Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Katie's 5 Commandments of Denim Quilting

Since this is my third quilt like this, here are a few things I learned along the way.

1. Bunched up fabric makes sewing a pain, especially when trying to ram it underneath the small space under the sewing machine.
The roughly translates into start by sewing smaller pieces together first. I look at my quilt as a series of rows. I line up all my fabric pieces for a row first. Once I know I like the color arrangement (remember I'm dealing in varying shade of denim) I begin to pin the pieces together but I only pin two together at a time.

So if my row has 14 fabric pieces in it, I start by pinning them in twos. Once the twos are sewn together, I pin two of these twos together and sew. Now I take the fours that result from this and pin them together. You get the idea. It's a hell of a lot easier than dealing with a 98" row of fabric that's pinned every 7 inches or so.

Once I have two rows sewn, its time to pin the completed rows together and repeat the process described above.

2. Do a good job on your seams.
I straight stitch the seam twice then zig zag stitch the unfinished end. I know this breaks some quilting law but I find its the best way to go when working with heavy fabric like denim. I'll explain more about this later.

In short nothing stinks more than a seam that's opening up so pay attention here and use good quality thread. I actually measure 1/2 inch down and draw a line on the back of the fabric where I want my seam to be. Red ballpoint pen works great on even the darkest denim and it won't bleed through to the other side.

3. If you don't have room to spread your work in progress out on the floor, take it outside on the lawn, driveway or deck.
Sometimes you need to see how things are coming together, if there's no space inside get creative and move it outside. Once you figure out what you need to, head back in with your project. I already know I'm probably going to have to pin the backing on outdoors.

4. Speaking of backing, bedsheets make the best backing.
Check out your local thrift store for a top sheet (flat sheet) in great condition one size larger than the size of your quilt. It's easy to find top sheets (flat sheets) in great condition at the thrift store because its the bottom ones that wear out.

5. Stagger your squares and no one will know that they aren't exactly the same.
This is the best reason for half squares. You don't have to be perfect and it makes the quilt look more complicated than it really is.

Don't be scared, you all can do this. Start with a small one if you're really nervous.

The other day I took my son to the doctor and she remarked on how my log cabin quilt was coming along really well. She said she'd never be able to knit anything like it. I just blurted out, "If you could manage med school, I'm sure you could manage knitting this."

I think its really true. We've all faced much harder challenges than learning to knit or sew and we've conquered them. We can conquer these skills as well.

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