Sunday, June 21, 2020

Basting Begun

An update on the quilt I tried to baste last week.

This quilt was born because I fell in love with a fabric line and had to use it right away! At the time I bought a layer cake (set of 10" squares) and that is what I used for the body of the quilt (plus a lot of my own stash in suitable colours and tones).

Even after I finish a quilt top, my eyes are still caught by fabric that would have been good in it, or, in this case, caught by a mini charm pack of the same fabric line. ("Charms" are 5" squares; "Mini charms" are 2.5" squares. This pack contained 42 squares from the fabric line.) Even though the top was assembled and I had no use for them, I couldn't resist buying this mini charm pack. I obviously was not over this fabric line. (And the mini charms are so cute and only a few dollars. Very hard to resist.)

This charm pack has been hanging around in the room I use for sewing ever since, which is at least a few years. I don't have a set place to store fabric pre-cut packs because I don't tend to buy a lot of them. And I didn't want to break up the set and put the squares with my scraps. So the neat little bundle moved from surface to surface as it needed to be moved out of the way. Repeatedly getting my attention but it was never the time to use them.


Until I needed just a few inches more width on my quilt back! Sewing them together in one long strip and inserting them as a stripe might just add the width that I needed.

I decided to piece them alternating light and dark.
I did it in sections instead of one long strip because it's very easy to have a long strip warp or curve on you. So they were pieced into 8" and 10" sections and then I added a solid border on each side. I had extra of a tannish brown colour that worked well. (I bought it online for my Lucy Boston but it really wasn't the right shade. I had just enough for what I had in mind here!)

I put 2" (finished) on each side and the top and bottom.
I didn't have enough of the brown for the full height of the backing so I added strips on the top and bottom. I looked through my scrap bags, and found leftover pieces from making the top, including more fabric from the same fabric line.

With this extra 6" in width, the backing was just wide enough:
I laid the top on top of the backing and the backing is 2-3" wider than the top. Not enough extra to quilt it on a long arm machine, but enough for me to work with on my domestic machine.

Once that was confirmed, I secured the backing to the table (good side down, of course; not like pictured above), covered it with the batting and then the top. The batting was also just large enough. I buy queen size battings and usually have a comfortable excess on the width and plenty of extra on the height. Not in this case but it was enough.

Then then pinning started.
And continued and continued. I had two and a half hours to do all this (including a final pressing of the top and steaming the batting, which I have not shown) and that was not enough time. As my departure time approached, I was able to confirm that the room wouldn't be needed by anyone else in the next week so I left the quilt set up on the tables and will continue--and hopefully finish--next week.

Also, I need to buy another pack of pins because I have enough for the center but not the borders. That will mean I have 900. Surely that is enough?

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Basting Busted

I've had a quilt top, batting and backing packed in my car for a couple weeks waiting for a chance to baste it together. I like to baste at church where I can put three tables together for a big work surface. But every time I've gone to the building, my day ends up being too long or getting interrupted so that I can't get to the basting.

Last Saturday, I needed to be somewhere for about an hour that was just down the street from the church building. Ok, I would have time to baste after I was done. Excellent.

I got to the church. No one else was there. I set up my tables. I pulled out my supplies.

The first thing I notice is that the backing fabric that I thought was a wide backing was not. I would have to sew two widths together for it to be wide enough. Ok, I can fix this. I know there's a sewing machine at church. Can I find it?

I did find it (in the attic space) and it had just enough thread loaded on it that I thought I would be able to sew the seam. I set it up on a piano bench so it could be close to the outlet
 and took a look.
It is a pretty old machine but I had used it once before so I thought I could figure it out. It looked like a stretch stitch was the only straight stitch available! I started sewing the seam with that, but after a couple inches had to stop because using a stretch stitch was ridiculous. (Because it goes forward and backwards as it sews the seam, it is slow and uses a lot of thread.)

So I looked again and decided I would try the blind hem stitch with a stitch width of 0. That worked. I folded the fabric in half and sewed along one of the long edges. Now I had to cut at the fold so I could open it up to the full width. I had no scissors.

Obviously the office had scissors. They were the "craftiest" quality scissors an office might have, but I got them to work.

Now I had to press the seam. I knew there was an iron and board around. It took me a while, but after looking everywhere I thought it might be, I remembered where it was normally stored and there it was.

I think the board is the same vintage as the sewing machine, but that doesn't mean it doesn't work!
So I pressed the seam open and was ready to go.

I laid out the top on the tables. I put the backing on it to check the size.
And it was short. If I could use the selvage, it was only a couple inches short. But since I shouldn't use the selvage, it was at least 5 inches short.

I couldn't fix that. At least not there at church.

So I packed everything up, put everything away, and aborted my basting.

A disappointing end to the story, but I was still closer to a finish. I now know exactly what I have to do to make the backing work. :)

Sunday, June 14, 2020

When Stars Align

I've been itching to clean up some of my sewing stuff that has been lying around, so of course, I did this by working on a project. I pulled out my blue and yellow star wall hanging because I knew it was close to being done. Last time I talked about it, I had put it in a time out. The final border of 1" squares did not fit.
You can see the excess length at the top that was not going to "ease in". I made the strip of squares fit by sewing some of the seams a little bigger. When I had done five seams, I tested the length against the center of the quilt and it fit, so I went with it. You might protest that all the squares are not identical in size and in fact are not even squares anymore. While that is technically true, it is not at all noticeable and does not detract from the effect. Which is good enough for me.

I sewed one strip of squares to one side and then a second one to the opposite side. Then I had to make the corner squares. The square-in-a-square units are tiny and fiddly, but I managed them with paper piecing, but no pictures, I'm afraid. You'll just have to see the final result after I sewed on the final two strips with the corner squares:
 And the top was done!

While I was at it (I was trying to clean up, after all), I pieced together some pieces for a backing and found a scrap of batting that was big enough.

I decided to go ahead and baste the layers together. My good basting pins were packed away with a large quilt I was preparing to baste, so I used my "bad" pins.

Long ago, I separated my "craft" quality safety pins, but never got rid of them. (Surely they'd be good for something?) I decided to suffer using them for this project just to get it done. I got the piece basted, disposing of about one pin in ten that was just too bad to keep.

I hung the basted quilt on the board above my sewing table. The clear bag is holding fabric I cut for the piping strips, the binding, and two squares for the triangle corners to hang the quilt. Now that I had everything I needed to complete the quilt, I could empty the project box of yellow and blue fabric and redistribute it to my fat quarter and scrap fabric storage.

Here you can see the uncompleted wall hanging next to the original one I'm attempting to match it to.
Not really a matching pair, but I think they look like they go together.

So I have one less box with a pending project inside and was able to organize and put away a lot of scrap fabric pieces that were lying around. Not the quickest way to clear off a work table, but the best way for me to feel more organized and less scattered. Plus this project is only a couple of straight forward steps from being done.

Linking up with:
  -"Finished (or Not) Friday at Alycia Quilts
  -"Oh Scrap" at Quilting is more fun than Housework
  -Quilting Patchwork and Applique

May I suggest?

I Say! or at least I did once...