Monday, August 9, 2010

Productively mixed weekend.

By Thursday night, I had all 11 sets of blocks sewn together into strips.  I found that I could neatly stack them by accordion folding as they were mostly attached due to the chain piecing.  There were a few times along the way that I ripped out a seam and redid it as I didn't feel like it was lined up well enough. And as I work through sewing the rows together, I realize that there are several other spots that would have benefited from that level of critical attention - and also from SQUARING the blocks. A step I skipped because I didn't want to hassle with the ruler. A step I WON'T skip again.

Friday we took Gus to see The A-Team, which for those of us who grew up watching 80s TV it was a fun blast of nostalgia - HEAVY on the BLASTING.  Gus loved it, and having never seen the TV show had no idea why Mike and I were laughing so hard a parts. They did a really good job casting and also incorporating running gags from the show.

Dash has found a new way to be
helpful. Must watch feet carefully!
After we came home, I started to sew the rows together.  Easier said than done...  It wasn't until I started trying to pin things together that I realized how far off kilter some of the squares were. Overall I'm happy enough with this to go on so I won't rip all of the seams out and re-square the blocks.  I will chalk this up as a lesson learned. At this point, I have six of the rows sewn together and the seventh is pinned on waiting to be stitched.  I chose to go for matching corners versus perfect 3 inch squares, so while there is a little wonkiness in some areas, more of my corners match than not.  The row I added where only the first two matched up in spite of pinning on both sides of the seam was taken back off and started over. I started to think about how to quilt this when it is done, and have thought about the idea of tying and using buttons, especially in the yellow squares for added color. However, with 49 yellow squares, that could end up being quite an investment in buttons so I'm putting that idea on the back burner for now.

Now for my other triumph of the weekend...

From the first time I saw a description of the "Big Board" ironing board cover, I have wanted one. But I'm frugal (okay CHEAP) and couldn't imagine paying $120 + shipping. So, after googling for directions, I set off on a shopping trip on Saturday morning. First stop was the Army Surplus store for a wool blanket. Next was JoAnn Fabrics to pick up batting (Warm & Natural was on sale), as well as flannel backed vinyl (for a portable design wall), pellon (for a project with Gus) and the "silver cloth" that is used as ironing board covering. Then on to the hardware store for plywood and 1x2s.  Screws would have been a good thing to pick up - had to get those at Walmart on Sunday.

The board before the final side rails
were added with my shoeless assistant
I had the very helpful young man at Lowes cut my plywood into three pieces - 2' x 5.5' and a 2.5' x 4' as well as cut my 1" x 2" strips down to size so that I had one less thing to worry about at home.  I then had to head over to my neighbor's house to cut 8 inches off the big board as I overshrank my wool blanket in the wash.  If I were to do this again, I would search for a thinner blanket. The one Dad has from his Army days back in the 50s is thinner and I think would work better doubled up. The one I got from Surplus Sid's was from England and already fairly thick - and after shrinking not wide enough to double up (not that the staples would have held at that point.  Using my trusty quilting rulers, I centered the ironing board on the board and drew the lines where I wanted to place the rails. I marked the boards where I wanted to drill the holes for the screws and also the rails where I would drill the starter holes.  Gus came outside with me to help drill the starter holes (which as it turns out in pine isn't strictly necessary.  After all the holes were drilled, we took turns screwing the rails onto the board - which also served to straighten the warp (I went with a 3/8" thick board so that I'd be able to lift it myself).
Back inside to staple the blanket on to the board. Gus helped me stretch the blanket over the edges. Unfortunately he wasn't strong enough (or perhaps heavy enough) to get the staples in far enough to hold the blanket on.  After the blanket, I wrapped the board in the silver cloth. One set of instructions seems to indicate that you could forgo that step and iron directly on the blanket - but this particular blanket was still shedding after two trips through the washer & dryer - so it will be forever covered.

The finished project - I am quite pleased. Mike's first question was how was I going to store this as he thought I had bolted it to the ironing board. Thankfully this is a less permanent solution and should make pressing a bit easier. I do have to set it higher than before as I need it to overlap the bed somewhat if I want to reach my sewing machine.

All in all, a very productive weekend!


Scrappin' Natural Mama said...

Nice job making your own extended ironing board! Standard ironing boards just aren't big enough at all...
I have one like this:
which was pricey but I got it on sale. It folds up nicely out of the way, and I have both an ironing cover and cutting mat for it. Love it and could not quilt or sew without it!

Harriet and Carrie said...

Hi Kirsten,
Thank you for sending my your blog address. I have enjoyed reading your posts. I wish I was as chatty as a lot of you bloggers are - I seem to draw a blank!

You are getting a good start! I just wanted to add a comment about your new ironing board. If you pad it too much, it will be soft and hard to get a good crease on the seam. The actual Big Boards have only a thin sheet of batting - like Warm and Natural - and a cotton duck type fabric for the cover. The army blanket and the batting sounds like too much padding. You want a really hard surface. Also, the silver teflon ironing cover fabric is slippery, and hard to hold your pieces in place. You might want to trade it out for a heavy cotton.

Keep up the good work. I will be checking in to see your progress.


Kirsten said...

Thanks so much for the feedback on the ironing board. At this time there is only the army blanket in a single layer and the silver cloth with a thin muslin on top that I can remove for washing. I don't think the staples would hold a layer of batting in addition.

I am up in the air about the thickness of the army blanket - the one in Dad's garage is much thinner and probably better suited for the purpose. Worst case scenario is that the army blanket gets re-purposed into the camping gear. I do have both batting and cotton duck in my stash (the duck cloth is left over from a foray into dog bed assembly a few years ago...).

Cheers, Kirsten