What I learned up to now:
- Measure twice. Cut once.
- It's important to have a sharp blade in your rotary cutter. For my blade, a maximum of two quilts per blade might be about right. Three is too many. I had to replace the blade today before I could finish my cutting. I had some trouble with "fabric tug" last night while cutting and I knew right away that I had to have a new blade before I could cut any more. I had been using the same blade I'd used for Josh and Noelene's quilt, which was new at the time.
- Directional fabrics. They require consideration. For the most part it doesn't really matter (to me) in this quilt which direction the fabrics went. There are a couple of exceptions. One is the diamond fabric. I needed one extra piece and I had enough fabric for it but only if I cut it sideways. I could have picked up another fat quarter of it when I was at the store this morning but I decided I would leave the one wonky one in the upper right corner. The one at the bottom of this photo ... the one that looks sideways ... I already switched out for an upright one so I'll just have the one wonky one. I feel rather affectionate toward it, so it stays. My snail fabric, of which I have 4 rectangles, should have been cut the other way. The snails are running vertical instead of horizontal. I could have cut these differently if I'd thought of it. They're so small, most people won't even notice that they're snails and besides, I've rationalized that snails in Kevin's aquariums crawl up the glass so vertical is, perhaps, perfectly correct. I have one blue square with a dandelion on it growing sideways but because it was a scrap piece, I had no choice. And I'm okay with it. Still, I learned to think about directional fabrics. Good lesson.
- Spray starch is your friend. My snail fabric is not a typical quilting cotton. It's a cotton gauze ... a Heather Ross fabric ... the same as several in the Far Far Away quilt I've also cut the pieces for. The gauze is quite shifty and I'd read on someone's blog that they recommended starching that fabric to make it a little more stable. I bought some of the "expensive" spray starch and it worked very nicely and didn't smell toxic. I've read that you can make your own starch but I'm just not going to go there.
- Take a photo of the quilt layout. If things get muddled, despite your most careful stacking and labeling, you can refer to your photo/map.
I'm sure I'll have more lessons to learn as I continue with my mission. Tonight ... or maybe tomorrow ... I start sewing these strips together with the little bits of greenish fabric between each piece. I'm ramping up for the challenge of machine work. I'll start with the mystery of threading and winding a bobbin. Don't laugh. I've forgotten how to do that stuff. It's been a while and I've lost a few brain cells since. I made sure I bought recommended thread for piecing in a neutral grey for this quilt. I wanted to give my machine the best possible chance to work properly and trouble-free, hence the desire for low-lint, good quality thread, a new needle, a new quarter-inch foot, and a general maintenance check and lube job at the shop.This machine should be in prime operating condition.
Let's cross our fingers.