Ten Things I Learned in 2018

Bat mask from Burkina Faso, on display (and for sale) at Beadology in Iowa City. Maybe about 4′ wide.

What did you learn this year? We could go all out and make that a really broad question, but I am thinking in terms of making most of all.

Here are ten things I learned or had reinforced:

  1. It’s easy to reposition the needle left or right on my domestic sewing machine. Easy and handy!
  2. I didn’t need a new strap on my new purse after all. I just needed to adjust the strap that was already there.
  3. Glue is amazing! Fusible web, Elmer’s white glue, purple glue sticks, basting spray, I used them all. They are now a regular part of my quilting life.
  4. MicroQuilter is a very fine polyester thread from Superior Threads. It can be used for fine detail work and stitch in the ditch, and it nearly disappears. I used it on my recent table runner and liked it a lot.
  5. Inspiration comes from all over, if you let it. Okay, really, I knew this already, but it was confirmed time and again. Couldn’t you make an amazing quilt inspired by the mask above? (More about that beautiful mask in the next post!)
  6. The three quilt projects I most enjoyed working on were also the ones that taught me new skills or ways of thinking. Photos are below. Click on any picture to open the gallery and see more detail.
  7. Being quilt guild president is a privilege, and it’s also really great not being guild president.
  8. I learned how to make a facing for a quilt, rather than a traditional binding. In truth it isn’t any harder, and if you’re going to hand-stitch the edging down anyway, doesn’t take more time.
  9. I can design and sew a shirt for myself, which fits, has French seams, and a faced neckline. While I’ll probably never do much garment sewing, next year I might be slightly more ambitious and do something more complicated.
  10. I’m still not particularly good at making and writing at the same time. It’s easier for me to recap decisions after the fact than to chew through them while they’re in process.

What did you learn this year?


18 thoughts on “Ten Things I Learned in 2018

  1. jmn

    I could pretty much say “ditto” to your list. When I took a moment to think about it I realized I am getting better and more creative at using the “precise positioning” capability of my embroidery machine to position border embroideries when I’m using the endless hoop. I’m equally drawn to modern quilt and wall art improvisation – the former seem to be driven by fabrics that call out to me, the latter by interesting photos I’ve taken where I can see the possibility of simplifying to create a focused image. Unlike you, I use my blog to problem solve as I’m working – writing about where I am and want to go and what the possibilities are is a kind of “thinking out loud” for me and usually gets me to something interesting and something I’m satisfied with. There’s lots more, I’m sure but that will do for now. Thanks for helping me clarify where I’ve grown recently.

  2. snarkyquilter

    I learned that I can revisit and revise old quilts, to add the fruits of what I’ve learned to them. And that’s led to me appreciate layers in fiber art, whether they be printed or sewn.

  3. Nann

    I have learned that my fabric storage space is NOT unlimited — this after two very generous gifts (198 yards from one person and 272 yards from another). I have learned that I can part with fabric and it feels okay — I flung a big tub of wool yardage to the area rug hookers. (I realized I am not going to make suits for myself. Ever.)

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Do I remember that you went through flooding of your studio a year or two ago? That might push someone to either stash *more!* or get rid of everything that isn’t realistically going to be used in some time frame.

      That’s a lot of yardage given to you! How fun it would be to cull for the most delightful and useful pieces and provide the rest to someone else. Great job!

  4. Chela's Colchas y Mas

    Your posts always get me to thinking…thanks! Now, I am working on my own list of things I learned. So far, there is one thing I learned about myself that stands out. Last January, I started making a block a week for a fabric journal. At the time, I did not know if I could stay with a long term project. It turns out that I did stick with it. All I have to do now, is sew the remaining half together to make a quilt.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I bow to you! I don’t do well with challenges that require that kind of discipline and commitment. (OTOH, I do manage to keep my home clean, my bills paid, and get to the gym regularly, so I guess I can do something like that!) 🙂 I’ll look forward to seeing your quilt when it’s done.

  5. KerryCan

    Hmmmm . . . this is a tough one that deserves some thought. One thing that comes to mind is that I’ve learned that I can accomplish quite a lot in short periods of time. I used to think that I needed to set aside a whole day in order to be productive but that isn’t realistic anymore. I’ve learned that if I use 30 minutes or an hour well, it adds up.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      That’s a great point. Often I don’t have big blocks of time available, but that doesn’t mean I can’t make progress on something. I often clean my bathroom using a few minutes at a time, a little at a time! 🙂 Here’s hoping your 2019 finds life settling into comfortable rhythms.

  6. Kerry

    I think the first couple things cover different ways of dealing with a semi-retired husband (now working from home) without tempers fraying! I know how to mitre borders. I have discovered Misty Fuse! I’ve discovered yet another remedy to treat a chicken that has something I’ve never come across before (no details it isn’t nice – but I’m winning and she looks happy!) I’ve learnt that most people are lovely here and some lived close to where we lived before. I’ve learnt how to sew applique with a machine – but still prefer needle turn. I’ve learnt that riding on the back of a quad bike with a sheepdog is such fun! I wasn’t driving though! I’m learning about preparing for a wild flower meadow and conservation work on the hedgerows. Learnt how to make proper apple juice – including pasteurizing it! Life is good so enjoying it while it lasts!

    Wishing you and the family and all the readers a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      You’ve certainly learned a lot this year, and maybe best of all is that people nearby are great neighbors. And proper apple juice — nothing wrong with that! Thanks for the good wishes, Kerry, and the same to you.

  7. katechiconi

    It was more a time of remembering things I ‘sort of’ knew. I remembered that for the most part, I prefer finishes to beginnings; that for me, form is the servant of colour and not its master; that hand-stitching the binding is my time for meditating on the quilt and how it was made and who it is for; and that getting your scissors sharpened and spending money on rotary cutter blades is an excellent investment to avoid frayed temper!

  8. piecefulwendy

    I just put a facing on a quilt today, and had much the same thoughts about the process as you. Enjoyed reading this; I should think about my year. I don’t do annual review and/or goal setting well. Thanks for sharing!


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