Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Advice for the incompetent

Oh how jolly small children are - when they are.

Look - she stands (with support).

And sits, waving her arms around. And beams, though crucially, not always when put her cot at night. Alas.

The subjects of these photos are a couple of reasons why I haven't yet finished my quilt.

The other is that I've been procrastinating: practising putting binding on tiny "quilts" that I've stuck together for the purpose; and it's not quite as easy as it looks on the videos.

In fact, there are various pieces of advice that I might put in my forthcoming publication: "Quilting for those who would like to emulate the beautiful creations they've seen in blogs but are a bit slapdash". For example:

1. Measuring is important - even more important than you think. If you find yourself cutting something slightly too big, don't just think, oh, it's late; that'll do. You will regret this later on.

2. Cutting with a rotary cutter is easy - ish. It's not as easy as you expect. The cutter has an ambition, which you must curb with all your might, to stray from the line of the ruler and meander into the next bit that you plan to cut. Stand up, lean hard and concentrate. Frowning helps.

3. If you're thinking about something else while sewing pieces together and find yourself making some of the seams just slightly big/small - unpick them. Not doing so will be a source of grief later on. (See no 1, above.)

3. Do not have a cat.

4. If you live in Britain, get your husband to dig out a basement. Then claim this as your sewing room. Otherwise you have to clear the kitchen table every time you have to produce a meal.

5. Do not have a deadline, eg Christmas. This might make you yet more slapdash (see nos 1 and 3 above). Or alternatively, do. It might make you get on with it.

6. Don't just assume that you can work out how to do things. Watch videos. Become puzzled that they tend to contradict each other. Then ask Thimbleanna how she does it.

I failed to follow my own advice in every respect apart from number 6. Still, the end is in sight. Kind of.


  1. I am in awe of antone who can sew straight, which is obviously essential if you want to quilt. Such deficiencies in elemenary proficiencies are why I abandoned sewing some years ago, and now I cannot remember how to work the machine. Lessons from a patient teacher are needed.

  2. 1,2,3,5,6 I have learnt the hard way, 3a is purely a matter of current circumstances - at present we have no cat! 4, however, I did actually think about when we last moved and I do indeed have a basement room - in fact we have three already in the house, as I knew the only way I would get any sewing done is to have it out all the time. I'm hoping with the current change of circumstances I might actually get to put this plan into action!

  3. You're toooo funny Isabelle! What a great list for new quilters -- this should be mandatory reading!

    As for number 4, you do have two alternate options:
    1) Eat dinner in front of the tv so that you don't have to clear the table, or
    2) Take over a no-longer needed child's room for quilting. I prefer to stay as close to the kitchen and household action as possible, so, in your case that would be DD2's former room. I know it's a beautiful guest room now -- you'll just have to be extra tidy so as not to spoil the beauty!!!

    Carry On -- you're doing a fantastic job!!!

  4. Good advice, particularly about having a cat.
    And as my husband reminds me, measure twice, cut once.

  5. I agree about the rotary cutter. I did find I became slightly more competent the more I cut, but still.