Quilting Q&A’s

I get a lot of questions from friends and on Facebook about my quilting, so I thought I’d share a little bit of inside information from my foray into quilting.
How’d you learn?
Quilting was a total impulse decision. It was the Summer of 2008, I had a short break from summer school, all of my friends were busy and I had some unexpected free time. I was grocery shopping at Target and while roaming the aisles looking at all the pretty things (which is why I try to avoid grocery shopping there) I saw the sewing machines and thought “I should learn to quilt!” I bought a little $150 Singer, took it home and tried to read the directions and figure out how to work it on my own. After several hours of mounting frustration, I finally called a girlfriend who came over and showed me how to sew and work my machine in about 30 minutes.

My current project

From there, I started asking lot’s of questions. I asked folks at the fabric store (sometimes these people can put off on air of superiority toward newbie quilters – keep looking, there are nice quilters out there who are willing to help us amateurs out). I found a coworker and a long-lost relative who are both expert quilters gifted with extra patience for novices like me.

Wedding quilt being pieced together

I read blogs – lot’s of blogs. I searched YouTube – (YouTube has GREAT tutorials). And somehow over the past four years, I figured it out. I still have a lot to learn and would love to take a class to polish my skills – but I’m hooked and in love.

Why do I make quilts? Because of pictures like this… (my niece)
I made this quilt for my sister from upholstery scraps – one of my firsts.

How long does it take to make a quilt?
Since I work full time and tend to juggle a busy schedule, I mostly quilt on the weekends or when Mr. Right is studying.  Typically a quilt takes me 2-3 months, probably 30-50 hours of work during that time. I’ve decided to track my time on my sister’s baby quilt to see exactly how long it actually takes. To pass the time, I listen to audio books or set my laptop on a shelf next to my machine and watch TV shows on Hulu. It’s a wonderful, calming escape for me. The other night I cut squares and rocked out to worship music.

Working on this quilt for Mr. Right.

As for my yo-yo quilt… it’ll take me forever: It will require approximately 1,000 yo-yo’s… I’ve finished about 250. I make them while watching TV or while getting my hair done at the salon (since it takes me three hours to become so naturally blonde). That quilt will probably be one of my new favorite things when it’s finished, because it’s such a labor of love.

Yo-Yo’s (made in my wedding colors – gray and yellow)

How much does a quilt cost?
My quilts typically cost around $100 for the materials, which is why this would make a terrible side business. To make any money, I’d have to charge back the materials ($100) plus my time (30 hours @ $10 an hour would add another $300… minimum). And since my quilts look nice from a distance but up close have MANY imperfections, I don’t think anybody would want to buy one of my quilts for $400. But if you do… CALL ME! (wink wink)

My sewing area & my first venture into applique.

Where do you get your ideas?
Blogs. Pinterest. I rarely use patterns, I prefer to make them up as I go. I think it’s like Mr. Right, who likes to deconstruct restaurant dishes in his head and then create something similar without a recipe. I’ve followed patterns, but that seems too restricting to me. I’m more of a free spirit quilter and I enjoy sketching out new ideas and reinventing things I’ve seen online to better suit my needs.

Wedding Quilt

My first ever “strip” quilt

How can I get started?
Just dive right in! If you live near me, give me a call and I’d be happy to come over and show you how to use your machine. The easiest way to start is with a “strip” quilt – just sew long strips together so you don’t have to worry about lining things up perfectly. They’re really fast to do and a lot of fun.

Do I need a special sewing machine?
Nope. I thought I needed a fancy long-armed machine to do the actual quilting (different from “piecing”) but it turns out there’s a big secret that all quilters know, but I’m slow so it took me two years to figure out: (said in a whisper) to fit your quilt into that tiny space next between the needle and machine… roll your quilt – don’t try to bunch it. With that one tip, you can quilt on anything… whether it’s a $150 Singer or my new fancy Ferrari of a Janome. 
Happy quilting!

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