You’ve got a long way to sew baby! Some glaringly obvious tips for improvement!

Well, as the title suggests, this post is about sewing skills (or lack of) and tips for improvement i.e what would I do better next time!

In preparation for making a quilt for Baxter, I thought, actually make that needed to improve my sewing skills big time! I have previously fiddled about with a sewing machine, and made a few rudimentary items, but having not used a machine in over three years, you could say I’m somewhat rusty. So, in preparation I have been picking some cute little projects that require cutting, piecing, pressing and sewing together.

I started off with a wall hanging inspired by the one in ‘Sew pretty homestyle’ by Tilda.
Generally I’m quite pleased with this, but the measurements are so out, my wall hanging looks lopsided and also a bit crumpled. I cut this by eye…you should see how wonky the insides are.

Project two is a little patchwork pot holder from ‘The impatient patch worker’ by Jayne Emerson. I thought this little project would give me the right kind of practice, putting colours together, cutting blocks and sewing together. It did give me this kind of practice, but highlighted how much I need to improve before considering cutting up the fabric for the quilt. My potholders pattern looks pants (I love that word), it’s much smaller than it should be and it’s crumpled!

The good news, I think I could remedy most of the problems I encountered quite easily.
These are the ‘tips’ – not sure a novice should be giving ‘tips’, but these are the glaringly obvious things I would do differently next time!

1. Colour selection. Project number one was fine, its quite difficult to go wrong with two colours. Project two a partial disaster. My colours all merged into one and some of the patches touched identical patterns (see the red gingham and the pastel green fabric). Next time I would either cut more fabrics to avoid duplication and maybe add an accent colour to add interest.

2. Iron fabric. Crumpled fabric looks rubbish. Nuff said. Must actually wheel out the iron*. Washing the fabric is also recommended by most people (at this stage in my sewing career, I’m far too impatient to wash fabric…so we shall see what happens by ignoring this advice!)

3. Measure! Somebody with eyesight as dodgy as me should not be trusted to cut anything by eye. I’m going to buy a mat and a ruler. Ironing the fabric would probably make things easier too!

4. Cutting equipment. My cutting improved drastically when I bothered to fish out a cutting wheel that I inherited somewhere along the line, scissors took forever to use and made everything wonky! The blades were semi blunt, so I’m going to buy new blades, for super sharp edges.

5. Seam allowance. I was far too generous with the seam allowance, playing it safe and also to make up for the wonky seems. Neater fabric and being braver, would have given my pot holder the chance to be a bit bigger than a postage stamp.

6. Read patterns thoroughly. I spent more time staring at the pretty pictures, hard not to especially the Tilda book, then reading the instructions. The instructions in the Impatient Patchworker were actually some of the clearest I have seen..she says after the horse has left the stable!

*Ironing. Where do I start? That was the question I asked myself 5 years ago, knee deep in laundry waiting to be ironed. Instead of doing what most normal people do, iron it and move on, I buried my laundry under my mattress! Yes, crazy I know, and from that day on I have not ironed a stitch. I could write a whole post on how to get round this…

My adorable boy deciding what mummy should make next.

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2 responses

  1. I actually adore that little square potholder – the fabrics are gorgeous. I can visualise a whole pile of these squares made up into a quilt for a little girl. I am a novice that has made about 5 patchwork quilts over the course of my life. I couldn’t live without my large green cutting board, ruler and rotary cutter. It will save you soooooo much time, you will wonder how you ever survived without them. I am also pedantic about washing and ironing fabric because I’ve heard so many horror stories about colours running and fabric shrinking on the finished product. (Painfully tedious but I think irons & TVs are a match made in heaven). Can’t wait to see your next projects.

    • Ahh, thank you, I like the fabrics, just not the combo! Well, I bought a board, ruler and a new blade and last night I cut out some new squares, and my god what a difference! Love love love! Have you got any pics of your quilts on your blog? Xx ps 5 quilts makes you no novice, that is hard core! Xx

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