July 13, 2012
Quilting, The Final Frontier
I've been sewing for a long, long time. Most of my life, really. And I've tried my hand at all types of sewing techniques: hand- and machine sewing on leather, tailoring, working with whisper-light materials for dance costumes, using industrial machines to sew taffeta to heavy-gauge wire, and plain-old clothes construction. Most of those techniques were demonstrated or taught to me. But the one thing I had never been shown was how to quilt.
Now, I've certainly seen and read tons of tutorials and books on the topic, and have even made a couple of t-shirt quilts by hearing second-hand how to make them (the first one looked great until I tried washing it...then I had a lumpy disaster on my hands). I even made a few "cathedral quilt" pillows, but I don't consider these to be a traditional quilting technique because there is no layering or topstitching of a pattern into the overall quilt. They're still beautiful and take a lot of meticulous piecing of fabrics together. (If I can dig up some photos, I'll post them here later).
So when the opportunity arose to take a beginning quilting class with the promise of completing a project in the 3-hour session, I signed up. I took the class a couple of weeks ago at a great local crafting studio in San Francisco, called Workshop. They offer tons of classes on all sorts of things, from food craft to sewing to photography. My initial aversion to learning quilting was because I thought it was about making rustic-looking blankets out of calico prints and pastels...definitely not my style. But over the years, and as I was exposed to more quilts and techniques through my cousin, I realized that perhaps this was a form of craft that I could enjoy. I especially love those quilts with a well thought-out design and symmetrical pattern. The only other thing that was holding me back was the "fussiness" involved in creating a quilt. They take a lot of planning of colors, fabrics, and layout, as well as a ton of prep with meticulous cutting and keeping all the pieces organized (I'm not that patient...)
This class, however, was amazing! Not only did I realize that there are certain types of quilts that take less prep than others, but I also (finally) learned the proper way to use my rotary cutter...who knew I had been doing it incorrectly all these years. We each made and finished one "sampler" square of a log cabin quilt pattern. Even though this type of quilt is not as symmetrical as other types of quilts, I learned to enjoy the slight randomness to the pattern, and was shown how to incorporate more symmetry in the overall design.
My final product was bright and bold, and functional too! Here's a photo of my quilt square as a "placemat" for my iPad (I hate using my iPad in coffee shops because the tables are often a bit grubby...this solves my problem!)
These may possibly make an appearance in my Etsy shop in the future...I'll need to do a bit of testing around durability through washings, etc. For now, I'm just basking in the feeling of successfully venturing into a true quilting project.