Like many (if the news/feature stories I’m reading are any indication), I’ve taken up a new hobby to soothe my troubled soul during this pandemic.
I’ve had a sewing machine for a few Christmases now but hadn’t progressed all that much in my learning — or so I thought. I guess over the years I’ve managed to learn something, because when I decided to try my hand at quilting recently I actually remembered a few things — like how to wind a bobbin (and what a bobbin even is), how to thread a needle, how to replace a presser foot, how to raise and lower the needle, etc.
Yes, these are the absolute basics, but when I first started the machine would “beep” at me all the time for one reason or another. Or I’d sew a lovely long stretch of fabric only to find that my bobbin was empty or my needle unthreaded. So frustrating! At least now I’ve developed a fair measure of competence (and confidence).
My first quilting project was a mini-quilt from Wren Collective — just the upper left-hand (“L”) log-cabin-style corner of a sampler quilt. What I learned is that quilting requires a certain amount of patience and precision, not to mention some math (geometry + arithmetic) skills. I’m not sure I have these in the needed quantities to be a successful and happy quilter, but I’m not giving up yet.
What’s caught my eye is what I’ve learned is called “modern” quilting, which the Modern Quilt Guild defines as functional, but with elements of modern style: “These include, but are not limited to: the use of bold colors and prints, high contrast and graphic areas of solid color, improvisational piecing, minimalism, expansive negative space, and alternate grid work. ‘Modern traditionalism’ or the updating of classic quilt designs is also often seen in modern quilting.”
These aren’t your grandmother’s quilts.
I’ve also learned that “quilting” actually refers only to the part of the project that happens at the end — when you put together backing, batting (called “wadding” by Brits) and the front of the quilt (often pieced/patched together) and sew together the “quilt sandwich.” The artistry there is in creating a compelling, interesting texture, which really appeals to me — though it’s super super difficult for me right now.
My initial quilt (above) was just done very basically with straight lines and quilting along the patchwork borders, but I’ve since begun using it as a practice piece for more involved stitching using a walking foot and even free motion quilting.
So, quilting combines a lot of different elements — that mathematical piece, the color/fabric/pattern choices, overall quilt design, the hands-on cutting and sewing part of things, and, eventually, the quilting. Each seems to engage a different part of my mind, which I find both appealing and therapeutic.
I think it’s enough (along with sewing, which is a subject for another post) to keep me busy for a while.