Grandma’s Advice on Learning to Quilt

A wide-eyed 8 year-old stands by the quilt frame watching her Grandma and friends ply the needle over the quilt blocks

How I remember just waiting for the opportunity to try a few stitches.  The joy of threading needles for Grandma as she chatted and sewed with her friends was the beginning of a history of learning the love my art of quilting.

Now years later, many projects have called my quilt frame home.  The lessons learned from my Grandma have stood the test of time and now become valuable tools of my trade. For example, press seams towards the darker fabric.  Keep scissors sharp and check that they cut straight.  Scissors that have been dropped may not cut a true line. Always complete a practice quilt block to determine which piecing order you prefer and which direction you want the seams to face.  Whenever four or more seams come together at one point, press the seams open.  Grandma always said to dip one finger into water and dab the moisture onto the area where the multiple seams come together and fan out.  This process will flatten the seams as you press your quilt block as I took Grandma’s advice to learn to quilt.

Grandma sewed her quilt blocks with either her treadle machine or in later years her new electric machine.  Yet she strongly cautioned that no matter the sewing machine you purchased with every new option available, don’t forget the inexpensive and tiny essential item, the sewing machine needle.  When stitching a quilt block, needles are best when sharp, and Grandma’s reminder was to replace the needle with each new quilt top.  Dull needles become noisy and should be replaced immediately. These are important reminders from Grandma when I first learned to quilt.

Handmade baby quilts are SEW special

Until today I can still hear my Grandfather remind me to keep those quilt stitches small, so he would not get his big toe stuck in them when he slept under the quilt at night. I knew my Grandfather was only kidding me, but that little joke between us so many years ago, still reminds me to keep the quilt stitches small and even.  While tiny stitches are not essential, it is important to the overall appearance of your quilt that they are reasonably sized.  If they are too large, just like my Grandfather teased me, they run the risk of being broken in the course of wear or just pulled loose. When I learned to quilt, anywhere from 6 – 12 stitches per inch is what Grandma suggested when stitching a quilt by hand.

The years have flown by, the days with Grandma when I learned to quilt are no longer, but the love of her craft will live on since now I am the Grandma teaching my grandchildren to quilt.

It is time to teach my grandchildren to learn to quilt!

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