Sunday, March 25, 2012

Miss Bee March!!!

X marks the spot!  A fun improv block, simple enough for the most timid yet you can play with the angle for a little more flair.

Hi there, 
It is me! Jessica-- fabulous procrastinator extraordinaire.  I am going to interview myself for the bee post!

Hi Jessica, Can you tell us a bit of your quilting history and experience?

Oh sure, my grandmother is a prolific quilter.  She has made quilts that are to be USED my whole life.  I don't remember a time when I haven't had a little quilt or throw to snuggle under that she has made.  Just the other day she told me about some bird squares she was embroidering--- I HAD to say that I would LOVE them to come to my house--- all the other cousins have snagged quilts this way! (maybe they really will fly my way!) 

I started my first quilt at 19, is was a horrible hand-sewn attempt at "A trip around the world" pattern. It was a "lovely" mix of garage sale rayon, canvas, polyester.  I couldn't figure out why it just wouldn't lay flat?  It was ugly, frustrating, and slow going so it didn't get finished and got pitched years ago.  A few years later, at 21, my friend Alison showed me this awesome SHARP pizza cutter thing-- I wouldn't have to cut all those squares by hand?!!!  The Rotary cutter and rulers changed my life.  I was still a fabric miser and didn't really understand the merit of a consistent 1/4" seam... But now I was a QUILTER!!!

Wow Jessica, that sounds really fascinating.  What does quilting mean to you?

Quilting is a vacation for me.  It is an art escape into numbers and pretty colors.  It is figuring out a way to continue a design so that it is pleasing to the soul.  It is just for me-- an outlet of "frivolity" that takes me away from all the "shoulds" and "have-to" things in regular life.  Finding this blog as a young sleep-deprived mom changed my life.  And THEN the fact that she would write back to be after I commented on her posts ---- quilting & friendship--- the Internet FINALLY was of use to me!!

OK, Jessica, enough.... Why did you want to join a bee? and why THIS block?

I love seeing what people can make if they are not attached to the fabric.  I like to see what I come up with when somebody gives me colors that are beautiful, but not in my normal palette.  In Bee's, it is freeing and a little scary to cut someone else's fabric--- and THERE IS A DEADLINE!  Without this, I might never finish anything!!

I want to do a simple improv block to challenge some of us to try making some thing free-pieced.  I used my ruler in these only as a guide to make a straight line.... hmmmm, I wonder what a curvy x block might look like?!  Also, I had yards and yards of the white flowered background and I need to make some space in my craft room for me to walk around, right?!  Movement is a good thing.

On to the tutorial, I couldn't find just the one that I wanted to link to, so I thought I would give it a go myself.  Thanks to instagram, it was SUPER easy to upload the pics to flickr.  I love when technology actually makes things easier!

1) Start with a square-ish block of fabric, your choice of dimension (can be rectangular for those of you feeling adventurous).  (for those of you wanting a size, try 5"x5" for a small one to stack in a 4-patch,  or 9"x9" for a large one)
2) Make a cut.  Using your ruler as a straight edge, slice through the "square" at a pleasing angle.  The only way to do this wrong is if you make yourself bleed.
3) Insert your "X" strip and sew both cut sides to it.  I found that having the strip on the bottom (it was cut on the grain so is not stretchy), gave the bias edge on the top some stability so that it didn't go wonky in unexpected ways.  I also used a few pins in my bigger blocks so that they would stay straight and I could zoom them through the machine.
4) Take the assembled block back to the cutting board to make you next cut.  Line up a pleasing angle and slice away!!!
5) For a "straighter" block I make sure to line up my pieces according to the line of the "X".  For a crazier block, don't be so precise.
6) Iron the seams towards the center (colored strip) and the block lies nicely flat.
7) Straighten up your block. I don't need the blocks to be a perfect square, but I do LOVE 90 degree angles in the corners!
8) Another one that I made, this one has a little more flair!

Please use what I provided as you see fit, but feel free to use your own scraps in Black, Grey, or Red as the "X" strips.  You can make one, make a few... whatever you like.  I found that after I made one, I liked it so much that I made a few more.  I will put them all together like a big puzzle when we are finished!  Thanks SO much!  Bzzzz bzzzzz bzzzz!


P.S. If you are feeling REALLY adventurous I LOVE these "X" blocks!!!