Tuesday, 23 November 2010

UFOs - a problem or a step to more efficient production?

UFOs are in the quilting world "unfinished objects" - most of us have a fair number of them. In the stash busters group there has been a poll of why a project becomes an unfinished object.... Which has got me thinking about my UFOs.

Stashbusters runs a challenge to get the UFOs finished.. ... which has been great for me to finish off those really old projects that got left behind some years ago. I now only have 3 of them left. Certainly during my involvement in this challenge my production has really increase (also helped by having a mid arm machine and quilting frame).

Quilts completed in a year.
2007 prior to stashbusters 7 quilts
2008 stashbusters challenge and quilting frame 21 quilts
2009 more confident 39 quilts
2010 (to date) 41 quilts

However the number of UFOs that will have to begin the 2011 challenge will actually be greater than in previous years not less.............. I currently have 24 finished tops, 42 projects that have been begun.

Why so many?

Finished Tops

5 come from blocks discarded by the local red cross when their building had to be sold - they will go to the local nusrsing home once quilted.

4 are "in the queue" to be quilted ASAP

1 is waiting for the backing to be signed by the wedding guests before quilting

Most of the remainder are there so that if i am asked to a quilt in a hurry I dont have to start from scratch.

Other  Projects

The other projects range from the just begun: some of the squares, strips etc cut; to the nearly finished top that just needs that final boarder added. The cutting often begins with a special piece of fabric - and as i find bits that will go with it I prepare them until I have enough to actually start using the project for the "starter and ender pieces" (thanks Bomnnie Hunter) which I make to control my loose thread problems.

Having several projects on the go means that if I do hit a design glitch I can work on another until I work out the solution.

So what do I conclude? for me UFOs mean I am productive and dont get stuck not knowing what to do.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Wonky red square quilt - instructions.

This quilt is based on the use of high contrast - in this case white/yellow versus red/orange.

I would not attempt to do this without a rotary cutter, mat and large square ruler. Mine is 12.5" but I am planning to get a bigger one if available.

Firstly you will need graph paper, a pencil and an eraser. Bigger is easier but if you only have a fine grid use the dominant squares. On my metric paper i let 1 cm be 6 ". If you can get 1/4 inch grid let 1 square equal 3".

Draw the finished size of the quilt.

I use squares of 18", 15", 12", 9", 6", 3"  Plus seam allowances.

Place a ring of larger squares Through the space - bringing it up to or near all 4 edges. Fill in the gaps. With some gaps rectangles might look better eg 9' x 6" or 12" x 9". I find that the eraser is very important in this process as I realise I need to move that square over a bit or something. Try to avoid lines that go straight though the entire quilt from top to bottom or side to side. Count and make a list of how many squares of each size you need.

Collect up a large amount of scrap in each colour.  As the outer bands of each square use more material than the inner bands - use the smaller pieces first. Cut a few squares or rectangles for centres - you will generate more small pieces as you go so you do not need to cut too many. Cut some strips. Add a band of the other colour to centre. Iron. Place on cutting mat, measure, rotate the ruler - either clockwise or anticlockwise, to create a new square that is slightly smaller than the original and wonky. Cut.  Repeat this process begining with adding another strip.. When you are getting nearer the desired size of the square  (about 10" for a 12" square) Add a wider strip ( 2.5' to 3.5") to make the accurate cutting of the final size easier.  REMEMBER to add the seam allowance to the final size so a 12" is cut 12.5" .

Join the squares together according to your graph. Where the two pieces are of different sizes join the seam from the end that matches up and stop half way. Continue adding the other blocks and come back and complete the seam when possible.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Fast finishes - how do I do it?

A reader asked, "How do you finish a quilt in a week?"   which got me thinking.
There a number of factors in getting a fast finish for me.

1. Motivation and focus.

I need to really believe that the finish is important - situations like a friend going to hospital after a major accident, or with a significant illness. This allows me to drop some of my fussiness. I ask myself  which is more important that the points of the pattern are perfectly match or that it is finished and going with then to chemotherapy or whatever. It also means that my family are willing to support me when I drop back on all but the minumum housework in order to complete the project.

2. Choosing a quick simple pattern.

I have now collected a few simple patterns that work well for me in the situation where i need something quick.
a. Court house blocks either traditional or wonky

b. Panel with boarders (see previous posts)
c. Simple medallion - square diamond square   
d. Convergence quilts (originating from Ricky tims)

3. Pre cutting boarders from scraps

I cut srips in 3" 4.5" 6" and 7.5" lengths.

4. Chain piecing and "leaders and enders"

By sewing in a "never ending"  chain, until the bobbin runs out, one saves an enourmous amount of time trimming all those loose ends afterwards. The idea of leaders and enders is developed by Bonnie hunter and basixcally means that you always have a real block in the machine. For the piece I leave in the machine i use either something that i will need later in the same project or for the next one.
5. Having a few tops on hand for emergency situations.

6. Quilting with an "all over" pattern