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Tuesday, October 16, 2018
Piecing fine lines -- a nifty technique
I had the pleasure of leading a workshop over the weekend for Loose Threads, a small group of fiber artists from the Evansville IN area. We worked in several varieties of fine line piecing, and it was great to have an enthusiastic bunch of sewists who were happy to keep cutting and piecing when others might have been ready to call it a night and go to bed.
Every time I teach a workshop I learn something -- maybe a new technique that a student shows me, maybe a new way to explain or organize my own presentation. What I learned this time around was to make good use of what we came to call "test strips."
When people make slash-and-restitch compositions, it's essential to contemplate what's going to happen before you actually make the slash, because there's no going back if you change your mind. I confess that when I was doing a lot of these quilts, I would usually just lay down a long ruler over the quilt, stretched flat on my worktable, and if I could find a straight course across the quilt without running into obstacles such as a preexisting seam intersection, I would go ahead and cut.
Do as I say, not as I do. I recommend that my students put their work up on the design wall, as their designs get more complicated, and audition different pieced lines before they cut. Here's an example of how most of them would proceed: use a strip that you've already cut for a fine line, and slap it up on the design wall.
The problem with this approach, of course, is that the strips auditioning on the wall are three or four times as wide as the finished pieced-in line is going to be. So they don't give an accurate idea of how the quilt will look.
A better idea, we realized, is to cut "test strips" that are the width of the finished line -- about one-eighth of an inch, rather than one-half inch as in the quilt above.
With accurate test strips, you can try different cuts, stand back and get a much better picture of what you have in mind. Here are three possibilities we auditioned for one student. In a very close view, you might see the pins or fingers holding up the test strips, but otherwise it would be hard to differentiate the real lines, already pieced, from the hypothetical ones.
We had such good results with the test strips that I'm going to incorporate that method into every fine-line-piecing workshop I ever teach again. If you work with fine lines, I highly recommend this approach!
The best thing about it: you have to invest less than one inch of fabric into enough test lines to audition many, many cuts.