BFSI Question #6 Review

A few weeks ago a group of us had a Black Friday Sew-in, mostly on Twitter ( you can read the old tweets by searching for the #BFSI hashtag). I asked you a bunch of questions in order to give you the opportunity to win a bunch of books compliments of Lark Crafts. I thought it would be fun to recap your comments and think about them further. You can find the original post that coincides with this review on Friday November 29. You can also find more about the Black Friday Sew-in on the introduction post.

Question #6 was  a two part question:

If you had to teach someone how to do one quiltmaking technique, what would that be?

Here are the answers:

  • accurate cutting technique
  • quarter inch sewing/art of the scant quarter inch (this was mentioned a couple of times)
  • pressing (this also got a couple of mentions)
  • fabric selection as to type (cotton or blends) and quality, and grain lines.
  • foundation paper piecing (a couple of people mentioned this)
  • how to join your binding ends when they meet
  • how to thread a needle
  • liberated quilting techniques
  • how to buy fabric

I think it is so interesting that very basic techniques were mentioned most of all. The answers make me wonder if the way we, as a quiltmaking community, are being taught how to piece is not adequate? I realize that many people teach themselves, which is great, but it is hard to know what to learn when you have nobody showing you the little things. Perhaps there is an opportunity for a self-paced module based program that people could follow along themselves.

I have long been a proponent of learning using the making of a sampler quilt. I like that method, because if you go through the basic sampler blocks (see my quilt class tutorials for more information), you will learn almost all the techniques you need to to know to make almost any block in the future.

I know the problem in learning using sampler blocks -is that they take a long time to make into a quilt. The class I took was 18 weeks long, one block a week, plus an introduction, a couple weeks for quilting, binding, etc. I know it is good to harness the enthusiasm of someone who wants to learn, get them in front of the machine making a project as soon as possible so that they see success quickly and continue to sew.

Perhaps there is a happy medium?

What are the best tutorials for beginning techniques that you have found?

If you are a beginner, what would you want someone to teach you?

  • how to free motion quilt
  • machine applique
  • how to do nice mitered borders
  • learn to hand-stitch binding in person

Daisy W mentioned that learning to hand stitch a binding was hard to learn watching a video on YouTube. I haven’t watched any videos on binding, but I can imagine. I finally got binding down (making to stitching) one year when I finished 10 or so quilts. I did all the bindings and doing that made the details of the techniques stick in my head.

F&P Binding Tool
F&P Binding Tool

One part of the process with which I still struggle is the matching up of the ends. This is not something I learned in my beginning quilting class. I, actually, never knew it was possible until I saw a Fons & Porter Love of Quilting tool in a demo at BAMQG. Now I do that all the time as it makes the ends of the binding look so nice. There are no more giant lumps at the ends. I really struggle with getting it right. The directions are difficult and confusing.

Other skills people mentioned want to learn are:

  • how to join your binding ends when they meet

Jen wrote in a comment “I would really like to learn “quilting for show”, not necessarily because I want to enter shows, but because I’m always hearing how the binding has to be just so, and knots need to be buried, and judges get out their magnifying glasses and rulers, etc. What they are actually looking for exactly is beyond me and I would like to know.” I talked about this in the podcast with Pam (Episode #148). Why is it a secret what judge’s want in binding. I always get called out on my binding – miters aren’t up to snuff and my binding isn’t filled! ERGH! It makes me crazy, because I just don’t know what they want and I really do try and do my best.

  • continuous line free motion quilting

There are a lot of people who want to learn FMQ and I think there are a lot of tutorials, books and classes out there. I have heard good things about a Craftsy class on negative space quilting from various podcasters. I know my problem with FMQ is that I don’t practice. I think practice makes perfect.

For me, practice is hampered by my machine, my space, to a certain extent, but those are not excuses for not practicing.

Someone also mentioned not being interested in taking classes. I enjoy taking classes, because sometimes they are fantastic and send me spiraling off into a new direction, or solve a problem for me. Other times, I learn one new thing or learn I don’t want to do whatever they are teaching. Regardless, classes expand my horizons and I think they are valuable.

Author: Jaye

Quiltmaker who enjoys writing and frozen chocolate covered bananas.

5 thoughts on “BFSI Question #6 Review”

  1. That binding tool looks incredibly useful! I’ve been using this tutorial to join the ends: (PDF, 786KB) Since I’ve only done it maybe a half dozen times total so far, I’ve been keeping the instructions on my ipod to refer to. A couple of times I’ve measured wrong and had too much fabric left and had to unpick and do it again (better than too little, I guess!) but that tool looks like it’d simplify the process a lot.

    1. The tool comes with instructions as well. I just couldn’t find a picture that had the package in it. Try it out. It isn’t expensive and you can use a coupon.

  2. I also believe the Fons and Porter binding tool changed my life, LOL. No matter how many people’s formulas or tutorials I tried (beginning with the way Mom had taught me to do it), I always ended up with the ends too short or too long, puckered, etc. Now, with that tool, it’s always dead-on, every single time. I became a binding maven when I was finishing up many of my Mom’s UFOs after she passed away–I did about 15 bindings in one year. And now, this year, I feel like I’ve finally turned the corner on being able to do it successfully by machine, when I choose to use that technique instead. I still prefer hand-sewing the back down (it’s very zen for me) but sometimes a machine binding is just the ticket.

    I agree with you–I’m a huge fan of taking classes, whether that be in person or online via Craftsy or other platforms. Even if I only walk away with one handy tip, that’s one handy tip more than I had when I started!

    Thanks for all you did on #BFSI. It was fun to hang out while I was there…

  3. It took a binding tool for me to wrap my head around how to join the ends of binding too.

    And you are right, practice does make perfect. I don’t always practice my FMQ, but I can definitely see the difference when I have. There are just some times when I am distracted by practicing other things!

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