Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Self Discovery

I was testing out a disappearing 9 patch pattern using some inexpensive fat quarters I'd picked up to play with. I kept having to force myself to make them after I grasped the concept. Anyway, I laid them out with the plan of putting them together with some solid color sashing into a quilted top for a floor pillow. I'd used a variety of colors and patterns for contrast, with a black center square to anchor them.

Oh, ugh. I hate the 'scrappy' look. Hate, hate, hate it. These test blocks are in the recycle bin. I don't want anything more to do with them. If I could put everything I don't like about quilts into a single set of blocks, this would be the set. The faster I get rid of them, the happier I'll be.

In terms of quilts, I prefer central designs, with some visual plan laid out. The matching set of identical blocks in rank and file does very little for me. If there is a second block making a specific pattern, or even better several different blocks creating an image, I'm all for it. Do I want an incredible Work of Art on the bed? Nope. Just something that doesn't give me nightmares when I look at it.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Block Of The Month

There is a quilt that is very popular for 'Block of the Month' clubs for 2014 in quilt shops nation wide. It is called the Asteria Quilt. For blogging purposes, I simply chose a shop that had an excellent image. I am not recommending that shop. I know nothing about them. Anyway, a local quilt shop is offering this quilt as a block of the month project. If I pay a starting fee of $25, and a monthly fee of $32.99 for the next nine months, for a total fee of $322.00, I will get the fabric, the cutting tool, and the patterns required to create this quilt top, and patterns for 8 additional blocks. And when I say quilt top, I mean just the pieced quilt top. I do not get backing, nor batting, nor is there any discount on having the quilt machine quilted. I have not priced machine quilting in my part of the world, but the average price would be well over $100 for a quilt of that size.

Do I like the pattern? Yes, I do, a lot. Do I think the price is outrageous? No. I have done my research and the math, and to arrive at the finished quilt top using fabrics of the type that have been suggested, the cost is not out of line.

Do I wish to spend nine months waiting for the pattern and bits of fabric to arrive? No. Not a bit of it. Not in the least. Not on your brass tintype! NO!

In the first, I don't want to create something in shades of blues. Our bedroom is in shades of green.

Second, I have time NOW. I am between jobs. When employed, I have much less time.

Third, I have no interest in spending an entire year creating something that will arrive in my hands in piecemeal fashion. I want to sew now. Who knows what I will feel like working on in six months. I'm like that. I don't think it is a negative thing. It's just me.

So, I did some searching and found the pattern for the Asteria quilt, from the designer, available to buy on-line. If I decide to do this quilt, that's the way it will happen. One month at a time? In colors that I don't particularly want? Nope.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Everything Works, if You Let It

I had some polyester satin to line a garment. I knew it was going to ravel and that I should take the pieces directly from my cutting table to the sewing machine, to finish the edges as quickly as possible. But I foolishly thought that if I simply did not touch the cut pieces, I'd be good for a while.

I cut the pieces using a rotary cutter, for the least possible jostling and movement. I removed the waste fabric, the pattern, and the pattern weights and left my lining pieces as little touched as possible on my cutting table. Glancing up from working on some other task, I watched as threads unraveled and fell from the edge of the piece to my cutting table without me even getting near them. No drafts, no movement. The threads were simply falling off with no outside interference.

I got those pieces to my sewing machine immediately, but still ended up having to re-cut some of them, as so much fabric had unraveled that they were no longer the correct size. Lesson learned.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Not That Way Again

I followed directions like these on how to put together the flying geese for the quilt that I'm in the throes of. It wasn't this specific set of directions, but the whole assembly process is the same.

I will NEVER again use this process.

There is an overlap in the first phase of stitching that creates an incredibly lumpy seam allowance at the point of the big triangle. That lumpy seam allowance is pure torture to sew over accurately. Agony. Painful. Annoying to the Nth degree. Pinning carefully does NOT help.

And only now am I realizing this, as I created all of the pieces before I started sewing them together. And even then, I had to sew lots of them together before I could define the problem.

I've long said that there are prices to be paid for short cuts. Some of them are worth it, some are not.


The new digital cutting machine from Provo Craft is called the Explore. The Explore is available on the Home Shopping Network, but it is part of a bundle of stuff that I do not want. (It is sold out.) The Explore will be available in stores on March 15. Not getting the bundle of extra stuff that I'm not going to use will save me $50 or so. I should probably put my name on a waiting list to make sure that I can get my hands on one.

What are the features that make me want this machine?  It can work with True Type fonts. I can also create using files with .svg, .jpg, .png, .bmp, .gif, and .dxf formats. Yay! Prior to this, the only way I could create my own graphics was by using software that wasn't really designed for that. With the ability to upload my own graphics, I can use any application to create them. A possible downside to the Explore is that the single graphics are pricy. 99 cents and up isn't cheap. The backwards compatibility in the Explore covers much of my hesitation about the price of those single graphics. I have an extensive library of graphics already. 

The new software is called Design Space and it only works with the Explore. The Cricut blog states you must be connected to the internet to use Design Space and you must use Design Space to control your Explore. It also states that all the headache that I have already dealt with to link the graphics I have purchased to my on-line Cricut account was not wasted effort. Everything that is already linked to my account will be available when I use Design Space. Whew!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Racing to Finish?

Not. I'm having a good time working on this quilt slowly and steadily. I'm working in small sections. And I really do mean small. I trim my blocks down to be the correct size before I sew them together, so there are no wobbly edges. I'm sewing together groups of five geese blocks at 6.5" by 3.5" to create something that is 6.5" by 15.5".  It is only four seams.

For those that are doing mental math and not coming up with the correct finished size, I am working with a .25" seam allowance. All the missing .5" sections are used up in the seams.

Because I don't need to sew a lot to hit my defined target for success, I am allowing myself to be picky and precise. I check and double check, and I pin my blocks together before I sew them.  This is gaining me accurate results for what I am spending in time. It is not costing me in frustration for slow progress.

Accuracy is not always in skill; a great deal of it is in time, double checking each measurement, and not skipping steps for basic construction.

At the rate I'm currently putting this quilt together, it will be completed some time in June.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Count the Hours

There are many projects that are heavily advertized as being 'Easy to Complete in a Single Weekend!' Substitute 'One Evening', or 'One Day' for 'a Single Weekend' and you have defined a group of projects that hold very little interest for me. I don't mind working on a project for months. I rather enjoy watching something take shape over time. I'm perfectly capable of spotting something on Pinterest and completing it within a few minutes out of items I've got gathering dust in my stash. But the idea of deliberately selecting a project because it will be done in a hurry? Not so much.

I was thinking about this as I was working on the quilt top I started last month. I got thrown for a loop due to a 1/8" error in measurement and a resulting 1/4" error in the pieces I was trying to assemble. I walked away from it for more than a week and have finally headed back after a few false starts at correcting the problem. I simply needed to get out my seam ripper, save the parts that were cut to the correct size, cut fresh pieces to replace the ones that were too small and sew them together. Instead of working one step at a time for all the pieces of the quilt, I am creating one section at a time. When it is done, it is on to the next set of pieces for the next section. Each section is complete and correct before I move on to the next.

FWIW, I ended up throwing out two seam rippers that were dull, badly shaped, or both. It is a sad fact that I know the qualities that make up a good seam ripper, but there you have it. Clover makes a good one.