Infected with the quilting bug—a beginner tackles triangles (+ advice needed!)

Martingale graphic designer Tara is back to share another tale about her adventures as a beginning quilter! This time Tara tackles a pinnacle of piecing: Flying Geese units. Let’s all cheer her on—and offer some advice for the question she’s been pondering.

My last post ended with me teasing that my Rainbow Runner quilt top was too easy—well it really was. All I had to do was sew a long, straight line…22 times, of course! I got plenty of practice. I appreciated Pat Sloan’s tip to use painter’s tape on my machine bed to ensure a consistent ¼" seam allowance. My stitching was still wobbly, which distressed me in the moment, but once I finished and flipped it over, I couldn’t see any wobbles—it looked good to me! I’ll probably be keeping the tape on my machine for quite a while.

This is the part where I realized I should have made all my strips the same length as well as the same width! Live and learn.

My runner was coming together nicely, but so far it was all just a bunch of rectangles—I had a hankering to try a more challenging block. I settled on the Sawtooth Star, a.k.a. Block #7 from Pat Sloan’s Teach Me to Make My First Quilt. It was perfect because the finished size is quite large at 12″  x 12″. I figured I could make and finish just one block and call it a place mat in the end. I was amazed at how easily it came together. Just cut a few squares and do what Pat Sloan tells you, and voilà, you will have an impressive-looking star (and a few leftover flying-geese units)!

That’s Pat’s block on the left and mine on the right. Don’t worry—I see the difference! I’m told my seam line-up is pretty good for a beginner, but I can see how this can become a tricky thing to get juuust right.

I really enjoyed putting both of these quilt tops together—I definitely got “in the zone.” One day I committed only to setting up my sewing space and getting all my materials together, and all of a sudden I was almost finished with the task itself because I was so immersed. Does that mean I’m officially infected with the quilting bug?

The next step seems like the toughest part—actually quilting. As you can see, I have three “quilt sandwiches” (my favorite term!) all ready to go—the Rainbow Runner, the Sawtooth Star Mat, and a wholecloth practice sandwich.

Delicious quilt sandwiches

So . . . how should I quilt these? I’d love your ideas, because I really don’t know! Someone suggested “matchstick quilting” for the Rainbow Runner, and that sounds good. Maybe in a diagonal direction, though. Or even criss crossing? Or perhaps some gentle or quirky vertical curved lines instead so I don’t have to be so straight? And for the Sawtooth Star Mat . . . Should I simply stitch in the ditch and then do something special in that center square? And if so, what? Oh gosh. Help!

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