Tuesday, December 13, 2016
Hand Stitching - brings memories
My studio is clean now. Yep, even my shelves are straightened up and weeded out for donations/charity quilts. Not a week ago, there were scraps, strips and orphan blocks littering the floor. On my wipe board, there's a list of UFO's, starts and donation quilts to make/finish. But, I want to dial down and work on some hand stitching. Using a machine to do all the work makes me feel like I am just speeding through trying to get it done and out of the way for the next. So, slowing down, making my brain work will not only make me appreciate the piece more, but help me keep a perfect precise stitch. Felt is wonderful to work with. It's easy to stitch through and you don't need a seam allowance or to turn it inside out. The felt ornament above was hand stitched and only took about an hour from start to finish along with a short coffee break.
When I started quilting over 33 years ago, I didn't have a sewing machine so all my stitching was hand done. In those days, my fingers ached and bled. I was used to getting small blood stains out of my blocks with my saliva. Sounds gross, but believe me, it's the best way to get blood out of fabric. It took me years to complete a twin size quilt. First cutting templates, marking with a pencil adding 1/4" seam allowances. Finally cutting the hand drawn shapes out with scissors, yes, even simple squares were drawn out and cut. There was no such thing as a cutting mat or rotary cutter. My teacher was a patient person giving us personalized attention when needed.
The class project was a sampler wall hanging using polyester batting. It was horrible stuff. Lumpy and thick looking which doesn't hang quite right. But, having said all this about that first project, I look back on it as a great learning experience. You have to start somewhere. There's some problems with this first piece, sure.....but, the seam allowances are perfect, the corners and joins are perfect, the points are perfect and the quilting stitches are.....not so perfect, but hey, it was the first project, and the one thing my teacher always said was "practice makes perfect". I did practice, and practice, and practice, but my quilt stitches were just OK, not wonderful or perfect. Probably embarrassing is a better word. I did a lot of stitching in the ditch.
About 20 years ago, I decided to learn machine quilting. It took a couple quilts to really get the hang of it, but no where near the hours of practice that hand quilting takes. Looking back on it, I could have easily just given up on quilting altogether, but it's a feeling of accomplishment every time I finish something no matter how large or small the project is. It's a good feeling. ;o)