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First Quilt

Old 06-12-2020, 07:39 AM
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Default First Quilt

I tried my first block quilt. It was a total disaster with almost none of the seams intersecting. Might have gotten 10 percent to line up. Also had way fabric. In other words, the pieced together squares would not lay flat, regardless of whether I ironed it.

So I will try salvaging the blocks , and use them for some other project.

What I would like to know is if I should purchase from "Connecting Threads", one of their lap quilt kits. I've looked at them, and they seem to be very complete, and give good instructions. They also list whether the project is easy, intermediate or advanced.

Of course, I need to get one that is easy, or if they have one that is called extremely easy. Anyone ever tried one of these kits? And if so, what would your recommend for someone who basically has only hand sewn in their life.

Also, do you suggest any of the squares or rolls of pre-cut material? I'm not very good with colours. I tend to have difficulty seeing the difference in shades of the same colour, unless they difference is extreme.

Anyway, I would love to hear from thsoe who have dealt with "Connecting Threads", as that is probably going to be my source for fabric and other things they sell. Amazon, which I have used for years is just too difficult to figure out.
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Old 06-12-2020, 07:57 AM
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It's good to see you are making progress. Very few of our first quilts are objects of delight and wonder except maybe to ourselves, but I've had friends with significant sewing experience do marvelous things on their first quilt. lol, all I can say is it wasn't like that for me. I think a lot of us do finish that first piece but probably a lot of UFOs are first quilts, and if you think you can improve your project and feel like it, you can try cutting the blocks smaller, or cutting the strips different widths, sewing them back together and not caring if the seams match or not.

I have friends who order a lot from Connecting Threads and I always enjoy their catalogs.

I don't do many kits myself and there are all sorts of kits. Some include fabric yardage and cutting directions, some feature all pre-cut pieces. Kits can be a good way to get started, classes (if being offered) even when it seems expensive maybe better. Grouped fabric collections help a lot of people, the precuts and such which includes the fat quarter packets.

A lot of people start by kits or classes, move on to using designed projects with coordinated groups of fabrics, and then feeling secure enough start making their own design/fabric decisions. Other people have more pronounced design sense and go maverick from the beginning.
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Old 06-12-2020, 08:39 AM
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I have not purchased a kit from Connecting Threads, but I have purchased a bundle of their fat quarters. The bundle included fabrics that coordinated well together.

I have purchased a few kits from other sources.
  1. The Jordan Fabric kits were fantastic. The pieces were precut, fit together perfectly and the instructions were clear and easy to follow. Jordan even has several YouTube videos that take you step by step through the instructions for making their quilts. I would definitely purchase more kits from them. Their website is https://jordanfabrics.com/
  2. I have purchased a couple of kits from local quilt shops. I have NOT been happy with those kits. One shop had a display quilt I really liked so I purchased it. When I got home and opened the kit, there was a one page (really an index card size instruction for a quilt that did NOT look anything like the one in the store. The fabrics in the kit were cut into yardage that had to be cut down into the quilt pieces, but I couldn't remember which fabric should go where in the quilt. After wasting a couple of hours trying to figure it out, I gave up and just made a simple quilt of my own design. The latest LQS kit I worked on had 5" borders with medallions in the corners. The kit said each corner medallion measured 5" square. Guess what - the squares were 5" x 5-1/2". The medallions had a preprinted "frame" around the picture, which meant you would have to cut the frame off on the sides in order to fit the medallions into the corners. I will NEVER buy another kit from a LQS.
I just introduced my cousin (who had never sewed anything before) started on quilting this past November. She made Donna Jordan's Jelly Roll Drag Race quilt. It is a very cute, super easy project for a beginner and there's a Donna Jordan YouTube video on how to make it. My cousin's quilt turned out great and it gave her the confidence to do more quilting projects. She is now "hooked" on quilting. I HIGHLY recommend this as an excellent beginner project. The YouTube is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=loiM2xGMWJk
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Old 06-12-2020, 09:01 AM
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I have never had a problem with ordering from Connecting Threads, altho I have never made one of their kits.

There are a few things that you can check on your own, to help you succeed on your next attempt. A very basic one, but really also the most important, is: Are you stitching a consistent 1/4 inch seam? Are you using a 1/4 inch foot on your machine or are you relying on the seam guide on the bed of your machine? Sew a few pieces together and check the width of the seam. You may need to move your needle a little bit to get it exact.

Secondly, you did not say if you cut the squares yourself or used a pre-cut bundle. Not all pre-cuts are created equal. I have had some that vary as much as 3/8's of an inch in the same bundle. If you cut them yourself, just a few threads more or less, here or there, can make a big difference in the end.

The third thing I would look at, is the difference between 'ironing a seam' and pressing a seam'. Pressing means putting the iron on the seam and lifting it off. Ironing involves moving the iron along the seam or fabric. Ironing can stretch and distort the fabric. Using steam can shrink some fabrics and stretch others. Ironing may have been the major culprit in your first attempt.

It is great that you are going to try again. A simple kit with explicit instructions would be the next best thing to a quilting class. Good luck and this board is always here to help. They are an awesome bunch!
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Old 06-12-2020, 09:03 AM
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Hi Caley,
Can you post a pic of your top with the non-matching blocks? We might be able to help you figure out what happened.
Has anyone ever talked with you about "pressing" vs "ironing"? Ironing is dragging the iron over the fabric, which can lead to stretched bias and wavy blocks. Pressing is lifting the iron up and down, no dragging or swiping, and the blocks will not distort.
Regarding Connecting Threads, I have purchased kits from them before, they're actually a good place to start. CT is usually fairly generous with their fabrics, so if you make a small mistake it's not usually fatal.
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Old 06-12-2020, 09:18 AM
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I'm so proud that you've made your first block quilt. Like Iceblossom said, most first quilts are just that....first quilts....that will improve over time.
Personally, I love kits from Connecting Threads. I have bought and made several from them & they always give generous amounts of fabric to make the kit. I mostly buy my thread from them also even though it leaves a bit more lint in the bobbin area that requires cleaning the bobbin area more often. They also have good customer service.
Don't forget to measure twice/cut once. Sometimes it takes getting used to quilting rulers & you may think you are cutting a 2 1/2" square and you are actually cutting a 2 5/8". That little 1/8" over will make a big difference when it comes to matching seams.
Keep trying & practicing. You will see improvement with time.
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Old 06-12-2020, 09:39 AM
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Before this thread, I had read about ironing, versus pressing, and yes, I did press straight down, so that wasn't the problem with my first attemp.

Actually, it probably was a combination of trying to use cut squares as they came, and the fact that the fabric provided varied from very thin, to medium thick.. Not sure the thickness causes problems, but I know now not to rely on the pre-cut fabric being correct.

This is one reason I will be purchasing various cutting templates over a period of time. I am guessing that it isn't a waste of money to have a straight cutting tool, and one of various shapes and sizes.

One question about how pre-cuts come. The first bundle I purchased were the pre-cut 4 inch squares. The edges were cut straight. Like said, they varied from less than 4 inches to as much as a 1/8 inch over.. And it now seems that the squares were not actually square, but were a fraction of an inch different on all sides. Probably one reason why the fabric squares, once assembled did not lay flat.

I watched one video where the lady cut out triangles. She was very careful to ensure she had straight edges that were square to each other before actually placing the cutting template over the fabric. She was very efficient, and got the maximum number of cuts for the material she had. I learned from that video to be very precise, and will practise that when I do try my first (second) quilt. Right now I am watching lots of videos on various subjects related to quilting, and machine sewing and the accessories

I think I will write "Connecting Threads about a first quilt kit. I will present myself as someone who has absolutely no sewing experience, and that is close to being true. I do have a week of trying to sew, but as I usually do, I experience failure before success. I've been told that failure is the best teacher.
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Old 06-12-2020, 11:26 AM
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Nothing on my first quilt matched up. Doesn't matter. My son loves it.
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Old 06-12-2020, 11:28 AM
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You may do good with a quilt kit that has all the pieces pre-cut for you. Or you may try something simple like a strip quilt. the 2 1/2" strip is IMO the most versatile strip there is. One thing you don't want to do is get in over your head on your first quilt. I did something simple like the Ohio Star. My half square triangles (HST's) were not perfect but I crowed like a rooster when I finished that lap quilt!! My points were terrible and the seams, not a one matched. It was a real learning experience. I learned from watching Quilt in a day how to make the Ohio Star. I watched and watched that episode until I got it. Then each square came along. None of them perfect. But boy oh boy was I thrilled. I made a quilt!
Don't put so much pressure on yourself this is suppose to be fun. If you want to use a 10" pre-cut there are many videos put out by MSQC and they are great and walk you through each step. I am sending you a great big clapping hand on your first efforts I know you will get your blocks right soon. We have all been where you are.
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Old 06-12-2020, 11:40 AM
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I once bought a template set - actually it was pattern pieces printed on plastic - and then I was to cut them out - so I assumed that the pieces would fit together.

It was after my first king-sized quilt that I measured the square that never seemed to fit right - and it was 1/8 inch longer in one direction than the other. Which explained why it went together nicely in one direction and it was a battle in the other.

After that, I learned to never assume that the measurements were accurate - in patterns or rulers.

I have heard that pre-cuts vary from very accurate to not . I do not buy them because I am in the wash-before-cutting group and it is important to me to get the shrinkage out of the way before proceeding. Or to find out if I have a bleeder.

I just found another piece that I did not get all the excess dye out of before proceeding. Ah, well. One continues to learn and live! I got color transfer to my pressing cloth while I was fusing some interfacing.

I did buy some cut strips at a yard sale once - they were all a full 2-1/2 inches before I washed them. Most of them were about 2-3/8 inches wide after being washed. A Hoffman or Kaufman was one of the brands that shrank. They did not fray because I handled them carefully.

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