A couple of Saturdays ago, Mouse and I attended the beginner table runner class offered by our quilt guild. I thought it would be a good idea for Mouse, because it would force her to work more independently, not relying so heavily on Mom to help her out — or do things for her — when she felt stuck. I think a big part of building confidence in sewing lies in tackling projects yourself, even if you make some mistakes. If someone else is always there doing the challenging parts for you, then you never realize that you are capable of overcoming the challenge yourself. (At right, the teacher’s sample. The runner is a pattern called “Hip Holiday Snowball Table Runner” by Kerry Smith, published in American Quilter magazine, November 2013.)
Here’s Mouse learning how to square up her fabric before starting to cut. Which leads me to a second reason it’s good for her to do a beginner class — i.e., so she doesn’t pick up all my bad habits. I wouldn’t call myself a cavalier sewer, but I’m definitely more relaxed about my techniques. I don’t usually square up my entire length of fabric before cutting, for example — I just square up the edge I’m cutting from. I have gotten better about taking the time to square up blocks, pin matching points, mark sewing lines, etc. I can definitely see how my work has improved over the years, since I’ve started taking more steps to ensure accuracy in my work. Nevertheless, I’m by no means a Type A person, and sometimes I’m happy to settle for “good enough” when it comes to sewing. Mouse may be that kind of a person too; in fact, I’m pretty sure she is. But it’s probably better to let her learn the most accurate techniques possible, then make her own decisions about which to shortcut.
The next class isn’t until midway through November, so the “homework” was to finish cutting all the squares, then piece the centre panel of the table runner (without the outer border). Mouse is still working on cutting out. I finished the centre panel yesterday, and I’m thinking of just moving ahead and finishing the entire runner. That way, Mouse will be able to use my machine for next class, when they will be tackling machine quilting (she doesn’t have a walking foot or a free motion quilting foot for her machine — which is the ancient Kenmore I got for my 11th birthday).
My husband was remarking on the very different effect my table runner has — using only two fabrics with less contrast, my “snowballs” look more like a lattice of sunflowers, whereas the teacher’s sample in different blues really emphasizes the distinct snow balls in the pattern. It always amazes me how fabric choice can change so completely the way a pattern works.