Friday, November 14, 2008

On Starting My First Rag Quilt

Note: I wrote this (for my personal blog) nearly a year ago, and I'm ashamed to admit that I haven't progressed much further on that rag quilt. (hanging head in shame) Maybe this blog will inspire me to sit down in front of my sewing machine a little more often.

I've started work on a denim rag quilt.

Because I really need another craft to work on. And because I'm an expert seamstress and know everything there is to know about fabric, thread, and needle.

Ok, not really. (I'm guessing you knew that already.)

However, it is actually partly because I'm not an expert seamstress that I decided this might be a nice project. I'd like to learn how to sew simple things-- curtains, pillows-- possibly other little things, and this will force me to use the sewing machine long enough to learn more about how it works.

I've already learned a few new tricks over the weekend-- from Donald, who had to learn to sew in school. Maybe I should've taken home economics in school, myself. I grew up seeing Mom sew on a fairly regular basis-- Hallowe'en costumes, Sunday dresses for us girls, curtains, etc.-- but I guess that casually watching someone else sew doesn't mean you'll automatically be able to do it yourself. (Surprising, isn't it? (g))

Anyway, I've progressed this far: I've cut out my denim squares (from my old jeans that I knew I'd find a use for, someday) and I've started figuring out how I want to place the "fancy bits" (labels and other decorative pieces) on random squares. (It's been a challenge deciding how many is "enough, but not too many". I like the decorations, but I'm afraid that if I add too many-- however many that is!-- it won't look right.)

denim squares

I also used some smaller pieces of leftover denim to make a couple of test squares-- just to remind myself of how the machine works and to get an idea of how the denim might fray. (I know you're not "supposed" to wash the completed quilt in your home washer, but I figured a couple small squares shouldn't do any harm.)

rag quilt practice

You aren't laughing at my crooked sewing, are you? It's not nice to laugh at a novice, you know. ;o) When I did the heart, I had forgotten from last time that it's easier to reposition the fabric if you "leave the needle in" and just pivot the fabric around. I was trying to reposition it with the needle hanging in mid-air. Obviously, that's not easy to do. I had also meant to do a double row of stitching around the outside of the square, but I got in a hurry and forgot. Well, they were just for practice, anyway. (Though I have seen these types of things used as coasters for drinks, so I might keep them for that. They'll do for the craft room or office, at least.)

I guess my next step is to either begin cutting out the flannel squares for the backing or take the plunge and begin sewing the decorative elements to the random squares. I hope the sewing machine will play nice and not do that weird "top thread getting caught in the bottom thing-a-ma-jig" thing it was doing yesterday. . . We got the kinks worked out, eventually, but sewing machines seem to be capricious beasts. You never know when they'll balk. ;o)

I solemnly vow never to use another person's machine until I learn (if I ever do) how to use them properly. My own machine, on the other hand, will just have to suffer through it as well as it can. If you're nice to me, I'll try to be nice back, Ms. Singer.