Quilting Anyway

I don’t know why, but lately, I’ve been wanting to give quilting a try. Those of you who know me personally might think that a little strange since I don’t actually sew. In fact, we’ve lived in this house for five years and the number of times I’ve used my sewing machine in this house is…

Zero.

That’s right. I haven’t used it at all. In fact, I actually forgot how to use it. So why in the world would I want to try quilting?

First, because I really like quilts (and comfy throws in general) so the thought of making one makes me happy.

And second, because I am a dabbler. When it comes to hobbies and crafts, I tend to try one, then another, then another, and then another. And I really haven’t given quilting a try…so maybe it’s time.

However.

Quilting also makes me nervous. In the past, I’ve thought, “Oh, wouldn’t it be nice to make a quilt?” and then promptly decided that no, no it wouldn’t, and moved on from that thought without looking back.

Why does the thought of quilting fill me with anxiety? Let me tell you.
  1. My aforementioned sewing machine issues. I pretty much never use one, and quilting…well, requires a lot of sewing, to say the least. Why don’t I start with something simpler, like a pillow case?
  2. Picking out fabrics. I tend to get paralyzed by wide-open decisions, such as the ones posed by all the amazing fabrics out there. I needed a friend to hold my hand and help me pick a few neutral tile options for a bathroom remodel. Picking all the fabrics for a quilt seems like it would be overwhelming.
  3. An inability to draw a straight line. I can barely draw stick figures, I certainly can’t draw a circle, and straight lines also prove to be impossible for me to create. How will I ever sew in a straight line? Or cut in a straight line? Yes, I know there are guides and rulers, but I’m not convinced I’ll be able to pull it off.
  4. Actual quilting. I’m trying not to even think about the part of the process where I have to figure out actual quilting. I don’t even know what method to try. I love the look of free-motion quilting, but am fairly confident that if I attempted it, it would look like a jumbled mess, and I would not like that particular look. Straight-line quilting and quilting in the ditch are options, I know, but would I hate the results? I have no idea.
  5. The length and enormity of a quilting project. Quilting projects just feel so LONG and INVOLVED to me. Planning, choosing, cutting, piecing, squaring, pressing, more piecing, more pressing, basting, quilting, binding. That’s a whole lot of steps. Bottom line: I’m pretty sure a quilt would take me forever.

But despite all those reasons for wanting to run away from quilt-making, I just can’t seem to shake the idea this time around. It keeps coming back, tapping me on the shoulder, and making me consider it all over again.

So I did something about it. I bought a kit for a small quilt. So small that one can not even cuddle under it on a cold evening while watching TV. (Well, one of the cats probably could, but that doesn’t really count.) The finished product would make a decent table-topper, I suppose.

But the important thing is that the kit was on sale — low monetary investment. And it already includes the fabric (except for backing and binding) — low emotional effort, since I didn’t have to agonize over fabrics. And it’s small — low time commitment, so if it turns out that I hate quilting, it will all be over with fairly quickly.

Last week, I dug out the sewing machine, cleaned it off, and read the instruction manual all over again. I didn’t remember how to wind a bobbin or thread the needle, or…pretty much anything. I grabbed some scrap fabric and did some practice seams.

And then I got to work. I’ve spent the last several days cutting, sewing, and pressing. Yes, despite my misgivings, I’m quilting anyway.

I now have 56 squares that must be turned into rows and then into the quilt top. Then comes the extra-scary part of basting and quilting and binding. But I keep telling myself: one step at a time.

So far…it’s not so bad.

My neck and shoulders might beg to differ (I’ve learned that sewing at the dining room table for a couple hours is not really a great ergonomic decision), but it’s kind of enjoyable. Okay, maybe I was clenching my teeth the whole first day, but after a while, I got into a bit of a rhythm.

And I dare say that my squares have turned out…pretty well. Not perfect by any means, but certainly passable for a first effort.

I don’t know if I’ll feel up to a real (read as: big) quilt any time soon. Can’t make that call yet.

But the quilt anxiety is slowly starting to fade. Maybe I can handle this after all. I’ll keep you posted.

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6 Comments

  1. Hello from a self-identified fellow dabbler! (It’s nice to know there’s more people like me in this world). The thought of quilting overwhelms me also. I went with my mom once to pick out material for a table topper she was going to make me – it was literally dizzying. I love to look at quilts though, so I totally get the appeal. I’ll watch your progress from the sidelines. (That said, I have always enjoyed making things for the home: placemats, pillows, etc. – but not starting with itty bitty pieces!)

    1. Yes — that dizzying feeling! There are so many amazing fabrics out there…narrowing them down could be impossible for me. I should try some place mats, etc. as well — I think they could be enjoyable as well. Glad to know I’m in good company as a dabbler!