A Little Cleverness is a Dangerous Thing, Part Two
We have had 25 inches of rain here in the last two months. Maybe my brain is mildewing, and that is why I have had so many issues with my recent craft projects.
One that is keeping me humble is this quilt-in-progress.
I saw one like it on the internet about 3 or 4 years ago. (If you want to see what I am aspiring to, you can look here at this very lovely and recently finished quilt.)
I thought I was very clever in figuring out the basic block, and I cut all my pieces like so:
Those of you who know quilting, will know that the pattern is actually a Disappearing Nine Patch, and it should be made like so:
Somewhere along the line I learned the easier construction method, and I actually made a whole quilt that way. When I came back to this quilt, I thought it was no big deal; blocks can be constructed different ways. I had about 25 blocks made with my first method. I would cleverly switch to the easier method, and finish the quilt that much faster!!!
Well here is the problem.
If I had made all the blocks starting from a Nine-Patch, I would have started with nine 5-inch squares. With seam allowances the squares in the central column and row would have been 4.5 inches on a side. Then slicing down the middle of that gives you black setting strips and small squares that are 2.25 inches wide. When you re-sew four of those small blocks together, you lose another half inch to seam allowances, and your finished block is 13.5 inches.
With my made-up method, I used a combination of 5-inch squares with setting strips and small squares that were 3 inches wide. Seam the pieces together, and the smaller pieces are reduced to 2.75 inches wide, a full half inch larger. Rearrange and re-sew, and your finished block is in the neighborhood of 14.5 inches.
(Here is a diagram that may or may not be helpful to understanding how I made this mistake.)
If I had realized this measurement problem ahead of time, it would have been easy to adjust the proportions of the Nine-Patch to match my previous blocks, but it just didn’t occur to me.
I didn’t figure it out until I had made about 12 or so new blocks. Well, I’m not going to make two tops, one with each method! So then I told myself I could just trim the old blocks and blend them all together. I have a square ruler, 12 inches with a half inch seam allowance figured in. I thought it would be easiest to trim the blocks the size of that ruler.
So those of you who know quilting can see my mistake here. If you just trim two sides, your block ends up really lopsided.
You have to measure from the center of the block, and trim a little bit off all four sides. How did I figure that one out, how, how, how.
Even with trimming a little from each side, due to combining blocks from the two different methods, inconsistencies are evident. Here is an example of how the little central squares ended up with lovely unique measurements all their own.
Fortunately this quilt is just for me. At least it is now.
The one good thing about cutting all kinds of separate pieces to construct the blocks is that the quilt will have a scrappier appearance than if I had cut Nine-Patches, because then the central patch would appear as four small squares throughout the quilt. The way I did it, a lot of fabrics will appear only once.
The main reason I had stopped working on this quilt was that I ran out of black fabric, and the black fabric I had was from the ’90s, so that means it was good fabric. I didn’t think I’d be able to find anything of equal quality. Melanie at Catbird Quilt Studio gave me the idea of mixing in gray, and I did find some great Moda fabric that mixes in very subtly.
Sally at Me ‘n’ Henry Lee happened to do a post on this same subject, picking up a project after time away. It resonated with me — when a few years have passed, you can’t always remember what you were thinking when you worked on it before. You see the mistakes you have made, but probably your skills have improved to the point where you can deal with them, and you have the joy of seeing old fabric favorites.
So, do as I say, not as I do. If you ever decide to switch methods in mid-quilt, try to think through all the changes you may need to make!
Your quilt is a wonderful piece of Modern Art, which is quite visually interesting.
Thank you! It’s getting a little busy, even for me, but I think I will like it in the end. 🙂
Thank you! Most of them came from scrap bags from the quilt store – I love to buy those because then I don’t have to agonize over choices, AND someone else did the cutting! 🙂
You’re welcome, and the cost are?
They sell them for different prices, usually just a few dollars. I think sometimes they are leftovers from classes that the store held.
Oh my, your solution looks like one I’d come up with. Just trim the suckers. Maybe you could fiddle with doing the disappearing 9 patches in different scales. Of course, that would involve more math as you’d have to be able to sew them together at some point. I don’t think I have many abandoned projects that are worth picking up again. I tend to turn them into quilt backs. I hope you get this one completed.
Yes, the disappearing 9 patch that seems most popular on Pinterest and Google is called “clown vomit” and that may be what they did, it is very hard to distinguish individual blocks. But then they used all different fabrics, they didn’t choose one solid to set off the prints, so it is harder to tell if there are variations in blocks. An idea for me IF I ever do this again.
And now I have to start considering the back!!!
I laughed out loud at your comment, “Fortunately this quilt is just for me. At least it is now.” (Quite a few of my early quilting attempts have ended up being “just for me”!) But when I look at them again, it does make me realise that my skills and knowledge have improved, and that makes me feel good 🙂 So, well done for picking up this project again, and working out a solution – the end result may not be perfect, but it will have added to your learning and growing as a quilter! 🙂
That is how I feel about it. It’s a good thing I love regular scrappy bed quilts and I am not harboring hopes of becoming a famous show quilter! 🙂
I couldn’t get past your opening sentence. We are very, very lucky if we get 25 inches of rain in a year!
I just looked it up and our annual rainfall is about 48 inches, and it is usually equally spread out in each month, so this is a lot, even for us. We are all thinking of just applying a coat of rubber to our feet and legs. 🙂
This is so thoroughly the kind of trouble I get myself into regularly! I don’t make notes, put things down, wander away for a decade, and come back to chaos. I think your attitude is great, though–at this point just have fun and see what happens! Regarding the rain, I’ve been wondering how much you’ve had in your area–this has been so tragic and scary!
I do make notes, but when I go back to the project, I don’t bother to look for them because I THINK I know what I am doing, or I get stuck and do look for the notes, and then have no idea what I meant when I wrote them down. “Next time – double structure, 9 passes, tencel, skinny.” WHAT?!
As far as the rain, my yard is sloping so every time it rains hard, I worry that it will pour into the house, but it never has in the 40 years the house has been here. The 3 roads out of our area can get impassable, but fortunately there are few places I have to go. My daughter lives right on the Brazos River, but on the high side. As she said, when they chose the house they would buy, they picked one right next to the county emergency control center, because they knew that location was picked in a good safe area! We have cleaned up through many floods over the years, but we have learned our lessons and are in good locations now. 🙂
Oh boy, another dang learning experience! Just finish it, and a year from now you’ll think, “how very artistic! Just look at the VARIETY!” 😄
Hey, that sounds like every comment made about my work by members of my quilt group! I love that comment, “How very artistic!” It can mean many things! 🙂
You lost me on this one! I was never very good at geometry or whatever it took for you to figure this out! I applaud your efforts and ability to do so!
Essentially I just measured and cut two different ways, which ended up in blocks that were 1 inch different in size. SO I had to trim the larger blocks, and then I did that wrong at first too! But everything seems to be going okay now. 🙂
I love the final project and I had to laugh a couple of times bad susan bad susan As to notes? I make them for my weaving and in some kind of ‘magical’ shorthand and then have NO clue what I wrote……….so, I stopped making notes. Problem solved 🙂
I know! I always think I will get back to whatever project it is “tomorrow” and surely I will understand my notes then. But “tomorrow” turns into “3 years from now.” I would have a lot less clutter in my house if I just gave up on making notes and hanging onto them for when I get back to the project!