This is one Mean Old Lady!

This is one Mean Old Lady!
Self-portrait: 'Quilter on Fire'

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Batching It......

I am close to completing the pieced blocks for a new quilt.  It is a modified nine-patch design, with plain squares between each pieced block.  The fabrics are homespun plaids and neutrals.  For my quilt I need 128 pieced blocks and 127 squares.  Because I want a very 'scrappy' look, I don't want many blocks that are alike--so for the most variety I am making only two nine-patch blocks from any one fabric.  (There are a few exceptions; in the beginning I made four blocks from each fabric.)  Already you know that this is fairly labor-intensive, right?

The best way I know to manage this task is to work in batches.  I prepare from five to seven fabrics (pressing and starching, squaring up) and then cut strips in the sizes I need.

Here are stacks of plaids and neutrals at the ready.  I use a rotary cutter, cutting mat, and several rulers.  Piecing is much easier when cutting is accurate.

I have a little cheat sheet off to the side to remind me how many strips of what size I need to cut from each fabric.  It is easy to get mixed up even with a chart.  (This is not my long suit.)

 The strips will be pinned, stitched, and pressed in order; three rounds of this will produce the strip sets needed to compose a block.  I work on about seven blocks at a time.

The strip sets are stacked and ready to stitch.  I will feed the sets through the machine without stopping after each section.  This is 'chain-piecing.' 

Then it's off to the iron to press (not 'iron') each segment.  The seam allowances are pressed in a direction that will not create bulky intersections.
 I use a little spritzer filled with water and an aerosol of heavy starch when I press.  The starch stabilizes the fabric--helpful when it comes to cutting.

 The strip sets are ready for cutting.  Each block requires one strip A, two strip B, and two strip C pieces. 
 The ruler on the right measures off the width I need, and the ruler on the left butts against it.  Then I run the cutting blade along the side of the ruler on the left. 

And here are the pieces for two blocks.  Back to the sewing machine and the iron--three round trips.  

 This is a finished block.  It is 5" square.  When it is seamed together with other blocks, it will finish at 4 and1/2 inches.  It takes a lot of blocks and squares to make a quilt for a king-sized bed, needless to say.  

The lighter neutral pieces will create a strong diagonal pattern when the quilt blocks and squares are joined.  

 It is a nice feeling when the chain of blocks comes through the machine.  Batch complete!

Now....back to the sewing room!

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