I’ve spent so little time at my sewing machine lately that I feel like the ultimate poser writing all these perky tips and tricks to make the whole process better.
To make matters worse, I’ve been OBSESSING about trying to figure out how I should be dressing for this new Job That Pays Real Money (JTPRM). After 17 years of wearing jeans/polos/sneaks to work I’m lost. Pants? Skirts (and the related freak about legs/hose/heels/flats)?
So I’ve spent more time than I care to admit shopping, both online and in stores (along with the requisite purchase/return/purchase merry-go-round) trying to get some items that look appropriate, feel comfortable (climate control being a big part of my world) and well, honestly, make me look competent. (Because sometimes I don’t feel very competent, so dern it, I’d better at least look it.)
Oh, and by the way: will someone please tell me where my waist went? And why I need serious engineering to get my bosoms back up where they belong?
Getting old is not for weenies.
Ah yes, but here we are. A quilting blog. With precious little quilting to write about.
Since I started with true confessions and how real blocks often need a little nip and tuck to get them into shape (plastic surgery for quilters?) I thought I’d follow through with a couple other tips that I use all the time (when I do sew) that give me a leg up on my never ending list of projects.
The first is chain-piecing.
Yes, I luv chain-piecing.
(You experienced quilters who already know about this can go check out the following fashion blogs for those of us in the throes of middle age – ones that don’t make us look like crazy art teachers with W A A A Y too much crafting time: Fashion for Giants, Not Dead Yet Style, Already Pretty are three of my favorites.)
I’ve written before about my propensity to make more than one quilt at a time, using essentially the same fabrics, and it’s important enough to repeat: chain piecing takes a little planning, but it can yield the start of a second project that might be just what you need to have underway for those emergency gifts.
Here’s a taste of how it goes:Here I am, sewing along, minding my own business. However, lurking in the background is this:To the inexperienced eye, this looks like a hot mess – the leftovers from another project that yielded a whole bunch of right triangles. But look what happens: As I get to the end of the section I’m stitching, I take a few extra stitches with no fabric under the needle, then feed two of the right triangles under the pressure foot:Well, you have to use your imagination a bit – but here is what I ended up with:The two sections are joined with a small, chained strip of thread. Cut the thread and voila! Nice and tidy stitched sections with minimal thread waste! Now let’s take it to the next step:What’s that, you say? Open seams? Yes, grasshopper, press the seams open. Especially if you are machine quilting. Flat is good. Very good.
My friend Meghan (she’s a sweetie-pie that I met thru the Indy Modern Quilt Guild and her blog is very good) wrote that quilters traditionally pressed seams to the side to reinforce hand-sewn seams.
The next step: pressing.
This step is essential to getting a good trimmed block and a fabulously flat surface to machine-quilt. So much so that I make my point with a little of this:Pressing is not ironing, so no pulling the iron over the surface of the block.
It’s a great way to take out a little aggression too. Spray and press with a nice hot iron. Your flat blocks will be the envy of your guild – and you’ll be thanking me when you are feeding them under the needle during machine quilting.
Then, just like before – time to trim:The next thing you know, you’ll have this to work with:Then, before you know it, you’ll have this:All while you’re making something else.
Isn’t that great??
Well, at least I’m feeling a bit more competent – if only I could use chain-piecing in my JTPRM.
All the best -