Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Getting outside the box

Next week I'm trying something (semi) new. I'll be taking my second quilting class, and I'll be joining E's mom, Mimi and his sis, April. The only other class I did was about three years ago, and since then I've made one other quilt. That's a total of two in my lifetime. Well, one and seven eighths, since the one from the first class still doesn't have a binding. Or any binding. I'm not sure if it's singular or plural. That's how clueless I am when it comes to quilts.

Today the Meemster, Ad, Hanko and I went fabric shopping. I've had a gift certificate since 2006 that I've been too afraid to use without assistance. I get all sweaty and worked up going in the quilt store. Talk about feeling like a poser! Anything I feel about running pales in comparison to how I feel when I walk in that quilt store and meet the icy stares of the dames that run the place. They are all so nice, but I feel their eyes on me while I fabric shop, and I feel like a third grader amongst college students: way out of my league.

It takes me forrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeevvvvvvver to decide on fabric colors--it's like having to choose your paint colors before seeing the picture you're going to paint. So difficult. It involves a lot of stacking, stepping back, and squinting. There's no going back once you start, so it better be good. I love my final choices though. I can't wait to see what the quilt looks like. Here's a few pics of my fabric. Or is it fabrics? Do you see the grammatical shenanigans I'm going to get myself into here? (Ignore the yellow in the left corner. That's an actual beautiful quilt from Meem's quilt group when E and I got married.)

My inspiration was a recently rediscovered treat, the Creamsicle. I started off looking for oranges. It's going to be going on a white or off-white (I think they call it "snow") background.

This is my absolute favorite one. Interesting color combination with the steel blue and brick red.

All laid out. Orange lead me to red, which led me to including an ice blue and some pink. I was going for "summery." The blues are for a little pop of color. BAM.

I adore the fabric in the foreground. I'm sorry it's blurry here. I wish it was in the kind of fabric you could use for a dress. It would make a beautiful sundress.

More of this.

Bright and happy. I really hope it turns out.

My last experience with the quilting class was less than sensational. I was already nervous, which is never good. Like I said, I'm not great at sewing. I learned when I was in junior high, and I tried REALLY hard but I was slow. Instead of waiting for me to struggle through the project I was making, my grandma just finished my projects one day when I wasn't at her house. It killed me. I was so sad. From that point on, I was just kind of unsure and inferiority complex-ridden about sewing. I thought I'd done something wrong. Cut to me 15 years later trying to learn at the hands of some very talented women. I didn't even know how to thread my machine needle. Oh the shame.

April has been sewing, like since she was in the womb, so there was no terrible sewer cameraderie there. It's in their genes. Gluten-free E is even Totally Badass Quilter E. (Subject of another post.) I hate looking stupid at anything. Anyway, I went to the class with sweaty palms and my new sewing machine, and I just didn't feel comfortable. You know that feeling where you're smiling, but inside you're like I am going to either scream or cry if anyone asks me anything too complicated? Yeah, that. I liked the thing about everybody sitting around talking while they sewed things, but I felt like I was paralyzed by my lack of knowledge. If you don't know how to do anything without someone holding your hand, it's a very slow process. I felt like a baby.

Do you know what's the hardest for me about quilting? All the seams on the back. All the ironing--I'm sorry--PRESSING. Don't call it ironing or those ladies will jack you up in the parking lot after the class. All the holding the seams the right way so they don't stitch in the wrong direction. Ooooh. It gives me hives. The thing is, I can envision beautiful quilts in my head. I want to be awesome at it. I don't like being semi-awesome or mostly-retarded at things. I just felt such shame when the instructor held up my quilt top that had taken me hours and tears and sweat and seam-ripping to finish, and said now this is exactly what you don't want the back of your quilt to look like. Did you hear that? It was the sound of my pride deflating. The corners of my eyes burned and I silently swore to myself that I would try so hard never to humiliate a student like that, particularly if they had really tried their best at something.

I have to say I've had some very positive experiences with quilts and/or fabric since then. I've come to learn that April is totally laid back and cool about the whole thing, and that Meems is a really good teacher. She has spent a lot of time helping me. She doesn't mind telling me 800 times how to sew a border, or watching me try to press unsuccessfully because I can't remember the right technique. When it's just the two of us at my house, I don't feel nearly as stupid. I've managed to complete another quilt in the meantime since the last class with her assistance. I'm going to take this positivity and give the class another try.

I'm never going to be any good unless I can be in that quilt shop and learn the trade. If I'm going to be in this family, I'm going to have to learn. I want to learn. I want to be awesome. Like crocheting, quilting gives you the ability to gift meaningful, handmade gifts to people you love. I want that. Time to suck it up, put on my big girl panties, and sew.


  1. My aunt just started quilting about 6 years ago and she was exactly the same way as you. She felt inadequate going to the quilting store and saying "iron" instead of "press". Now after she retired from teaching she does it everyday and just gets better and better. She loves it and even goes on quilting vacations! So just keep at it and keep practicing!

  2. Just pretend you know what you're doing - that's what I do. And it's singular for both fabric and binding (now you'll know the terms when you go to class!).

    Btw I may have been sewing since I was in the womb, but ask me how many quilts I've actually finished...

    Oh and I have the same machine as you - we'll have a "how to thread your machine" session before class next week. :)

  3. So, as the recipient of your very lovely crocheted items, is it selfish to be excited for this new venture? Can't wait to see what you learn! Be awesome and good for you for trying something new!

  4. YOu have made more than you say because two of my boys have awsome quilts from Auntie Heather! Give yourself a break and have fun. Who cares if the lady isn's all sweet and roses, you would school her on the dance floor...she's just in her element amongst her peers. Don't try to pretend to be something you're not. Just own what you are and be confident in yourself. You rock!!!

  5. I am looking forward to seeing what you make! I think quilting is something I could totally get into.

  6. Oh, you guys. I want so badly to not be the "special" kid in the quilt class. Maybe I'll take my camera there and blog about the whole thing. They might not be that into it though... but I promise to keep you updated. Thanks for all the great advice. I'm totally taking it. :)

  7. I just found your blog and love you and your young family already. I enjoyed your quilting and can hardly wait until it is complete. Your dining room table looks like my spare room where three of us "oldies" sew. I'm in my seventies and am in my third year of quilting and wished I had gotten into it when I was younger. I enjoy your colors your so brave to pick them all which is really a hard time, I commisserate with you on that job but when it's finished it's always lovely. Take care and I'll be looking forward to more of your life. God bless, MrsK