Five Good Ideas | Redux

I’ve been working on a new project, one I can’t show yet. I finished the top today and am really pleased with how it turned out. It’s BOLD! It’s BRIGHT! It’s HOT! Hot burnt orange, orangey-yellow, citrus green, electric blue. Hot.

The top was a lot of piecing with flying geese, diamonds-in-a-square, corner triangle blocks, an interesting center block. I was rushing, and you know what that means: I took several opportunities to make mistakes. My mistakes were in cutting, not piecing. This time.

Good idea #1: measure twice, cut once. Yeah, no kidding, huh? Fortunately I caught my errors before incorporating them into my work. And fortunately they were all correctable by trimming slightly, rather than starting over and cutting anew. Guess I should review my own tips on accuracy.

Good idea #2: consider the various ways to make a block. Sometimes one method will work better than another. Among my various blocks were flying geese. I made a few of them using up available scraps with the stitch-and-flip method. But to go more quickly than that for most, I used the four-at-a-time method. For me it’s slightly less accurate than stitch-and-flip. But it’s so much faster that I was willing to give up a little bit in accuracy to meet my deadline.

For some reason, I seem to forget that I’ll also need a back and some binding for each quilt. The way I buy fabric in smaller pieces — only more than a yard if it’s for a specific purpose, or an incredibly good deal — means I don’t have quilt backs lying in wait to be assembled. Okay, I lied. Yeah, sure I have fabric enough to make quilt backs. I have some metallic Corinthian leaves, a turquoise cartoon print, a forest green with cream sprigs that reminds me of passages in Little House in the Big Woods, a wine color. That’s about it. Nothing to go with my hot southwestern colors.

Yesterday I was in the neighborhood so stopped in JoAnn Fabrics. I found a hot orange-on-orange that would work. Big print, nice texture, $13 per yard. NOPE. Not gonna buy at that price. I didn’t have coupons with me, but I almost always have coupons at home. So I went back today when Jim and I ran errands and bought my four yards. $6.50 a yard. Much better.

Good idea #3: support your local quilt shop when you can. The prices at the local quilt shops in my area are better than $13 per yard. Most yardage ranges from about $9.25 to about $11.50. The only way JoAnn’s can price quilt yardage at $13 is by overpricing. They do so because they know most of us demand it cheaper and use coupons, or if not, it’s because we’re desperate.

Good idea #4: use a color catcher. After getting home with the fabric I washed it and the fabric for binding with a few other items of laundry. I cut a color catcher in half and tossed it in, too. This time it didn’t collect much. But several times recently they’ve been stained badly, and not just when washing reds or dark blues. I’m making a habit of using the color catcher. If you don’t already, consider it. By the way, if your catcher doesn’t collect much, you can use it again.

Once the fabric was washed, I needed to make the back. The back needs to be approximately 68″ square. I bought four yards. Fabric loses about 3% to shrinkage (did you know that?), or about one inch per yard. So … in total I lost about four inches out of 144. So I’m down to 140″ long. If I double my fabric over, I have 70″.

Good idea #5: use the Fast Backs method of making quilt backs. I did trim the ends so I would start with even cuts. I put a piece of blue tape on my machine to show me where the seam allowance would fall, and I cut off the selvage with scissors once it was sewn. Do, please, look at the link for a full explanation with photos. The whole thing, including only pressing after it was sewn and trimmed, took about fifteen minutes.

This isn’t the fabric I bought today! It’s from the tutorial.

Have you revisited any great ideas recently? Do you have favorite tips to share?

7 thoughts on “Five Good Ideas | Redux

  1. treadlemusic

    The “no waste flying geese” method has been quite accurate for me and the only one I use (unless it’s a super scrappy piecing). The Color Catchers, I’ve found, definitely can be used several times…..even with a fair amount of color ‘caught’. Use them in the washer and dryer (their recommendation). I don’t pre-wash because I want the shrinkage after the finish. I may have super regrets someday but so far so good (even with some of the marginal/sale fabrics).

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I like to sort through my scrap drawer (YES! only one drawer!) to find those bits and pieces that will work. Of course sometimes, working requires using a different method than I’d prefer.

      I only started using the no-waste method of fg this year. I am pretty good at it. But of course stitch-and-flip gives an exact piece, if the patches were cut the right size in the first place!

  2. farmquilter

    Looking forward to seeing your hot creation!!! Haste usually makes waste…we are supposed to slow down and enjoy the process…but I’m always in too big a hurry to see my creation come together!!

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Yes. I’m a big fan of slowing down. But I was in a hurry for this one. I will say, I don’t usually go too fast in stitching. I’ve found that really makes messes, and unstitching takes a long time.


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