Friday, March 30, 2012

Fitting it all together

After I posted photos of my new quilt in progress and commented that fitting the irregular modules together will be tedious, Olof asked if I could show exactly how this will occur.  So here's a record of about an hour's work yesterday.

Here are two modules that seem to want to go together, except the one on the right isn't big enough.  I put them on the design wall to see exactly how much needs to be added.  I decided to add some at the top and some at the bottom, because it would make a more complex pattern.

Working first on the bottom part, I found a little bit of preexisting piecing that seemed to be about the right height, added some extra at left and right, and sewed it to the right-hand module.

To augment the top part, I needed a wedge-shaped piece that would be wider toward the right.  It would be tall enough that I needed some complexity at the right, so I sewed a slice from a strip set to another strip set and put it in place.

I didn't chop off the top strip set yet, because I wasn't sure exactly how tall the wedge would have to be.  Then I added some bits toward the left to make it wide enough, and sewed it to the right-hand module.

When I trimmed the top edge of the new big module and saw how much of the wedge was left, the top right section needed more complexity.  I shifted the ruler and left myself an extra quarter-inch in case the new seams took up too much height.

I opened two seams, sliced the module open, pieced in new pink strips, and sewed everything back together again.

Yes, this is fiddly work that many people would find impossibly tedious, but I love it.  I like the challenge of making things fit, I'm willing to rip out a seam and go back to improve a section I've already sewed.

I do start by making a bunch of strip sets, which makes parts of the process more efficient, but I don't rely exclusively on them.  This style of piecing uses a lot of diagonals and irregular patterns; I don't want the regularity of a grid.  So whenever I get too big an expanse of plain right-angle strips I try to break it up and go in another direction.  I know you can find the long seams joining the smaller pieces if you look hard, but I want you to have to look hard.

I keep a small cutting mat on my sewing machine table, a small design wall at my left hand, and a small ironing surface that I can use by swiveling my chair.  So I can work for quite a while without having to get up.

I turn on trash TV, or maybe check out what opera is being broadcast from the Met on satellite radio, and let myself sink into a zen state while I sew.  It's the best part of making a quilt.



  1. I am trilled to piecing, excuse me, pieces. Thank you, Kathy. The photo shoots and writing were probably more tedious than the sewing.

  2. I know what you mean by fiddly work! I do the same thing--although nowhere in the vicinity of your fiddly! Somehow it seems that I am incapable of doing "simple". It is always nice to see that I am not alone.

  3. Way too cool & interesting to see progress!!!

  4. Thanks for sharing the progress (and thanks to Olof asking for it!), i really looked hard on your work to figure out how you did it....
    And the coulours are great!!!

  5. I too like that kind of piecing and have no problem opening up seams and fitting in pieces. I don't do it on your tiny level but the principle is the same. Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

  6. Thanks for the detailed joining steps, and I'm so glad Olaf asked. Just for curiosity, I clicked on Olaf's name and was rewarded with pictures of delicious-looking breads being made. I couldn't read the text, but could almost smell the aroma!
    Martha Ginn

  7. I've often wondered how something like this is put together. Thanks for the details, I found it really interesting.

  8. Excellent tutorial Kathleen.

    Nice to see how your amazing work comes together.

  9. What tasty morsels. That is totally my cup of tea. I love what you have got going on with this piece. cudos