Olympic Challenge Day 14 — Cut to the Chase

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A lot has happened since our last post. I wish it was possible to make progress with my projects and keep everyone well-informed, but sometimes life just has other plans. At any rate, here is an update!

I did manage to finish coordinating all of the strip seBlock Bts for the rows of Block B. Once again I tried to match the color and value with the pattern instructions. I am still expecting the finished quilt to have the same look and feel as the pattern illustration. With the fabric progression determined it was time to put the row strips together to form strip sets and start sewing.

When you are sewing strip sets together for diamonds if you align your strips together by matching up the top edges you will waste more fabric than necessary once you start cutting the diamonds. You can see the potential for waste illustrated in the figures below. The first photo shows a 60 degree triangle ruler on a strip set that has all of the strips evenly aligned. Clearly there will be significant waste. Knowing that the even alignment would create more waste than I wanted to have, for my second set I guessed and offset each strip by 2½”. I thought that using the width of the strip for the offset would be the appropriate distance to minimize waste.  I was wrong, again.

Evenly Matched Strips           Strips Offset by 2-1-2Strips Offset by 1-1-4

On the last attempt I got tired of just randomly guessing and took some measurements. It appears that aligning the strips with a  1¼” offset minimized the waste once the angle of the diamond was cut. When it is time to cut the appropriately offset strip sets into rows for the diamonds I could get 6 or 7 rows per strip set. The variation in number of rows cut was due to starting strip length and type of selvage (not all fabrics were the exact same width to start with). With the extra waste taken out of the evenly aligned strip set I could only get 5 rows cut, so taking the time to offset the strips ultimately gave me more rows to pick and choose from.

With the offset determined and the sets sewn together there was one mSeams Pressed Openore step to complete before cutting the rows. The seams had to be pressed. Contrary to the general pressing rule for quilting (press seams together and toward the darkest fabric), for diamonds you want to press the seams open. This helps reduce and distribute the bulk  and prevent thick seam intersections. Reducing the bulk in seams helps to create flatter quilt tops and a nicer finished product.

With all of the strip sets sewn and pressed it was time to start cutting the rows. The first cut established the 60° angle that is used in this pattern. This angle can be determined by using a 60Trim at 60 Degree Angle° triangle ruler as shown in the photos above or by using the 60° line on a regular ruler. I lined the angle line up along the bottom edge of the strip set. There is only one thing wrong with this picture. If I had paid more attention to the instructions I would have realized that I was set to cut the angle the opposite way from the direction it should be cut. That also means that the strips were offset just the opposite of the way they should have been to get the proper angle. So, here we are at the point of talking about the Quilt Police.

Contrary to public opinion, and please sit down — this may shock you, there are NO Quilt Police. Yes, there are a great many generally accepted conventions and preferred ways of doing things in the quilt world. Yes, I know that any quilt judge would argue that competition quilts must be done a certain way. There are rules guiding most competitive endeavors. But there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to recreational quilting. Imagine if there were! We could be thrown in quilt jail for any number of reasons! I wonder if they would let us keep sewing, or simply taunt us by making us watch and not participate. But I digress. The fact is that there is an exception to most rules. Use good judgement, think about WHY you are doing the things that you are doing, and periodically question the rational behind the action. Sometimes it just doesn’t make sense. Sometimes you need to adapt to the circumstances. Around here we just say that there isn’t a pattern that we haven’t changed. This bring me back to what to do now that my strips are sewn so that my angle will be backwards.

It’s a simple decision. There is no time to fret over this and I’m not going to rip everything apart and start over. I’m just going to change the direction of the angle. Fortunately, since I am working scrappy I can easily do this without any effect on the finished quilt. My diamonds will look like mirrored images of the ones shown on the patterLining Up Strips Before Sewingn. No big deal.

With the angle established I can cut the rows. To make the next cut I line the straight ruler up with the 2½” line with the cut angled edge of the strip set and cut. Each row is 2½ inches wide. I repeated this process across the entire set and then did the same thing for all of the sets.

Stay tuned. Next we will talk about assembling the rows into diamonds and how to press the diamonds to maintain accuracy.


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