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Can I boast a little bit here about my sewing student? Without complaint, she has tackled the toughest sewing project I’ve suggested yet, struggled with the big fabric scissors to cut out the shapes (and ended up switching to using my thread scissors because the fabric shears were just too big for her hands), has struggled with the sewing machine (figured out this week how to solve that!), has had to use the seam ripper (which she now knows how to use without ripping the fabric), and still is pushing forward with this project. After every problem, she’d say something like, “this is really hard, but it’s going to be awesome when I’m done and it will be MINE.” Oh, and she just started sewing with me last summer, once a week (with lots of weeks in between when we couldn’t meet) for 2 hours or so, having only made a small fleece pillow before starting sessions with me. 

So what did I ask her to do? I challenged her to make flying geese. This was a little bit crazy, as I had never managed to make flying geese well before, and I’ve been sewing for years! But she accepted the challenge, and I’ve been watching her sewing skills grow dramatically with this project. 

I think I posted this link before, but the idea for the project came from a free pattern (find it here) from McCall’s Quilting. The flying geese are made with squares in such a way there are no wasted little triangles when you are done. I made the tote first according to directions, and it is enormous; WAY too big for my petite student (who is in 7th grade). So I adapted the pattern, changed it a bit, and came up with a pattern that is a bit smaller. Here’s one side of the revised tote that I made:


I have it pinned to the batting, ready to be machine quilted when she catches up to this point. 

And here is how far she has gotten:


She’ll finish this side of the tote next week, and start piecing the other side after that. I love how she chose her fabrics, played with color, mixed brights and calmer prints… I think the girl is a natural-born quilter. 

Of course, I did promise her the next project would be smaller and easier.  🙂  She wants to make a phone case to go with the tote bag, so I figured we could do strips using the same fabrics.  She also asked if we could put pockets inside the totes to carry things like phones and pencils.  Obviously thinking ahead! 

Oh, and the sewing machine problem I mentioned earlier?Today I read a tip that was new to me, but was also one of those “Doh! Why didn’t I think of that?” moments. To prevent problems with the thread pulling out of the needle, or getting “goobers” of thread tangles at the beginning of your piece, put the needle down before the presser foot. It’s that simple. And it makes sense: that’s basically what you are doing when you chain-piece strips. I just never thought to START the piece that way. Both of us tried it tonight, and it made the sewing part so much easier. This tip came from a new book I have from the library, “Quilting With a Modern Slant” by Rachel May. It’s a mixture of interviews with quilters who have more of a modern edge to them, along with tips and tricks for beginners and the rest of us. Cool book, take a peek at it if you get the chance! There are some quilts in there I’m intrigued to try, if I ever get a chance.

Okay, boasting over; time to get back to my other sewing work.  🙂