|Candy Dish: Process and (mis)measuring
||[Jul. 22nd, 2012|11:20 pm]
Auditioning the narrow red border strips and gold cornerstones:
Back in the saddle and quilting some, and I’m finally about to finish the spool block quilt started a while back. I decided to do a pickle-dish style border with the last of the gold-on-burgundy focus fabric used in the sashing cornerstones. These spool blocks are inspired by a November 2009 block swap on what is now Block Lotto, and they look like gaily-wrapped Christmas candy to me. So this quilt is called “Candy Dish”, and the pickle-dish border seemed like a fitting choice to both continue the theme and add a little interesting complexity to a very basic pattern.
I wanted equilateral triangles, alternating the fancy fabric with plain gold, in a strip two inches wide to match the size of the rest of the blocks and sashing. To make life a little simpler, I planned to seam together a strip of each fabric and then cut out two triangles at once, instead of cutting out each and every triangle separately. This is a technique I first read about in Marsha McCloskey’s Feathered Star books (one of these days I’m going to finally make that feathered star quilt I’ve had the fabric for since 2004.)
Using tracing paper, I mocked up the double-triangle unit with seam allowances and marked the middle line where the fabric would be pre-sewn.
I made two of these units and taped them to the underside of my square ruler so that one unique cutting edge was on each side of the ruler. Now I was ready to cut. The long strips of fabric from which I would cut the units needed to be 2.5 inches wide; I had enough of the focus fabric to cut 8 of them, and then I was out of focus fabric except for a handful of scraps. A quick test seemed to indicate that each side of the quilt would use two strips using the quick cutting method, which gave me 11 units per strip. I was in business!
The quick cutting method involves first trimming the end of one strip to shape, then positioning the ruler with the tracing paper shape lined up with the trimmed end. The center mark lines up with the center seam, and one quick slash with the rotary cutter cuts across the whole seamed strip. Then the ruler is turned and the other shape lined up in the same way to make another slash across the whole strip. This process generates one unit for the border and two smaller triangles which are saved for other quilting if you’re that sort of person, or stuffed into a Ziploc to give to that sort of person if you’re me.
In no time, one strip was completely chopped up and sewn together to check against the quilt. Never skip this testing step, at least not if you’re like me. Because, oops. It turned out that I was wrong; the way I thought would work to finish the borders, ending the focus fabric triangles short of the end of the border and finishing with a longer strip of dull gold fabric, didn’t work. I didn’t like that at all. So instead of needing 22 triangle units (2 strips making 11 each) I was going to need 23 triangle units plus two longer strips of focus fabric on each end. And there was no more focus fabric to cut extra strips from. Not nearly enough left for what I wanted to do.
So, back to the drawing board. I remember the original description of this technique suggests cutting your strips wide enough so that the outer edges can be sewn together again and new triangles cut from those dog-toothed strips. Too late for that now. But if I carefully cut one regular unit and then used the templates to cut a reversed unit, that might work.
It was simple if finicky work. I laid out fabric and ruler, but this time instead of one quick slash straight across, I cut only to the middle seam. After once or twice slicing a little too far into the other side of the fabric, I rotary cut just short of the middle seam and snipped the last little bit in the middle with scissors. Then I cut the reverse wedge shape. After that, it was straightforward. Fold the butterfly shape together and seam the outer edge, trim off the dog-eared edges, snip the little bit of stitching holding the narrow end together, open it out and press, and voila, another border unit.
This method gives 18 units per strip, so I will have plenty of focus fabric to make my longer pieces at the ends of the borders so they can be mitered. Handling it carefully, because, yeah, on both the quilt and the border it’s all bias edges, I got two borders sewn on and mitered and was able to test the final border, and it looks great!
The final border will be a narrow strip (1 inch finished) of the red background material, with one last teeny cornerstone sewn from the leftover scraps of the gold-on-burgundy. This last flourish is partly because I think it looks more finished and elegant than ending with the pickle-dish border, and partly to ensure that my machine quilter doesn’t want to strangle me (the way she would if I handed her a quilt where all the outer edges were bias.)
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