Teri's Rules of Quilting.

- There are no rules. Well, OK, I have rules, but they're not like the sewing book rules. Once you learn the basics you can do anything you want. Modify your construction techniques so you can create quilts quickly with maximum joy and minimum bogged-downedness. I am not a perfectionist. Although I love triangles, I never cut/sew them correctly and my triangle points are always "chopped off"in the final design. I usually cannot find the patience to use the same hand-quilting pattern all over a quilt, and will vary it for the hell of it. I once sewed in a large piece of fabric upside down in a block, but was too lazy to tear it out--and today you would never know unless I told you where to look for it. Quilts are creations of the imagination, not proof that you can use a sewing machine. Then again, I've never had trouble with a quilt that didn't lay flat. But don't get bogged down in perfection.

- Patterns. I make all my own patterns because I never find better ones that I do in my imagination. But I have a big pile of inspirational material I use when I start to design a quilt. I have a few "coffee-table" type Quilt books, books on color (I like Stephen Quiller's Color Choices), and I even save the quilt book advertisements that come in the mail. I use these references to determine what block(s) I want to use, how I will set them, and what border I'll use. I find tile floors, especially in foreign countries, to be extremely reminiscent of quilting blocks.

At this point I have a general idea of the colors I want to use. After I design the finished pattern on graph paper and decide how big I want the blocks to be, I figure out for each color of fabric how many pieces I'll be cutting and how they will fit into strips (generally I try to cut strips of 45" fabric and then cut strips down to the pieces I need). However, my triangles always seem to be too small. Not sure what my problem is.

I also don't worry if my strips are off-grain a bit. What will cause a defective quilt is a seam that is less than 1/4" wide.

- Color. Color choice usually ends up being restricted by the stores I visit, but I find that restrictions, artificial or otherwise, force you to be creative in a way you couldn't be if you have infinite choice available to you. My unhappiest color choices were in the purple/yellow Log Cabin. I was so unhappy with this quilt that I could not give it away (it was supposed to be a wedding quilt). When I tell people this, they think I'm crazy, so I guess it isn't as ugly as I think. I just don't usually pick those kinds of colors.

- Construction. I generally use an off-white 200 thread count sheet on the back for a great feel. Works great for hand-quilting. Probably not cheaper than calico. Occasionally I will find a calico pattern I like for the back, but it's rare. I also always use the backing fabric to create the edge (self-binding? edge-turned binding?). I like thinner batts of cotton or poly/cotton that shrink a bit in the wash and "puff" the fabric between the stitching.

- Quilting. Hand quilting is fun but tedious, and a very warm pastime in the summer. After trying some circular quilting patterns on the Bear Paw quilt, I decided that quilting lines should only be straight, not curved. Every quilt I've hand quilted since then has been with straight lines, and I only quilt toward me or away from me. I use #10 betweens and Coats Cotton Hand Quilting thread (100% Glace Cotton). I use a metal ridged thimble on the pushing finger and a leather cover (the kind with the elastic over the knuckle) on my index finger. I will try to describe how I hold the quilt while I'm quilting it: I sit on a couch and place a chair in front of me, back towards me. I use a 14" hoop and drape the quilt over the chair so the hoop is right in front of me, angled down towards me. There's about 6" between the top of the hoop and the top of the back of the chain. If I need to turn the fabric I pull the portion of the quilt that hooped off the chair enough so I can twist the hoop in my lap. My left arm goes under the quilt and the hoop (to feel the needle coming through), my right arm is on top.

Recommended books: The Quilter's Ultimate Visual Guide, A Rodale Quilt Book, Ellen Pahl, Editor

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