Monday, May 08, 2006

Ingenious Ideas

Aren't there times when you find a new idea and you think "WOW", because it is just so clever and ingenious.

I had not one, but two of those moments on Friday.

The first was when I was sewing together the blocks for my "leaf" quilt , from British Patchwork and Quilting, Nov 2005 issue. They called it "New Hampshire Autumn" on the cover and "New Hampshire Fall" inside: it is made of maple leaf patchwork blocks in different sizes. Those blocks have triangle points at the edge of the block, often simply known as "points". It is the sign of a practised quilter if her points are sharp, rather then having the tip cut off.

I was machining along, trying to get the point of the triangle under the tip of the needle, when I realised I had a guideline. I didn't need to look at where the needle was, all I needed to do was line up the point with the space in the sewing machine foot. It would then automatically be in the right place when it got to the needle.

The other WOW moment came when I found a reference to a quilt made out of "leader/enders". These sounded intriguing so I googled, and found myself here.

Basically when you use a sewing machine, you need about 6cm of top and bottom thread extra at the start. If you are making lots of patchwork pieces, this could waste lots of thread. So most people use chain peicing - after you sew one pair together, you don't cut the thread, but feed the next pair through with only a very small gap, and keep going like that. Eventually though, you sew together the last set of pieces you can logically sew, and you have to cut the threads, and waste those few centimeters.

Bonnie's idea is that when you get to the point where you have to stop, you get another pair, perhaps of scraps cut into squares, and sew them together as the last part of the chain. If you do as much sewing as she does, you get lots of bits sewn together almost without effort, and end up with lots of patchwork blocks ready to turn into another quilt top.

I haven't done any sewing since then, but I did have a rummage in my mum's scrap bag, and came home with several green bits that I can start this idea with. Not yet cut out though - I can't decide whether I ought to do "shaded four patches", or just simple half square triangles. Actually, now I write that out, I think I will do some of both.

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