Monday, May 7, 2012

The First Stitch is the Hardest


I've come a long way since I began quilting.  I used to love only the piecing and the shopping -- not necessarily in that order.  Then I learned to love the appliqué and the embellishment.  Somewhere during all of this, I discovered I loved design.  It took a long time before I was comfortable with the quilting part.



I was always afraid I was wrecking my beautiful quilt by quilting it.  So I did just the minimum amount possible to hold the layers together.  Then I learned that I could quilt the devil out of a small quilt.  In fact, it was not only fun, it was easy!


 And from there I went to bigger and bigger quilts.  It's still physically hard to quilt really big quilts -- I have found that I need special "quilt muscles" to move all that fabric and batting through my little machine.  But I can do it.


And I've gotten so much better with practice.  Now I often design my quilts with the quilting in mind.  But, oh, that first stitch.  That first stitch is the the hardest.  Once I've gotten warmed up, I'm okay.  But the little "practice sandwich" just isn't enough to get warmed up.


That first quilt stitch on a layered "real" sandwich is still the most difficult.  So sometimes, I just go around the elements.  Just to get the needle in there.  And some thread.  Then I can move on to the more creative parts.  Just after I get that first stitch in...

There is nothing on my design wall today because it's all under the needle.  The top photo is my current project.  I've finished the first stitches outlining some of the elements -- so it's on to the rest.  The part I love.    Check out Judy's blog (here) for some real design walls.  

14 comments:

Terri Stegmiller said...

My journey has been very similar in that I have learned to love more and more of the process. And yes, I'm still building up my quilt muscles and sometimes they protest! Loudly!

Anne Huskey-Lockard said...

I think this is why I have my pile of UFO's~~my quilting muscles are SQUAT, and some of the tops are very nice....and large. And of course I don't trust them to others because I can still *see* the design in my head, but then I find that I adjust as I work...so no describing to another party.
Well, they may eventually see the light of day.
Maybe this is why I love small quilts so---I can scribble all over them with thread and still lift my arms and not walk like a great ape afterward. ;-D

XXOO~~
Anne

Quilt or Dye said...

That sounds like me! I am still getting comfortable with the machine quilting part.

Tina in NJ said...

You give me hope. My main quilting resolution this year is to get more machine quilting in and get my pile of smaller flimsies down, but I've been stymied by tension battles with my machine. It goes to the specialist next week, then, watch out!

One Minnesota Quilter said...

You're absolutely right. Those first stitches are the hardest. I can plan, sketch, draw on the plastic over the quilt, practice on other fabric, etc. but taking those first few stitches in the quilt are the hardest. Once I get going though it is usually just fine.

I get into the "zone" and I can go for hours. Once I am out of the "zone" I have to work myself up to get back into it.

Thanks for your thoughts about the "fear" of the first stitch.

Judy

Beth said...

Waiting.... for stitch 2... to see what happens next!!! I knew that the first pic was the REAL Deal..

ANudge said...

Your quilting is marvelous. I'm a reluctant starter also, and I'm not as advanced as you, but you're an inspiration.

wackywoman said...

I too have learned to love the quilting process over time. It may be my favorite part now.

kwiltnkats said...

Your project looks like a horse race. I'm still not convinced to do anything more than quilting with my wallet. You do lovely work. Sandi

Vicki said...

my quilting evolution sounds much like yours, I am loving the quilting part on machine. I can't push around large quilts so my Mom and I purchased a long arm. I LOVE IT and find that all it took was a bit of confidence.

Barb said...

I guess I am always afraid of ruining it but I will have to say that I always love coming to your blog and seeing how creative you get.

Annie said...

I love piecing, but still struggle with the quilting part, yet I can't hand over my creations to someone else to quilt. My quilts have to be all mine—from start to finish!

Gari said...

I think the light dawned for me when I realized that once a quilt was washed, my quilting looked great. And I do LOVE having done the whole thing. But those first few stitches are still really hard.

Lynne said...

I can relate to all of that!