I’m not exactly sure how many flannel baby blankets I’ve sewn in the past six years. I just used my sewing page to attempt to count just those I’ve sewn since summer 2010. I came up with close to 70. So although I’ve certainly not spent 10,000 hours (the supposed number of perfection) practicing sewing them, they are certainly the category of sewing that I’ve practiced the most. You’d think I’d be really good at them, right?
I certainly am much faster at sewing them than I used to be. I had my cutting epiphany a year ago, which has dramatically reduced my fabric prep time. I’ve learned that using a walking foot attachment on my machine makes life way easier. I am obsessive about smoothing, ironing, and tripling stitching the edges, all in with the goal in mind of having two sides which stay in place (i.e. without one side coming over the edge of the other).
You can probably say that I’m obsessive about making these very simple blankets look perfect. And I do get lots of compliments from recipients, saying that it’s the best blanket they have, that it’s so nice and big and heavy.
I do feel very comfortable picking out fabric combinations that are fun and beautiful to look at. (Generally speaking, I choose the “focus” side and then I choose the other side to compliment it, usually with a smaller print and sometimes with a solid if I can’t find a smaller coordinating print.) So I’d say after 70+ blankets, I’m confident with fabric selection.
But sewing one? Every time I sew one, I’m frustrated. Even when my new cutting method, it is next to impossible to cut two pieces of flannel to the exactly same dimensions, even when you’re obsessive about it as I am. Flannel is, by its nature, sticky and stretchy. It stretches off grain really easily. I often have to trim after sewing two or three of the sides. Almost always, the blanket isn’t perfectly rectangular when I’m done sewing, even though in theory I’ve cut the fabric that way. The corners often are a bit out of whack. In short, every time I sew one, I get mad at it and myself! Why won’t you do what I want you to do? Why won’t you just behave and sew perfectly like I intend you to? Why can’t I sew this easy thing perfectly?
I’ve had to come to peace with imperfect blankets. Maybe I’ll sew another 70 blankets and finally figure out the secret to handling flannel in a way that compensates for all its imperfections. I’m not convinced that even 10,000 hours of baby blanket practice will bring me close to cracking the baby blanket code. In the meantime, I do sew other projects which allow me to satisfy my perfection-loving soul (like the “Favorite Sweater” quilt block from Patchwork City as the back cover of Mark’s color book).
And I know, it’s for a baby. Chill out Laura!