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Thread: Perfecting the art of quilting

  1. #1
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    Perfecting the art of quilting

    I am new to quilting, although I did spend many years sewing clothes for my daughter when she was younger. I am amazed at how PERFECT and squared-up most of the quilts posted here appear. Just curious, how long did it take any you to perfect your quilting skills?

  2. #2
    Super Member Scissor Queen's Avatar
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    There is no such thing as perfection.

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    OK, then, let me rephrase...How long did it take to hone your skills to a point you felt confident in your quilting abilities.

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    Power Poster PaperPrincess's Avatar
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    With sewing skills, you should be set to start on a easy to moderate quilt and achieve good results. I sewed for about 50 years before doing my first quilt (my avatar, a queen size) and didn't have many problems (all straight lines, though). I did take a beginning quilting class which helped with rotary cutting and pressing which are new skills if all your experience was garment construction.
    There are no quilting police and few rules, just do what works for you. There is one rule I follow:
    The 6 foot rule. Before you start your quilt, look at your fabrics from at least 6 feet away to see if any one of your selections jumps out. As you lay your blocks out, look from 6 feet to double check your layout, and lastly, when you're all done, if you don't see any mistakes from 6 feet, you're good! (this last is also the galloping horse rule, if it looks good from a galloping horse...)
    "I do not understand how anyone can live without one small place of enchantment to turn to."
    Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

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    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    I'd say it took me about 30 years to acquire *all* of the skills required to make what I consider to be a decent-looking (not award winning!) quilt. This includes pattern selection (some of my early choices were ridiculously long-term commitments), fabric selection, piecing skills, batting selection, thread selection, squaring up, quilting, and binding.

  6. #6
    Super Member Dina's Avatar
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    Okay, I will never say my skills are perfect or even close to it, but I am pretty comfortable with many quilting patterns now. My points are good, which is something I worked hard at. I have been quilting for 3 years. I consider myself an experienced beginner. The best I can say is that the more you do it, the more confident you get. Don't be hard on yourself if something isn't perfect.

    Dina

  7. #7
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    It has taken me 20 years to be somewhat confident in my skills. Unfortunately I have to limit myself now to what my body is comfortable doing.

  8. #8
    Junior Member RainydayQuilter's Avatar
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    I took an approach probably more like you did when you were sewing clothes for your daughter. When I first started sewing clothes I chose simple patterns that I knew were within my skill set. As my sewing skills improved I chose patterns that were progressively more difficult. One part of the pattern might be a challenge but the rest I knew I could do. When I started quilting I did the same thing, my first few quilts were pieced from rectangles and squares. I chose patterns where you didn't have to worry about matching seams from one block to the next, ex. rail fence, crayon box from Bonnie Hunters site. Then I chose a pattern with a few half square triangles and a few seams to match from one block to the next. As my piecing skills progressed I would choose patterns that were a little more difficult and and I also increased the size of my quilting projects. For me it was important to pick something I could complete in two to three months and that were challenging me to increase my skills without being too frustrating.
    As far as to when you feel confident in your abilities, in my opinion that is kinda determined by your personality. There are quilters who create quilts that could win awards, but never enter or show them because they don't feel their work is that good and there are beginners that are very confident from their first project on. But perfection, is something that I don't feel is achievable in quilting, there will always be something you'll wish you did differently.

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    I too have been sewing all my life, (learned to sew on a machine at age 5) but was mostly garments and interior decorating type stuff. I just got serious this summer after buying a 12' short arm setup. The best thing I ever bought that pertained to quilting was the 1/4" quilting foot. For years working in factories we made 1/2" seams. It was VERY hard for me to get use to making the scant 1/4" seam.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Tashana's Avatar
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    I did not make many quilt before I realized how odd my first quilt looked. All it takes is practice, just like with anything else in life. This is such a broad field with so many techniques that mastering them all would take a lifetime. Like you, I had about 20 years of sewing experience before I started quilting. To this day I did not manage to have accurate 1/4" seam, BUT that being said all my seams are consistent, and for me that is the bottom line. I think that starting with simple quilts of your own design may be a way to go or following a simple pattern. You will be surprised how fast you learn. Good luck and we are here to help!

  11. #11
    Super Member grammysharon's Avatar
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    I have been quilting for 23+ years and have still to achieve perfection. However, as you go along you learn from classes, books, and other quilters so many tips to make the process go smoother and to be more precise in execution of the quilt. It is like any other skill, practice, practice and more practice with each quilt you finish!!! The best thing is the people that receive our quilts don't seem to see the imperfections, just the love!!!!!
    Quote Originally Posted by SonjaG View Post
    I am new to quilting, although I did spend many years sewing clothes for my daughter when she was younger. I am amazed at how PERFECT and squared-up most of the quilts posted here appear. Just curious, how long did it take any you to perfect your quilting skills?
    A quilt is a blanket of love. Sharon

  12. #12
    Senior Member pinkcastle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dina View Post
    Okay, I will never say my skills are perfect or even close to it, but I am pretty comfortable with many quilting patterns now. My points are good, which is something I worked hard at. I have been quilting for 3 years. I consider myself an experienced beginner. The best I can say is that the more you do it, the more confident you get. Don't be hard on yourself if something isn't perfect.
    This is exactly how I feel! I have found that by giving up the idea of making a perfect quilt, I enjoy myself more. Lots less stressful that way!

  13. #13
    Super Member hopetoquilt's Avatar
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    I highly recommend making a sampler with piecing, paper piecing, appliqué, curve piecing, etc. each block should challenge you a different way. Make your mistakes all over this quilt and when finished, let it be the one u toss in the trunk for emergencies. I also don't enjoy y seams or machine appliqué so I don't do those. See what u like and u will get good at it fast. Don't forget to enjoy learning!

  14. #14
    Super Member jemma's Avatar
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    i bet you can set in a sleeve put in a zip almost without to much thought---this is why a sampler quilt is a great idear there are' tricks' to help with most things--eg -rotary cutting--if you learn to do it properly you will save yourself a lot of grief ie loss of fingertips and badly cut fabric---start with a small item quick rewards are a great stimulus---a major up side of quilting is the community find a group and of course this board is always willing to help

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    Super Member jcrow's Avatar
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    I've been quilting since 1992, but only seriously about 2 1/2 years. I consider myself an experienced beginner also. I shy away from hard quilts because of my fear that I won't be able to make them. But I have made some hard ones and I didn't know they were hard until a while after I finished them. I am amazed at some of the quilts I made. I think I have digressed. Some of the quilts I made a couple of years ago, I'm afraid to tackle now. I think I didn't know any better when I did the challenging quilts and I did them fine. Now, I know they are hard and won't do them. Isn't that crazy?

    Before if I liked the quilt, I'd make it. Now, I look at it with a different perspective. If it looks hard, I won't do it. But I've done those hard quilts before, so why do I think I can't do them now? Like I said, it's crazy that I'm digressing.

    I need to challenge myself, also. I get so bored with some of the quilts I'm making. They are too easy. I think I need the challenge so I'll keep quilting. But, I've seen pictures of some of the quilts here on the board and feel less than because I don't think I could make them. I try not to look at the "Pictures" section too much because I get depressed. I should be doing more challenging quilts than I'm allowing myself to do and it's lowering my self esteem when it comes to quilting. I should be more than an experienced beginner, I should be advanced, but it's my fear that won't allow me to do the harder quilts. And I know I can do them deep inside...it's fear that's keeping me from doing them. I've seen beginner's do very hard quilts because they are fearless, like I use to be. Before I knew better.
    "Be yourself...everyone else is taken."
    Strong people don't put others down...they build them up."
    "Remember that your instincts are more important than rules"

  16. #16
    Super Member Dina's Avatar
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    Jeanne, you are being too hard on yourself. You just are. Even "experienced beginners" don't have to always be trying to take on challenges. Maybe right now, just right now, you are sewing what is comfortable for you, and that may change in only a few months. I have also made some harder quilts that I wouldn't try now. I think I was lucky they worked out for me when I made them....not so sure they would work now because I am not so willing to spend forever on one quilt, and I am very not fond of ripping out seams...

    I don't think you are fearful, you are just too hard on yourself. If you aren't happy working on what you are currently working on, try something else, just for right now. This mood will pass. You are just too hard on yourself right now.

    Dina

  17. #17
    Junior Member An Arm Long's Avatar
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    I have been quilting for 6 years. I guess I am now an intermediate. But I look at it as not being perfect but to learn something on each quilt I make. When I am done, I look at it and try to find all of the little things that I learned while doing it or that I perfected a little bit. Then I will hopefully remember them when I do another similar quilt. I belong to a very small guild (18 members) and have learned so much from my fellow quilters there. Sometimes we do quilts together and other times we have a "Sit and Sew" time and always a "show and tell" after lunch. We meet twice a month from 10AM to 2PM at our local library where there is a big room with lots of tables and electrical outlets for our machines. When we have a new member, we all pitch in to help them learn. That was really how I learned.
    Beth in Maryland

  18. #18
    Super Member Lori S's Avatar
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    I have been sewing for over 40 years.. and quilting almost as long... since clothing sewing clothes always produced scraps. I concider myself a confident quilter.. but there are still times .. all the stars just did not allign right .. and I make silly mistakes. What I have learned is to forgive myself and move on. Perfection is a judgement call... and this quilter finds that kind of pressure takes alot of the fun out of it. Learn and grow, mistakes or things that could have been done better are lessons learned not something to retreat from.

  19. #19
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    Personally I find that Perfection is way overrated! Do something you feel is within your comfort level to start, and go upwards. Once you feel comfortable with the basic skills (sewing will not be an issue but rotary cutting and reading quilting instructions sometimes can) make sure to challenge yourself. Above all have FUN

  20. #20
    Super Member QuiltingKrazy's Avatar
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    We're just really good at making our posted pictures look square! lol
    Lisa B in NC
    Quilting is my Happy Thought!
    http://www.quiltingkrazy.blogspot.com

  21. #21
    Super Member Sierra's Avatar
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    Relax! Make a simple quit of squares for your first quilt so you learn the "feel" and "science" of quilting. If it is your first quilt you won't have a "comfort range" so keep it simple. Make a baby or lap quilt (something smallish) so you don't add the element of dealing with a huge amount of fabric. You might want to get a general how-to-quilt book (I use "Quilting for Dummies" and find an answer for almost every wall I come up against. Choose fabrics you love and follow the directions, either from a quilting pattern or from the book. You'll have to "unsew" (called frogging...rip it, rip it....) but that is because you are human, not because you are inept. You're learning. Again, relax! There is a special joy in seeing your vision become a usable quilt.

    Beware the quilt police! They are different (very) from friends who help or make gentle suggestions. The QP tell you your colors, design, thread (ask your machine repair person about what thread to use for your specific machine) are all wrong. They will examine your seams and find a quirk and tell you it's awful. Avoid them.

    When you are all done, put it here on QB and enjoy all the positive comments.
    p.s. You will never stop learning new ways to do things, so be kind and patient with yourself!
    Last edited by Sierra; 11-26-2012 at 09:31 AM.

  22. #22
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    I have quilts done by my grandmother over a 50 year span. You can practically see her age. Her first quilts were those of a novice. The ones done after 10 or so years are soooo close to perfect and they continue that way until the last 7 or 8 years that she quilted. Those that she did at the end of her quilting, show her stiff and painful fingers and her very poor eye sight. I love these last quilts the most. She never knew that they were so imperfect and to me they are her finest quilts ever.


    Quote Originally Posted by SonjaG View Post
    I am new to quilting, although I did spend many years sewing clothes for my daughter when she was younger. I am amazed at how PERFECT and squared-up most of the quilts posted here appear. Just curious, how long did it take any you to perfect your quilting skills?

  23. #23
    Member sewrkristy's Avatar
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    Its a process. Nothing is perfect. Embrace that and relax. It will take about a year to get good at matching seams. Have fun and enjoy.

  24. #24
    Senior Member madamepurl's Avatar
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    I agree...if you can't see it from a galloping horse it didn't happen. I said at our last quilty get together, well this didn't work and that didn't work well... one of the older quilters (I've only been doing this for 2 years) said, "well why should yours be any different from ours." So true, so true... all in the same boat.

    I have a friend who wants perfection. I have to keep reminding her done is better than perfect.
    - Rose

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaperPrincess View Post
    With sewing skills, you should be set to start on a easy to moderate quilt and achieve good results. I sewed for about 50 years before doing my first quilt (my avatar, a queen size) and didn't have many problems (all straight lines, though). I did take a beginning quilting class which helped with rotary cutting and pressing which are new skills if all your experience was garment construction.
    There are no quilting police and few rules, just do what works for you. There is one rule I follow:
    The 6 foot rule. Before you start your quilt, look at your fabrics from at least 6 feet away to see if any one of your selections jumps out. As you lay your blocks out, look from 6 feet to double check your layout, and lastly, when you're all done, if you don't see any mistakes from 6 feet, you're good! (this last is also the galloping horse rule, if it looks good from a galloping horse...)
    I like the galloping horse rule. Another way to do this is with a camera. Take a picture of several sections of your quilt. The picture will show you if one fabric jumps out too much, or if there are no colors that are creating the pattern you are looking for. You could start this process with the fabric. Lay all of it side by side and take the picture. Do they look good together in the picture?
    Mavita - Square dancer and One Room School Teacher

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