Friday, June 26, 2009

Beginner Quilting Class: Yes... I am that person.

Well, I survived another week. Thank goodness. If you are reading this crazy post and wonder what is going on, you might want to start at the beginning to get a better understanding of my Friday post about Beginning Quilting. I am really writing this as a journal to keep with my very first quilt as a record. If you find yourself chuckling at my shenanigans along the way, that's great. It is good to laugh and laugh at yourself.....luckily, I have the last part covered.

The highlight of my week was finally understanding about the pressing. I spoke with a lady named Judy on the phone, and she explained the art of pressing seams and how to never make a mistake. It was rather simple really. She told me to always make sure I knew which way I wanted the seam pressed, and make sure that fabric was always on top when I pressed. At more problems. That was a huge relief.

Here are my flying flocks....I mean flying geese.

If I tell you nothing went right in class this week, that would be an understatement. I felt really bad to begin with, and then, everything just did not go my way. From the sewing of the blocks, to the pressing to the construction of the blocks....boy was I upset.

To make matters worse, everyone else's work came out perfect. No problems. Even the ladies whom had never sewn before had no problems. Again, the instructor said that the machine I have will not keep up with the seamstress. Once again, he suggested I use one of their Bernina machines. Nope. Not going for it. By the end of class, I had a really bad attitude. And to make matters worse, one of the ladies who used her old machine like mine, quit class. Just quit, said it was too stressful.

This gadget according to Leo, our instructor is a life saver. This is called a seam finder - the ultimate seam guide for quilters. He told us how it would save lots of time by not having to draw lines on the backs of the squares that needed to be sewn on a diagonal. He even most graciously said if we purchased one, he would set it up for each of us and we would be set....How many people do you think purchased one? Everyone! There was just one small problem.....for me that is.....

Do you see how there is nothing under the seam finder to hold it up? yea...small problem. You see I do not have a fancy shamancy machines like the other ladies, and they all have one of these....

It is a sewing machine table extender...I think that is what it is called. See with this, it allows for neat little gadgets like this must have seam finder. I had to use a box....literally in class, and it was a pain in the rear. Nothing came out right, lined up right, and I was having a hard time. Nothing a new machine would not fix! I was so discouraged.

I only got two blocks completed during class. I had such a frustrating time, I did not even try and sew when I got home that evening. I just put everything up and did not touch it. I was ready to quiet if I am being honest with myself.

I did a whole lot of thinking and talking to myself....I was not going to quit. I knew if others can sew on machines that are not top of the line, than I am just stubborn enough to think I can too. After all, I am a firm believer that I have the sewing gene running in my blood. My grandmother was a master seamstress and I like to believe I take after her in many ways....and she never had a fancy-shamancy machine. Ever.

After much debate in my mind, I settled on a plan. I found a piece of foam board in the shed, took my trusty quilting ruler and a knife and went to work. I bet you are wondering what foam board has to do with quilting...well, nothing unless you are one of those types of people who are going to try and figure out how to improvise on the cheap...Yes, I am that person.

I cute five pieces of foam board, stacked them up, and took a roll of tape and started covering the foam board.

I covered every square inch..... now, can you guess where this is going?

Right up under my new gadget...the seam finder. It fits perfectly, serves my purpose and cost me nothing but about 10 minutes of my time.

And guess what? It worked. Once I had something more stable, I was able to whip out those blocks all in an afternoon. I hope they turned out correct, but they all look the same, so if they are not right, I need to figure out what I did wrong on all of them....but you can be sure, it was not that the sewing surface was not level or secure. I fixed that problem.

Here are a few of my flying geese. I have them all done and pressed for the next class. All I have to do now, is cut the friendship stars and the log cabin fabrics and I will be ready for the next class.

When Steve came home he asked me what my homemade contraption was....I told him. His next question was, "Surely, you are not going to take that to class and use it there, are you?"

I smiled and replied, "You bet I am." In fact, I just have a feeling that once I pull this little baby out, that will be the end of trying to sell me one of their high dollar sewing machines. Yep, I just bet that will be the end of that. I am really looking forward to seeing Leo's face....I hope I can contain a chuckle.

Steve looked mortified....asked me again how much the machine cost Leo was trying to sell me. I told him to forget it, and guess what....I meant it. If I can sew on the machine I have, I can sew this quilt together and quilt it. I am set on reaching this goal no matter what, even if I have to buy some more foam board and make a bigger surface, I am going to do it......on the cheap....because I am that person.


  1. Hi Suzanne!
    By now this Leo guy is getting on my nerves...really, there were generations of quilters who could piece without a high-end sewing machine! {I have to admit, I love my fancy Bernina and wouldn't ever give her away but I could do without if I had to). As long your machine stitches straight stitches...tsstsss.
    One thought if you plan to quilt your first quilt by machine (and, when reaching the point, you think this won't be the only quilt you ever make): You want a smooth surface & it should be a bit bigger, maybe you can built your own perspex table. You only need someone to cut out space for your Necchi & attach some legs. Here in Germany, you can buy perspex at the hardware store & let it cut...
    Your colourful flock is beautiful!
    Have a lovely weekend,

  2. I LOVE how your blocks looked and I'm really sorry you had such a difficult week getting them to turn out just right.

    I do think I can RELATE to how you feel. My mom taught me to sew, and she was an oc perfectionist. I spent more time ripping out seams than sewing. I gave up in despair.

    BUT - - - your blocks are looking great, so don't follow my example - - - DON'T GIVE UP!!!

  3. Ohhhhh Suzanne, you never cease to amaze me!!..i love your tenacity..where there's a will there's a way alright lol!!!..look out they'll be lining up for one of your foamy thingies at your next class lol!!..btw your flying geese are FABULOUS!!!!!!!!!

  4. Way to go girl....I love how your 'geese' turned out and I especially love how your 80 year old Aunt has been sewing quilts on an old Singer pedal foot every since I can remember...she had her quilting frame set up in her living room and she made the prettiest quilts I have ever seen..but of course none of those genes showed up in me! lol You go girl....Have a great weekend!

  5. Suzanne, what's the saying, practice makes perfect? It looks really pretty! I'm going to make your Fridge Pickles today!

  6. All I can say is "Leo is quite the salesman!". I have been sewing quilts for a long time and that new gadget that caused all the trouble...well, I've never seen one before! (It does look ingenious and a real time saver.) If I don't feel like marking a diagonal, why I just fold the fabric square and use the fold as my guide!

    You stick with it...the way your mind works and just attacks the problem, you will be making beautiful quilts for a long time. Your flying geese look perfect!

  7. Suzanne, good for you for keeping up with your quilting. I love to figure out ways to do things other then the conventional or more expensive way...kind of like McIver! I always say lets just try to "McIver' this!. Your flying geese look great nice and straight, however did anyone mention to you to iron toward the dark fabric so you can't see he seams? having said that maybe you don't on flying geese, of which I have never made. Just a thought. I don't want you tear anything out! The first quilt is always a steep learning curve and can be frustrating, but we all have to go through it to learn. Have a great weekend.

  8. Suzanne, love that particular design and the fabric you've selected, and colors, are delightful!

  9. You go girl!! A quilt can be made without all of the fancy smancy new products. They didn't have all these things a hundred or so years ago yet we still have quilts from that time period!
    I know you won't give sound like one tenacious gal.
    (I have a quilt I started in the 70's that I never finished...I don't even like it anymore...)

  10. @ Sarah.....LOL. I may not even like this quilt when it is finished either.....such a headache. I hope when I look at it when it is done, I like it, and not that it causes my blood pressure to rise every time I look at it!!

    @ Everyone....thanks for following along....I can not imagine really, anyone being interested in this crazy journey...but I am glad you come back to see what happens. Hopefully the next few post will be boring and no drama filled words....

  11. I'm with you on this one!! I was a professional quilter (I guess) as I taught nationally, wrote 2 books, etc. AND I never had an expensive or one of those sought-after machines. During my 55 years of sewing, I have had two machines - one cost me $45 new and the other $125 new. The $125 one I am still using as I did finally wear out the other. Hang in there, hold your ground - you don't need a fancy machine if your current one is in good working order. Love your foam core extension. Sally

  12. With your determination, you will complete this. Now there may be some trouble with Leo, but so what. I would tell him to go butt a stump and to get on with the program.

  13. Way to go Suzanne. I think perhaps by now,you are on Leo's last nerve...and I say way to go again. I learned to sew on a treadle and like an idiot,traded it for a new Singer. I've hated that Singer and missed my old Singer treadle all these years..That's your sewing machine.. tell Leo no no,I love my machine,I don't need yours.
    Your quilt blocks are're doing so well...Never give up.

  14. My Grandmother who was a perfectionist taught me to sew, and as I angrily pulled stitch after stitch out she used to tell me that one day I would appreciate her teachings. You could not have convinced me at the time, but now I am so grateful for what she showed me.

    Good for you to be creative and using foam board to make what you needed. A really interesting post, and I loved the descriptive photos.


  15. You've got all of us rooting for you,Suzanne. Woohoo, you are going to make it through this. You are a determined soul. I would have wavered at the reception hubby gave your invention. But... there is no need for a new machine or extension table. So glad you are continuing. And if you hate the quilt I know several who would take it off your hands!!! LOL :))

  16. You go girl! I get mad when people like Leo turn from instructor/helper to salesman.

  17. I just may have to steal your DIY idea. You shouldn't have to buy a new machine to take a beginner class, give me a break!

    I have only made a few quilts, but I did the piecing the old fashioned way, by hand. It took longer and was more forgiving.

  18. Good for you! You know what, I am 52 now and back when I was around 35, I just up and decided I was going to make quilts. I didn't have a sewing machine at the time. I drew all those lines on the back of the fabric and stitched by hand. Then when I got a machine, it was a Singer 1951 at a garage sale. They don't make them like they use to. But hon, if there is a will, there's a way. I proved it to myself and am surrounded by my quilts. I treasure them. They are not perfect, but they are made with love. Any questions I can help you with, just ask.

  19. I admire you for sticking to your guns.....

  20. I have laughed each week at your class. First all men, then men who should be selling cars the way they act, not teaching a quilt class.

    Stick to your guns...those machines will be there when and if you decide you need one.

    Love these blocks. So pretty.

    I LIKE YOUR ATTITUDE...IF you make it through this class and you have not ripped your hair out....I will "think" about joining a quilting class....I'm not good at straight lines and ironing little seams open.....I just like to iron that a clue......
    I love your precious doxies
    If Keetha ask me not to give up something I think I would

  22. Oh my! I laughed out loud when you said the one quilter quit because it was too stressful! It must have been like a sewing class in hell for her!
    I think you're going to become a wonderful quilter. You're already learning to improvise to get the job done. It takes a creative imagination to make that foamboard prop, and that Leo better be appreciative of your creativity, because he's actually learning from you!
    I can't wait for next weeks class!

  23. You are not taking a quilting class, you are taking a sales course.
    I taught myself to quilt, on an old machine I bought at walmart like 20 years ago, and then accidentally cut through the cord of, and put back together with electrical tape.
    Love your attitude, keep it up!

  24. This Leo guy doesn't know who's he's dealing with does he. Good for you working it all out despite him. I learned to sew on a good machine and I have had 2 upgrades since then. Not because I had to but because I wanted to. Sounds like he's out to make a buck. Any machine that sews a straight line can produce beautiful quilts. Your work is good.Keep it up. You will be an excellent quilter.


  25. For everyone's sake don't quit the class! I like your attitude, and your flying geese are very nice. Show that salesman Leo that good old trustworthy machines are good for quilting. I love your creative solution with the foam board!

  26. Suzanne, you are a genius! I think the entire class is going to be so impressed with your invention. (Perhaps Leo will want to buy one from you!) Your squares look so pretty. When you finish, you're not only going to have a beautiful quilt, you'll also have a lot of memories and a lot of pride in your accomplishment! laurie

  27. you know what? I don't have a facny schmancy sweing machine, either, and I have made loads of quilts (Ok, maybe 10) with my $350 sewing machine.

    They all turn out just fine.


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