My second quilt wasn't much better. It was a random nine patch made of 2.5" x 2.5" squares. This time I did have a rotary cutter. But get this, I actually cut the squares individually and once again pinned like a maniac. Luckily for me, it was about this time that a friend of mine took a quilting class and taught me a couple of her tricks. So , Capello, when I found out you were going to start on your first quilt, I thought I'd try to come up with some tips/shortcuts for you (and for any other quilting newbies who might be interested). May you be spared from the agony I experienced.
1. STA-FLO. This stuff is awesome. Just add a little bit to your spray bottle (1 part starch to 6 parts water) when you're ironing and it stiffens the fabric and makes it behave a little better when you're sewing. Besides that, the bottle looks so retro and cool in your laundry room. I think I got mine at Wal-Mart.
2. Take shortcuts whenever possible. Don't do what I did and cut out 2.5" x 2.5" tiny little squares. They will drive you batty. Instead, cut long strips that are 2.5" x however long your fabric is. Sew the long strips together and then cut them.
3. Iron like this: this might be hard to see, but the seams are both ironed closed and in one direction, to the right, in this case.
NOT like this:If you iron your seams open, when it comes time to quilt you've got a weak spot where the batting might show or possibly even stick out.
4. When making a strip quilt, make sure to iron each row in alternate directions. If you iron every row facing the right, for example, your quilt top will start to bow in that direction and you won't be happy!
5. One last ironing tip--and this is the best thing I learned, because as I mentioned before , I HATE PINS!!!! This one will let you avoid the use of pins and speed everything up big time. When you're making a nine (or whatever number) patch, iron your adjacent rows in opposite directions so that when you put your right sides together, they will "nest." You'll be able to see and feel as you sew whether or not things are lining up. If they're not lining up, you can gently pull either the top piece or the bottom piece to make them line up.
So, as I was saying, I'm not a great quilter, and I actually feel a bit silly "imparting" any sort of quilting knowledge onto you. And I hope I'm not insulting anyone's intelligence. But, these are things I wish I'd known before I started, so I thought I'd pass them on. If you can think of any other quilting tips that I should have included, please leave them in the comments section.