• Claudia Myers

Quarter inch seam? What are you talking about?

*I said before, that my first quilt was really awful--not so much ugly, but AWFUL--and here's what I meant:

*In talking to other quilters, I have found that most of us started sewing when we were 6 to 8 years old, and we started with clothes for our beloved Sweetie Pie dolls--or Pookie--or Cyn--thia. Those little bits of clothing had teeny weeny seams--but we also had teeny weeny fingers.

*Most of us moved on to making real clothes, which required great poise and bravery to wear out in public--"why yes, I made this mis-matched plaid skirt that keeps riding up around my waist--why do you ask?" Real clothing also required us to think in 5/8" seam terms, but, no big deal--most sewing machines have a 5/8 inch marker, or we found that adhesive tape worked as well, so that wasn't so hard. And paper patterns have that handy, dandy seam allowance printed right there, where you can see it.

*After clothing our entire family in mis-matched plaid, some of us veered off to making costumes--not so much for our children, which would still use the 5/8 inch seam, but for Costume Houses who would rent the pieces out until they were rags! Obviously, people of different height, weight, girth, bust size, neck size and inseam length would want to rent and wear this wonderful costume that you had just made. So, they had to be adjustable.

Now, there were general sizes, but most pieces were made with LARGE seams, so they could be let out--or taken in--or put up or taken down. When I say LARGE I'm talking 4 to 5 inch seam allowance, even 6 on the side seams and 3 to 4 everywhere else--and BIIIIG hems.

* So what does this have to do with my first quilt, you say? Well, when I barrelled home after the Quilt show, determined to start my first quilt the next day--because I do nothing in a calm, reflective manner--the wide costume seam was indeed my mindset. As a result, my first quilt was completely innocent of 1/4 inch seams. I told you about buying the rulers and the Visions book at the quilt show, but I also bought a Trudie Hughes book. The one with the Lover's Knot on the cover? And that's the one I was going to make. Now, I don't believe that Trudie's book talked about 1/4 inch seams--or if it did, I missed that part all together. Mine were closer to 3/4.

*I knew what colors I wanted to use, and I didn't have any of that. So, off I went shopping--at Minnesota Fabrics, where I always shopped. I was thinking burgundy, navy and off-white. Well, I found a navy cotton with a small white dot--that was a good start. The burgundy was more difficult. I could only find the shade I wanted in rayon--but, hey! the color was perfect! The off-white was even harder than you might expect, but there was a really nice upholstery fabric (on sale!) that worked pretty well--and had some texture to it. And, I knew that at home, I had an ivory kimono with a small burgundy and navy print on it that I'd bought for a costume----so silk was the 4th fabric. Did I wash any of it? Was I supposed to? Trudie didn't say that. So, the rayon wiggled a lot when I was trying to cut it into strips and the upholstery fabric sort of shredded--but I forged ahead--because I was going to become a QUILTER!

*After a bit of time--okey, a large bit of time--I finished the top and folded it nicely and laid it out in the bay window in our bedroom--where it slowly faded from burgundy and navy to Pepto Bismal pink and mud. I couldn't finish it--I didn't know how to quilt.

My pitiful quilt, which I so very cleverly named "Kimono Quilt", was finally taken on by a quilter-for-hire, who asked me if I wanted it to have custom quilting or just quilting to hold the whole thing all together. Obviously, I chose the latter.

Actually, it looked pretty much the way I wanted it to, except you see both bottom corners curled up. What you can't see are the rayon and upholstery fabric seams, which, even though they were wide, raveled away, leaving great holes where the seams used to be. And, end of its' story--in our last move, it was lost, poor thing--which should have been its' given name--"Poor Thing".

I guess I've never gotten past the old theater motto---"DONE IS GOOD!"

Speaking of unconventional fabrics, check out my tip page for a fast and easy project, using an obi. OBI=the sash used with a Japanese kimono.

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