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  • Writer's pictureKaren

My Miniature Quilt Journey

I have always been fascinated by miniature quilts. At quilt shows, I often spend a lot of time trying to figure out how quilters can be so precise and then have the stamina to work with those tiny pieces over and over again.

I have dabbled in tiny piecing here and there, but with less than perfect results. I had decided meticulousness was not my strong suit, and it’s been a while since I have sewn anything that finished less than 1 ½" inches. Like childbirth, you remember it was painful, , but you forget how genuinely agonizing it was.

So when my guild hosted a workshop called ‘The Joy of Small Pieces’ with Mary Elizabeth Kinch, I signed up.

"Twisted Triangle", Mary Elizabeth Kinch

The class was well organized and informative. Mary Elizabeth knew her stuff and shared all sorts of useful tips. But there were no tricks or shortcuts. This class was all about precision. You had to get your measurement right because there was absolutely no trimming allowed. The class focused on improving accuracy. If you didn’t get it right, you ripped it out and started all over again.

Are you surprised that I had a bit of difficulty shifting down to a slower pace? I would say I was quite cranky throughout most of the class, as I could never move into high gear. Thank god it was by ZOOM; I could turn off my camera to curse and fidget.

It was so difficult making tiny QST blocks that were supposed to finish at a perfect 2 inches. Perhaps on the third try, I realized I was stepping up to the next level of my quilting journey—kind of like moving from my purple to my red belt in karate. Just because I was proficient at one level didn’t mean my skills would translate into the next. It was more than just not knowing how to do it. I didn’t have the muscle memory built up to do it well. The only way I was going to improve would be by practicing over and over again.

How many of us quit the piano because we didn’t like to do the scales? Or skating because we didn’t want to do the drills? It’s in the practice and repetition of the foundational skills that mastery is born.

I like to think that these tiny pieces are my scales. I can choose to stay where I am or sit down, practice and do the work and see what the next level brings. Stay tuned.

In other news, if you’ve been following me on social media or watched my vlogs, you’ll know that I’ve been working on the Sugaridoo QAL. Back before COVID, Irene of Sugaridoo and I were supposed to meet up on my European Trip. Though the trip is on hold, she and I still met up over ZOOM, and I happened to film it. That’s right, Irene is my next Karen’s Quilt Circle guest. We’ll be discussing what the quilt scene is like in the Netherlands. You won’t want to miss it. It’ll be live on my YouTube channel Monday, November 2nd, at 12:00 EST.

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10 Kommentare

Julie Mottainai
Julie Mottainai
11. Mai 2023

This is my journey too....longtime quilter, but avoided really small piecework due to the precision involved. But I so admire this genre of quilts born out of necessity as tiny scraps often what they had to work with. I hate waste and just could not bear to compost the tiny HST off cuts from my snowball quilt (and such pretty fabrics) so I am committed to making a beautiful quilt out of them and practice patience and precision. Plus, it like a bonus quilt top with fabrics I already own!

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I had a similar experience. I signed up for a block of the month that required precision due to pre-cutting the squares and triangles instead of cutting down a larger starting set. Like you, I did not appreciate having to slow down but looking back the end results were worth it.

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Carol Schon
Carol Schon
04. Nov. 2020

Boy, do I ever identify with not wanting to practice! :-) I gave up piano, because I didn't want to practice for an hour every day. In my defense, I was 9 years old and a tomboy. I wanted to be outside and an hour is about 30 minutes too long! I can pick out a tune and read notes, so it was not a total loss. I have done some minimal practice with miniatures, so enjoyed your story.

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Unknown member
01. Nov. 2020

Wow, I'm excited to see the interview with Irene! I think we all need a little more "happy" right now, and Irene is usually pretty upbeat and positive (as are you!) As far as minis...I used to make a lot of them in Civil War repros. I find more joy now in working on a larger scale with happy, gorgeous brights, although I still try to be really precise. And when I'm not so accurate, I am a big fan of make it big and hack it off. ;-) 😆

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Unknown member
31. Okt. 2020

I'm always amazed at the people who race through making quilts. I take my time and I'm taking longer the older I get. Have to say I'm a bit of a perfectionist & hate having to take stuff apart. I'm not so bothered about getting things finished now, I'm enjoying the journey more now, a bit like taking the train instead of a plane! I do enjoy watching your videos, they make me smile a lot. Thank you.

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