Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Acupuncture For Fabric

I am having a blast this week. All of my work is done for the time being, I don't have any magazine deadlines for an entire month (yay!) and I don't have any quilt shows for two months. (more yay!) However, I do have to go shoot some episodes of Linda Taylor's Longarm Quilting Show out in Jackson Hole WY later this month, and that means I'm going to need a new quilt. Woohoo!

Since two of my episodes will focus on using templates while quilting, I wanted to make a template-friendly quilt and decided to go with a Drunkard's Path variation. I know, you're all thinking "Oh, scary! Curvy blocks!" but really, they're not a big deal if you know what to do. With curvy blocks, there are really only 2 big rules, and I'll tell you about both of them.

The quilt will be made from gorgeous mouthwatering batiks from Sew Batik I LOVE THEIR FABRICS!!! They are batiks, but they aren't the stiff gross kind of batik that feels more like modified cardboard than fabric. They are soft, drapeable, beautifully handcrafted fabrics that stitch up beautifully. I really enjoy working with them a lot. The black fabric is a hand-dyed fabric, also from Sew Batik, called Tuxedo. It's a fabulous black. Deep, rich, solid black that makes those bright batiks go pop! I'll quilt the quilt with a selection of YLI threads and will tell you specifically what I use when it comes time to quilt.

If it looks like I'm performing acupuncture on my fabric, it's because I sort of am. When making blocks with curved seams, like these Drunkard's Path blocks, it's crucial that you pin. A lot. I mean really a lot. You're dealing with fabric cut on the bias, which stretches. You're trying to ease in fullness, which stretches. You're trying to go around curves, which stretches. If you want to achieve smooth curves without any herky-jerky angularity, you have to pin because, IMO, it's the only way to deal with all of that stretching and still get a precise finish. Yes, I know that there are presser feet for my machine that will help me stitch curves faster, and yes, I have one of those feet, but I don't use it because I get better results with pinning. Pinning is not thrilling, but nothing beats the results. I grab all of my blocks, curl up on the couch with a big pincushion full of super-thin pins, plug in a movie and sit and pin. It's relaxing, it's entertaining, and I end up with very accurately pieced quilts, so I'm happy.

If pinning is #1 on the list of Important Rules For Blocks With Curves, proper pressing is definitely #2. You want to take your time, use some sort of a pressing surface that has straight lines that can be used to keep the lines of your blocks straight (I am using a June Taylor pressing board meant for heirloom sewers), use a good hot iron that will give you a crisp press and above all DON'T STRETCH ANYTHING! You want to press straight down and straight back up, not scrub with the iron as if you were cleaning the kitchen floor.

To keep myself from getting bored and racing through the pressing, I like to watch movies. As I was taking this picture, I was watching A Few Good Men and it was the part where Jack Nicholson was on the witness stand.

"You can't HANDLE the seam allowances!"

I just love that movie.

And here's what the finished block looks like! I'll need 16 of these blocks, 16 blocks with a black circle surrounded by batiks, 4 large pink/orange/gold batik circles surrounded by black and 1 large black circle surrounded by pink/orange/gold batiks. Does anyone want to guess what the finished quilt will look like?

1 comment:

  1. I can't imagine how it will look, except gorgeous! Looking forward to seeing it. And the quilting!!