Well, for goodness sake, whooda thunk? I am a mentor to a high school student.
My student is doing a commendable senior project, in which she plans to make three or four baby quilts, which she will donate to charity. Never having sewn before, she was in need of someone to show her how to do it. Despite my many failings, knowing how to sew is one of my strong points, so I felt it was ok to accept the assignment.
Last week we went shopping, where she picked out fabric for her first baby quilt. Dinosaurs were the theme, and it gladdened my heart to see how enthusiastic she was about her choice of fabric. Love of fabric is crucial to quilting satisfaction and feeding the passion, do you not agree?
This week we got down to business. I laid out our text, and the basic tools with which I wanted her to become familiar. I taught her how to use a rotary cutter, and she managed to cut out her fabric, keeping the ruler mostly in place. The cutting took rather a long time, and I wanted her to get some sewing in to satisfy that craving for instant gratification we all need when embarking on a new endeavor.
The biggest challenges we faced in our first lesson was keeping the ruler from shifting while we cut our fabric, and sewing an accurate quarter inch seam. When she first put her foot on the foot pedal of the sewing machine, I think it really startled her! At first it went gangbusters, then she slowed down to a stitch per two seconds. However, it didn't take her long to get up to speed on how to operate the machine, but that quarter inch seam allowance was a real problem.
Above all, I want her to succeed with her project, and that quarter inch business is a buggaboo for most new sewers. What to do? When you are first learning to sew there are so many things to pay attention to--how fast the machine is going, if your fabric edges are in alignment, should you sew over that pin, etc. Worrying about all that plus paying attention to the seam allowance as you feed the fabric through the machine is just a bit much.
Thank goodness for having the proper tools at hand. I switched out the number 37 quarter inch foot on my Bernina for a number 57, and that made all the difference. The number 57 foot has a little metal guide that stays right on the edge of your fabric, so you can't wander all over. In no time flat, she had a perfect quarter inch seam allowance! Thank you Bernina.
Here is her design wall, with her blocks and lattices all laid out. She loved that dinosaur fabric, and managed to get her first row of blocks sewn together today! I am pretty jazzed for her success.