I’ve been working on a project that I’ve not been willing to share. With this one, I think it was a confidence thing more than any other reason. It is really starting to come along and all the imperfections that were bothering me have sort of melted away in the whole piece.
The quilt was inspired by a failed quilt I tried years ago – like 1997 years ago. I had seen a June Tailor quilt helper product on PBS. It was a gridded fusible web that you could iron your squares to then seam lengthwise then horizontally. I instantly saw pixels and thought I could make myself something pretty spiffy. It didn’t end well though. I found some of the fusible web and never managed to sew even one single straight line. The project was pretty quickly abandoned, but the idea sat dormant until now.
I used a cross stitch pattern maker to layout my favorite baddie, Bowser. The total pixel count was 10,320. WHOA! I decided to save myself some seams and redesigned for only Bowser to be pixeled and the edges to be a fairly simple 5×5 square.
Since the pattern software blocked 5×5 squares, I decided to go with that and work in rows 5 pixels high. After much trial and error, started working on 5(h)x10(l) squares until a complete row from left to right was completed. The truth is – the first five or six row are quite messy and far from perfect. I’m getting much better at it now and the newer rows are far more consistent, though still not “perfect”.
|(it’s way too wide to fix on my table, you’re looking at two images stitched together)|
The system is working pretty well now –
I start with 50 pixels (1.5″x1.5″ squares) and lay them out in the order I want them to be completed. I want the different fabric patterns to be fairly equally spread around so I might have to move them a few times before I settle on the final order.
From here on out – order is key and a bit of OCD is really helpful. I start at the top left and sew together the first two squares then continue chaining with the next two squares and so on until all 50 squares are complete leaving me with 25 sets of two.
Order, Order, Order! I start with the last two pack at the end of the chain cut them apart lining them up in the opposite order they were sewn (from the bottom right).
I cut them all with the seam at the top then turn them a quarter turn counter clockwise. I found it really helpful to cut them while the seam is at the top. That way, they dont accidentally get laid out in the wrong order.
Now I open up the first two packs at the top left of the 25 two packs. When I put them right sides together, the seam will magically fall in the right place. I only do the first two sets of two packs on each row, leaving one set of two packs to wait until I’m finished.
I have 10 four packs and 5 two packs. I chain together the four packs in the same order as the two packs and end up with five 8 packs and 5 two packs.
One last set of opening and chain stitch and I finally have five rows of 10. They are unusable until they are ironed. I’ve worked out a system for that too!
On this particular row I’m doing pull, flip, pull, flip, pull. The picture illustrates is a little better. I pick it up where the short line is and turn it over in the direction of the arrow.
I iron all five rows to the left and pull, flip, pull, flip, pull in the opposite order.
On the next full row, I will flip, pull, flip, pull, flip. This way, the seams will be in the opposite order when it is time to put two full rows together.
The next step is to sew the rows together. I usually start at the bottom and work my way up. No real reason, just preference.
Once all five rows of 10 squares are together, I do a quick measure and square up any edges if required. Since the squares finish at 1″, the total length of 10 squares should be 10.5 inches, the squares plus seam allowance.
Now I press the lengthwise seams in the opposite direction of the previous block and sew the two together.
Phew~~~ About 35 minutes later and 50 squares further along. Cross those squares off the pattern I’m working from (the best part!) and I’m ready for the next set.
I’m sure there are better ways, but this one is really working for me. I thought about doing the larger sections with bigger pieces, but in the end, I wanted individual pixels with lots of pattern changes even when there aren’t color changes.
I really am optimistic that I will finish it this year. I’d really like to curl up with it next winter!
Linking in with Freshly Pieced WIP Wednesday
Free Motion Quilting Project readers – I need help! I get hives when I think about quilting this monster. It’s finished dimensions will be somewhere around 90×102. When I was planning it out, I didn’t think about what that really meant in terms of size and weight. When I finished the first row, I knew I was in trouble and considered abandoning the whole project. I’ve pressed on, and really like where it is going, but I’m still a mess over the idea of quilting it.
1. Should I even consider attempting to do it myself or look at paying someone with a free arm? Ugh. Just typing the idea of someone else finishing it makes me feel both very relived and very sad.
2. What the heck kind of patterns should I be thinking about? Before I started I thought I simple diagonal or in the ditch type of stitch would work, but there no way the pixels are going to line up well enough for that.
OK, three questions….
3. Thread color! Ack! Something neutral perhaps? A grey or natural tan?