Friday, May 29, 2009

Square 14: Work begins

It's been a while since I've done anything on the quilt. I practiced a bit, as I talked about in previous posts. But I want to actually do something that might be used on the quilt itself. So, I have begun work on the first square that will actually get sewn. According to my original design, this is Square 14. It will be just under a foot on a side. It will be located just above and to the left of the center of the quilt.

As you can see from the picture above, this square is made up of five smaller rectangles. There is one line that crosses the entire square from left to right, dividing it into two rectangles. The top rectangle can be subdivided into two, with the left piece by itself being one and the other pieces making the other subrectangle. The bottom main rectangle can be divided into three subrectangles. So, I will assemble the five subrectangles (well, four, since one consists of a single piece), and then assemble the final square.

This will make this square easy to sew, but I think it sort of violates the spirit of the quilt. Therefore, this is the only square that is set up like this. None of the other squares (typing pauses while the blogger listens to a barred owl!) have lines that completely cross from one side of the square to the other.

So, now the pieces are cut out, and all I have to is put them together!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Gathering problem solved!

This morning, before I left for work, I glanced at my dining room table, where my sewing machine and cloth have been sitting for a couple of days. I noticed a couple of pieces of cloth I had sewn together a few days ago. The seam did not show the gathering problem I've been wrestling with recently. So, it's not something wrong with the machine. It's something that changed recently. I took a closer look at how the machine was threaded. I noticed that the piece the thread is supposed to go around to change directions from the spool to go down to the needle had a fairly fancy shape. And I noticed that the thread wasn't going around any of the fancily shaped parts of that device. I looked closer and saw that the thread was going through a couple of pieces on that device that squeezed the thread a bit, causing the overtension problem. I read the directions, put the thread where it was supposed to be, and sewed another seam. No gathering!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The gathering continues

I tried again last night with the little practice piece. First, I put a piece of masking tape on the sewing machine to mark 1/4-inch seam width. Then, I sewed together the two 3 1/2-inch squares. Marking the width helped; the seam was nice and straight. However, the width of the piece along the seam changed to 3 1/4 inches. The machine's tension setting is set to "auto". I'll try playing with that. If it can't be resolved, I may have to have the machine examined by a professional repair person.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The history of the idea

I suppose a bit of background information might be good.

When I was a teenager, I had a book titled "Martin Gardner's Second Book of Mathematical Puzzles and Diversions". The only thing I remember from that book was an article that describe the efforts of a couple of mathematicians to find a square that can be constructed from smaller squares, no two of which are the same size, or to prove that such squares are impossible. Near the end of the article, it said that when one of them found a perfect square, he went into the other's office and said "I have a perfect square!" The other replied, "So do I!"

Move forward a few decades. My sister became an avid and highly skilled quilter, and my wife has done a bit. Every year, there's a quilt show at a park near our house. My sister usually comes in to see them, and sometimes has a quilt in the show. I always enjoy going with her and my wife to see them. Two years ago, while looking at some of the more strictly geometrical quilts, I suddenly thought that it would be fun to do a quilt based on a perfect square. I started designing one, but didn't get very far. This year, I was inspired again. This time, I kept going.

As much as possible, the quilt will be a perfect square of perfect squares. The main squares will be different colors, red, blue, green or yellow. Each main square will be made of four fabrics that are predominately shades of the main square's color, pale, not so pale, pretty dark, and dark. The main squares will be separated by black lines. I'll probably use half-inch bias tape for that, although I thought of using some kind of soft rope to add a bit of a third dimension.

The main section of the quilt will be seven feet square, and the border will be solid black and four inches wide.

Of course, it won't be possible for every main square to be a perfect square. The smallest main square will be two inches on a side. I decided that the smallest square I would work with would be 3/4 of an inch. As the main squares got smaller, I had to remove the unworkable subsquares and stretch some of the other subsquares into subrectangles to compensate.

The largest subsquare will be about 17 inches on a side. I'm not sure what I will do for these big squares. I suppose I'll try to find printed fabric that will be interesting enough to be used in such a big piece, but I may try to make them traditional quilt squares.

When I was in school, I would sometimes doodle by drawing shapes that were roughly similar to paisley shapes. They would have more points, usually two to four, connected by random curves. I'd draw one shape, and then another that roughly fit the curves of the first, and so on until the paper was covered. I'm envisioning doing that for the quilting of this quilt. The strict straight lines of the design would be counteracted by the freeform, random curves of the quilting.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Practice session 1

I tried piecing together three pieces, two 3 1/2-inch squares and a 3 1/2-inch by 6 1/2-inch rectangle. In my first effort a couple of weeks ago, I measured and drew both the cut lines and the sew lines in pencil. It wasn't too bad. The resulting square should have measured exactly 6 1/2 inches on a side. A couple of sides measured 6 3/8 and another measured 6 9/16.

Tonight, I tried again. I found a quilting foot for the sewing machine that supposedly guaranteed the right side to be 1/4-inch away from the needle. I didn't mark my pieces of cloth, instead relying on that. I think I got 5/16th-inch seams. My sewn pieces were too short. Also, when I sewed the 6-inch seam, the fabric gathered together. I don't know why.

Oh, well. That's what practice cloth is for.