Friday, March 30, 2018

Over time

Within the last two years, I noticed something markedly different about my piecing skills. After nearly 8 years of sewing, I'm at the point now where I can confidently pick up nearly any pattern (possibly even paper-piecing! What?) and be able to sew it together without major mishap. Points will exactly or just about line up with little effort or pinning, half-square triangles will come out exact or just nearly exact, and the finished block size might be off by 1/8 of an inch, if at all. This, to me, is just about quilting perfection. Not that I've aimed for perfection, but this is how I stand.

A block just sewn for my guild's bee for next month. I had never made this block before, and in the past been iffy with the sewing-white-corners-on-the-black-square step, but lo and behold, it just happened effortlessly.

Back when I started sewing 8 years ago, when everything was new and required so much concentration, I never dreamed that I'd be able to piece the way I can now. I think it's the culmination of practice nearly every day for 8 years. Not just physical practice, though - also reading about sewing on blogs, Instagram, and in books for 8 years straight. Forcing myself to follow a traditional block of the month program back in 2013. Taking a few in-person classes. Interacting with my in-person quilt guild and ogling their work close up every month. Attending quilt shows. Observing how other people sew and forcing my mind to learn in a new or different way. My brain consumed this information and doled it out bit by bit when needed.

Some people set out as beginner quilters expecting everything to come out exactly perfect. And it might! For most people, though, it takes years. This is like any other skill. Piano players, chefs, pitchers, bicyclists (after a year and a half of spin class at the gym, I'm really understanding it!), etc. You develop a rhythm and consistently practice. And in the end, you will see those results.

It was hard to wait, but I'm really beginning to see how years of work pay off. What step of sewing has unexpectedly become second nature to you?


  1. This is such a good post! I have found the same thing with a lot of piecing myself, but the thing that I find that comes to me second nature is quilt math. My mind is very math-centric to begin with and I can compute quilty math like a calculator these days!

  2. How awesome to recognize that your skills have moved up to the next level of accuracy. Isn't it cool what practice can do?!?! :)

  3. Great post Jessica : ) It really does take practice to become competent. Even though it took me 4 large quilts to do so, I was able to free-motion machine quilt feathers. They are now my "go to" quilting stitch. Even though they're not very modern, I figure if Angela Walters can do them, so can I.

  4. Don't you love that moment of "Hey, I'm better at that than I used to be!"? This is a great post and your block looks fantastic :) I'm amazed at where my fmq skills are now. It's a matter of hours and hours and hours of practice and, like you, reading about and observing others' work. I used to admire really skillful fmq and think I'd never be that good, but I'm on my way!

  5. It's taking me longer but I don't quilt daily...but heh it's coming slowly but surely.

  6. Three cheers for practice!! I have started noticing everything takes less time -- I'm not sure if this is because I second guess myself less, or have gotten better at recognizing and taking shortcuts. I'll take either one! :D


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