Precision: Confessions of a reformed Casual Pinner

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about precision in quilting.  When I first began quilting, I just cut and stitched.  My Great Grandmother, after all, was a “casual pinner.”  She would pop in a pin here and there, and then hope it came out sewn in a straight line.  And if grandma does it, it’s gotta be right, Right? So what if my ruler slides a little while I am cutting!  Does it really matter if I don’t square up my blocks before joining them?  Points are supposed to be blunted after you sew them together, aren’t they?  Do I really have to go to all of those little, pesky steps I keep hearing about?

At first, none of those things mattered to me.  As I have learned and grown in my quilting journey, however, I have found myself to be a much harsher task master.  The more I pieced, the more I realized how much better things lay and how well the finished product looks when the patchwork isn’t wonky.

I am working on a custom piece now that was bought by my customer’s late husband on their very last vacation together.  She told me how he would look for antique quilts and old quilt tops wherever they traveled.  This particular piece is a beautiful yellow and blue watercolor top that was never quilted.  She hired me to finish it in her husband’s memory.  She came to me with the fabric she wanted it backed with, and we discussed adding another border to it to tie in her fabric with the original pieces.  As I began pressing the quilt to add the second border, I realized that it did NOT lay flat, nor was any amount of starching and pressing going to help.   The original seamstress had cut the borders just a tad short, and so she had tried to ease the seams.  Cheryl and I revised the original plan, and decided to remove those borders.  As I was unpicking all of those seams, I caught myself cursing the woman who had sewn those borders on, imagining to myself that it couldn’t have been the same woman who had pieced the rest of the gorgeous top…I’m sure she must have gotten very sick and someone else volunteered to finish it for her.  (At least, that was the story I made up in my mind to justify just how wonky the borders were sewn on compared to the rest of the very precise points in the patchwork!)

Here’s hoping that someday, when someone I don’t know is finishing one of my UFOs, she won’t be cursing me as well!

How about you?  What do you think about Casual Pinning?

Update:  Cheryl sent me a photo of her quilt in it’s new home:




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