Monday, December 10, 2012

Easy Street Step three - beware of Gremlins!

Amazingly I am keeping up really well with Bonnie Hunter's latest mystery!  It helped that I had 90% of the fabric in my stash so there was really no extra shopping to do.  Even more was the pile of 2-inch black and white strips already cut from an earlier project.
                                  Left to right: what I cut...what I should have cut...what goes into the scrapbag!
However just as I was getting all full of myself for being so smart the quilting gremlins smacked me up side the head to get me back in line.  This week we needed to cut more black and white hst from a 2 inch strip using the easy angle ruler.  No problem.  We also needed hst from a 3-1/3 inch of turquoise.  Ah yes, this is where the gremlins saw an opportunity...you see I didn't have coffee Saturday morning before I started to cut the fabric.  I used my companion angle instead of the easy angle.  They are so not interchangeable!

Fortunately I am able to cut the piece I needed from what I cut.  The piece I cut off is large enough to be used in another project somewhere!

Part of my reason for sharing this is to let some of the beginners out there know it isn't a disaster to make a mistake.  (I know of a very talented quilter who made the 4-patches using 2-1/2 inch strips and is in the process of cutting them all down! Gremlins must have gotten to her as well....)

To help here is a list of my anti-Gremlin tactics....

1.  I love reading Bonnie's post for each step but when it comes time to cut and sew I make myself a cheat sheet.  One piece of paper with a drawing with measurement of what I am supposed to be doing and how many.  I am easily distracted...for Orca Bay I ended up with twice as many of one step than I needed....

2.  Before starting a large quilt (and this is Bonnie so you know it will be a LARGE quilt) I change the blade in my rotary cutter and the needle on my sewing machine.  I also put a thinner thread, like Aurifil #50, in the machine.  It makes a huge difference in accuracy.  There is a lot of pieces in her quilts and in this quilt we are working with a fair amount of bias...accuracy helps.

3.  Slow down.  This includes taking breaks often during cutting.  Taking breaks during pressing.  Alternating tasks so I don't use the same muscles too long at one time.  This also includes running my sewing machine at a reasonable (for that read slow) speed.  This quilt uses a lot of half square triangles which don't give you a lot of fabric to hold onto.  Better to put it through the machine slowly than to have to rip it out later...bias really doesn't behave well when ripped out.

4.  Don't fight the process.  What do I mean?  I am a "make a test block" sort of quilter.  Anytime I start a quilt I want to have the crutch of knowing exactly how the quilt is going to go together and how the fabrics will look.  Mystery quilts don't work that way.  But you know neurologists say that sometime doing something in a new or different way is good for the brain.  That un-comfortableness you feel is your brain having to work a bit harder.  If it helps treat each step as a "quilt" and make a "test patch" for it before you start...it isn't giving in to your type A personality but just tossing it a bone (or a block....)  Just think, if I had done that I would not have cut out 64 turquoise companion angle pieces....


Nerd note:  Just read that Gremlin is a term believed to come from the British Air Force either from WWI or II.  Just like today it was used to describe unexplained mechanical errors.  My Dad, a WWII pilot, used to use the term often!

20 comments:

Mary Ellen said...

I love your blog. I have it book marked and refer to it on my blog. Thanks for all the nerdy tips. Even for a somewhat experienced quilter (I think I am, anyway), these are good reminders.

Jainy said...

Argh. I am so not a slow down and breathe girl. I am more of a "ok how am I going to make it fit" one! lol Thanks for the reminders.

Mary said...

Thanks for sharing with us the fact that mistakes happen to everyone. It is so easy to think we are the only ones to ever mess up.

Sharyn Mallow Woerz said...

I do cheat sheets too, and on the introduction I have my color choices stapled to Bonnie's, hopefully avoiding massive screwups :)
Sharyn in Kalama

Frog Quilter said...

Thanks for the update. Love the kitty tongue!!!

Vic in NH said...

Good to see you recover so gracefully from a little goof-up. Thanks for sharing your process with us. As for Christmas decorating, remember that there are 12 Days of Christmas, so you are far from late or behind.

Loris said...

Love the fabrics in your Easy Street. Looks like fun in the making :-)

Janet O. said...

Good tips for quilters of all levels. The cheat sheet is a good idea. I nearly drove myself crazy with Orca Bay trying to find cutting information each time I needed it. Your cheat sheet is such a "duh" moment for me.
My Dad was a WWII navigator--he used "gremlins" a lot, too. : )

regan said...

So, are we getting the instruction part of Elle's Chocolate Cake recipe, or what!?! lol

The Thimblemouse of Country Crossroads said...

Great post - I think the gremlins visited me too...but mine hid my sewing machine...Looking good!!! I'm cut and ready to go

AnnieO said...

Gremlins, eh? I'll have to remember to blame them next time! Glad you were able to salvage your cutting exercises :) I like a cheat sheet too, especially to tell me the width of fabric needed to cut the particular item, mostly because I make scrappy quilts like you and have come up short sometimes!

berylthepearl said...

I made the same goof. doesn't that make you feel better! but easily remedied as you did, and still in the game.

Elaine M said...

Your blocks are lovely. I make a cheat sheet also. I never cut at night when my eyes are tired, everything ends up a sliver too big.

Kimme said...

Love the idea of a cheat sheet, makes so much sense! This is my first Bonnie mystery so any hints or tips are greatly appreciated. My gremlin moment came when I read to cut 3 1/2 in strips which I did and then proceeded to cut said strips into squares and then in half! Doh... So I will be using a cheat sheet from now on.

Kathie said...

Made me smile I always make cheat sheets too! Congrats for keeping up!
Kathie

Ann Marie @ 16 Muddy Feet said...

Ah so that is where my Gremlins went to. Haven't seen them in a while, not that I miss them. Just didn't know where they went.

Ann Marie @ 16 Muddy Feet said...

Ah so that is where my Gremlins went to. Haven't seen them in a while, not that I miss them. Just didn't know where they went.

Sandra B said...

Your patches look fantastic. Clue 4 is nearly here – woo hoo!

sewkalico said...

Well done on keeping up - gremlins or not! We all make mistakes, luckily you made it work anyway.

Purple Pam said...

Your cookie tray looks scrumptious. Your Easy Street blocks looks scrumptious, too!