Jul 2, 2012

drafting, cutting on a Monday

Ah, Monday.  I seem to have slipped into the sewing/quilting doldrums last week.  I wake up and see that pile of pinned quilts or ones that need labels sewn on and binding done and at times that can be overwhelming.  Normally what gets me revved up is to give myself permission to play with something else---new fabric, new pattern, new technique, anything but what needs attention.  That other stuff will get done eventually but I wanna have some fun!

Norma and I were chatting this weekend and she had the perfect description for "wanna have fun".  It goes ".....squirrel......shiny object".  While this was actually talking about a dog named Dug in the movie "Up",  it does describe how easily she and I can be distracted from the task at hand.  Someone at her work had used this analogy for a co-worker's behavior and the phrase stuck.  Apparently others have been watching their dogs as well as there is something called "shiny object syndrome".    Well, that can be me once Norma and I start surfing.  I did download a bunch of patterns from Blue Hill Fabrics but that was because I was looking for their line of Little Stars.   BUT I make no apologies for that.  I think you HAVE to allow for distractions to spark your creativity and keep things fresh.  Yeah, you can go overboard and all ADHD about it but surely there is middle ground!

It has been so unbelievably hot this last week that no way do I want a quilt on my lap to machine quilt it.  The a/c was barely keeping up with 100 degree temps outside.   I wanted to sew and that means cutting first if the project was going to be something fun and/or new.  Saturday I pressed out the folds (not fun in the over-warm house even with the a/c on---he has been a little better about turning it on this year, I'll give him that) for the combo of fabrics above.   I cut out two Prairie Stroll tops for pro-bono quilts----one is going to my mom with blocks cut according to the pattern of 9 inches.  Mine is re-sized down to 7.5 inch blocks so I'll need 48 of them instead of 35 for quilt that I will likely donate to Friendship Quilters for their comfort quilt program once it is done.  By the time I was done cutting I didn't feel like sewing.  Oh, I also cut binding for Judy's two pro-bono quilts that she turned in the other day.

Yesterday I started to cut out the August Button Up---image borrowed from the Joined at the Hip website.  This will also be my green paint chip (WM062) challenge for Friendship Quilters, due in time for our Christmas party.  I got the rosy reds/pinks rough cut for the watermelon.  Then Skyler decided to park himself right on the cutting/pressing table.  I dug out the small mat and June Taylor board and cut them to size but clearly, he was telling me to forget about cutting the backgrounds or the greens.  That would require the iron and a cat that still would not move.  Now, you might say "He's portable---move him.  Whose the boss here?"  Well, he does bite. Those little teeth are sharp!  Find something else to do---like sew!  Sew some Prairie Stroll blocks.  By the time I got the machine out the thunderstorms hit.  I am NOT going to blow out another motherboard on my sewing machine so I did not even plug the thing in.  It was almost time to start supper anyway.  It pays to have other things on the agenda, LOL.  I do plan on getting back to this after lunch today though.

I am not complaining about the rain as we are in the moderate drought range. With most of the state under drought conditions I would not have been surprised if they had cancelled 4th of July fireworks and discouraged people from shooting off their own.  Too much risk of grass fires and wild fires, you would think.  Anyway, DJ said we had about an inch fall and in a very short time. Flash flood warnings even went out.   Some parts of Anniston had hail and strong enough winds to topple trees and down power lines.  In this heat and then humidity I feel bad for anyone without power.  Of course, the temps dropped with the rain which is a blessing. This morning there is lots of cloud cover and we thought more rain would come too but the thunder bumpers remained off in the distance.   Our thermometer currently reads 75 so that is about a 20-25 degree drop in the highs we have been dealing with.  Again, a blessing,  I hope other parts of the country that have been roasting will get some relief.  
Okay on to the drafting thing-------
I belong to the stashbuster list on yahoo group, a large group of about 2000 and  lots of mail group that I normally just scan for topics.  I delete a lot of it but every once in a while something will pique my interest.  Someone needed help in drafting a block as she planned on re-doing an antique top she had bought but with more accurately cut pieces.  To get the pieces out she needed to make smaller blocks for a Texas Star quilt.  The commercial templates from the site I just gave you were too big at 8 and 12 inches.  She stated "I've searched for two days for a predrafted pattern at 5 inches".  This is the block below in EQ.  

Okay, a 5 inch finished is a rather odd sized block to find so I am not surprised that she was having trouble in her search.  Also she said Google was pointing her towards Lone Star blocks instead of Texas Stars---similar in name maybe but not the same thing in design.  I wrote in and asked if she would not like to try to draw it up herself.  It is not hard, really it is isn't.

A small rant coming.   I honestly feel like quilt teachers do their students a disservice when they don't teach their students how to draft.  And even if they don't want to ever adjust a blocks they see to fit their own needs, quilters still need to think in terms of grids, for Pete's sake.  That is how you approach a block to sew it together.  Most blocks DO fit a grid pattern--well, this one may not since it is a hexagon but if you look carefully you generally can see a symmetrical pattern.  3 x 3, 4 x 4 and usually with some pieced elements---4 patches, half square triangles, quarters square triangles, whatever.

I tell you, the whole world opens up and you are not locked in to using a commercial pattern.   But you, dear quilter, are NOT at their mercy.  The magazines and books do not have to have you locked in if you just stop and analyze the block(s) and learn how to adjust things.   No more do you have to think "it is a full sized quilt and I want a crib instead so how can I adjust the block size".  Or " it is square and I want a rectangular quilt.  Guess that one is out."   

NOTHING is ever truly brand new in quilting---oh, that is a rant for another day for sure.  Those ladies who designed these blocks all those years ago are the real innovators.  They did not have all the fancy toys and still made some amazing quilts.  Oh we might be able to cut them more accurately---the tools changed with rotary cutters and now accu-quilt.   Or  we can turn them out more quickly with strip piecing or a quick quilt trick  but that just streamlined the process.  Most of it is pretty tried and true.   ( Ask me what I think about so called Modern Quilting some time, LOL) .  Even our fabrics are mostly inspired by preceding decades in color and/or style.  Case in point---turns out 4 of the 6 fabrics I recently purchased based on color alone from thousandsofbolts are all Civil War Repros!  A 5th was already in my stash and is also a civil war repro.  Go figure!  

For drafting two books that helped me were---

  • Jinny Beyer's The Quilter's Album of Patchwork Patterns.  This book had not only a ton of blocks in it but she had an acetate grid thing done up that you could lay over the thumbnails in the book to actually see the sectioning of the block.
  • Joen Wolfrom's Make Any Block Any Size.  This uses a formula for drawing up blocks/block divisions by tick marks on a ruler.  I believe a drafters or carpenter's methodology.

So what did  I post to try and help that list person?   Here is my sketch below but without all the extra lines erased yet.

And here is how you do it---------

  • Draw a box the size you want.  In my case, 6 inch---my block, my size, LOL.  Draw a line at the halfway point both horizontally and vertically. 2 x 2 grid.  You don't necessarily need 1/4 inch graph paper but I had some on hand.
  • Next visit a tutorial that tells you how to draw a hexagon using a circle.  Try this one  http://www.craftpassion.com/2010/04/tutorial-how-to-draw-hexagon-for-quilt-block.html  but essentially stick your compass at the center of the block which in my case was 3 inches,  Draw a circle.   
  • Where the horizontal line crosses the circle, place the compass tip and maintaining the 3 inches you set on the compass make a tick mark.  Keep moving the compass from tick mark and mark that same distance all around the periphery of the circle.    
  • Mark from tick mark to tick mark and you have a 6 sided figure and that hexagon that will hold the star inside it.
  • Next find the midline mark of each side of the hexagon.  The top and bottom is already marked by your initial 2 x 2 grid.  In my case that was at 1.5 inches.  
  • Look carefully at the EQ block above---can you see that the white star tips are essentially formed like a large triangle?  One is upside down but there are two of them.  From the top line midline mark draw a line to the each lower side lines on the bottom half of the hexagon.  Then draw a line from the bottom midline mark to each of the side line on the top half of the hexagon. 
  • For the center hexagon, repeat the process only smaller,  I drew mine so it would finish about 3/4 inch on each side but I could have drawn it at one inch had I wanted.  
  • Erase the extra lines till you get something that looks like the EQ picture. Texas Star!
To actually USE the template  you would still need to add a quarter inch to the sections you just drew.  Normally I rubber cement this stuff down to template plastic and then cut them both out at the same time.  If you are hand piecing then you don't need the quarter inch added---you mark the line and sew on it and eyeball the seam allowances.

You might ask "you have EQ---can you not print a block any size you want?"  Uh, yes I can but did you see the space at the top and bottom of that block.  It read that peach color as a template actually and an odd shaped one at that!  But looking at my sketch I also have a space at the top and bottom so maybe what templates I printed out from there are accurate.  If that person wants to take a chance on using them, I would consider mailing them out if she asks.  

BUT I still am capable of drawing it up myself---any old size I want. So is she.  Heck, I even have a pad of quadrille paper cut 17 x 22 so if it fits on that paper, I can do it the old fashioned way.   A regular pad of graph paper is cheap, drawing paper is not pricey---lots less than EQ is!  Yeah, it might be easier to Google a block in the size you want.  You might get lucky and Quilter's Cache has something you want.   Let someone else do the work and thinking for you.  I repeat---it is NOT hard and it should be one of your quilting skills.  You could have it drawn up yourself before you wasted 2 days of fun sewing time looking for a needle in a haystack..  Something to consider

And while I am on my soap box here is something else to ponder.   NOTHING is ever truly brand new in quilting.   Those ladies who designed these blocks all those years ago are the real innovators.  They did not have all the fancy toys and still made some amazing quilts.  Oh we might be able to cut them more accurately---the tools changed with rotary cutters, mats and rulers and now accu-quilt.   Or we can turn them out more quickly with strip piecing or a quick quilt trick like flippy corners instead of actually cutting a triangle. All that just streamlined the process.  Admit it, most designs are tried and true and could be done without quilt toys if we wanted to.  They are just geometric shapes, after all.  Even our fabrics are mostly inspired by preceding decades in color and/or style.  Case in point---turns out 4 of the 6 fabrics I recently purchased based on color alone from thousandsofbolts are all Civil War Repros!  A 5th was already in my stash and is also a civil war repro.  Go figureAsk me what I think about so called Modern Quilting some time--that is a rant for another day, LOL)

Okay off my soap box and my husband will be asking where lunch is any second.    And I have a date with a watermelon pattern once that is done, LOL. 

Thanks for stopping by------

1 comment:

  1. I TOTALLY agree!! My LHQSQ blocks are based on a SIMPLE 9-patch grid - SIMPLE shapes - SIMPLE math - SIMPLE drafting!! And to all of those out there who think that the 60-year-old quilters are "old-fashioned" and whatever - if it wasn't for us - and our mothers - and our grandmothers - you wouldn't have most of the patterns and toys you have now. WE invented them. WE demanded the magazines that you take for granted - and the toys - and YOU ARE WELCOME!!


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