Friday, June 08, 2007

Nuts & Bolts

Yesterday I bit the bullet, and proceeded with my arbor idea out of the fern batik for the angel quilt. The scrolls will be incorporated later somehow. I'm thinking of this not as a border but more of a frame, and it only goes on three sides - and even then, not all the way to the bottom. Here's the nuts & bolts of how I did it.

I started by making freezer paper templates - one of my favorite methods. I measured the width of the opening and added 2 inches top and side. My fabric wasn't wide enough for the frame to be one piece, so I only needed to make one half of the pattern, and rather than continue the freezer paper the entire length of the sides, I just made it a little past the curved section. I drew the arc the old fashioned way - with a string tied to my pencil and anchored at the center point with a pin. I didn't add seam allowance to the pattern before cutting it, but did jot reminders to myself about how much extra to leave when cutting the fabric - about 1/2" on the outside edges and 1/4" along the inside edge. Since I needed a mirror image template, I placed another sheet of freezer paper shiny side to shiny side of the piece with my cutting lines and cut them both at the same time. These were then ironed to the wrong side of my fabric and the pieces cut out with the appropriate seam allowances added.
Besides the seam in the center, I had to piece strips to each side to get the proper frame length. Ah, the joy of working with limited fabric yardage! These seams were pressed open.

Here I've moved to the ironing board so I can press under the seam allowance along the curved edge. I realize now that you can't really tell that it is pressed over the edge of the freezer paper, but it is. I thought I might have to clip the edges to make a smooth flat turn, but I didn't. The tight weave of the batik makes a nice crisp crease that will stay in place after the freezer paper is removed. I continued to press under 1/4" along the rest of the seam beyond where the freezer paper template ended. I checked periodically with a ruler to be sure this seam allowance was even.

Now to center it over the background. The edges of the background section are quite uneven, but I took care to keep the top edge straight and subsequent sections true horizontally. This allowed me to line up the background on my cutting mat grid (taped on the corners to prevent shifting) and then line up the frame so it would also be straight and true.

Once I was satisfied with its position, I carefully started pinning it in place, placing pins perpendicular to the seam, then going back and putting more in spaced more closely and parallel to the seam line. It was at this point I realized that in another life, I would have machine pieced this seam. In fact, this freezer paper template method was learned during a Mariner's Compass class where we machine pieced our circular compasses into their round frames. Frankly, it never occurred to me to do that, probably because of the way I layered and "appliqued" the background together. On this piece, I don't mind the top-stitching necessary to secure these pieces down. And it is a lot easier and faster than piecing at this point.

I haven't sewn this down yet for two reasons. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with the ends yet, and I may want to insert a piping along the edge - something a little bright to add a glow. I'm still feeling that this quilt lacks zing, that it will all muddle together when viewed from a distance (which in all likelihood will be the case in its new home.) I've searched high and low through my various stashes and can't quite seem to come up with a suitable solution. So yesterday I swung by the local quilt shop for inspiration. I restrained myself from buying a lot of yardage for a change, since I'm not sure any of these will really fit the bill (although now that they are home, it's looking promising). My default answer to "how much of this do you want" has usually been 1/2 a yard or more likely, a full yard. But I decided that, with the exception of piping, I only needed a 1/4 yard of my zinger solution, so 1/4 yards is all I got. Besides, the store's having a sale in just a week, so if any of these require more yardage, I'll go back and get them a little cheaper. Gotta be frugal about something! Two are batiks, and frankly, I knew the blue wasn't right, but thought I'd give it a try anyway. The other is a lovely pale spring green - exactly what I was searching for in my stash. The other three all have metallic gold touches which I think might be perfect to pick up the light. You can see that better if you click on the picture for the larger version.

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