Friday, April 1, 2011

The process - Tutorial part 1

I received some lovely comments about the improv quilt that I just finished last week. Thru those comments I had someone that said they would enjoy seeing the process I used to make the blocks in that quilt. I think I will go a little farther and show my whole process of making a quilt from beginning to end. I am going to be making baby quilts and not a queen sized one as I document what I do.
I went shopping in my stash and came up with these fabrics - Red Letter Day by Lizzy House (the striped fabric), Essex cotton/linen look, and Jane Sassaman Prairie Gothic. I will be using Kona snow for my background. Conservative choices for me, but I think it will make a pretty quilt.

The piece I am using for the center was cut roughly 12' x 12' - no ruler was used as you can see - I just cut a chunk of fabric. Same for the Kona snow - I just cut some strips. Now the decision is how wide. Right now I am cutting 3-4 inches wide. The strips can be cut any width. For this initial tutorial I am going with 3 - 5 inches in width for all the strips. As I continue to explore this technique in future process posts, I will vary the widths to see what happens.

Layer the edge of center square with the first strip. I pat the fabrics down to get the layers to stick together a bit.

I then double cut the fabric - meaning I cut both layers at the same time. You need a sharp rotary cutter and I take my time. I don't cut it in one swift motion. I find the layers move so I cut using a very short motion where I just nip foward 1/2 - 3/4" at a time. I will hold down the fabric behind the rotary cutter especially keeping a fingernail into the waste piece. Please be careful and don't get distracted! I find if I try to double cut in one big motion the fabric moves too much. Once I have completed my cut I trim the end where I am going to start sewing so that when I flip the strip on top of the center square I can match up the starting spot for sewing. After sewing I gently press - not iron - the strip. With this technique you are not going to have a perfect straight of grain so you have to be careful not to stretch the fabric out of shape. I press each log as I go since the block has to be flat as possible to make your next cut when adding another log.

Here is the block with the second piece/log of the first round done. I have chosen to added the logs in a circular pattern, but you could do a courthouse steps version by adding the logs on the east and west sides then do the north and south sides. I finished the Kona snow round and then added the Essex in the same manner.

This is a picture of the back of the block. I am showing this because this is where you really see someone's technique and quality of workmanship. It was drilled into my head when I was in 4-H that the inside of a garment needs to look as good as the outside. I know that no one will ever see the backside of the top of a quilt since it is layered and quilted, but I know what it looked like. Besides if you keep your work neat and clean of ramdom threads as you go along there is less of a chance that you would get one of those ramdon dark threads caught between the layers under a light piece of fabric.

I went ahead and cut the strips for the next two rounds. The third round being the Kona snow and the fourth the stripe. I will add these two rounds just like I did the first two. The only difference is that the block gets bigger.
Let me know if you have any question or if something doesn't make sense. I will post again on Monday the next phase in this process.

Saturday night my nephew's band is playing at one of the local sports bars and will have a special guest - Nikki Storm who plays in several bands including the Godz. It ought to be a fun time. Have a great weekend.

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