How do you handle advice? Do you ignore it? Do you give it a try? Perhaps you modify advice, following what feels comfortable and ignoring the rest. Over the years I’ve seen fiber art trends come, go, and even return. Each iteration comes with advice from the current hot gurus in the medium. I don’t metaphorically stick my fingers in my ears and put blinders on. I have learned to only follow advice that works for me.
There are two pieces of advice that have guided me for decades. One is quite simple. It is to press seams open. When I started quilting in the late 1980’s this was not the advice. Then the rule of thumb was to press seams towards the darker fabric. Next came pressing abutting seams in opposing directions, so they would nest.
How to Press Seams
Why was this the advice? A key advantage, at the time, of pressing seams to one side or the other, is on the backside the pressed seam covers the seam line gap between pieces. Older battings tend to beard. Bearding is the migration of batting fibers wending their way through the seam and appearing on the quilt top. Current battings and layering methods have basically ended bearding. Also, most quilts of that era were hand quilted, or if quilted by machine, were quilted in the ditch. Therefore, having only one layer of fabric, on one side of a seam and three on the other, made quilting easier, since the quilting stitch could pass through the side with few layers.
What do I do today? I always press my seams open. Why? Because bearding is no longer an issue. Also, it makes for a flatter quilt since the seam fabric is equitably distributed on either side of the seam. I am a free motion quilter. Free motion is easier to execute when the quilt is flat.
The Distance Test
A piece of artistic advice, which resonates with me, came from Sandy Donabed Townsend. She likely passed it on from someone else. The rule of thumb is when you view an artwork it should grab you from across the room, draw you in for contemplation at arm’s distance, and then hold up from inches away as you peer at the details. My son was 5 years old when I took Sandy’s class. He is 35 today. I still self-analyze my work, making sure it would pass, what I have dubbed, the distance test. So far, Sunrise Over the Gulf River is getting high marks. Just in case you are wondering, all the seams are pressed open.
What is the best quilting and/or artistic advice you have received? How does it influence your work?
I am linking up with Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Fridays.