Monday, June 06, 2011

Stage Five: Assembly

As noted in my prior post, assembly happens sometimes simultaneously with the cutting of pieces, depending on the project. This part of the project is pretty simple—you just sew the cut-out pieces together (with ¼ inch seams) to make sub-blocks, iron them, then stitch them together to make blocks. Just like any other sewing.
There are some complications, though, such as:

  • Triangles with long edges are sometimes hard to figure out as to placement. Sometimes I will pin the template pieces, right sides together, to see how they should be placed when I’m sewing. I once had to redo an entire unicorn because I’d been sloppy about the placement of these really long, shardlike tail pieces.

  • Squaring—I confess that I’m not that great at making blocks truly square. I could do ten of a block and have them all come out slightly different. The birds I made recently were a great example—the beak ends were all completely out of whack.

  • Matching Seams—Because of the above problem, when combining sub-blocks to make a full block, seams don’t always match properly. Sometimes it doesn’t matter and you can fudge it. Sometimes you have to pick out the seams and try again.

These problems are part of the same problem, which is that I am not the most evenhanded and tidy seamstress. I admit it.

I usually wear something very casual and loose when I quilt. In cold weather, I wear layers to keep warm. In summer, I wear as little as possible. I find it hilarious that my nails are polished in this picture, because sewing is not a good time to keep a manicure.

Once all the blocks are together, it’s time to assemble the whole quilt top. Are you ready? Here we go.
Actually, it’s not that hard. Especially now that I have my two cutting board options. I stitch blocks together, laying completed sections in place on the cardboard mat, then I use the puzzle mat for making sure blocks are aligned before they get sewn together.
Assembling the top is where the previous mistakes with squaring come get diminished. I have to use my grids to make sure seams are straight and reasonable. Pin, and stitch. Iron. Pin, and stitch. Iron.
Eventually, the whole shebang is together, one roughly thirty-fiveish by forty-sevenish quilt top. I usually do a pretty thorough job of ironing at this point, to make sure everything is as flat as possible. After this point, you can’t fix internal seams.

Best part: Just like the previous stage, production. Usually by this stage I’m flagging with the project, but getting blocks done makes me feel that the marathon is nearing its end.
Worst Part: Ironing. I hate ironing. I’ve gotten used to it from sewing so much, but figuring out some often bulky seams and where they should lie is a pain.
Next: Quilting

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