Saturday, February 20, 2010

A new quilter

Yesterday I had the honor of helping a young expectant mother learn how to quilt.

Miku-san has never done patchwork before. A couple of weeks ago we went together to a fabric shop and she picked out some fabric and I taught her how to hand piece. She had only a small pocketbook sewing kit so we purchased some basics too, needles, pins, and thread. In a couple of hours she learned how to trace a template, cut pieces, hand piece and iron seams. I left her working on her first nine patch and offered to help her make a few if she began to feel overwhelmed.

This week Miku-san said she was ready to learn how to quilt and so yesterday she came to my house with her FINISHED flimsy! The pattern I had given her was in English (which wasn't so hard for her but the measurements in inches rather than centimeters provided a challenge) and so I had never expected her to get so far without my help!

Together we marked quilting lines (grid) with my quilter's ruler which she had never seen before and was very impressed with, and then we sandwiched her quilt and hand basted it. So far so good.

I had an extra quilting hoop and demonstrated how to hand quilt. Oh! I had forgotten the agonizing first stitches a new quilter tries to make! The hoop gets in the way, the needle doesn't go through the quilt sandwich, the stitches don't come out even, the thimbles fall off the fingers or wave around over and under the quilt never getting near the needle! I preceded all instructions with the phrases,

"This is the way it is supposed to be done. If you can't, then do it the way that is easiest for you. If you want to make future quilts it is worth it to practice the technique. You'll get the hang of it. It just takes practice."

Miku-san wanted her stitches to be perfect; to be tiny and even and beautiful on the back and the front.

"I didn't know it would be so hard... I thought I'd just have to push the needle through...."

"It's your first quilt. You can't expect it to be perfect. If you keep working at it by the time you finish this quilt you'll be a pro and your stitching will come naturally."

Again I offered to do part of the quilting for her if she got tired but she insisted that she wanted to make her baby a quilt all by herself...

"Okay, but don't try so hard that you go into early labor! Remember to relax and take breaks!"

I hope Miku-san enjoys herself, will be happy with her baby quilt and will want to go on to make other quilts in her lifetime.

"Ganbare Miku-san!" "Go at it, Miku-san!"

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