What Quilting or Sewing Step is the Most Frustrating?

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What Quilting or Sewing Step is the Most Frustrating?

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SpoolTower NancyZiemanWhat quilting/sewing step is the most frustrating? That’s the question I posed earlier this month, via this blog,  Facebook, and Pinterest. From tedious tasks to complicated steps, there are quite a few areas that can be frustrating. Enjoy the selected responses, plus a spotlight on one of my followers.

Below, be sure to check out December’s Share Your Insight question and if you’d like, submit a response. Enjoy!

ZipperPulls NancyZiemanWhat quilting/sewing step is the most frustrating?

Note from Nancy:

I must admit, I was hesitant to ask this question of the month. My goal is to take the possible frustration out of this hobby. Yet, no matter what the hobby, there is generally a step or two that’s not as enjoyable as the others. My suggestion to you is to sew with a buddy, or have your sewing buddy help you and you help them. That’s the best way to make sewing and quilting a totally relaxing process.

November Question - What quilting/sewing step is the most frustrating? - Nancy Zieman | Sewing With Nancy

“I think the most frustrating for me is cutting out a pattern/or fabric for a quilt because I just want to sew… I listen to stories on CD from the library while I sew but can’t start until I have all the prep work done. I like the peacefulness of the actual sewing process.”—Cindy Szoke, Brantford, Ontario Canada

“Cutting, because if it isn’t cut right, it won’t fit right.  The second most frustrating is scant quarter. Why not just quarter? I have a line for that; the scant is a guessing game.”—Mary Hintzman, Kensington, MN

“The most frustrating to me is the chore of cutting out dress and blouse pattern pieces from slippery fabrics, such as rayon. No matter what steps I take, it always seems to be a fight to keep the fabric from escaping the pattern piece and my scissors. Just when I think I’ve got the fabric placed straight on the table, I swear it slides on its own!”—Virginia Hill, Rhineland, MO

“I love to piece my quilts, but I am not fond of cutting out all the pieces that are needed to do it.”—Jackie Gehrke, Jefferson, WI

“Cutting is the absolute most frustrating.  It has to be so perfect to make everything else work good.”—Susan Watson, Cedar Park, TX

GraduatedZippers NancyZiemanClosures!

“I’ve had zipper-phobia since seventh grade sewing class. Then there are the buttonholes!  For sewing, these are my most frustrating steps.”—Beverly Smith, Charlotte, NC

“The most frustrating step for me is the zipper.  No matter how I put them in, one side always seems to be narrower than the other one.  I can never get them to be even.”—Clovis Perkins, East Chicago, IN

November Question - What quilting/sewing step is the most frustrating? - Nancy Zieman | Sewing With NancyPressing!

“For me it’s pressing in the right direction so seams will nest. Sometimes it doesn’t really matter—but when it’s important to keep bulk to a minimum, like the center of a Lemoyne Star—I struggle with figuring it out. When I goof, I end up re-pressing.”—Jean, Riverview, FL

GreenPins NancyZieman


“My most frustrating quilting step is attaching the two ends of binding together when finishing a quilt. I always have to look at a few videos before I feel confident in binding the quilt correctly.  Thank goodness for the technology that allows it.”—Thunder Kaplan, Wildwood, FL

ButtonQuestionMark NancyZiemanUncertainty

“The most frustrating sewing step for me is just before I start. I’m always wondering if I’m making the right thing with that particular fabric, and I may hesitate for days before committing the rotary cutter to the fabric!”—Cecilia Nilsson, Rijnsburg, Netherlands

November’s Reader Spotlight:

Elia is our featured reader. Although we all have sewing technique frustrations, Elia’s answer tackles an area of sewing/quilting construction that is not typically addressed. Many of us modify sewing or quilting patterns to suit our own style and design aesthetics.

Elia’s Answer

“Hands down, the most frustrating sewing step is calculating how much fabric I need when I’ve altered a pattern or designed my own. It’s not rocket science but there are times that it feels like a very close second. “— Elia, Martinez, GA

How long have you been quilting? While I’ve been sewing since fourth grade, I’ve only been quilting for three years.  I began by taking a class at a local quilt shop and it has been non-stop ever since.
What types of quilts do you enjoy making? My love and interest has been art quilts right from the start, but it seems I’ve made more pieced quilts, maybe because those go together faster.
Do you have any advice for readers who are also interested in altering quilt patterns?  The first time I attempted to design anything I was making a T-shirt quilt, using the grid method with strips and T-shirt cuts of all sizes.  It was my third quilt. The “aha” moment occurred when I was piecing things together; I found a way that was more systematic.
Maybe it was seeing it laid out on paper that brought the concept home. Before I was just reading directions, cutting, and sewing pieces of fabric together but not realizing how it all came together. It was in this quilt that I was able to add my own flair by dropping in little pieces of embroidered fun sayings to personalize the quilt, and I could cut the fabric into different shapes and sizes instead of just a standard square or strip.
Share your most rewarding design or re-design experience. Many years ago I came across a book about weaving fabrics together to make an interesting background on which spectacular scenes were placed.  I put it in the “some day” pile until I decided that the time had come to give it a whirl.
I thought it would be really interesting to make the background in shades of blue laid out to look like the ocean was getting deeper toward the edge of the design. I wanted to place a mermaid up close and a treasure chest in the deep distance.  I used two very large log cabin squares—one made with multiple light blues and the other made with multiple dark blues—increasing in intensity toward the smaller square. Then, I cut those blocks into wavy strips with one going horizontally and one going vertically and wove them together. This created the ocean and movement. Since I had never done this before, was new to quilting, and had no help at all except for the book with the original pattern and design, I ran into multiple issues—a year later it was finally finished.
I revised my own re-design of the quilt, but what I ended up with was just as pleasing as the original idea.  The Thursday night quilt group was cheering me on all the way, which really kept the wind in my sails. The technique is so different that I haven’t seen it anyplace outside of the book and that just makes it all the more special.

December Share Your Insight Question

December Question: What charity do you sew with/for?

November Question - What quilting/sewing step is the most frustrating? - Nancy Zieman | Sewing With Nancy | Reader Insight Question

Submit your answer by December 15, using the form below, to be considered for our December Reader Spotlight.

Disclaimer: We may contact you to verify your answer. Your contact information will not be used for any other reason. Your submission to Nancy Zieman Productions, LLC, including contact information, gives us the right to modify, use, distribute, reproduce, publish, and display the submission indefinitely in all media, means, and forms without any payment to you. You hereby represent that you haven’t copied the content from a book, magazine, newspaper, or other commercial source. 

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  • Joyce Wilson
    November 26, 2016

    Setting in the sleeves of a garment made of woven fabric. I get puckers and pleats on the garment edge. Pen sew rip out over and over. That just ruins my mood.

  • Dianne G Patterson
    November 26, 2016

    I have a horrible time trying to convert pull over sweatshirts into zippered sweatshirts. I have lupus, fibromyalgia and other medical issues and I’m trying to save my favorite warm clothes by putting large zippers down the front. I bought Nancy’s book on making creative sweatshirts but it hasn’t arrived yet.

  • Joyce Jones
    November 26, 2016

    Mary Hintzman is frustrated with the term “scant”. As a designer there is a very good reason for this. Many quilters when drawing a line to sew on, actually sew “on the line”. The pencil line is always a little further from the ruler. I always suggest to students that they use a “scant” 1/4 inch seam so that the needle goes to the seam side of that drawn line. This is far more accurate than On The Line. Hope this makes sense Mary, Best wishes from New Zealand for the coming season.

  • Jacquie Hackett
    November 26, 2016

    I would suggest that is button holes are your stumbling block, just sit down and do 15 or 20 practice ones. They will never bother you again..

  • Leslie B Mink
    November 27, 2016

    For me, it’s letting my attention lapse, ripping out all the wrong seams due to inattention, and reseting it all. The worst time was when I was making a housewarming quilt, had to take apart 400 squares and start over. Got the quilt mostly together and realized I’d put the corrected squares together wrong. They stayed wrong. Friend doesn’t know, I’m not telling and it’s still very pretty. It was NOT my first quilt….but it was the first, and possibly the last time I rely on a U Tube video instead of a printed pattern!

  • Chris
    November 27, 2016

    Usually it’s the actual quilting, free motion is a struggle for me but once I had to rip both sides off of 131 log cabin blocks. I wasn’t a happy camper.

  • Joyce
    November 27, 2016

    Fitting a pattern.i have your book and still messed up. Very frustrating!

  • Bren Holmes
    December 3, 2016

    The most frustrating step for me is layering my quilt; getting it wrinkle free is really tricky.

  • Karen
    December 6, 2016

    I always seem to have issues while sewing collars and facings with lightweight fusible interfacing. I use a walking foot and it always gets hung up and off no matter which side I sew on. Collars are trying to be the death of me but I will prevail! Love making shirts! Thanks Nancy for all your advice!

  • Margaret Graczyk
    December 8, 2016

    With all of my sewing the most difficult thing I have doing is taking out stitching errors on knits. I don’t mind having to take out stitches during quilting (cotton) or sewing doll clothes (cottons) or even when I am adding lace to pillow cases for an antique look (usually cotton percale). But KNITS? The slight zigzag/wobble stitch is absolutely ruthless trying to get those stitches out and I dread when the occasion arises and pray that it’s a short seam. :'(

  • jean delaney
    January 1, 2017

    I watched a show during the week of December 26 and Nancy showed how to use invisible zipper foot and the satin edge foot. I could not find it on the site. Can’t remember the show number would love to watch again. I was on vocation from school. I only can watch when I am not working.Thank you for any response.

  • Orpha Soni
    December 24, 2017

    First time user code: kjkwqnhHappy Holidays to all! Spread the LOVE

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