Sunday, September 30, 2012

Christmas Tree Skirt in the making

For those who wondered about the tree skirt project I said I was going to try, just wanted to let you know I tried it.  And I finished it and made another and have 2 more planned and love it!  I quilted this one using a pretty dense design, and was sorry later.  The second one I did the quilting was better.  I used a sheet on the back of this and was glad I did.  It looks awesome and saved quite a bit of money.

It is as easy as it says it is.  There are no matching points so no need to pin.  The design just somehow comes out without you doing anything but sewing them together.  I tried to figure it out and gave up. Geometry was not my favorite part of math.  The hardest part is cutting the wedges, but that may just be me.  You don’t need to buy the magazine pattern.  That pattern and many others are on the wedge ruler package.  You do need to buy the wedge ruler.  9 or 10 degree 25” long is important if you want to make a tree skirt.  If you just want to make round table toppers, not so important.  It isn’t cheap ($30) but worth every penny. 

All you really do is sew strips together into panels and then cut wedges out of the panels.  Easy peasey.  The pattern calls for certain width of strips, but you can use any widths you want.  The pattern calls for 5 different fabrics, but again I think you could use however many you wanted.   The pattern calls for different amounts of fabric based on what width you were using it for but because I wasn’t sure ahead of time what placement I was going to use for the fabrics, I just bought 1 yard of each of 5 colors.  I can always use the leftovers later.  If you want to use good fabric on the bottom of the tree skirt you need about 3 ½ yards I think.  I’m just going to use a sheet – much cheaper and works just as well.  Who will see it?  I’m also going to try it with a border fabric I found that I like.  Hopefully I bought enough.  Since I paid $10 for the book, I did follow the directions this time and probably will a few more times till I perfect the process.

 It takes you a couple hours to cut all the strips (I’m slow).  It takes another couple hours to sew the strips together into 4 panels (again I’m slow) and then you need to press them.  It takes another couple hours to cut the wedges (for me this was the hardest part).  It takes another couple hours to sew all the strips together and press them.  And I suspect it’ll take me another couple hours to quilt it.  And God knows how long to bind it, since that's my least favorite part of quilting and I need to use bias binding and have never done that.  I guess you don’t need to quilt it, but I’m going to just because I have a long arm and I like to play with it.  I think you can just sew a big circle of fabric to the back and birth the quilt and it'll be awesome.  I have some awesome ideas for quilting.  But since my knee replacement, I can’t stand for more than about 40 minutes at a time and I can’t sit for more than about 40 minutes at a time, so I had to do this in stages.  Which is why I’m blogging right now, rather than finishing the quilting.  I’ll post another picture when it is all done.

The pattern calls for the widest strip to be in the center and then you match the strips in each direction. That allows you to turn the ruler upside down and keep the same design.  But on the wedge ruler package they showed you the different patterns you’ll get if you don’t keep the fabrics the same on each side.  Pretty cool.  And they show you the different patterns you get by flipping the wedge over vs. flipping the wedge upside down.  Both are very cool.  Can you tell I like this wedge ruler?  I looked on the website for the producer of this and it has some great info on other uses for this ruler.  Check it out:  The 10 degree ruler is here:

Some things I learned.  The pattern called for you to use a large print for the widest strip.  You lose the design if the pattern is large – I don’t recommend it.  I do recommend NOT using a directional fabric.  You’ll see in my picture some of my cardinals are flying upside down and they are all cut into strips.  I don’t think it’ll be obvious under a tree but I don’t like that.  The pattern doesn’t tell you to use high contrast, but I think it looks a lot better if you do. The pattern doesn’t tell you to use a solid in there anywhere, but I think it gets too busy with all prints and the solid really stands out.  It is important that you press all the strips in the same direction on every panel you make. It makes the sewing together easier.  Although you're not locking seams like you'd expect.  The pattern doesn't tell you to make sure the ruler extends more than 1/4 inch into the strip at each end.  I didn't do that on mine and so I will not have a point between the first and second strips.  I will make sure I do that in the future. 

In this pattern you made four panels of strips (width of fabric)  -- the originator calls them strata --and you were able to cut 10 wedges (each wedge is 9 degrees) from each panel.  To make a circle you need 360 degrees, or 40 wedges of this ruler.  They also have 10 degree wedge rulers; I guess you’d just need 36 wedges.  I did buy one of those – it was cheaper and I couldn’t find the 9 degree wedge ruler anywhere-- but I found out that the 10 degree wedge is a right triangle and the 9 degree wedge is not.  Not sure how that matters other than the patterns will be different.  There are patterns on that ruler too.  I’m just trying the 9 degree one this time using the pattern from the magazine.  I think it’s pretty awesome.  I’ll probably experiment after I get a couple of these under my belt.  I have fabric picked out to make 4 more.  I’d better get busy.  You can see below what I mean about the directional and large print fabric issues and the quilting I did.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Almost Done

I started a 3-block project on Monday with a deadline of Friday. Really had my doubts I'd get done. The first block on Monday was a cougar paw print in gold and green to represent our local elementary school (not Carol's design); Tuesday's block was to represent my organization so it has our patch in a star (Carol's design) made with Army fabrics. Today's block was to represent the school district -- it's a 5-pointed star with an apple cut out of the corner (both Carol's patterns). My goal was to get it together and quilted today and I am happy to say I am right on schedule. I put it together with some plain blue fabric that seemed to set off all the blocks and I quilted it with a simple heart design.  I added the binding and Friday I presented it to the Principal of our local elementary school to commemorate our re-signing our partnership agreement. She loved it, as did the superintendent.  My organization provides tutors, mentors, readers and special environmental programs for the elementary classes. It's tons of fun for everyone. Feeling good that I am back to sewing.