Saturday, July 30, 2011

This Quilt Thing Is Getting Trickier

Yesterday was a day off quilting. I spent the day with Elaine. We haven't spent time together for about a year! Long overdue! We went for lunch at McNally Robinson and spent about an hour in the children's book section, visited the Mendel Art Gallery and sat on the rooftop of the Yard and Flagon on Broadway for a while. It was lovely! Elaine is the only (adult) person I know who would happily spend a day in a children's book department. Many years ago we used to give each other a children's book per month and we each built up a nice little collection. Elaine worked in the children's department of the public library for several years so her collection soon outgrew mine. It was so fantastic to look at children's books together and admire some of the new stories and illustrators.

Last night Kevin and I went for dinner with Lynne to celebrate her retirement. Today was her last day! Exciting ... and a little scary!

Today I got back to quilting. First I had to press open all the seams on my strips of fabric. Done. My quarter inch is not very accurate, I'm sorry to say. This despite the care I took to be precise both in cutting and sewing. I'm so glad I chose a pattern where this shouldn't be a big issue. The question is, "Would a new machine make a difference or is it just me"?

I spent a lot of time cutting the sashing (the solid coloured strips that go between the print strips) and borders for the quilt. It was a little more complicated than I had expected because of the length of the strips. The sashings are 56" long and the longest borders are 87". My cutting matt is 35" long and my ruler is 26" long. This meant folding the fabric into multiple layers. And doing math ... again and again ... to make sure I didn't screw up the cutting. Oy oy oy! So I got them all cut and somehow ended up just a smidge short on fabric so I ended up piecing one of the sashings. Just one little seam. No biggie. I doubt anyone will even notice it after the whole things is quilted and fluffed. It is a PIECED quilt, after all.

So then I sewed a sashing strip to each of the print strips. I followed the instructions at Stitched in Color and used my "walking foot", which I've never used before. Sounds easy enough. All in all, it went quite well but I did make a couple of mess ups that I had to take some time to fix. I'm also not sure what difference the walking foot makes. I didn't notice any particular benefit.

Another frustration today is that my machine continues to skip stitches. This despite putting in 2 new needles over the past 3 days. I'm going to buy more needles tomorrow and see if another new needle makes a difference. If that doesn't solve the problem, I'll have to take my machine back to the technician who serviced it and see if he can solve the problem. I'm not going to sew any more seams if it continues to skip stitches (after I try another new needle). This means I might not be able to finish my quilt top this weekend, which would be very disappointing.

While I was pressing seams I noticed such a gap in one that I had to hand stitch it together. I've also resewn several seams. Stuff like that takes all the fun out of sewing, I think. A new sewing machine is definitely on my wish list. Right at the top, in fact.

Lessons learned today:
  1. Make sure you leave a little extra length on your sashing and border strips so you have a little wiggle room. I did think of this (pat on the back to me) but I still made a little misjudgment. I had to take apart one of my long seams (note to self - get a seam ripper) because I started sewing from the wrong end (the end with the overhang because it oriented to my machine better) and even though I had pinned the whole strip the fabric shifted as I sewed and I ended up a half inch short of sashing on one end while the other end (where I started) had a big dog ear of sashing hanging off it. Rats! After that I remembered to leave the overhang of sashing at the finish instead of the start (DUH!). The amount of shift when I sew the strips together is alarming! As much as an inch sometimes even though I've pinned the trips together carefully. It must be because the pieced strips have a little more give in them even after they've been pressed than the plain strips. All I can say is good thing I didn't need to match seams! What would I do if I had to match seams? These are questions I have for an experienced quilter.
  2. Remember to PRESS instead of IRON. I instinctively IRON so I've tried to be very careful to PRESS instead so as not to unduly stretch and distort the fabric. When the whole quilt top is finished, then I'll give it a more thorough ironing.
And ... I had a laugh when I was sewing today. Remember that single little greenish piece that disappeared on me? Well, I found it today when I was pressing open seams and noticed a double one. I can't believe I didn't notice it while sewing! So there it is, a little doubled piece right there in the middle of the quilt ... where it will stay.

Here is my stack of strips, ready to be sewn together. I'm a little nervous about this next step. Even though I don't have to match seams precisely, I do want the green ones to line up properly and I'm less and less certain that this is possible. Maybe I need to sew the joining seams by starting in the centre and then sewing out to each side ... instead of just starting at one end and sewing to the other. If anyone out there knows if this is a good idea, please let me know.

And now ... to bed. I'm exhausted!

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  1. Hey, didn't I suspect that is where the missing piece went?! ! I did that once and always think of it when I am missing pieces! Glad you found it! Skipping stitches- what a nuisance!

  2. I would suggest pinning your strips before sewing to make sure things are lined up the way you want them. That is much easier than to start sewing in the middle.

    I just got back from holidays on Thurs and things are a little busy this w/e but I will try to call you next week. Are you working during the day or on holidays?


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