Monday, May 14, 2012

Mirror, Mirror on the wall........Who is the most accurate of them all?

Kaye England's "Double Dozen"
Is your 1/4 inch seam really 1/4 inch?
If it's not, is it your sewing machine's fault?

Can you make a 12 1/2 inch square 12 1/2 inches each time without fail?
Why not?
Is it really because you don't have a 12 1/2 square ruler to check yourself?

Do you believe that old saying "She who dies with the most fabric wins!"?

Do you know in your heart that the next tool, ruler or sewing accessory will dramatically transform your quilting forever?

Have you ever had a "Mirror, Mirror on the Wall" moment with yourself about your own cutting, sewing, piecing and/or quilting technique?

We all have been guilty of these thoughts and more about our craft.  But where does the blame for error and shall we say "creative diversions" from good technique lie?

May 4th was that "Mirror, Mirror" moment for me. As a relative "youngster" in our guild, I was one of very few who had not been quilting before the advent of the rotary cutter. My skills come from my mother-taught 4-H dress and apron making days, but otherwise, I am self-taught.

Master quilter and teacher, Kaye England visited my guild this month. She gave an amazingly funny and truthful lecture (much of which I've lovingly borrowed for this piece) as well as a fabulous trunk show. Then she led two classes. I was able to attend her "Double Dozen" class which is the photo seen above.
Kaye England demonstrating use of her "Nifty Notion Quarter Square Ruler"
The essence of the entire six-hour class was really like a mini-retreat-- a moment to stop doing what you have been taught, to step back and look critically at your work, and then to meditate on the following idea:

Skill is a result of practice.
Accuracy is a result of good technique.

Tools should make your life easier...................not harder.
Kaye asked us, "Why square up when you can do it right the first time?"

Below are some of the tools which we learned were hampering our ability to make a perfect 1/4 seam the first time.  The search for the perfect 1/4 seam is truly one in which the piecer needs to look within themselves. The honesty of that fact combined with having a master teacher like Kaye England point out all your faults (or all the lint which you didn't know was building up in your machine) to a group in a fun-loving and constructive way is a humbling experience to say the least.

Kaye England and the ladies of Q.U.I.L.T.S. Schenectady
As we left the six hour self-reflection and attempt at rebuilding our skill-sets master class, many of us were still blaming our machines, hoping the rulers we purchased will "fix" things, and wondering if we will ever be "that" accurate. Below is my pile of attempts to better myself and I am now armed, with a new way of thinking, with new ideas (like how to finger press, to avoid pins, to use my tools to help not hinder progress, and how to make my geese "Fly Right!") and an arsenal of art-changing skills.

Thank you for the inspiration, Miss Kaye. I hope some of it sticks!

ThisQuiltingMama and Kaye England


  1. I forget you are so close to me and The Joyful Quilter is just around the corner from my daughter. What a great class, I'm sure everyone enjoyed.

    1. Yes, we are very close to Glenville. Kaye England's class was hosted by the Schenectady Q.U.I.L.T.S. Guild (

  2. Very nice summary of our day! Kaye was unvarnished in her inspection of our various techniques and outcomes - all for the better in the end. Thanks to our guild QUILTS for hosting the event.