Stitching Times serves up stories, examples and tutorials about needlework related crafts, especially quilting and crochet. Almost all of the projects shown have been designed by Kay Stephenson

Monday, August 1, 2011

Pattern Shmattern

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about a quilted wall hanging I was working on and this past week I finished it! Don’t you love quick projects? It helps that this project is small – about thirty two inches square. But the real difference is in the process. I thought some of you might find a bit of explanation helpful.

Usually when I design a quilt, I spend quite a lot of time on “quilt math”. I calculate the exact dimensions (with seam allowances) for each square and triangle, and also calculate the most efficient way to cut out those pieces to use the least amount of fabric and time. I end up with cutting directions that look something like this. Of course this is very helpful if I am later going to write up this design as a pattern. But I didn't do that work this time. This time I decided to wing it. You see I’m trying to walk away from the idea that the end result must be 100% what I envisioned in the beginning.

This time I did start with a drawing which I showed you here
Instead of the laborious effort to calculate every angle, I decided to blow that drawing up to the actual size of my planned project, take just a few measurements (which I scribbled right on the drawing), and start cutting.

Mentally I broke the design down into a few logical components. The top and bottom borders, center block and the four “corners”. This drawing demonstrates the component break-out, but I actually put this together after the fact for demonstration purposes.

I took rough guesstimates at the dimensions I needed for each piece and then cut everything a bit larger than needed. As I assembled each component, I trimmed off excess.
I made all of the curved pieces as appliqué and in some cases used my handy dandy circle cutter. I’ve been wanting a project to use that tool J.  

For the points, I cut a long strip, folded it over and cut 2 inch lengths. Then I folded the corners down to form the point and sewed them in place.

Making the off-center triangle border was a bit interesting without calculating all of the angles. I cut out one of the diamonds and taped in on the back side of my ruler. Then I made a border strip consisting of a center white strip with black on the top and bottom, lined up the template and cut away. Once the diamonds strips were sewn back together with a narrow spacer piece in between, I trimmed off the excess black fabric at top and bottom and I had my border strips.

Throughout the process I kept laying out the finished components against the drawing to see where something was off or might need to be re-worked. This might all seem like it makes extra work and wastes fabric, which is true. But the process is much more akin to improvisation without any rehearsal. I found it both challenging and fun.
Did the project turn out exactly like the drawing? No, but I like it all the same, and I think as I perfect the array of techniques used in this type of quilting the results will just look better and better. 
Conclusion: Be fearless. It's only fabric and time. Just start cutting and sewing and see what happens!

No comments:

Post a Comment