Wednesday, July 1, 2009

All signs of advancement have been erroneous

Stupid quilt.

I am so sick of this Labyrinth quilt, but, dammit, I have to keep plowing on and try to finish it, since I'm so close. I got sidetracked by tendonitis in my left wrist over the weekend, and then by a cranky toddler with a sore throat and runny nose, but I was able to get back to it last night.

Now, I am absolutely certain that my rotary cutting skills have improved since I started quilting (almost a year ago!). I have learned how to fold the fabric and square up the ruler, and by all measures, I should be cutting very even, regular strips.

Apparently, this is not the case:

What the fuck? If you look at these strips before they are sewn together, they look perfectly fine. Honestly! Straight and even and, well, okay, perhaps not perfectly on the grain, so maybe a little stretchy, but holy crap!

This is the kind of quilt that I wish I could be doing alongside someone experienced, someone who could watch what I'm doing and be able to tell me the secret thing that will make all the difference. "Oh, honey, no. You can't stand like that when you're cutting strips. You need to point your toes toward each other and squat a little. Stick your butt out juuuuust a bit more... There! Now, sure it hurts, but look how perfectly these pieces sew together. Isn't that worth a little ass cramp?"

I've managed to work around these issues enough that the finished blocks do not actually look that bad from the front (the back, of course, looks like a crime scene) but I haven't had the nerve to try and measure them. It would make sense I suppose to try and square them up, but since there's no straight line any where on them to start from, I can't quite figure out how I would do that. I have 7 more blocks to finish, and then the borders. I have a feeling the finished quilt top will be shaped like a kite, and if so I will string it up and give it to the kids, and go back to piecing charm squares.

Of course, now that I think about it, maybe my problem is that I'm all off balance because I'M LOSING WEIGHT! Today, for the first time in I don't know how long, I was below 180: 179.4 to be exact. When I started this blog I was 197, and lost about 10 pounds in the first few months. This would fluctuate between 184 and 187 as I stopped really trying anymore, but I've gone on diet soda and a regimen of regular meals and portion control, and over the last 2 weeks I've dropped about 4 or 5 more. Now that warmer weather is here, I'm wearing last year's clothes and feeling them just a bit looser than they were, and that is a very nice feeling (except when you keep having to hike your pants up while you walk). So, my quilt may end up rather Lobachevskian, but I will always think of it as The Quilt That Was So Frustrating It Made Me Lose 5 Pounds.


Anne-Lise at Rag, Tag, Bobtail said...

omg I must have the pattern for that quilt!!

floribunda said...

it is kinda hard to do those helpful hints from a distance! You need to find yourself a quilting buddy... I'm in a place with no snow, so I don't imagine we're close enough. Your block looks great from the front, but from the back it looks like you sewed to the very edge of the black fabric -- and you're not going to like the effect if the quilt every gets washed or tugged. Maybe try cutting the fabric without any folds in it, to make sure you are getting straight lines all the time?

(word verification: obsedre -- it must mean something!)

lesthook said...

Congrats on the weight loss! I know how hard that is.

Carol R. said...

Congratulations on the weight loss, that is no easy feat to accomplish, BTDTGTTSTPI. The front looks perfect. The back, however, looks like a lot of the blocks I sew together.

I love coming to your blog. You put a smile on my face every time.

soggybottomflats said...

It has to be the diet thing. You can either lose weight or make perfect quilts...
When you fold your fabric to cut it, is it on a very cutting area? You might try snipping a piece of fabric on each end of the cut, tearing it off and you have a straight piece. It's kind of weird but this works for me. When the idiots at the fabric mills wind the fabric on bolts I think sometimes they are drunk or stupid and are not putting the fabs on straight. You might try washing, drying and ironing the fabs first. Check every 3rd strip you cut for accuracy. Wish I were able to help more but I would just bring wine! Elaine

Linda said...

First-congrats on the weight loss! Ok now here is my helpful hints for the day;check out the Oh! Fransson blog quilt along, she has some really good cutting advice and technique and you will feel like you DO have a quilting buddy. She also has an awesome suggestion for those of us who cannot sew a square quilt square, here is the link

My second hint is to seriously consider liberated quilting a la Freddy Moran, Gwen Marston , the Gee Bend women etc. It will be good for your soul and your creative self to not bang your head on the same quilting wall. I know, I have a constant quilting headache! Throwing caution to the wind and just playing with colour makes for lovely fun quilts. Which is the point I think.

Anyway that is my two cents, hope some of this rant helps :)


Diana said...

Since I didn't know anybody else who quilted when I started, I learned from a book called Measure the Possibilities with Omnigrid by Nancy Johnson Srebro. It has nice, clear directions for cutting all sorts of shapes.

Congratulations on the weight loss; frustration usually sends me right to the fridge. ;-)

Vicki W said...

Well, hell, that makes it a perfect quilt!

2ndAvenueStudio-Rachel said...

You are in Baggy hell!
I just saw the baggies with all the pieces in them and thought "WTF? who told her to do that" That was just mean. You should totally kick their ass!
I highly encourage you to look at the block before you start and figure out how to strip piece the sections.
you could have done most of your piecing this way. Doesn't really help with the cutting, but it doesn't make it any more work.

Sewing little bits to each other and then trying to square up feels like a "set up to fail" to me. Rise with me sister and refuse to do it!
Drink wine with me, laugh with me as we enjoy our fiber crafts together. Sew larger pieces of pretty pretty simple patterns that show off the fabric.

You a laugh riot, Sister Bitchy!
I heart you!

Joy said...

Firstly, congrats on your weight-loss!! Clearly blogging is a fabulous dietery tool ... if nothing else it keeps one's hands out of the fridge, at least while typing LOL. I shall endeavour to do more posts to test this theory myself he he he.
Secondly, I'm wondering if you're getting a 'dog-leg' when you're cutting your strips (??). Is your ruler lined up at an accurate right angle on the fold when you measure your strips for cutting? If it's not that, maybe your ruler is slipping ... try some non slip tape under your ruler to prevent same. It works for me ;o).
Good luck :o)!!!
Joy :o)

Tracey K. said...

First off, just want to say ditto to Elaine at Soggybottomflats.

Now, iff you really want help (really), call me and we'll have a great talk. (814) 404 8235. Seriously, know where you are, what you're trying to accomplish. Tracey

Joyce said...

I always have a smile on my face as I read your blog entries. Usually I'm thinking, is she reading my mind? All the suggestions you've gotten have been great. The one I didn't see is to buy a cutting system. I think it's called AccuQuilt. It's great for cutting strips, pretty simple too. Hope you find a solution!

Sunna Reyr said...

Congrats on your weight why have I never experienced this? I do crappy quilting all the time.

I was in your cutting steps until last year when I bought some clear non slippery plastic to put under my ruler. I had bought a ruler with frosted surface bottom thinking that would be a great help. Well for me that worked like a double slippery so I ended up putting the plastic coat on the top of that ruler and use it up side down. Works like a charm.

Good luck finding your solution.

KateKwiltz said...

Weight-loss quilting -- what a concept!
Try starching your pieces a little -- it keeps them from being so stretchy when you sew them. Also, if you set up a fence a quarter inch from your needle (I use a 4" piece of painter's tape, about four layers thick, but you can also use a stack of Post-Its), that helps to keep your seams at a quarter inch.

Sheila said...

Megan, you are a joy to read! Congrats on the weight loss; it's not easy.

I also think your problem might be a slippery ruler or some such. Carrie ( a suggestion of medical tape on the back of the ruler; this is one of the best solutions, and I've tried a lot of them. I hate the cutting part of any quilt, but I know it's one of the most crucial.

I'm always available if you need help.