The weakest area of my quilting game is machine quilting. Except for a handful of times, I have quilted all my quilts. That is thirty-plus years of steady practice and I’m still not good at it! I am still trying to improve, so a couple of months ago I signed up for Susan Smith’s Freehand Quilting Masterclass (link here). So far, I’ve watched the first class and put the lesson in practice.
Believe me, I have plenty of quilt tops for these practice sessions. I dug out an old treasure from and found a hunk of leftover fleece from another project. I used the fleece for the back and loaded it on the frame. As I started quilting I was horrified. My piecing was awful.
Obviously, my seam allowance was not accurate. Not many of these seams match up–some, like this one are terrible. I’m sure I didn’t even have a quarter-inch foot for my machine. None of that mattered. In that first class, we learned how to strip-piece and then turn those strips into rail fence blocks. To me, it was magic! In the two weeks between classes, I pieced four quilt tops; one was even queen size. Of course, I had NO idea how to finish these quilts. Back then, no one even owned personal longarms or machine quilted for others. So I wasn’t surprised this was still in the UFO bin.
As I quilted, I gained an appreciation for this quilt. It brought back so many good memories. I remember the joy in choosing the five coordinating fabrics. I remember how relaxing it was to feed the strips through the machine and I remember how satisfying it was to turn those blocks into a quilt top. That class truly lit a fire and changed my life.
When I finished quilting, I tried to not be too critical of the loops. Not every circle is perfectly round and I did not always travel smoothly across the top. Next time I will be better. And even better the time after that. My very best advice for becoming a better quilter is to make another quilt. Don’t be too critical of your work. Don’t rip out over and over trying to get something perfect. It will frustrate you and you will not want to make another quilt. I try to move on and let the imperfections be learning curves. I can’t think of a single time anyone has ever inspected my work and pointed out my errors.
My original intention was to donate this quilt, but I think I will keep it as a humble reminder of how far my quilting journey has been. With the fleece back it is squishy and cuddly and I may just keep it on my chair through the winter.
However, in this case, when I brought this quilt back to class for show and tell, I wish someone had pointed out that I had so many blocks turned!! Or maybe I don’t. The criticism may have made me stop quilting just as I was getting started.