Saturday, April 30, 2011

Today was a good day in the studio. I got more than half way through a disappearing 4-patch quilt that will probably go to tornado relief. It's a simple quilt that can be done with scraps or with yardage. I wanted the cutting to go quickly, so I chose a cat print that I wanted to put to good use, then chose a couple of coordinates.

Here's the process, more or less. If you want to see more, there are several other tutorials out there on the web, such as: You start with a 4-patch. I started with 6-inch squares. The only rule about fabric selection is to avoid anything directional, unless you don't mind part of the design being upside down. I was amazed how many of the cat prints in my collection had all the cats pointing in the same direction. I'll have to look for some that are non-directional.

Once you have a 4-patch, you lay it on the cutting board and proceed to cut it into a 9-patch. I decided to measure out 2 inches on each side of the center seam, but the measurement is really arbitrary. After I had the block assembled, I thought maybe 1-1/2 inches might have been better, but I wasn't going to waste a finished block.

Once the 4-patch is cut into 9-pieces, take the middle piece on each side and rotate it 180 degrees. You end up with something that looks like this:

Then all you have to do is sew it together like any 9-patch, and you're done. Add a bunch of other blocks and you have something like this:

A couple of thoughts about the cutting of the 4-patch. This is definitely a time where "measure twice, cut once" comes into play; don't ask me how I know this. The other thing is that you really don't want to pick up the pieces part way through cutting the block. I have a small cutting board (it shows green on top of my big blue mat in the pictures) that I can rotate so I don't have to stand on my head to cut in the horizontal. It also helps that I can use a rotary cutter equally well in either hand, but that's not essential.

This quilt will end up with 24 blocks, plus a border if I can find something in stash that I like. I suspect this will be a place to use one of the stripes or directional prints I rejected as my main fabric. I'm hoping to have the whole thing put together by the end of the day tomorrow. I have another new project waiting in the queue that I'm itching to start on, so I want this one off the design wall as soon as possible.

Friday, April 29, 2011

The March retreat ended up being pretty much a bust. I got nothing of any significance done, and for no good reason except that I kept getting sidetracked with trivia and never really got in the groove.

But this weekend, while not a official retreat, seems to be making up for it. Both yesterday and today I've made good progress, and since the rest of the weekend seems to be relatively quiet, I should be able to continue on as I have begun.

The Tilted Stars is finally assembled. I am insanely proud of the fact that I did not screw up the sewing of the directional print on the borders, and did not have to undo something sewn on wrong side up. I won't swear that all the pieces ended up in the places I had planned, but so far I've only spotted one instance of neighboring blocks having the same fabric. Since I think the quilt will be fun as an "I Spy" for a kid, that can be one of the things to look for. I got the backing fabric earlier this week, so on Thursday, when I have to go that way anyway, I will take it to the long-armer and have it basted. With all the tornados lately I know there will be calls going out for charity quilts, and this one is big enough to cover a bed, so I hope somebody will love it and be comforted by it when it's finally bound and ready to go.

Now I have to decided what to work on next. The Yellow Brick Road is at least half quilted, and for the same reasons, I am feeling compelled to finish it. But I don't want to start on it until morning; I want to be fresh when I work on something that's a bit outside my comfort zone. I have a couple of ideas for scrap quilts, but I suspect I'll spend most of the night cutting and not get a lot of actual sewing done. I guess I'll just pull out some boxes and see what strikes my fancy. There should be something I can finish and maybe take to the longarmer with Tilted Stars.