happened, I had even
put a little marker on my sewing machine at the ľ" mark to make my seams even like
my MIL (otherwise known as Mother-in-Law) showed me. That little marker must have
some defect or something—no one can sew that bad!
Back to Paper Piecing
So like a dog (feed dog?) between her legs, I crawl back
to paper piecing. This time, I chose a pattern out of a baby quilt paper-piecing
book by Carol Doak (I have yet to see a paper-piecing book that she didnít write!)
that seemed pretty easy. It was alternating pinwheels and plain squares (no
piecing on those, yah!), so I used my coordinating colors for the pinwheels and
the toile fabric for the plain blocks in between.
Wow, my paper-pieced block turned out a million times
better than my attempt at the free-hand block (apparently I should be barred from
using the sewing machine unless I have a piece of paper attached to my fabric!).
The points of my pinwheels match in the middle (mostly) and it actually looks
like a real block! I seriously don't know how anyone can make a block without paper,
to me, it seems impossible.
So I finally finished my 13 pinwheel blocks that make
up the center, which seemed like they took FOREVER to do. Well, to be honest,
the actual piecing part gets very boring to me; I get tired of doing the same
block over and over again. I may be going out on a limb here, but I am getting
the feeling that I am not "cut out" (no pun intended) to be a quilter. I love designing (and I
use that term loosely) the quilt and picking out the fabrics and pattern, but
actually doing the sewing gets so boring, it almost feels more like homework
than fun (doesn't that bring back memories). Perhaps if I actually knew how to
sew or had any idea of what I was doing, it might be more fun.
Anyway, my MIL comes to my rescue again. The original
pattern calls for 13 blocks in the center part combined with 12 large squares,
then 4 blocks in each corner. Well, I just couldn't get those last 4 blocks done,
so MIL suggests we forget those (LOVE her) and just put borders around the whole
thing. Easy, right? Well, there's another thing I am not good at, selecting
which fabrics should be borders and in what order.
Whew! Finally finished. After agonizing for over an
hour of which border goes where, my MIL comes in and in two minutes flat suggests
the perfect combination. Then she does something magic to the machine that makes
it quilt so well (ok, maybe that's just her). She also magically changes some settings on
the machine that I had no idea could be changed, as well as adding a "walking foot"
(which to me sounds more like a condition you get from hiking than a sewing utensil)
that she pulled out of a compartment I didn't even know existed. Apparently, I still
have A LOT to learn!
So, What's Next?
I don't know yet how my king's crown block failure will
affect my future as a "real quilter". But, I think I might try a few non-quilting
projects to practice "sewing", and then give it another try. Don't be surprised
if you don't hear from me for a while, though.
I do have a request for all you quilters out there.
Just for fun, I would like to see how my "Worst Block" measures up, and if I really
deserve the gold medal for the "Worst Sewn Block/Quilt Ever". Submit a picture and
brief story of your bad blocks or quilts, and we'll have an on-line exhibit of
these "Worst Blocks". If I could see someone else's bad sewing, perhaps it would
make me and every other bad quilter out there feel better!
Send your Awful, Horrible, Bad, Deformed, Misshapen,
or just plain UGLY blocks to
JanetHawks@theQuilterCommunity.com and make my day!
©2003 The Quilting Virgin