Every year I get wildly inspired to create a huge project that I know nothing about and mess up all along the way! I wanted to make something more memorable this time, something that would be passed down and cherished. Even though I might be experienced and amazing behind a sewing machine I get the privilege of being a beginner here. And, well, I’m here to share my mistakes.

No amount of watching Youtube tutorials can help as some things just need to be learned through experience.

Using all of my cotton mask fabric, I thought I would make a very simple beginner quilt. Like it was going to be that easy… sheesh! I found a simple design online called the Disappearing Nine Patch.

My first mistake was making it queen size. There is a big difference from finishing at 51″x 74″ to finishing at 90″x 108″, almost double, yo.

I underestimated the amount of fabric I would need by 2/3rds! This means I only had 1/3 of the mask fabric and had to run in the Little Shop of Stitches and buy a layer cake. Woe is me on a shopping spree. I needed the backing and the padding anyways. I have made other quilts so I already knew it was going to cost a great deal of money.

I was hoping for the quilt to be full of hot colors, but nothing went as planned. The quilt just kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger. I used every piece of fabric and had to go fishing for more. That bright blue really steals the show.

Once my pieces were cut, I used my floor as a design board. This took all day! So much fun. I underestimated how long the simplest of quilts would take to make and I loved it.

My math skills were totally lacking for anything beyond a body measurement where seams are simply divided by 4, 6 or 8. I wound up making an extra row of patches as I got closer to queen size.

Somehow I still messed them up, can you spot the fatal flaw? My BFF noticed right away. Humility is a gift.

Adding the border was a breeze! But I didn’t know I was supposed to leave the batting and backing larger until it had been top machine quilted (the top stitching). I also safety pinned it all over and found out if I would have baste sprayed the quilt sandwich together I could have started free motion quilting it anywhere. Since I did not baste spray, I had to start quilting in the middle and that is the hardest place to start since the quilt is so big and heavy. It barely fit under my machine and away I went.

Again, no matter how much experience, when you try a new medium, you will probably have issues! And sometimes 2 hour set backs… I put my free motion foot on, dropped my feed dogs, put bobbin thread in my bobbin and practiced on this mock quilt I threw together. There were a few skipped stitches that simply required me screwing the foot down just a little tighter before I began the real deal.

About half way through the free motion meandering stitch I started having all kinds of issues. The bobbin thread, and then the top thread, was breaking every few stitches.

I took it apart, put it back together, cleaned my machine, changed to cotton thread, changed the spool disc size, just to put it all back to have it work fine. I have no clue to what was wrong?

I cleaned my machine between each session! I’ve never made so much dust but I recognize going through 23 fully loaded bobbins can be messy.

The easiest part was binding it all together! I was lucky friends on social media told me not to bind it until it was quilted or I would have made that mistake too.

If I were to do this again I would make a full size quilt and buy all pre-cut fabrics, maybe.

Don’t forget to check back next week for the release of my winter sewing classes at Rosewood Art Centre!

Thank you for reading,

Tracy McElfresh

Dream it! Sew it! Mess it up!





Tracy McElfresh
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