Monday, April 17, 2023

Mistakes Were Made

Nobody's perfect.  As quilters, we can tolerate certain imperfections.  Sometimes they're what makes a quilt uniquely beautiful.

However, this sampler quilt that I've been working on has had me shaking my head on more than one occasion over the pattern directions.  That's it above on the design wall earlier today, partially sewn together, before I fixed the big star block on the lower right.

Granted it was a freebie pattern I found online and I appreciate that, but I'm also glad to have the wherewithal to notice the boo-boos and fix them.  Someone else may have given up in frustration.

It was possible I had goofed in constructing the half-rectangular units such that the points would be blunted once the top was sewn together (see red circled areas below).  In fact, I considered leaving it as is.  So what if the points of the stars didn't end where they should have?  Would the recipient notice and/or care?  Maybe, maybe not. 

But since I had leftover fabric and the willingness to investigate the error, I went back to the drawing board.  I remade a test half-rectangle unit per the cutting instructions and trimmed it to size per the instructions.  The result was... exactly the same.  Ugh.

It seemed to me I needed to cut the triangular pieces longer, but by how much?  I continued to make two more test samples before finally hitting upon the dimensions that seemed to work.  Turns out I needed to add 1.5 inches to the length.  That's not an insignificant "fudge factor."

My recalculations may not be perfect, but it's definitely looking better.  I may lose a tiny bit of the point in the seam allowance, but I can accept that.

Cutting directions were wrong for the pinwheel block, too.  It had me cutting fabric squares at 4.5 inches to make HSTs, but that was, in fact, the trimmed HST size.  I questioned it when I cut the squares, but I sewed it up per the instructions anyway...only to have to recut the pieces and do it again correctly.  Sometimes I can work against my better judgment just to prove a point, ha!

There were other pattern errors in the dimensions of finished blocks, and more.  You get the idea.

But these blocks turned out fine.  I used a light blue thrifted shirt fabric in the lower block.  The other large plaid in the quilt is yardage, not a shirt.

These wavy blocks are okay.  If I were to do them over (which I'm not), I'd pay closer attention to trimming them.  Hopefully, the minor jags will disappear with the quilting.

Anyway, I'm on track to finish the top after a few more minutes with the seam ripper. Yahoo! 

Linking to:  Hands2Help Comfort Quilt Check-In and Design Wall Monday


Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Cutting, Committing, and Cuffs

Sometimes what I do in the sewing room seems hardly worth mentioning.  Cleaning up, refolding fabric, making frankenbatting...those are the kinds of things I've been up to.  Necessary, but mostly background stuff.  Eventually, it leads somewhere.  

I picked up a few shirts at the thrift stores last week.  It used to be (and not long ago) that I could buy a decent shirt for $3.99, but now they're almost double that in price and then some if it's a name they associate with a premium brand, which seems weird to me because brand name doesn't always correlate to quality.  Wow, I sound like such an old person.  

Anyway, when I shop for shirts now, I take note of the tag colors that are 50% off and hone in on those.  I came home with a good armful of them, and a few other items.

(Thrifted zippers for bag making and some thread.)

(I think this thrifted shirt and striped fabric will become a bag.)

Over the next few days, I cut up shirts.  There ended up being a nice pile to add to the stash.

I usually toss the cuffs and collars, but I played around with them first.  The thought occurred to me that perhaps I could join the cuffs together for a table runner.  

After removing the buttons and giving them a good pressing, I butted together the cut ends and zigzagged them, then joined them all in a row.  At that point, I couldn't tell if the idea was "cool" or "crap."

Should I trim them off evenly and use the button plackets as an edging and finish it that way?  I mulled it over for a few hours and then decided to toss it in the orphan box to marinate and move on.  But as I started to do that, I passed the bookshelf in the sewing room and decided to try the piece out on top of it in place of the vintage fruit-themed dresser scarf that was there.

Well, well, well...  I liked it there!  A humble little runner under the old toy tractor my dad used to have for his grandkids to play with.  It'll do just fine, as is.

Now what's next? I pondered.  A few ideas were floating around in my head, but I needed to focus.  One way to help me do that is to make a commitment, so I went and signed up for the Hands2Help Comfort Quilt Challenge.  

With that in mind, I started cutting out a sampler-type quilt from a free pattern I downloaded from JOANN and bought fabric for a few months back.  I really like those big wavy curves.  It's something a little different for a sampler.

I originally thought it would be a baby quilt, but it's more like lap quilt size. So I'm going to make it up for H2H.  At least, that's my thought at the moment.

Here's the first block on the design wall.  Turns out the fabric wasn't as bright blue as the pattern seemed to indicate, but that's okay.  It is a little brighter looking than the photo in real life, but more a muted navy than medium blue in any case.

What are you working on?


Monday, April 3, 2023

Sewing Machine Fun Facts

I happened across this YouTube video on the history of the sewing machine that I thought was pretty funny.  Also informative, as in I had no idea!  

You'd think it would have been pretty straightforward:  Some bright star invents the beloved machine, which is met all around with, "Hey, what a great idea!"; the gizmos sell like hotcakes and the rest is, well, history.  Right?  

Not exactly!

The real story is full of twists and turns, litigants and lawyers, murky maneuvers and mass marketing. 

Abby Cox does a brilliant job in the video.  It's always a plus when you can laugh while you learn!

* * * * *

Several months ago, I was sorting through and organizing some papers for genealogical purposes when I came across this insurance policy from 1892.

Do I really need to keep this?
I wondered, as my eye scanned down the page.  My great-great-grandfather had insured his farmstead, itemizing its contents on the front page.

Do you see what I see?  Listed among the buildings and livestock was another valuable piece of equipment:  A sewing machine valued at $25.00 (about $800.00 in today's dollars).

Worth half as much as the barn and less than the onions*, but still an important item to enumerate and insure.  I thought that was pretty cool!  And yes, I do need to keep this!

*He was a fruit and vegetable farmer who marketed his produce, so I assume the onions on hand in January were his stock to be planted for the upcoming season.