Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Perfecting my Piecing!

Accurately cutting, sewing and pressing! Sounds doable!  Well we shall see!  I bought a new rotary cutter last week. They were on sale and I decided my other one has to be close to 15 years old. I like to use old blades to trim my paper pieced blocks so it would be nice to have two and not have to switch out blades.  Oh, I am so glad I did. I didn't get anything fancy, just a plain fiskar but it glides so much more smoothly. I think years ago I may have lost a little washer in my old cutter, could that be the difference?  So I am hoping the new rotary cutter gives me some new confidence as I approach this adventure.

My first step is to layer a 10 inch white and 10 inch print right sides together.  I then give them a spritz of starch and press.  I love cutting thru starched fabrics and find pressing them together helps keep the pieces lined up.  I used Jenny Doan's tutorial to make the HST's for the last chevron quilt I made. I just didn't like that the outside edges were bias. So since I am using a layer cake, I decided to use the cutting guide on the back of the layer cake to make my triangles.  First I marked the layered squares.  Four lines, two corner to corner and two across the center of the 10 inch square which gives me 8 half square triangles.

Time to start cutting!

After cutting on those lines, I am marking a 1/4 inch seam line on each triangle. This is something hand piecers to do to insure their seam is the correct size. This is not something I will  do for every quilt, but I am using them as training wheels here.

Let the stitching begin! Part of my plan is that I only make 32 triangles at any one session behind the machine. Hopefully, this will keep me focused on doing a great job.  I am using my quarter inch foot and turning down the speed on my machine. This is not a marathon, this is about paying attention. So I carefully feed the triangles thru after making sure they are perfectly matched. I am letting the machine pull them thru, trying to avoid any tugging or pulling. I am being careful to keep the piece lined up all the way thru to the end. Once they are stitched, I am pressing the seams open to help with eliminate bulky seams coming together and hopefully help with accuracy. Next, since I used a scant 1/4 inch I can take a ruler with a 45 degree line and line it up with the seam and trim off dog ears and make them a perfect 4.5 inches.

Dog ears trimmed a nice looking 4 1/2 inch unfinished block! 

I need 324 of these and then I can lay them out and start stitching them together.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Patriotic Chevron!

My daughter in law Laura, has a birthday coming up!   Her new patio furniture looks so nice and I thought she might enjoy having a quilt to enjoy when the weather is cooler.   Her cushions are off white and she has a few throw pillows in red and blue.   I thought a red/white and blue quilt might look nice.  As luck would have it,  I came across a fabric line by Sandy Gervais called Red, White & Free.

Isn't it a beautiful line?  It seemed to fit the bill, and so I got out my calculator to figure things out. To get the great variety  this quilt line offers and not have a lot of scraps left over, I decided to try using some precuts.  I definitely wanted to do something simple and chevrons always seem to be a hit, so why not.  I could easily pair up each 10 inch square with a white solid 10 inch square and make eight half square triangles out of each and end up with 336 half square triangles. I need four hst's for each block.  Each block would finish at 8 inches.    Simple math tells me that is 84 blocks.  I love square quilts so why not a 9 X 9 block quilt using 81 blocks?  Yeah that works!

If  you remember right, I am not the greatest piecer and it isn't that I don't try but somehow things just go wrong.  It was time to be honest with myself and reassess why things happen.  I get bored after about an hour of piecing. That's a easy  fix!  Am I cutting accurately?  Is my scant quarter inch really spot on? Do I distort when I am pressing? Do I check my block size after I make it?  Seems like a lot of work, but rather than be unhappy with my piecing skills I think it is time to do something about it. I have heard all the great tips and steps, now it is time to implement them! Wish me luck!