Crazy Accuracy Freak Girl has broken out of her cage and is on the loose. I do try to keep her locked up, but she’s a wily one. If 1/16″ or 1/32″ of space that shouldn’t be there between two patchwork pieces that are supposed to match doesn’t bother you, that’s okay–then this post was not meant for you! You quilt your way, and I’ll quilt mine. 😉 However, if you are like Crazy Accuracy Freak Girl and you want to know the really nitty gritty details about how to make patchwork pieces fit together better, and maybe even perfectly on the first try (or you just want to have a good laugh at a quilter gone mad with the need to control literally everything) read on. Read More
I’m just gonna say it: I love mitered borders on a quilt! Unless there’s a strong design reason for a straight-set border, mitered borders are my first choice for border treatments despite the small amount of extra work involved.
Depending on how many borders the quilt has it’s actually no extra work at all, since you can apply multiple borders all at once instead of one at a time like you’d do for straight-set borders. Not only can you apply multiple mitered borders all at once, it’s really the better and more accurate way to do it, and you’ll get the most lovely matching corners if you do! Here’s the complete how to: Read More
Have you ever compared the markings on your rulers to the markings on your cutting mat to see if they are the same? Can you even imagine that they wouldn’t be? Are the markings on your rulers really accurate? Is that inch really 1″?
It never occurred to me that the markings on the rulers might not match up with the markings on the cutting mats, nor that the rulers that I’ve used all these years weren’t really accurate themselves. I mean, why on earth would I even think about that? These things are precision made and we trust them to be accurate, right? Well, I used to anyway.
I found out recently that my trust has been misplaced for many years. I’m having a ruler manufactured to go with my book (yay!), and the manufacturer sent me a prototype to approve. I needed to make some changes, and in doing so, I measured the ruler against one of my Omnigrid rulers, and guess what? One of them was off ever so slightly. I assumed it was the prototype; after all, it’s just that, a prototype, a sample. Maybe it just didn’t get cut right (which was going to be another whole can of worms anyway, but I digress). So I emailed the manufacturer and told him I thought that the prototype he sent me was not the right size.
Unfortunately, assuming did what it frequently does, and made an a** out of me. The manufacturer told me it was exactly the right size, and asked why I thought it wasn’t. I finally got out one of my grandfather’s old stainless steel drafting rulers (he was an engineer, and I figured that one of those rulers would probably be a good benchmark), and compared it to both the prototype and the Omnigrid rulers. The prototype proved to be exactly the size it needed to be to cut accurate fabric pieces, and the Omnigrid ruler was off! Not by much, but the inaccuracy was there as plain as day.
At that point, I went a little nuts, and started comparing the drafting ruler to all my rulers, which are all the Omnigrid brand. The worst of the bunch was the 6″ x 24″, and though the drafting ruler is only 18″, I could tell that the Omnigrid ruler was nearly a sixteenth of an inch longer down at the 18″ end, if the 0 ends were lined up. I truly believe that at some point, this can make a difference in whether your patchwork pieces will fit together as they are supposed to, or need easing and heavy steaming to make it all work out as planned.
When you’re piecing a simple block there probably won’t be any evidence of a problem, but when you’ve pieced 40 complex blocks with many pieces and are stetting them together the inaccuracies add up, and then things don’t go together properly. And maybe, with all of the other stuff going on like 1/4″ seams being accurate (or not), and fabric stretching (or not) and grainlines going every which way, this whole issue with the rulers is just one more bump in the road, but heck, who needs another bump?
In the midst of these maybe-not-so-scientific experiments, I laid the 6″ x 24″ ruler on my 24″ x 36″ Olfa cutting mat, and got another eye-opener. The mat wasn’t even the same as the Omnigrid ruler. For that matter, the mat wasn’t precisely accurate either when measured against the drafting ruler, but it was off in the other direction. 😯 The markings on the mat were actually smaller than they should have been at the 18″ mark.
Now, maybe it’s not quite clear why this was bugging me out so, but I’m getting to that. In general, I don’t use the lines on the mat for anything, and I almost never measure against them, unless I’m working on borders. Borders are soooo long, and cutting them to the right size for the quilt can take some creative measuring and ruler manipulation (I don’t sew them on and then trim!), and I do use the mat at that point to measure the quilt top if I can fit it on there by folding it in half or something. I’ve always figured it was a better bet to measure the quilt top against the mat, rather than with a measuring tape, since those can stretch over time.
So when I measure the quilt top on the mat which is shorter than it should be, but then cut the borders with the ruler which is really longer than it should be, what happens? The borders are too long. Sometimes as much as 1/4″ to 1/2″ too long, and even that small amount can cause waviness in the borders, especially when combined with other issues in the quilt interior that may be giving the whole thing a flyaway look before the borders are even attached. And yes, I’ve noticed this during construction, that the borders are too long when I’ve just cut them according to the measurements. I’ve even gone back and double and triple checked everything to make sure I wasn’t just having a blond moment, but if you use the same tools and method to check your work as you did to do the work, you still don’t get the right answer, obviously.
All these years, I’ve been soooo careful to cut and sew accurately so that my quilts are flat and straight, but I’m still ending up with wavy borders at times, and wondering why. So now I know that I’ve been defeated by the ruler/mat combo. I’d already purchased a new Olfa mat for my cutting table when I discovered all of this, I just hadn’t put it on yet. I decided to measure the new mat and see where it fit in, and it doesn’t measure the same as the Omnigrid rulers either, but it is better (meaning more accurate overall, and closer to the Omnigrid ruler measurements) than the old one.
So what does all of this mean? Well, Crazy Accuracy Freak Girl is blubbering in the corner and will probably be there a while, but as for me, I just need to remember to use either the mat or the ruler to measure for borders or whatever it is at the time, but not both. So check your rulers people, and think about how you’re doing things that might be causing a problem without you knowing. An inch isn’t always 1″.
At least I think it pays off. Here’s the latest view of the Inchie Quilt on the design wall:
You can see the other design stages here and here. There are no more changes in the plan coming though, since it’s all sewn together. I think I like it. Though I hope that feeling isn’t just because the piecing went extremely well; all those little fussy points matched up perfectly, and it’s remarkably flat considering the number of pieces and seams.
Each square in the quilt will have an Inchie attached, so this dramatic black, white and grey quilt will burst with color when complete. The original idea required that the quilt design stand on it’s own perfectly well without the Inchies, and I think it does. I still have to tackle the border piecing, but I have to draw it out first. The background of the border will be a black fabric with a bit of linear silver metallic overprinting, and there will be more places for Inchies in the border.
So, have you figured out where this quilt is going yet?
I promised myself that I wouldn’t bore you with further tales of settling into the new house, or the lovely day I had today visiting with the washer repair man, the transportation inspector from the Army, and the plumber, all of whom were here today, trooping through the house in wet shoes (it’s raining here in Germany, go figure!) to see me for various reasons. So, on to more soothing, quilty topics:
See? Sooooothing to the eyes. This is the base palette that I’ve chosen to work with for my next project. I felt a bit of trepidation about this project—well, to be perfectly honest I think I still do, but I’m diving in anyway, as per the usual way of things. I’m not a “neutral” person, you see. I like color, lots and lots of color, in varying shades and hues all together, all the time. BUT, I like the colors to blend well, like the crisp, slightly sweet taste of a cool Cosmo on a warm spring afternoon. Mmmmm.
What? Oh, sorry, got a little sidetracked there. Ahem. Similarly, I’m absolutely NOT neutral on other things either. Most things, I either like it a lot or I don’t like it at all, with none of that namby-pamby-in-between-ambivalence-thing going on. This goes for just about everything: foods, politics, books, people, cars, movies, etc., etc. If I don’t have a “like it or hate it” reaction to something, it’s probably because it’s just not on my radar and I haven’t thought about it at all. Read More
WFF#2: When your points or corners match perfectly on the first try!
It’s definitely a Quilting WFF moment when your points or corners match up on the first try. We’ve all had to break out the seam ripper to unsew and try again to get those points to match up, but do we really ever know why sometimes it works perfectly and sometimes it’s a nightmare of thread bits and shredded fabric? To my mind, it all goes back to accuracy, starting with how you fold the fabric before you cut it. Here are a few tips to make your next point matching experience more successful, and maybe even a WFF!
- When you’re getting ready to rotary cut your fabric, be sure to fold the fabric correctly so that the grainlines are straight and lining up correctly. If the grainlines are not straight on your fabric pieces, slight stretching Read More