Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Patriotic Quilt Flimsy Finish with Tips & Tricks

I've been blessed with a family that forgives. I apologize to them for rushing in with a quilt over my arm, and declaring an emergency while some were dozing. Getting a picture of the quilt top before the light fades does not constitute an emergency (to them), but they were still gracious to run outside, and hold my 5-minute-old finish before the light was gone.

Tips and Tricks I Learned

Changing My Cutting Direction

My rotary cutter was dull, and I had a lot of small pieces to cut. I changed the cutting blade, and was working through my star points from HSTs first. In the past, I'd trim up the right side starting at the bottom and moving toward the top, and then the top from right to left. So many times I'd have a sliver of fabric that wouldn't get trimmed, like below. You have to be very careful at corners because it's so easy to nick your ruler with your rotary cutter blade, not to mention dulling or nicking that expensive blade! Add to it that your opposite hand tends to be in or near the path of the blade on its way across the ruler top. Once again, I hit it, and this time with my newly replaced blade.

I stepped away, and looked for a solution. I didn't want to have to turn that block so much, and the rotating mats were still an extra step.

What I found worked better for me was to draw the blade across the ruler from left to right. It felt 'wrong' in the beginning, but I started slowly making sure I kept in contact with the ruler and mat. My left hand was in less danger, and in a short time it was completely comfortable. With both cuts ending at the same corner, there were no more tails on my HSTs. You can retrain yourself to cut in different directions.

Triangular Work Zone

Stephanie Palmer at Late Night Quilter has a regular Tuesday post and linky on Tips and Tutorials. Earlier this month she wrote about Sewing Room Set Up for Maximum Efficiency. She demonstrated a sewing set up similar to a 3 point kitchen efficiency most of us follow without realizing. Sewing machine, ironing space, and another to lay things out or square up. The idea is to be in one area without getting up and down so often. I experimented to see if it would help my work flow, and it was impressively better. I have lightweight tables I can move around easily so this is a snap to create or move if the need arises.

Deviating from the Plan

As the quilt progressed, I intended to do 5 stars on each end of the quilt. Today I laid out the 6 I had finished, and it became apparent that the weight of the design needed to be toward the center. I kept in mind that this quilt would be used on a full or queen sized bed, and I didn't want the stars 'falling off the edges.' Yet the corners begged for something, and I tried at leat 5 other blocks before deciding a simple 4 patch would be enough to make it feel finished.

I emptied Axel, my longarm, today, and this quilt will be pinned in as soon as I have a backing ready. I see many possible ways to quilt it, and choosing those patterns are just as important as the fabric choices and piecing design. 

I want to document a few things about the top at this point of the project. It's far easier to write it as we make it, then catch up what we've forgotten by the end. 

Fabric: all cotton, vintage to modern fabrics dating from 1980's to present day
Thread: Aurifil 50 wt. 
Measurements of top: 81"x94"
Purchased backing: Solid navy, one piece

Few things in life give me the same satisfaction as finishing a quilt, if only just the top. So, Ta-Dah!

Come on, Doxie girls.


Sew Surprising said...

Your patriotic log cabin is striking :) got to love a family who knows what constitutes an emergency hahaaha Really wish I could do the three points for sewing, for the life of me I can not iron/press sitting down, upside I give the old pins a good work out each day, up and down ;)

Sandra Walker said...

Great finished flimsy Julie! Interesting tip on the cutting "backwards" - will have to try that when I next work on Cheryl's Sea Star quilt that's going to my niece one day. I too like to get up and, as Sew Surprising says, "give the old pins a good workout each day" lol when I press.

Tish Stemple said...

What a great top. I'm a sucker for a red white and blue quilt anyway. I will be interested to see how you will choose to quilt it and even bind it. And let me add I am 100% guilty of the same half square triangle bad behavior. I have no idea how many times I've nicked a blade and one ruler I think I've taken a corner off. I will give your new method a try this weekend. There is also an unspoken rule in my house that you must humor me and act as happy as I do when I finish a project. Sometimes dinner depends on it :)

Jayne said...

How many rulers have a nicked corner?! Drives me insane! Not to mention the uncut parts! Thank you for the tip, I will have to try that one! Your quilt is beautiful! Patriotic without going too patriotic if that makes sense!

Barb Neiwert said...

Love your sewing room - two machines? How do you decide which one to use??? Your quilt top works well with that star placement - well done!

Shelley Folkerts said...

Hi Julie, I love the 16 patch scrappy stars. They are a really neat block. I have many nicked rulers as well. I am not sure if I can train myself to cut left handed. Guess it is something to try. I have a big slate top table that is my cutting table behind a long sewing table set up like yours. I wish I had all that sunlight and a view. I need to come up with an ironing board set up to add to the 3 point practice. I have a chest of drawers that sits at end of table just a tad higher that I could put a ironing pad down on. I look forward to seeing how you choose to quilt your patriotic quilt.

Michelle @ From Bolt to Beauty said...

What a fabulous assortment of fabrics. Well done!