Tanit-Isis takes a class

So, I’m taking an introductory quilting class at Periwinkle. Kind of a work-perk thing? Anyway, it occurs to me that this is actually the first formal sewing class I’ve ever taken. Bizarre. Well, quilting is bizarre, too, so I guess that works.

The class is designed to take people from little to no sewing experience all the way to making a decent-sized throw quilt, in a sampler style of about a bazillion different blocks, in just seven weeks. Well, seven plus homework. We’re going to practice quilting and binding on a swatch because I don’t think she figures we can finish quilting the whole thing by the end of class. I’m pretty sure she’s right about that, though I really enjoy the intensity of the class.

Pattern overview

Things that bug me:

  • Cutting perfectly good fabric into teeny pieces just to sew it back together. Yes, I know that’s the whole point of quilting.
  • No steam. I’m not sure if this is common among quilters, but the teacher is quite anti-steam, because apparently it makes it too easy to distort the pieces. Meanwhile I don’t think anything I’ve pressed sans steam looks like it got pressed at all…
  • Doing math in inches. The entire cult of quilting is framed in inches and fractions thereof, and it makes me want to break things.
  • The whole pattern is predicated around working with fat quarters. Obviously none of my fabric was IN fat quarters, so I had to cut quite a bit of it into fat quarters.

Half-square triangle gris, waiting to be stitched together and then sliced apart.

Things that have blown my mind:

  • A 1/4″ seam allowance isn’t 1/4″. It’s 1/4″ less turn of cloth, with lots of experimentation sewing strips of known width together with different needle positions until the math works out.
  • Making half-square triangles in a giant grid and then cutting them out after. That was pretty fun.
  • How often Pythagorean theorem comes up, and then the quilters just dodge right around the backside of it.
  • How intense the need for accuracy is, especially with the seam allowances.
  • How hard it is to visualize what the different colours will look like in the different patterns. I mean, I worked at a fabric store for YEARS. I’ve helped people pick colours and prints for dozens of quilts. But visualizing the specific blocks? Mind melt!
  • Oh and I’m pretty happy to have learnt to use my shiny new rotary cutter “properly”.
  • I also love the variety of blocks we’re making, and how a few simple changes can make it look completely different.
  • The cat got locked in the basement and decided to give me some layout suggestions.

  • I am seriously looking forward to the quilting part, which I THINK I have more of a handle on than this weird piecing business. Because there’s bound to be little tips and tricks I’ve missed—but at least I’ll be a little more in my comfort zone.
  • Maybe?

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    18 Comments

    Filed under Sewing

    18 responses to “Tanit-Isis takes a class

    1. This is going to be very lovely. I am not here to make fun of your hard work.

      I am not a quilter. I own a quilt. One seemed sufficient.
      I do get scrap quilting. Use it up, make do, crazy quilts. The idea of cutting up yardage to make bits is almost as disturbing as that no-steam thing. I think I know why: quilting is cutting around the print. Clothing is cutting around the grain. If you steam the thing you cut offgrain (much less wash it), it’s gonna get funky. I have a baby quilt I should take photos of ; it’s ….lumpy. Cause i washed it. Because baby.

      I love your cat’s suggestions. Maybe use a backing piece (a wood print?) to get that exploded look? I’d do it, but I already have a quilt.

      • None of our cutting has been fussy so far, so things are relatively on grain—the grain just runs in a jillion directions. It’s definitely less important than I’m used to, though.

        And I pretty much share your feelings about quilting exactly!

    2. I’ve been lurking your blog for years & I’m finally de-lurking to say whaaaaaat, no steam??? I steam everything, constantly when I’m quilting. Granted I’ve never taken a formal quilting class but I have a bunch of quilting books and now I’m gonna have to check and see what they have to say about steam, because I’m just boggling at the no-steam thing. Is there a great steam/no steam schism in the quilting world I’ve never heard of before now?

      Anyway, your quilt is looking very nice!

    3. S Randolph

      Keep in mind – A quilt Always fits!

    4. Barb Barna

      I have been sewing for about 50 years and quilting for about 45…what to do with boxes of bits…make quilts of course. I always use steam. If it matters greatly, you can “square up” the blocks after they are made, before sewing in rows. I also iron the seams open… which was a huge no, no, but I read Debra Wagner’s book “All quilt blocks are not square” and her quilt are amazing and that is what she does. I have had a longarm business for 20 years and get to see the most amazing creations- some of the best from new quilters. If you wonder why everything is in inches, it is because we get all our quilting rulers and many patterns from the USA…enough said. Happy quilting!
      Barb

      • Thank you for the input! I know there are always lots of ways to do stuff—I guess that’s the downside of a class is you get that one teacher’s perspective. My regular sewing is usually based on inches, too, but I guess I don’t really have to do calculations with them so it doesn’t bother me as much? 😂

    5. This is fascinating! What’s the right way to use the rotary cutter?? (Between being left handed and having right ways of cutting, what hope is there for us?!) Also: “Cutting perfectly good fabric into teeny pieces just to sew it back together. Yes, I know that’s the whole point of quilting.” This is SO resonant! I’ve never given this 4 min of thought – because the one thing I’m pretty sure I won’t get into is quilting. It’s not that I don’t think it’s beautiful or worthy, it’s just that there are too many other things calling – spinning, for a start. (I’m getting closer to that rabbit hole with each passing season.) But to cut up perfectly good wide and long fabric into tiny bits seems criminal. Mind you, I wouldn’t mind owning a gorgeous, handmade quilt 🙂

    6. Barbara Lewis Showell

      I think there is a better than fair chance that the quilting bug will bite you hard. Quilters all love to profess “no quilt police allowed here” and then get all up in their feelings about one or two points. What you’ve been working on is very traditional looking, you may get excited googling some images of modern and improv quilts. Quilting, rather than piecing, is my favorite part.

    7. ellegeemakes

      I’ve also just started a quilting class – – I agree – it’s a whole new world! Enjoy…

    8. Julia

      I couldn’t agree more with bugs no 1 and 4. The cutting up in teeny tiny pieces has kept me from quilting except for two quilts that were made from leftover fabrics/old garments.

    9. Your quilt is going to be beautiful. As a garment sewist, I’m not keen on cutting up perfectly fine meters of fabric into tiny pieces either, just to put them all back together again. I am learning to knit this year because I’ve always admired hand knit socks.

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