Confession time. As much as I would like to believe otherwise, I’m not the greatest sewer. There. I said it. As a beginner quilter, you would think this shouldn’t come as a shock to me, but it does. You see, I’ve learned a lot about sewing over the last nine months of working at the quilt shop. I hear customer questions and our expert answers every day. So, I feel like I know a lot about quilting — but all in theory.
Every time I muster up the energy to sew, I realize how great the disconnect is between my quilting knowledge and my quilting ability. Really, the only solution is to sew, sew, sew some more, which can be difficult with how much time I spend at the shop. I’ve also learned that for someone with so little time to sew, small projects are key. I’m that girl that starts a million projects, but never finishes them. So my new policy is, if I’m gonna start something, I’ve gotta start small.
I was thinking quick and easy when I volunteered to make our next quilt kit sample, called Baby Elephant Walk. The honor of assembling our samples is often given to Della, who can easily whip up a quilt top in a day or two. Not this time. As soon as I saw the pattern — Square Dance by Bits ‘n Pieces — I knew this baby quilt was within my skill set. Consisting of four-patches and five-inch squares, my greatest challenge would be those dang ¼” seams. I think I’ve got ‘em down, but gosh it isn’t as reliable as those blocks that are conveniently squared-up. Did I mention the finished size is only 36″ x 45″? And that we’re using super-cute grey, aqua and yellow flannel with zoo animals?! I’ve got this!
First step? Cutting. Cutting is my least favorite. The pressure is definitely on as this sample has. to. be. perfect! And already I’m going slower than all you quilting experts — rather than stack up 4 layers of fat quarters to cut at the same time (as the pattern suggests), I’ve kept things neat with just piles of 2. Can’t be too careful. I also learned that it’s a good idea to visualize each step of the cutting process so you don’t end up adding a step unnecessarily. For example? Step 1 says to cut the fat quarters into 5” x 21” strips and 2-3/4” x 21” strips. So, I made sure all my fat quarters were exactly 21” before slicing them down to 5” & 2-3/4” strips. Step 2? Cut the 5” strip into 5” squares, with an inch or so of scrap left over. I could have just left my strips longer than 21” to begin with and ended up with more scrap at the end. I’m still learning how to be efficient.
Next step was to arrange my fabrics. In addition to picking out the right fabrics,
assembling them in a pleasing way is a skill that takes practice and confidence. Again, I had added pressure knowing this quilt was not just for me, but for the shop. If I pick a bad arrangement, well then the fate of the store is in jeopardy. Clearly the success of my one, super simple quilt kit is linked to the survival of the store. Or at least that’s how serious I’m taking my little project. So what did I do? I brought in an outside opinion. Not Della. Not Karen. My fiance. For those of you with your jaws on the floor, don’t be so surprised. Guys can have an eye for color and design, too. I’m sure many of your husbands have weighed in on the fate of your projects as well. (And for all you keeping up with my personal life, you read that right. I got engaged…to Karen’s son. Ever see that movie “Monster in Law?”)
After much deliberation and mock-up four patches, I think we figured out the best arrangement. Just like the pattern tells me, I’ve alternated light and dark fabrics, mixed up large-scale and small-scale prints and I’ve put my best fabrics in the middle spots. Now it’s time to sew!
— Posted by Stacy