Thursday, June 10, 2010

Will the 7th time be the charm???

As mentioned in my search for a machine post, my next step is to set the seam allowance for my machine.  I used a stack of masking tape for RQ2 at 1/2 inch - and given the nature of the rag quilt process, wasn't too concerned - except that the seams were straight (an improvement over RQ1 which demonstrate an affinity to free motion quilting... I think I'll be comfortable with squiggles when the time comes).

So I have my book set to the right of me to easily refer to the seam allowance pages, and my seam ripper and I have become quite friendly.  I have yet to get the allowance right - keep going from too big to too small... even went back and measured the center strip this morning in the hopes that I had cut it wonky and that that might be why I couldn't seem to find a perfect seam.  No such luck, it is a perfect 2 inches wide... so the millimeter differences away from 1.5 inches in the center remains my fault.

I've ripped the seams out several times, and have decided to cut a few new strips to play with on the next round.  On the positive side, this is giving me many opportunities to practice pressing the seams in the right directions and to get good crisp seams.

I've tried a couple different tricks to get the measurement correct - the little yellow scant 1/4 inch guide worked to set it up nicely - until I took into account that I'm using the Prescencia 60/3 - and yep - the scant 1/4 inch is now a little too scant.  Moved it out - apparently too far... need to go back to my handy dandy piece of graph paper as eyeballing where to put the tape isn't working. 

One thing that I've found frustrating in this, and it may get better as I get more comfortable is that the seam guide which fits into the back of my #13 foot wiggles - and somehow is not staying perfectly parallel to the feed dogs.  I know there needs to be a little play in the guide to allow the presser foot to function smoothly, but I clearly haven't found the right combination yet - and I'm pretty sure that when the fabric slips under the guide that I'm not getting my perfect seam any more.  This is still "user" error in my book and not machine error so I'll keep trying.  I'm wondering if we have a case of old guide plus new foot. I asked my LQS to order a new guide for me before I realized that my walking foot doesn't have any place in which to stick said guide, so while I don't really need 2, I wonder if the newer one will sit more stably on the machine.

Once I get that sorted out, I can get started on the sampler in class 130.  I picked three coordinating fabrics from my stash (my sampler will be in reds as that is what I have quite a lot of...) and washed them. They are ready to be ironed and cut.  I'm also making fabric choices for the Winter Wonderland and Cowboy Corral quilts - I think one of them will end up with Dragons...  and also figuring out who the quilts will eventually go to (at least one will go to Gus) - which will help with the fabric choices.  For now, I'm going to try to work from my recently accumulated and quickly taking over stash of fabrics and resist the temptation to rush out for more.

We have tickets to Beauty & The Beast tonight and are camping with the Cub Scouts this weekend, so I don't know how much farther I'll progress.  I've been reading an re-reading Classes 110, 120, 130 and into 140 on the bus over the past week and am itching to get started.

Rag Quilts - Take 2

Using the techniques I learned from the Quilter's Academy, I started RQ2 as a practice project for cutting accuracy.  Those who know me may be a bit shocked by my choice of fabrics, but rest assured, I've not gone over to the dark side (err Duke side). This is a gift for a new baby and much as I thought about trying to undo the inevitable brain washing... I'll leave that to someone else...

I started off the project by ripping, ironing and starching the various components. The light blue squares were cut for the previous quilt before I learned that the baby would be a girl, so this project was also a way to use up what has already been cut.  I did not pre-wash as I wanted to maximize the frayability at the end.

I did cut these blocks at 8.25 versus 8.5 with the end plan to have space to trim down to 8 inch block. Part of the reason was that I suspected I would run out of the Duke Bluedevils fabric as I bought as little as I possibly could.  In the process of ripping and aligning, I decided that I probably will not rip flannel in the future.  Unlike the cottons, it did not rip in a nice straight line.  Fortunately I bought an ample supply of that so wasn't concerned - the blue and white flannel (not pictured here) were used as batting inside the sandwiches - blue inside the two dark squares and white inside the other three.  The squares pictured above have been sandwiched and pinned with one flat pin in one corner.  In the RQ1 adventure, I used between 6 & 8 pins on each block - which really didn't do what I needed them to do - ended up a bit lumpy and still didn't hold things well (using the walking foot in this project made a huge difference).  You can see in the background the slivers that I cut off as I squared the pinned blocks.

To the left are leftovers from RQ1 which show ragged edges and general lumpiness - ironing and starching made a huge difference.

Sewing together went more smoothly as well - once I laid everything out and started chaining, I only had to undo two seams because I sewed one of the Duke panels in sideways - unlike RQ1 where I had the seams alternating on the sides of the quilt. Overall a much smoother process.

Here it is prior to snipping and washing - didn't have ice hockey games to work at this time, so ended up spreading the snippings around the house and our home rink...  This one came together more neatly. I think several factors affected that -
  1. I prepared the fabric appropriately for the project. 
  2. I carefully trimmed and squared the blocks
  3. I used a walking foot while sewing so didn't end up with bits and pieces of fabric sticking out where the sandwich slipped.  I think using only one pin made a difference too as I left that pin in the corner for the first two seams and then took it out on the third seam of the sandwich.
 Gus came out to admire the quilt first thing in the morning and is busy picking out the fabric for when I get around to a project for him. I was a bit surprised that he wanted his picture taken with it since he is such a rabid Tar Heel!  Since this picture was taken, I've snipped the edges - did you know that at 8 snips/inch you are facing over 4,000 snips per quilt.  My poor Fiskars Snips have gotten a workout - and they are sticking a bit - the bulge that holds the lock slides over is interfering so I need to sand it down just a little.

We went to the local laundromat after dinner on Tuesday and threw the quilt into the industrial sized machine with a few towels - to see if the towels will help the ragging fuzz out.  It did look better than RQ1, but I still threw it in the laundry again at home, with a blanket. It has ragged out quite nicely now and is waiting to be photographed so that I can send it on to the new baby.