Practice Makes (Almost) Perfect

Sixteen corners awaiting a trim 
and their miters.

Unfortunately, the black binding
doesn't clearly show the beauty
of that corner. 

Bonus Skill: My machine quilting 
also improved.

When binding a recent quilt, it became painfully apparent to me that my mitered corners (to put it kindly) lacked precision. The third corner was a little better than the second, and the fourth corner was the best of the lot-but "best of the lot" isn't really a rousing endorsement in the skills department. While my sewing stitches were straight and true, the corners were, well, lumpy.

To continue to practice on mitered corners–one quilt at a time–would be futile. First of all, mitering four corners isn't really a lot of practice. And second, the time between finished quilts would mean that I'd be rusty anyway.

Since I don't enjoy randomly working on skills, cutting some fabric squares and stitching on binding until I improved had no appeal. I know myself well enough that I would never do that. I like to be making something.

Enter My Own Personal Potholder Challenge! By reducing the "quilt" to nine square inches, and making potholders in sets of four, I needed to make sixteen (count 'em up! SIXTEEN!) mitered corners in one sitting.

The improvement was dramatic, but I wasn't complete satisfied. So I started immediately on another set. By the time I finished that set, I was confident, satisfied, and skilled. Plus, I do have some lovely shower gifts now at the ready.

A side bonus was that I also worked on my machine quilting–which, not surprisingly, also improved. By working on a smaller scale, I found it easier to be a little more innovative than when I'm working on a larger quilt. Big win all around.

For inspiration and lots of glorious stitching, check out Quilting Arts in Stitches 11.

And I'm wondering, how do you motivate yourself to improve? Share with the SewDaily crowd. We're always in the market for new ideas!

Happy stitching!


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