Saturday, July 11, 2015

A few things about how I do patchwork

Dreaming in Fabric Mystery QAL
So with the Dreaming in fabric Mystery QAL kickoff just a few days away, I thought I would give you all a heads up about how I do patchwork.  I figure it is easier to write this once & just link back to it as necessary instead of type it in every QAL post.  How I piece isn't crazy, naked or anything like that, but it may be different from how you normally see a tutorial or project completed.

I'm a self-taught quilter.  I didn't have a teacher telling me NO when I found my path in quilting.  I found my own way to get things to work out, and did my own research as I worked on projects.  I think it worked out pretty well, but some of my habits are a bit out of the ordinary, so I have found from different group-sewing days.  You may do these things too, and if so-isn't it nice to have a kindred spirit in your corner?

First, I am always thinking about the scrap I make as I finish a project.  If I cut a piece this way versus that way, which leaves me a better usable scrap?  I extra-sew pieces now so I have better scraps later.  I prefer to put the biggest hunk back in the stash that I can.  It gives me more utility later.  That said, I don't cut shapes out of my hunks.  If I need a 2.5" square, I cut 2.5" off the whole edge of the scrap I'm working with.  I don't want a jagged edge hunk.  If I only need that 1 square, I put the rest of the piece in the 2.5" bin.
I know I am more apt to use a HST than I am 2 trim off triangles.  So, I stitch that up before I trim it off.  I just skip over a half inch or so from the drawn & sewn line & eyeball a straight stitch line.  Then cut the scrap HST away leaving about 1/4" seam allowance for both pieces.
Here's a good example.  This project will yield me almost 120 scrap HST's ...instead of a bunch of trash triangles.  I didn't have to match up the HST pieces and I will just take what I get, size -wise.  I actually think I can trim these particular ones to 2.5" squares.
We will have several trim off triangles in our QAL blocks-so here's a way to get a jump start on a second quilt.  Joan Ford showed some ideas for her trim off HST's in her Scrap Quilt Challenge pieced flying geese tutorial.  Check it out here.

Second, I don't press after every seam.  Not that I am avoiding the exercise of getting up & down, but I actually think my blocks go together easier with better points when not set.  Plus there is less chance to inadvertently iron instead of press and thereby distort the fabric.  So if I am sewing rows of a block together, like a nine patch, I sew it all together then press once.  I finger press the seams in the correct direction so everything butts nicely and I get better points & a more consistent block size.  If making seams meet/butting seams is hard, it may be because you've pressed them out of shape.  Give it a whirl & see how it goes with a scrap nine patch!

Third, I mix open & closed seams in the block as I feel is necessary.  I may change my mind after trying it one way on the first block.  I don't really mind that the back is not perfectly symmetrical. I will be the only one who sees it & after it's quilted, I have no plan to call the quilt police to see if they can see my crime.

Fourth, I do not stress about missed points in scrap quilts.  It's not that the value of the fabric or my effort is lower on a scrap quilt than any other quilt, but I just think that missed point makes it like the golden-oldie quilts of yesteryear.  I've had antique quilts where points matched perfectly and were intricate in design and execution.  But the antique quilt that have been loved until the stuffing comes out-those are the quilts I want to replicate.  Make it & love it and be loved with it-that's a quilt to me.  Scrap quilts are so much harder to make than cutting by WOF.  It's the extra work, love and creativity that matters.  Not the missed point.  So when you see my missed point during the QAL, don't judge.  I saw it & chose not to fix it.  It will be fine.  I promise.

Last, I don't prewash for quilting.  I accept all the problems I may encounter in the end, but I'm just not going to do it.  The reason is simple.  It's just easier.  I cut fabric off the bolt for 90% of my projects.  It's usually flat and square & in no need of pressing.  Yes it will shrink when it's first ironed.  No, I don't iron before cutting pieces from the yardage.  And since I don't press much as I piece, the shrinkage from ironing is also not an issue.  I like the crinkle when it washes after quilting, as the back, batting and top smoosh up into one soft hug.

I am not trying to convince you to change your ways.  When it comes to quilting, the most important thing to remember is that you are doing this because you like it; it gives you pleasure.  Find your fun in quilting & do it that way.  If working in scraps seems like too much work; I get that!  Go find your fun.  If the thought of sewing unironed pieces together makes you shudder; that's ok too.  Quilting is a process that each of us enjoys on our own terms.  

The quilting matriarch in our group always reminds us, "It's your quilt, you can do whatever you want."

I nearly forgot to include this one!  I am not a 7/8" kinda gal.  If I am going to make HST's from squares, I am cutting the full inch & squaring up my pieces.  I like it.  It fits me.  It gives me freedom to miss a thread or 2 when I am stitching & still get a nice point.  
ok, that is all.
I think....


Joanne Roberts said...

Like you, I'm self taught quilting. I'll take SOE of you suggestions and see if my points match better. Thanks

tnquiltz said...

I have similar habits to yours. I always tell my quilting friends that there are NO quilt police. It's your quilt, do as you wish cuz you're the one that has to live with it. Amen! And remember -- quilting is supposed to be fun!!

teachpany said...

I'm beginning to save the cut triangles and sew them, planning to trim them later to uniform sizes. I've been doing sampler style blocks, and find this works well (and also is good as a leader/ender, instead of just a throw-away scrap), similar to Bonnie Hunter's ideas. I also don't press much before a block is finished. Sometimes it's needed, but most often, I find I can fingerpress and it's enough. Part of my reason is I've been sewing these blocks on the vintage machine in my dining room, and the iron is in the studio in the basement. I'm not going up and down flights of stairs for each unit. Although I could set up an iron, I'm choosing to not add more studio to the house, lol.

Joyce Carter said...

Thanks! i couldn't have said it better. My sewing habits are so much like yours. I don't wash my fabric before I make it into a project either. I like the crispness of the fabrics.They're easier to cut and sew. I also don't press my blocks until I have finished with them. No problems yet.If I am happy with my sewing results, then that is what counts. I love to sew and enjoy it very much so I don't get up-tight if something isn't perfect.

FiberAntics said...

Excellent post! If we're not enjoying the process, then why invest the time, energy and expense? We all have personal preferences for prepping/piecing/pressing/quilting… do what works for the particular situation at hand and what works for you. Let common sense and love for the process prevail.

harleywife57/ Mickey White said...

THANK YOU !!! You are awesome and to the point . Some of the quilting groups I am in on Facebook make me wonder about some people . Their quest for perfection on quilts tends to take away the fun . I just go for it ; I am not artistic ; I am not good with colors ; I love scrappy quilts ! And when I make errors ; I make it work . I haven't had any commplaints from those I give quilts to !!

Susan said...

Lots of good points! We just need to decide what's important to us for a particular quilt. If it's for show, then be precise. To be loved, and used, don't stress. You're my kind of quilter!

Val's Creative Life said...

Exactly! Enjoy the process...the hobby...the craft.