Thursday, 10 January 2013

Accuracy, carpenters and chipmunks

Boring!!!!  Not!!! Two, 2, deux hours on one square yesterday.  All because I did not sew an accurate 1/4 inch seam.  You are wondering how I could be such a simpleton.  Well some quilts are forgiving in design.  Some are definitely not.

I am not a BOM type but fell in love with Celtic Crystals; colour; batik fabrics; variety; gorgeous design.  But it is full of triangles.  What makes it interesting is also what requires accuracy.  Several sites are offering this quilt so I will not single out one  but I am dealing with Sew Sisters in Toronto.  Just Google if you are interested if you have not already seen it.

Do you remember watching your Dad cut lumber or a carpenter (a good carpenter) working in your house?  In both cases I can say yes.  My favourite activity growing up was to go the lumber store with my Dad.  The smell of fresh wood transports me there every time since then.  And having spent the last two years in renovation of my 1833 house I have spent a lot of time with the carpenter.  I digress but that is what you do in a conversation. :)  They measure their lumber twice; mark the side on which the cut will take place then cut.  Why on the side to be cut.  Well the saw blade takes up room and impacts the accuracy of the cut.  Cutting on the wrong side can make a piece too short and lumber does not stretch like fabric.  Quilting is not too different.  So a tip I learned on the net; hold your rotary cutter on a slight angle to the ruler i.e. out from the ruler at the top and very close on the bottom of the rotary cutter.  This will give the most accurate cut.

An inaccuracy of 1/16 on a block across 4 blocks is 1/4 of an inch; a full seam either when too long or cut too short.  Spread this across a quilt top and there are problems because your inaccuracy is never the same.  Those corners will never meet.  The next trap is the sewing machine.  Do you know that when you iron that seam to the side you lose a bit of the pieced quilt. Some folks compensate by setting their needle on the machine or you can sew what is called a scant seam.  This is described as a couple of threads less than 1/4 inch.  Of course having a foot that measures a quarter inch is helpful.  But check its accuracy when you buy it.

But that was not my problem.  It was simply that I was careless when sewing and not keeping my seams lined up to my accurate foot.  In the case of this square the seams are pressed open so no excuses at the ironing board.  My mind has a horrible tendency to wander from topic to topic in my brain at all times.  When I do my accuracy suffers.  My imagination does very well though. :)  It is usually on the next quilt to be designed and quilted.

So rip out, rip out, rip out.  But the final square is perfect.  Was it worth it?  Yes.  Will I put a leash on my imagination and cut and sew perfectly every time.  I will try; certainly when working on this quilt.  But my imagination is like a dog that spots that pesky chipmunk who lives in the wood shed.  Zip......................................

So a boring topic and not as colourful as my language got yesterday but on a grey, windy icky day it fits the bill.

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