Monday, January 14, 2013

I will never skip the starch again!

On Saturday, I joined members of our guild at a charity quilting event to assemble quilts which will be distributed to families affected by Hurricane Sandy.

There were four pressing stations set up around the meeting hall, and I did not remember to pack starch or Best Press, figuring there would be some there.  I was a few minutes late, so may have missed some early announcements about NOT using sprays, but did not see anyone pressing with starch or Best Press (wonder if there was a concern about overspray onto the carpet or mucking up the irons).  Anywho - pieced happily for most of the day (except for one side trip - more later) and stopped at the point I needed square the 12 blocks to 15.5 inches.  I reached that point around the time people started packing up, even though it was scheduled until 4:00. I tried to get started, using two rulers to figure it out as my biggest was a 10.5 inch square, and then gave up realizing that I was seriously overheated and more than a bit dehydrated.

Sunday morning I decided to squeeze some work on the quilt in prior to hiking with Gus and his patrol and again faced squaring the blocks.  I started measuring and quickly computed that the 15.5 inch blocks were going to end up between 14.75 and 15 inches.  Then looked more closely at the seams and a light bulb went on.  There was no starch, and the blocks that I had carefully rolled up on Saturday afternoon were extremely wrinkled and looking suspiciously full around the seams.  Out came the starch.

After spraying all of the blocks, I started the evening process - first making certain all 48 block sides were cut straight and corners squared.  Measuring across the blocks as I went, they ranged from 15.25 inches to just over 15.5 inches once squared - with most being about 15.375 - so 15.25 ended up as my final target.  I carefully shaved 1/8 inch bits, and was successful on 47 of those sides. There is a pin on the 48th to remind me to be careful with that block as it is a little less than 1/8 of an inch too narrow.

Starching made a HUGE difference in the squaring and accuracy.  I hope to never have to skip that step again.

On a side note, midway into piecing the initial strip sets, my Bernina 801 stopped working.  Motor ran fine (could still wind a bobbin) but turning the hand wheel was excessively tight and I was afraid to force it.  So I headed over to my local quilt store to drop the machine off to be serviced (had the same problem about 15 months ago - and we thought it was fixed - but I also didn't use the machine again and it has been safely in its case for those 15 months). Apparently it worked fine this morning when she started to service it, but after we spoke, she ran it longer to find where there was a "bind" in the main shaft.  This is now repaired and ready to retrieve this evening.  While the LQS was 5 minutes in one direction, my house is 20 in the other from our gathering, so I did lose a bit over an hour running home to collect my Bernina 830 - which does not have a carrying case, so I generally don't take it along and return to the gathering.  I think in switching the seams, that the 1/4 inch tape was probably a little off - and I didn't bring scraps along - figuring consistency in seam allowance was the goal - so that may also have contributed to the blocks being a smidge smaller than intended.

 Our hike was a great success. Gus completed the second to last requirement he needs in order to earn Second Class.  Two other members of his patrol and a new scout to our Troop joined us as well, along with three other parents. It was in the low 70s here in North Carolina - unseasonably warm for North Carolina - and a beautiful day to be out walking.  The boys voted on Sweet Frog Frozen Yogurt to end the afternoon.

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