I love quilts. They’re works of art, full of color and creativity, warm and cozy, and the results of countless hours of work and countless lifetimes of shared and collected knowledge. Most of you guys aren’t on Reddit much, if at all, but if you have a moment or two to kill, go over to r/quilting sometime and see what people are making, what people are talking about, what advice they have to share. You’ll be amazed by what you see. If you ever have an afternoon to kill and you know there’s a quilt show you can go to, do yourself a favor, go. As impressive as these things can be up in pictures, they’re even more impressive in person. Just remember, no touching.
A few years back I had tried my hand at getting a quilt started, but gave up relatively because the whole idea just seemed so overwhelming. I’m a little older now and while I’m actually less patient than I was before, I’ve seemed to have developed out of the blue an ability to put up with so much more bullshit and muscle my way through things. After going to a local quilt show and being blown away by what I saw, I decided it’s time to give this a shot again. As can be expected, I’m fucking up left and right people, so follow along and observe, laugh at my pain.
My first piece isn’t going to be anything amazing. It’s going to be four 4x4 squares across by four 4x4 squares down. Why am I making something so small? Three reasons. One, last time I was going to go whole hog and I gave up before I really got started. Doing something smaller will make this project seem a lot more doable. Two, I’m learning completely from scratch here. There’s no quilter to hold my hand, no one to look over my shoulder and correct my work. There’s no point in spending 40 plus hours on my first piece when it’s not going to be anything hot to look at. Three, I’m deliberately letting myself fuck up by going in half cocked. Let me repeat that. I’m deliberately letting myself fuck up. Why? Because sometimes the best way to learn is by making mistakes and learning how to not make those mistakes again. After all, you can’t ask people for help if you don’t know what you need help with first, right?
These are the 2.25”x2.25” squares that I’ve cut out and arranged to make the block patterns I want them to be. When sewn together, they’ll end up as 4.25”x4.25” squares. I’ll then be sewing them to whole 4.25”x4.25” squares which aren’t pictured here, but you’ll see later.
To make them, you’ll first sew two different sets of two squares together, using that extra .25” as your seam or whatever the fuck people call them. You’ll then take your two sets of squares and sew them together to make a block. Two different people have told me that if I’m sewing by hand, I need ten stitches to an inch with a backstitch every three to four stitches. I think I’m averaging about eight stitches an inch. Eight, uneven, fucking ugly stitches an inch. When all is said and done, the end result should look like this from the back . . .
Fucking hideous. I know what you’re saying. Quit now, rd95. You’re awful. You’re not going to get anywhere with this. Go sit in the backyard with the dog and listen to the birds. Turn on the XBox and play some games. Learn to cook. For the love of all that is good, give up now, cause this just isn’t going to work.
Well, the joke’s on you. Cause they’re actually coming out alright.
Ignore the exposed stitches in the second and fourth picture. They’re not there. They’re in your head.
So with the bragging out of the way, here’s a few things that I’ve learned.
One: If you have a dog that loves to sniff everything, if she comes near you when you’re working, put the needle down. She doesn’t know what it is and will head nose first into it if you’re not careful. Fortunately for me, and her, I’m used to her curious ways and saw her coming from a mile away before she could do something that both of us would regret.
Two: Keep a lit candle nearby. The best way to get rid of scrap pieces of thread is to just burn it. It’s fun. Trust me.
Three: Random knots are bullshit. To avoid getting them, make sure you’re thread isn’t too long, isn’t all twisted. If a knot starts to form, stop and fix it before it becomes too taught. It’s a lot easier to deal with a lose knot than it is to deal with this bullshit . . .
Fuck you knot.
Four: You’re gonna fuck up if you go to quickly and don’t double check your work. Part of the whole point of hand sewing anyway is to so that you’re forced to slow down and really get hands on with your work. If you do fuck up though, know sometimes it’s best to just cut your losses and try again with the next part of your quilt.
See these pieces? They’re just mistakes in the form of bits of cloth. They’re not the end of the world. They are however little pieces of bullshit. Fucking knots. Fucking uneven stitches. Fucking poked fingers. Fucking needle that’s so fucking small it’s damn near impossible to thread. Fucking quilt. What the fuck am I doing this for?
Cause the end result is gonna be awesome. Remember when your buds in highschool decided to start a band but no one knew how to sing or play any instruments or any such shit and all they came out with was questionable at best? Remember how fucking awesome it was? That’s what this quilt is gonna be. It’s gonna be an ugly, hot, awesome mess.
. . . poked fingers are bullshit though.