Sunday, June 9, 2013

Finding Perfection in Quilting

For those of you who don't know, I am afraid of a sewing machine.  It has a needle.  It is electrically powered.  I am sure that I am going to have a Sleeping Beauty experience with a sewing machine someday, except that my fingers will be sewed into the cloth and no amount of awesome kisses will save me from the  trauma.

That being the case, I still have this crazy need to know how to do things like crocheting, sewing, quilting, embroidering... skills to make things at home.  Just in case.  It's impressive how this sensation helps to override my lack of rationale with regard to a sewing machine.

The sisters in my ladies group at church are making quilting squares, and several who have skills offered to help those that do not.  I zoomed through my first square one evening with great alacrity, and about 0 precision.  It was okay, at best.  Then, one dear sister offered to help me at her own house.  I went.  I got one-on-one time.  We decided to make a simplified pinwheel square, using a new method.

I set to work picking out two fabrics that would compliment each other well.  I ended up with two patterned fabrics, which I feared would look to busy, but I was assured that they would not.  The tie between the two was a wine/burgundy color that was an accent in one and the foundation of the other.

The fabric was ironed to smooth it out.  We cut out two identical squares of 11 inches each and laid these face to face.  This placed the whiter/bottom side on the outside.  Then I sewed all four sides with a 1/4" seam.  This is harder than it sounds, if you recall my fear of sewing machines.  (They go so quickly!!)  A side had to be ripped out.  Twice.  This is where having a teacher was an asset to me, because I am a bit lazy and I think, "whatever, it's close enough."

Once the two pieces were correctly sewn together, I cut corner to corner in two diagonal lines, thus leaving 4 triangles instead of a square.  The triangles were isosceles, with the long side sewn and the two identical length sides open.  The triangles were each opened up to make a square with one light side and one dark side (one triangle of the lighter material sewn to one triangle of the darker material.)  These were ironed, from the light color towards the dark color.

At this point I was repeatedly reminded to handle the fabric carefully so it didn't ravel, since we'd cut it on the bias.  This was hard for me.  I thought I WASN'T pulling the material, when in fact I WAS.  I think it's still going to take me a while to get the hang of that.

After the pieces were ironed, we laid them out to see the pinwheel pattern, alternating the light and dark colors.  This gave us what the square would look like, once sewn together.  In quilting squares, you sew in strips, so we would have two strips for this square.  These two strips were taken to the sewing machine and sewn with a 1/4" seam also.  We discovered that I had sewn the wrong side on one of the strips, so it had to be pulled out and done again.  Then, when the two strips were appropriately sewn together, we sewed the strips together also.

And viola!  It made a quilting square.  But we were not yet done with the task at hand.  The square was taken to the cutting table, and "squared."  Here, trimming takes place to make sure the square is, in truth, a square and not in name only.  This required math skills (to find the halfway point and measure outward.  This was done, the four sides were trimmed, and then, viola! VIOLA!! a completed quilting square.

My points all met up in the center, as they should.  The points also all met up at each corner of the larger square.  It was, essentially, perfect.  There may be many things I do not do well.  However, for one moment, I could relish in pure perfection.

But I couldn't take a picture.  I lost my camera.  That is a tragedy, I know, but here is an idea of what the square looks like, from a picture I found online.

You may now proceed to congratulate me.  Profusely.