Adventures in quilting

One thing about quilting is that it can be expensive if you aren’t willing to settle for just any fabric. And, I’m not. I want something that’s nice to work with, visually and manually. Why would I waste my time on a quilt that I didn’t love? You don’t need fancy or high end fabric to make a nice quilt, but I like to have fabric that I can at least appreciate. Scoot (a Deena Rutter design for Riley Blake Designs) is fun. It’s a vehicle themed collection with trains, helicopters and such. I bought a charm pack (a 5×5 inch piece of each fabric in the collection) because I keep reading that charm pack are a great way to start learning to quilt. The theory is that, because all the pieces are the same size, you can just stitch them together and make a nice basic quilt top.

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Please note that I used the word theory. I tried this last night. I was following some seemingly thorough instructions from a blog, and soon discovered that it omitted a very key piece of information (I should have kept the link to warn you off). Charms are cut with a zig zag edge (as if they used pinking shears). Though I could see that the peaks were fraying a bit, it looked like I could still line them up fairly well and the so called “complete” instructions didn’t say otherwise. Sewing the rows of blocks wasn’t a problem. Then I tried to sew some of the rows together and discovered that nothing was lining up.

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I checked my seams – they were off by a fraction (which I expected as I’m a n00b and I refused to buy a high end, $400-plus sewing machine), but not by enough to account for the difference I was seeing. I started measuring other things and Googling to look for advice. Eventually, I realized that it was a collection of issues: my seams weren’t perfect, the instructions I was following neglected to share the uber important tip of lining things up using the valleys, and the charms weren’t all exactly 5 inches squared anyway (most were over by a fraction).

So, I had to take out all the seams. And, while I was seething and taking seams out, I came up with a solution and a new plan. The solution was to trim all the squares down to one common size with straight edges (which would be easier to line up) and the new plan was this: if I’m going to have seams that don’t quite line up (and, let’s face it, I will), then I want the pattern to be worth the effort and frustration or complex enough that no one will notice (or care) if some seams are off.

So I trimmed the seams …

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… and started playing with ideas. Eventually, I decided to do a modified hidden-9 patch block.

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By the end of the night (miraculous, not to far past my bed time) I had everything bundled up and ready to go.

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Once I have the pieces together, I’ll have to decide what to do about a border, which I will definitely need in order to have a quilt that’s bigger enough to be useful.

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