Saturday, February 11, 2012

Fussy Cutting

I've been collecting fabric for making a series of quilts with a wine theme. So I sat down the other day and started sketching out designs. Who knew that it could take all day to do this? I now fully understand why designers, amateur and professional alike have gone to computer-aided design (CAD). I love that; it gives great new meaning to the phrase "You're such a CAD!" Anyway, even though it's really fun to be surrounded by graph paper and piles of colored pencils, markers, and even crayons, it is so dag-gone slow! And, I'm pretty limited to solid colors. I don't know about you, but most of my fabrics are prints. One really important think to note: If you ever decide to play with design this way. Once you get the design down and are ready to play with color, take your original graph paper drawing and copy it. You can then try out different colors and not have to redraw the whole darn thing each time. I eventually came up with the idea of a table runner that would use a simple block, but the center would be a kaleidoscope. That's represented by the solid red square in the picture.

I had a cute fabric that was covered with gadgets for opening wine bottles that would be perfect. Making that center square was going to require a lot of fussy cutting. Fussy cutting - not when your fabric doesn't behave, that's a whole 'nother problem - is being very picky about what you cut out, choosing a particular motif on your fabric to highlight. In this case a square is divided into quarters and each quarter is cut from exactly the same motif on the fabric. It's not hard, but it does take planning.

I learned how to do it from Jinny Beyer, but I'm sure there are different ways of going about it. I take my template - a triangle in my case - find the motif on the fabric that I want to use and then copy some of the lines onto the template so I can always align it exactly the same way.

Then I trace around the template and cut out the resulting shape, here a triangle.

For my block I needed 4 triangles of exactly the same motif to make 1 block. The whole quilt called for 24 of these blocks. That's 96 triangles folks and a lot of fussy cutting. It leaves you with very holey fabric! You can imagine how hard it started to get near the end to find exactly the same motif in 4 different places.

I don't want to imply that for all 24 blocks that the resulting motif is the same. I would have to have a huge amount of fabric to do that. I was able to find the same motif about 12 times in the yardage that had - a little more than 1/2 yard. That would make 3 blocks. Then I switched to another one, until I had enough for my project. For this project that worked, but for others you would need more yardage to get the exact same motif for every block. For example it's not unusual for a pattern to call for 4 yards of fabric to be able to get enough repeats of the motif for a kaleidoscope block. My kaleidoscope block looks like this.
Very cute and just the look I wanted. My only problem: I had cut my triangle too small! When I made my template, I drew out my square with  the seam allowance on graph paper. Then I divided it into 4 equal triangles and that's what I copied onto template plastic. What I forgot is that I would be sewing those templates back together and I had not added THAT seam allowance back in to get the correct size. Aargh! Now I had 96 little triangles, and what in the world could I do with them? I tried to just make the block smaller, but the measurements were so far off that I would have gone crazy. Then I just made a simple 9-square block with the kaleidoscope square in the middle. It was still way too small. How could I make it bigger? Add strips of course! Strip therapy always comes in handy and here's the resulting block.
Not too bad for a mistake if I do say so myself. The lesson, keep on quilting. Even a mistake can sa(y) quilt!