Saturday, October 22, 2011

Blue and Cream - Decisions Decisions

I've been hard at work on the Blue and Cream quilt project.  It has turned into a study in organizational skills.  I wish I could say I invented these organizational solutions but I didn't.  Most of them I learned in classes or from my sister or from tutorials on the Internet.  Keep reading, you might find one or two you haven't seen.

Before I could cut all the pieces I had to decide which blue fabrics to use for which stars.  This wasn't too hard since I had to go with the quantities I had of each print.  The pattern called for 9 stars of one fabric so I had to use the blue and green floral since I had a half yard of it and only fat quarters of the rest.  I started by cutting the star centers.  I placed the nine floral centers on the design wall as shown in the pattern layout in the book.  Then I just started laying the other centers out and moving them around until I got them where I liked them.

As I started cutting the blues for the sashing, which become the star points, it was obvious I'd need to stay organized.  Notice I have the magazine open to the page with the pattern on it.  That magazine has never been more than arms reach away as I worked on this project.  

Over 200 (2") squares, 96 (3") squares, and 25 (3 1/2") squares.  That's a lot of squares and a lot of blue!  Fortunately, I have these clear plastic plates that I use for keeping all the parts and pieces in their rightful places.  I'm not sure where I got these plates, probably from my sister  ;-)  I swear I use these plates for every project now.

I first saw a similar solution in a class I took with Charlene at The Golden Gese Quilt Shop in Concord, NH.  It was a scrappy quilt and I was having a hard time wrapping my head around it.  Charlene to the rescue!  She gave us paper plates to organize our 9-patch blocks that had a fussy cut in the center. 

Two more of my favorite tools are a fabric guide and yellow sticky notes.  The chart helped me keep all the color decisions organized.  The sticky notes keep all the plates organized by size and location such as "2 inch squares for sashing".  How did the world operate before sticky notes?!

I thought once I'd picked the pattern and the fabrics all the decisions for this quilt were done but not quite.  Knowing that this quilt is a gift I was keenly aware of the recipients tastes, or what I believe her taste to be anyway.  The pattern I chose shows stars that are "scrappy".  The centers are one fabric and all the points are a different fabric as seen here.

A fun look but I just didn't see it as something she would like.  Or is it just me struggling with scrappy?  Either way scrappy stars were out!  Instead I used all the same color for the stars and I think it was the right way to go.  Here's an audition for a star.  It's hard to see the cream colored background against the white design wall but you'll see it later on.

Now normally I would take the cut pieces and arrange them in piles in the order they should be sewn together.  That way I can just chain piece them and whip out the blocks in no time.  With this quilt the blocks are actually the sashing around the fussy cuts and the star centers.

To create the sashing I started with the smallest pieces to create the flying geese blocks.  I used plenty of starch before stitching.  Then pressed toward the blue prints so the seams wouldn't show under the cream pieces.  Chain piecing worked for these but the next piece blocks were different.

The larger blocks, which kind of look like rectangular snowball blocks.  More starch and more gentle pressing. 

I ended up with a bunch of sashing blocks.  Kind of looks like a puzzle doesn't it?   Take a look at the colors on the corners, they're different right?  That's because one side is going to be the points on one star center and the other side is going to be the points on a different star center.  Even if I was doing this as a "scrappy" star I'd still have to pay attention to this to make the pattern look right.

When you put one of the stars together you get this.  Simple enough?

Notice in the next picture that, in order to create a star, the sashing between the two rows is laid out vertically and the sashing between the two columns is laid out horizontally.  Not only do I need to keep the right color points on the right color star centers but then there were all those cream rectangles to add to the outside edges.  It took me a few minutes to figure out but here's what it looked like on my cutting table.  The open spaces are where the fussy cuts go.  Can't show you those yet.  ;o)

This is when I decided I needed to put them all on the design wall to keep it all in order!  I laid all the pieces for the entire quilt on the design wall and pinned each piece in place - what a life saver!  Now I'm ready to start sewing. 

I'm afraid that's all the assembly I can show you until I deliver the finished quilt.  I still need to pick out the borders and the backing.

Did you come across any organizational tips you hadn't seen before?  Leave me a comment if you've got other ways to accomplish these same things.

Thanks for stopping by . . . Debby

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