December 11, 2017

A new quilt project : Patches and Pinwheels

I have been following Bonnie Hunter for a few years and I finally decided to try one of her quilt patterns. I selected Patches and Pinwheels, one of her free patterns at her website. I wanted to try one of her quilt patterns because I wanted a feel for how she designs her quilts. I admire Bonnie's ability to sit down at a machine and sew scraps together to create a quilt - though I suspect she uses eQuilter design software more than we know. On the surface, this method of using fabric scraps in ready to go sizes seemed very relaxing. I also want to migrate into designing my own quilts. I know I can, but I get stuck at the planning stages. I needed to loosen up in my expectations of color and fabric and just play.

The fabric for this quilt comes mostly from upcycled men's shirts, but I threw a few of mine in there as well. With my first attempt, I did not pay attention to the fiber content of the shirts and some of them were more polyester then cotton. I ended up not liking the fabric from those shirts, so they ended up in the garbage - minus their buttons. After that I primarily used only cotton shirts. I supplemented with some shirts from the thrift store which yielded a surprising amount of fabric and a few fat quarters from the fabric store.

My first few attempts at cutting apart a man's shirt to harvest the fabric took me much longer than I expected. There is this little bit of fear about potentially ruining an otherwise good shirt. An irrational fear because several of these shirts had worn collars and cuffs and were not suitable for donation. After cutting down several, I developed a system and they went pretty fast.

The cutting and sewing went pretty well until I was ready to square up my blocks. The pinwheel blocks are fine for the most part. The 16 patch blocks were not. Bonnie Hunter recommends checking the piecing periodically to ensure everything measures as it should. I did not check very often. I figure my machine was set properly after the first few blocks and away I went. Come to find out that most of my 16-patch blocks all measured 1/4-3/8" too small. If the sewing or cutting is off just a little bit on a few of those 2 inch squares, the problem is quickly multiplied across the entire block.

So yes, I am going back through the 16-patch block and redoing them. This is a good lesson on precise cutting and sewing and checking measurements.

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