Monday, January 6, 2014

Out of Square Quilt

Before I start this post about the next quilt I made, I just want to say that I did finish the quilt I was working on!  I will take pictures later when the sun is right and post :)

No, the quilt was not out of square, that is the name of the pattern :) This is the first time I made a quilt solely from a written pattern.  It was also the first time that I really read a quilt pattern!!  I had bought several patterns and when I skimmed them had decided anything that is 7 or more pages might be over my head :) Then I decided, do one step at a time, I'll figure it out as I go..... this pattern had lots to figure out including . . . curved seams (I had no clue), starting from scratch - no pre-cuts, and picking the colors, oh my! :)

The pattern is called Out of Square by Karla Alexander.  Karla's web site is here and the pattern can be purchased here.  The quilt is made entirely of batiks (have you noticed? yes, all of my quilts except the first to this point have been made with batiks and yes, I am partial to batiks!) bought at local LQS stores.  I pulled all of the material for this quilt from my 'stash.'  Stash is in quotes because at this point, I didn't have much of one!  Here is my version of Out of Square:

Here is a close up of the quilting

Karla's technique for picking fabrics/combinations is clear and easy to understand.  Pick a combo of light, dark and medium fabrics making sure there is a good contrast.  That seemed easy enough... haha I started pulling fabrics and putting them into groups of 6 and needed 10 different 'decks.'  I spent a couple of days arranging stacks rearranging, pulling different fabrics and in the end enlisted my husband for help :) The biggest lesson learned in this stage of the process was if it doesn't 'feel' right, don't use it.  There were a couple of decks that I thought might not have enough contrast but I was a bit zealous to get started cutting so went forward instead of going shopping.... I can't imagine now not using this VERY good excuse to head to the LQS for a little fabric shopping!! I think I was right about not having enough contrast in some of the blocks but overall I think this quilt turned out splendid.

Preparing and cutting the fabric.... well now this presented its own challenges!  Up to this point, I had mostly used pre-cuts.  Gotta love 'em!  In the back of my mind, this nagging memory from my jr. high home economics class kept popping up - you need to square up your fabric and cut on grain.... What I remember from the class (that was a very long time ago!) was that I did not like this process and it was a big PITA :)  I thought, after so many years, this process must have been perfected! haha There are many tutorials out there on this, I spent a lot of time in the sink hole of the internet looking at what seemed to be a bajillion videos and written tutorials.  In the end, Leah Day's videos on ironing and starching and how to square fabric were the videos that I found most helpful. 

STARCH! I found a new love!  I had never used starch prior to this project.... I couldn't believe that I was missing out on such a wonderful thing.  OK, I'm going to admit, I am not a pre-washer.  It just isn't going to happen.  Leah's video almost had me convinced, but not to the point that I have actually done it!  I use a lot of starch, I find my most accurate cuts come from fabric that is more the feel of construction paper :) I also figure, the fabric is getting wet and if the colors are going to run, I'll know it and if the fabric is going to shrink - it will.  Makes perfect sense to me!

On to the cutting board!  Again, I knew I was having issues with this so I went, once again, skipping through the internet looking for videos and written tutorials on rotary cutting.  And again Leah Day with her rotary cutting tips  video won my vote for the most informative :)

All cut, ready to start sewing.... this pattern is basically a wonky log cabin block.  I knew that but didn't know much about sewing a log cabin block together!  Imagine my horror when I went to sew on the third piece and it was too long!!  I could not find anywhere in the pattern where it said to trim the pieces as you go.... what was I doing wrong???  I did the only thing a sane person would, I called my quilter mom :)  We discussed this at length but in the end her advice - who cares what the pattern says, if you need to trim, trim.... thanks mom for the permission to improvise and do things the way that makes sense to me! Oh, and yes, trimming as you go was in the pattern. . . not sure how I missed that!  I found it after doing a couple of blocks :)

Curved seams! EEEK!  Much can be said about sewing curves and once again, off to the computer I went to watch many videos on how to sew curved seams.... What I found is that they were all saying it was easy!  What? It can't be that easy, why does it strike fear in most quilters??  What I found is yup, not that difficult! Here are a couple of videos that were most helpful, look mom, no pins from she can quilt! And here's one with a couple of pins from ladyhavartine. In the end, I found that it depended on how 'curved' my curve was as to whether or not using pins was necessary but I found that using three pins as shown in the second video was sufficient.

My first attempt at an on point quilt! I decided that I wasn't going to trim the outside of the quilt so that when the board was attached, it was at the point of the corner of the diamond. . . I kind of liked the look AND my then very young puppy (yes the same one that ate a piece out of my first quilt) pulled TWO blocks off my design wall and chewed them up beyond recognition!!! UGH! How did I deal with this? I made the quilt smaller by two rows!  In the end, it turned out well because every block I removed from the quilt had orange in it - TOO MUCH ORANGE! 

This post is getting really long so I am going to just sum up one more thing, trust the process! Karla's method is to use 'decks' of fabric, in this case 6.  Then after cutting, 'shuffle' the deck in a very orderly fashion and sew.  The desire is to look through and start rearranging :) Don't do it!!!

Whew, so there you go! I love this quilt and learned a lot in the process! I will post my first finish of 2014 later today, YAY! :)

Until next time, keep on quilting!!

1 comment:

  1. How I love that you love Leah, too! She helped me more than anything on my Avanté. I bought it off eBay, so no set-up (yay for a mechanically-minded husband), no free lessons from Handi-Quilter, enter Leah Day. I'd FMQ-ed on my Elna and then Bernina for ... uh, let's leave it at many years, but Leah's designs were so fresh, so easy, and totally adaptable to the LA. Great tip about resisting the urge to NOT let the shuffled fabric be, just as it is. I have never pre-washed, and never (fingers crossed) had a problem. You continue to amaze me with how much you accomplished and the level of quilting you were doing at this early stage in your, ahem, NOT LONG quilting journey! I shake my head as to where you'll be in like 5 years...nvm, in 2!!!


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