Approximately 380,000 stitches and several months later, I completed the Britt Quilt and it has been delivered to the Festival. (Yay)
It's actually been off the wall for a couple of weeks and I find myself missing it. Maybe I should have lived with it longer (being well ahead of schedule), but I wanted to give the Britt staff plenty of time to get their layouts and printing done. At the time I was also worried that I would start to second guess myself and didn't want to 'over work' it - a common mistake. With no intention of trivializing a very serious illness, I'm equating this period to post-partum depression; that season of focused creation has reached fruition and now I'm feeling adrift. Though I literally have dozens of other projects in mind and a house full of chores, it is hard to find what will give me purpose and pleasure today. This day I decided the answer was to get back to the blog.
I'll start with a photo. Here's a segment of the drafted *puzzle* which was used in making the actual quilt. As described in my prior post, I've used Frixion Highlighter pens on Tru-Grid tracing fabric.
I placed a LightPad below the full size printed layout to illuminate the features while tracing the construction lines onto the Tru-Grid layer. Obviously I have to do this in sections since the LightPad is not as big as the quilt. The pink highlighter is the easiest to see so that was used for all the essential lines. I generally start somewhere near the middle and find a key element/structure to make that first line. As I add each subsequent line I am thinking about how each of the pieces can be stitched together, pretty much crazy quilt style, with as few Y-seams as possible.
For clarification, a Y-seam is when you end up with a corner of any angle that requires you to stop perfectly at the point then pivot and sew in a new direction. This is typically awkward as you have to make a hospital corner of sorts - manipulating the seams in a very tiny space - in order for that pivot to lay flat. It is much easier to sew end to end with the traditional X-seam as in a four-patch square.
I honestly don't know how to 'teach' this drafting skill as it is mostly a matter of practice, thinking ahead, visualizing the order...and a bit of erasing along the way. With the Frixion highlighter pen it is very easy to erase the Tru-Grid using a small craft iron. I've been using the new miniature SteamFast iron we are selling after I saw them at Sew Expo last year. (I keep this on a press pad right next to my sewing and it is hugely convenient - with no auto shut-off.)
You could think of sections similar to a log cabin. One piece is added to another, the next sewn to both of those, then keep going round, adding a side at a time. But of course the pieces are not shaped like uniform logs and may even be triangles.
I will work many of the key elements the same way, so that their structure is built from the simple strategy of this goes to this, then that goes to that, then...what goes next. When trying to break it down, often there is the need to put 2 or 3 pieces together before they can be added to a growing section as the next step. Think of this as you would putting together segments to assemble a bigger block in traditional patterns.
Somewhere along the way the segments start getting close and I'm searching for lines that can be shared between them. I may tweak an angle very slightly so that it can be used as one long straight seam along with another segment. In the photo above, these lines were marked with an orange Frixion highlighter and became the cut lines between my segments. I also started using the yellow Frixion pen to add lines that would ease construction, but are not meant to be identifiable features.
Once this drafting process is complete, I cut along those orange dissection lines so as to have manageable sized sections for sewing construction. Suffice it to say, these are essentially my *blocks* which will all come together at the very end.
Next time I'll talk about prepping the sewing machine and workspace. My sewing techniques will come after that.