WHAT STARTED MY QUILTING OBSESSION?

Beginnings

I was in that difficult 10 – 12 year old stage and was totally stopped in my tracks by an Amish Lone Star quilt that my Aunt Fran had hanging in her antique shop. Wow!! The colors were so bright and the design was beautiful and I can still see the vivid turquoise colored background of that quilt in my mind. This was not a scrap quilt like the one on my bed or in my surroundings. I remember telling Aunt Fran that I wished I could make a quilt like that for myself. Her response was that I “could do anything I set my mind to”. That encouragement was the first step. Little did I know then, but I hold that beautiful quilt responsible for starting my quilting obsession.

I learned the basics of sewing from my grandma and one year of Home Ec in school. My grandma had her sewing machine in a corner of the kitchen, and it always seemed there was some project on it. I don’t remember her making quilts, but she made a lot of clothing. Once I expressed an interest in quilting, she would give me her cotton scraps and lots of encouragement to make a quilt (for many years, she was my biggest cheerleader).

I don’t remember learning the actual quilting stitch. Grandma exposed me to quilting bees. I do remember loving the texture of the quilting.

Clip art - cheer leader

My mom owned 2 sewing machines but hated to sew and avoided it at all costs. She was glad to let me use her machines but was no help when it came to what needed done on the quilt piecing. I think she believed that I would do one quilt and give it up.

Money was not readily available for extras in my younger years and so it took awhile of saving scraps from Grandma, and buying fabric or good used clothing (it had to be interesting fabric) at yard sales to have enough to make my first quilt, and that one just fueled my need to quilt.

Keep at it…

The years have taught me that anyone who wants to can learn to quilt. I have heard many people say it requires patience. Yes, I suppose but more than that it simply requires the need to not give up on one self. Quilting has helped me through tough times, happy times, and just day to day life.

Clip art - sewing machine with quilt pieces and sewing supplies.

I hope I can encourage and inspire you in your quilting journey:

  • This is not a stuffy office job, have fun.
  • Do not break the piggy bank.  Basic sewing supplies are fine – just use the best you can afford.
  • Check at a local fabric store, the extension office, or the library to find other quilters. You are not alone in this journey. 
  • Start with a simple project. Something small like a table runner or baby quilt is usually quick to finish and boosts your confidence.  If you really want to start out with a bed quilt, the easiest patterns are squares or rectangles.

The best thing is that after all the hours that go into a single quilt I have something wonderful to show for it. Each quilt is an individual object. I also do not have to follow the rules when quilting – other than using good quality supplies and making sure my seams are even. This is a wonderful hobby and stress relief and I fully enjoy it.

And the journey continues…

I have never regretted my journey through quilting. It brings great joy to my life. I hope it gives you great joy in your life too.

Quote: When life hands you scraps - make quilts!

ONE OF THOSE DAYS

Today was one of those days……you know the kind where nothing goes as planned, or even actually right. Have you ever been tempted just to crawl back in bed and hope to start the day over?? Yes, it has been one of those….

Woman in chair and says she is in timeout until she can play nice with others.
Source: Pintrest


Sadly, all the distractions and problems of today interfered with the quilting that I had planned. But I wanted to get in a few minutes today of some quilt related activity.

So I set the timer for five minutes. I pulled out a few scraps from the bins that I wanted to cut for the next scrap quilt.

Two cardboard boxes marked "small scraps".
These hold fabric a quarter yard or less – it keeps me from loosing them on the shelves with the bigger pieces of fabric.

Next, I set the timer for 10 minutes and ironed those scraps.  I hate to iron (am I allowed to admit this?) even though I do so much of it. I tend to get stalled right here trying to pretend I really don’t have to iron those wrinkled up scraps (they are so much easier to cut and sew with if ironed). The timer went off just as I was ironing the last scrap.

These lovely pieces of fabric will have to wait until tomorrow for me to cut up – I don’t trust myself to cut the fabric accurately tonight. I am tired and headed to bed.

Selection of small pieces of ironed fabrics.
All ironed and ready to cut into blocks and strips.

I know all of us have these kinds of days occasionally and I just think it is important that we just do the best we can. Try to end the day on a good note. It makes for a good night of rest and a fresh start for tomorrow.

Folded fabric with saying "When the going gets round --- don't forget to pet the fabric".

Pleasant dreams to all.

THREAD & FABRIC – SHOULD THEY MATCH?

Clip art -  thread and needle

Should the thread and fabric match? I have been asked this so many times, especially by beginning quilters.  We were taught in a sewing class taken back in the dark ages that the thread and fabric should match. And honestly, if I am sewing clothing, I want the thread to match. However, we are talking quilting here.

Should the fabric and thread colors match? Does it really matter? I decided years ago that it was more important to me to cut and sew accurately, then be concerned about matching thread color for piecing the pattern.

Here’s my take on matching threads to fabric (and remember this is simply my opinion) – it depends on what part of the quilting process I am working on.…

If I am piecing, I do not care what color of thread that is being used.  Oh, the scandal!!  Every time I changed fabric colors, I would have to change the thread and bobbin. In my mind that is such a waste of time, and I would rather be happily sewing.

Container with many spools of different colors of thread.
Partial spools of beautifully colored threads

Your quilt is about you, and only you can decide what steps in the quilt making process are priority to you.  You will need too decide what you are willing or not to do. I know I am in the minority on the subject, and I am comfortable with that.  I really notice this each fall when a group of us get together every September in Maine to quilt for several days – I am the only one who does not spend time matching the thread to the fabric.  Clearly it is not a priority for me, but a high one for the others.

However, when I am piecing a planned top with purchased fabric for that project, I try to find some neutral color and use that for the entire top. 

Right now, I am trying to clean out my scrap bins – how would I even begin to match the fabrics and threads?  I already feel my head starting to hurt. When I am piecing with scraps, I use it as an excuse to use up all those partial spools and bobbins of odd colors. 

Plastic tub of 2.5" scrap strips of fabric
2.5″ strips all cut and ready to sew
Plastic tub of 3" fabric squares.
3″ squares cut and ready to sew

This is the biggest reason I rarely use white as a background fabric – combined with the use of many different colors of thread, there are all the loose hanging threads. I just make sure they are at the back when I am sewing those seams. (See other post: https://indianaquilter40.com/to-clip-those-loose-threads-or-not/)

Other quilters’ thoughts about this issue:

https://www.generations-quilt-patterns.com/what-color-quilting-thread-should-i-use-for-piecing.html

https://www.quiltersworld.com/basics.php#Thread

This is a good time to address sewing thread – buy the best you can afford.  My own mistakes showed me a long time ago that usually the store brand is not quality which lead to frustration as I sewed (knots and shredding) and it did not hold up to use. The other issue was that some of the color was not set right, and it bled through the quilt top after the first washing.

I do match the thread if I am doing applique, or a binding. Why? Because I want to see the design, not obvious stitches.  For both applique and bindings, I usually like to use a thread that matches the background because it seems to blend in better. This is also how I end up with partial spools and bobbins of various colors.

I personally use Coats & Clark machine thread because the color range is fantastic, and it holds up well for both hand and machine sewing.

There is also the budget issue, after all I have spent money on quality thread, and I can’t see letting it just sit in a cupboard unused.  My goal is to use the fabric up until it is gone (those glorious scraps need a home, right?) so I personally want to have the same attitude about the thread.  

Now I am going to really be controversial (!!) with the next comment.  Once I discovered thread adapters (I bought mine at JoAnn’s) I went to using neutral serger threads for much of my sewing. I still buy quality, but the cost is so much less than buying the same amount of thread on regular spools. My grandma told me that the only thread colors I would ever need were black, gray, light brown, white, and navy and those are the colors I buy in serger threads because they really are versatile and neutral.  Only you can decide if this option works for you, but I have done it for well over 30 years with very satisfactory results.

Thread adapter with 4 spools of serger thread.
Thread adapter and serger thread
Four spools of serger thread.

Only you can decide if matching threads for piecing is a stress or a joy to you. 

Remember that quilting should make you happy.  If you are distracted or stressed by some part of the quilting process that does not matter once the quilt is finished, then maybe it just is not worth it. My grandma would say “don’t stress the small stuff”.

Quilt block with saying "Decide for yourself what matters to you and what doesn't"
Source: Quiltville

Quilting folks, please comment – do you match your fabrics and thread?

TO CLIP THOSE LOOSE THREADS OR NOT?

Not to dishonor Shakespeare’s “to be or not to be”, but as quilters our question is more likely to be “to clip those loose threads or not?” We all know they can make a mess if not handled properly.

This is my take on loose threads, and you don’t have to agree, but I am rarely bothered enough by those threads to take time to clip them off.

You either gasp in horror at this point or break out laughing.

I am aware they can make a huge mess, and if I am not careful as I sew, a good portion of them end up in the seam and show up on the front of the quilt.  Sheesh….now they really do need clipped, right?

First, I rarely use white or any other light color for a quilt background – because I know this about myself. The first quilt I ever made with a white background I learned the hard way about not clipping those threads because I had it completely basted and in the frame for hand quilting and gasp…. I could see the darker threads.  Many hours later, I had un-basted the quilt sandwich and clipped all those threads.  Then to put it all back together……Ugh….

Second is that if it is a scrap quilt, I use that as a chance to utilize all those colored, partial spools and bobbins of leftover thread that probably don’t match much of the fabric in the current quilt top. See previous post: https://indianaquilter40.com/thread-fabric-should-they-match/

By now you are either so horrified you stop reading, or you are rolling on the floor laughing because you do the same thing.

Bonnie Hunter quote: Decide for yourself what matters to you and what doesn't.
Source: Quiltville

I decided long ago that I was more concerned about accurate cutting and piecing than about always matching the thread to the fabric, or clipping all those nasty loose hanging threads that appear on the back of my quilt top.

I am careful to take the time to pull them back out of the way when sewing the seams and since I usually use darker background fabrics it is rarely noticed so I just simply choose to ignore the clipping step.

Quilters, whether you are a beginner or very advanced in your quilt making exactly what part of the quilting process is priority is up to you.  No one is going to die if we do a shortcut on our quilts.  Yes, they should be well made, but some things are not worth the time.

I refuse to stress about loose hanging threads on the back of a top that once it is quilted will never show up anyway.  So now you know my awful secret…

To clip those loose threads or not? I encourage you to make your quilts, your sewing process, and your priorities while quilting your very own. Only you can decide what causes you stress while sewing or quilting, and if ignoring some small irritant is right for you.

Photo of cupboard full of quilts with the words - live. laugh. love...quilt!
Source: Quiltville

Have a wonderful day of quilting.

PLEASE NOTE: 
ALL PHOTOS AND WRITTEN CONTENT ARE MY OWN UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.