So on the advice of the sweet little lady at the Fabric Chest, I took my two lovely designer fabrics and attempted to cut strips for my disappearing nine patch. This time I used masking tape to hold everything in place, and it worked pretty well...some of the time. I felt a lot more confident about sewing my strips together since they were relatively straight, but I forgot that I still can't sew in a straight line. Up until now, I have been perfectly willing to take the blame for this - I am a newbie after all, and surely others have had to overcome this particular handicap when they started, right?
But now I'm ready to blame anything and anyone but myself, because my self-esteem, which is usually pretty good (and yes, I know I rag on myself for being fat, but i see that as a whole other issue) is starting to waver just a bit. I have learned many, many things entirely on my own, and managed to do quite well at most of them. I taught myself how to do layout when I was asked to create a local literary magazine a few years ago. Then I taught myself basic Photoshop and ended up landing a job as an editor/graphic designer for a local magazine (I had been an optician for years prior to that). A friend gave us a used aquarium a couple years ago, and after my husband tried to set it up, and killed a bunch of fish, I did the research, fixed the problems, and now I have 6 tanks throughout my house. AND I have managed to raise two girls to the ages of 5 and 20 months without killing or seriously maiming either of them and I totally had no idea what I was doing when they came along.
So, why, why, why can't I put two pieces of cloth in a sewing machine and have them come out the other side with a straight seam? I'll tell you why. IT MUST BE THE MACHINE. There's no other explanation, really. Except maybe goblins. Or Satan. I seem to recall from my days at David Lipscomb Super Fundamentalist Elementary School that the Devil is always trying to knock you off the straight and narrow path - SO HE'S CLEARLY GOT IT IN FOR ME.
So the disappearing nine patch, simple though it may be in theory, is actually a bitch to do if you have cutting and sewing issues. The idea is that you take a simple 9-patch (like a checkerboard with 9 squares) and cut it into 4 equal pieces. This gives you a large square, a small square, and 2 rectangles on each piece. These can then be rotated in various ways to create a pleasing pattern. The nice lady at the fabric store said that 2 fabrics work as well as 3 or more, and can create a simple pattern that's easy for a beginner. She even showed me an example - one that she herself was working on.
So, here's the result of my spastic labors:
I'm not sure what I think. the darker fabric seems too red to me now, for one thing. And these are just pinned to the wall - there's no way in hell I could stitch those monstrosities together. So the question is, should I regroup and try a different pattern with the same fabric? Forge ahead and hope that I can solve my cutting and sewing issues before I waste all my fabric? Hide under the sewing table and eat a dozen glazed doughnuts?
I'll let you know what I decide.