Monday, December 20, 2010

A Bit of Reflection

I pushed hard to finish the Christmas Cactus top, mostly because I wanted to have something finished (finally!) for Show and Tell, but also because I needed something to ground me after working so much each day.

Thankfully, in this last week before Christmas, my work schedule eases up a bit, if only in the number of hours worked each day.  This is because the number of orders to ship out start to dwindle, as transit times for packages become less negotiable.

Still, even as I sewed my brain into calming down each day, it was still awake enough to do some thinking...

I realized that I really need to just take my time and enjoy the journey while I'm piecing a top.  I find myself rushing a lot, and rushing causes mistakes.  So, even though I put some marathon sessions in on the top, I made a concentrated effort to drop the stitch speed and pay more attention to what I was doing.  This came hot on the heels of the realization that I wasn't maintaining an accurate 1/4" seam, most likely due to the speeding problem.

It's a marathon, not a race.

So, I slowed down and re-measured.  My seams were better, but not great.

Putting a well-pieced top together is comprised mainly of two things: accurate cutting and accurate piecing.

I took a look at how I cut, and couldn't spot any problems there (though I want to replace my rulers), so I went back to the sewing machine.  My problem: my quarter-inch foot.

Now, I love this foot...  That guide on the far right is great... in theory.  You just run the fabric against the inside of that guide.

It just seams (ha! I'm punny) to me that if you're accurately cutting, you're almost consigning yourself to using a scant quarter inch seam.  Several test blocks, lots of ironing and measuring later, that looked to be my solution.

However this foot isn't intended for scant quarter inch seams.  It's meant for regular ol' quarter inch seams.

I was not going to admit defeat and give up on this foot!  Realizing that I needed to move the guide just a bit in, I hunted for a thin piece of cardboard and cut it to size.  Then I wrapped a couple of layers of invisible tape around it and tested again.


So, now, between slowing down and the 'fixed' foot, I'm quite a bit more accurate.  It's kind of funny.  If you look closely at the detail shot of the upper right quadrant of my Christmas Cactus top, you can kind of see where I had my epiphany in how well the seams match up.  Or, maybe not, and I'm just sensitive to my mistakes, honing in on them like a heat-seeking missile.

*grins*  I love the eight pointed star that emerges at the center of this top when it's completed.  I didn't see it when i was referencing Sandi's images to piece the nine-patches, but I was very focused on the individual blocks.  Of course, that it's in screaming orange helps.

Oh, and hey...  This top needs a name.  Any suggestions?


Needled Mom said...

I have the same problem with that foor. I realized that there is a little mark on the throat plate for the scant 1/4 inch seam and if I pay attention to that instead of lining my fabric up to the lip, it comes out perfectly. With so many seams in this quilt I found the accuracy crucial.

It looks gorgeous. I can't wait to hear what you name it.

MariQuilts said...

I used a foot with one of those guides for the first time yesterday and I don't know if I'm a fan of it either. I might have to do some fixing too.

MariQuilts said...

Oh, and great quilt. Have a great Holiday.

Kate said...

I love the quilt top! I don't see your mistakes. :) I have the same issue with my quarter inch foot - it doesn't even seem to do an accurate quarter inch, much less scant. I've thought about taking a hammer to it...cardboard would probably be safer.

Anonymous said...

You know, the word "reflection" fits this quilt in two ways - what you addressed in this post, and the way the quilt is a mirror image across the horizontal, vertical and diagonal axes. "Reflection" might be a good name all by itself (or in combination with something zingier).

Speaking of slowing down and paying attention... Saturday night (Sunday morning, actually!) I sewed my finger. The needle went right through the nail and fingertip, about 1/8" below the pink of the nail. My reaction was to jerk my hand back, which resulted in a split fingernail and tip of my finger. Yowch!

krisgray said...

Same thing w/ my foot - if I let the fabric touch the guide what was supposed to be a 12.5 inch block becomes a 12.25 inch block. I line up w/ the edge of my foot.

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