This week I attended my first quilting class. I’ve made several quilts before, but I don’t have any of the “skills” necessary to do anything outlandish, follow a pattern, or actually “quilt” (quilting is a term that refers to sewing the three layers of a the blanket together — the pieced, top layer, the middle layer of batting, and the final bottom layer).
Most of my quilts evolved out of pencils, crayons and graph paper after I had marched into JoAnn Fabrics and selected 4 or 5 yards of whatever fabric suited my fancy or made me think of the lucky recipient of the blanket. I’d make some kind of sketch, mainly using large blocks and squares, painstakingly but still inaccurately, cut out the pieces, sew them together, and tack on a piece of fleece. There were no intricate stitches to create a design within a design, but instead, I just tacked the layers together with a knot. I’m sure like the 5 year did during her pioneer days.
I’ve been wanting to take an actual class for a while because I know my square by square approach isn’t too efficient, and I would like to do some designs and patterns at some point. (Of course, I’d not partial to the “Bed and Breakfast” quilt with the kitchy houses appliqued with the billows of smoke from the chimney or anything. Those are fine and lovely for other folks, but just not me.)
I’m taking my class at Calico Junction. It meets every other Thursday for 3 hours afterwork. Whew. I was tired, but happily the instructor provided a large bowl of chocolates, explaining that the dark chocolate was actually “health” food.
The first class, we had a lecture (yep, “lecture”) about why accuracy is so important, and I basically learned that just about everything I have been doing in my self-taught form is wrong and more or less inaccurate. That’s no big deal when you aren’t following a strict pattern or you aren’t using a lot of pieces, but I suppose it’s time to start doing something right.
Also, I have to admit that I will probably become a fabric snob. I typically follow the “deal!” approach to most of anything, but cheap fabric is cheap fabric. If you’re going to put HOURS of work into cutting (correctly) and sewing (correctly) a quilt, you don’t want it to start shredding through no fault of your own, except for your miserly habits.
We practiced rotary cutting and learned the importance of ironing the fabric and giving it a little shake on the fold to line it up properly. I’m not even going to describe this. It was beyond me, and through much of the night, I wore a slightly quizzical and bemused expression — left eyebrow slightly arched, as if to say “really? Do I have to do that? Is it really that big of a deal?”
I have to admit that I even started the slow, “ookkkaaay….riiiiiggghhhttt” nod with this expression during the ironing lecture. There was much discussion about irons: what iron do you recommend? what iron is this? what iron do YOU use? Naturally this was asked of the teacher.
I watched the discussion ping-pong back and forth from the other enthusiastic participants:
Uhmm. Oh, you don’t say. Yes, ironing is SUCH fun.
Then there were shopping tips. Did you know at Costco you can buy a Rowena iron — quite reasonably priced at $59.99?
The price quote gave me a start. At that moment I was thinking, “Hm. I guess it’s time to buy an ironing board.”
My homework for the next two weeks is to cut out the pieces for the table runner we are making. I still don’t have an ironing board.