Friday, January 4, 2008

This Quilt is where it all started part 3

I know I started this story awhile back, and I do apologize for taking so long to finish it. I can make excuses for my delays, but really do you want to hear them? Or would you prefer I just get on with it? Ok I hear you, I will get back to the story.

If you have not read part-1 and part-2 of the story you may want to check that out before continuing on. (Even if you did read it, you can refresh you memory if needed by clicking the links above.

The rest of the story behind my first quilt

A I continued to sew the 2" inch squares in rows, I soon realized I had a lot of squares to sew! In the process of sewing these squares, I also learned about the all important 1/4 inch seam allowance. Now mind you, at the time I was sewing on a very basic sewing machine. It was a machine that my sister-in-law had given me sometime ago. Just to give you an idea of the machine I was using here is a link to the manual along with a pretty good picture of the Kemore I was using. By the way, this site is a good resource for finding manuals, and parts for your older Kenmore machines, as I know I am not the only one out there with an old Kenmore! Please tell me I am not.

As you can see there were no fancy features, just a basic machine. It was a work horse of a machine and with all mechanical parts. Making it very heavy, but also easy to clean and maintain. Unlike the newer electronic ones of today. But 1/4 foot? I did not even know that existed. Never making a quilt before, or ever reading a pattern for making a quilt, how would I. Most seams I had worked with were for clothing which typically were 5/8 inch and were marked on the plate under the presser foot. My needle only had center, no positions there to choose from either, so I had to figure out what a 1/4 inch seam looked like,and then try to keep it consistent. Not an easy task if you do not have the right foot, or setting on your machine. (oh how spoiled I am now!)

To shed some light on how you can solve this problem (in case any of my readers out there do not have the fancy machines of today)I will explain a way to find and mark this on your machine.

Help me find my quarter inch!

One of the easiest ways to do this is take a ruler (quilters ruler with 1/4 inch markings on it)and place it under the presser foot. If you need a look at what a quilters rule is here is one by Omni Grid. Of course there are other brands out there, this is just one I use. do not lower the presser foot Now turn the hand wheel so that you lower the needle down so it touches the ruler on the 1/4 line from the edge of the ruler. Move the ruler as needed to get it exactly on the line. Now take a pad of "post-it notes" and place them next to the right side of the ruler. Stick them to the bed of the machine. This will help in two ways, by making the 1/4 inch easy to find, and it also gives you a nice edge to but the material up against.

Another method is to find the 1/4 inch spot the same way as above, but instead of using the "post-it-notes" you place a place several layers of painters tape on the bed of the machine. It works the same way. You can also just draw a permanent line on the machine which will show the mark, but there is room for error as there is no edge to press against. Which can result in an uneven seam. (of course that is what I did before I learned about the tape or post-it method. So you know that I had some issues in lining up my blocks later on! Oh yes I said I had to learn things the hard way, as I was too anxious to get to sewing, and did not take time to read the nice book I had, or ask questions at the fabric shop.

Lessons learned here "Ask questions the ladies at the fabric stores all love to help new quilters. And they are full of helpful tips like the one I shared above. In fact that is where I got it from." (and you thought I can up with that all by myself!)

Now the next thing I would like to tell you about has to do with being accurate. It is very important with any project to check and double check along the way. (This is something I still struggle with today) As you cut your blocks take a moment and verify they are all the same. When cutting lots of the same thing it is easy to switch measurements when you get distracted. I like to place a piece of colored tape on the ruler in the spot I need to remind me of my measurements. Hey they even sell tape in the quilters section of most fabric stores now just for that very thing! Check it out here is what it looks like at JoAnn Fabrics. I am sure if you looked in your husbands tool box you may find he has some thin painters tape that would work too, but the ones from JoAnns come in pretty colors!

When it comes to accuracy you need to also make sure you check your seams periodically to be sure they are still maintaining the proper seam allowance. We can tend to slip once in awhile, and better to catch a few off blocks then lot's of them. Sometimes you can press them into submission if the difference is slight, but more times than not, you will have trouble down the road. Especially if you are making more complicated blocks with lots of pieces. So get in the habit now of checking and rechecking with each new step in the block. Trust me you will thank me for this some day.

I thought I would get to the end of this project here, but looks like things are getting longer than I anticipated so I will need to finish off tomorrow with the quilt sandwich, quilting and binding lessons I learned.

I do hope you are enjoying reading this story, and if so, bookmark me, or subscribe to my feed so you will not miss a lesson. Feel free to leave me comments on my page I love to hear from my readers.

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