Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Stringing along

For a while, I have volunteered regularly at a local shelter that gives mothers with young children (or child or pending child) a place to live while they finish their schooling/get their act together/etc. Do not panic, I am not on the counseling end of things. I have long felt that most people should 1)grow the f*ck up & 2)get off their lazy slacker asses. This is almost the only potentially life changing advice I ever give. Apparently, this is considered 'thin' in the guidance area & outright hostile by anyone on the receiving end...

But the shelter has an arm that provides for in-house employment. Specifically, making grocery-type totes, holiday cards & other small items. The original mission was to prepare the residents for 'real' jobs: how to show up on time, accepting that you cannot always do what you want when you want to, etc. This has changed dramatically over the past year. Because I am not the biggest fan of where it is heading, I have changed what I do to a more behind the scenes, fund raising role. & so this past fall we ran our first (& possibly last) class for the general public. It was the absurdly simple quilt top we use to teach new residents how to use their sewing machines.

To make the blocks, you take leftover strings (old jelly rolls, unused pieces of binding, anything else that may have been cut into strips) & sew them along the long edge. This creates large solid pieces of striped fabric. It does not matter if the seams are not exactly straight or the depths vary; in the end it will all lay flat.

Once you have a piece 'of size', you use the 45degree angle on your ruler & cut them into squares. I find that the best size to cut is the width of my ruler (I have a 6.5" ruler if you are curious). You should use the width of your ruler. It really is just easier to remember.

The only tricky bit about this quilt is storing these blocks while you make as many as you need. The edges are on the bias & will stretch easily. I keep mine in an unused pizza box, but any box that lets them lay flay without too much wiggle room will do.

How many blocks you will need depends on what you do with them. In the beginner class, we assemble them into 4-squares, that is two-blocks x two-blocks. Using my 6.5" ruler as a width-guide, I made three rows of three of these two-by-two blocks (that is 4 x 3 x 3 or 36 original blocks)

The sashing is what I call "reconciling the disparate' from Helen Cresswell's Bagthorpe sagas, if you are curios (start with Ordinary Jack & work your way through). I use it whenever I have blocks that are slightly irregular but need to go together. Take a strip (I like to use old bindings) & sew it to one edge. Take a strip of the same fabric, sew it to one of the adjacent sides. You have just done one half of a log cabin block. Stop now, you are done.

Put the sashed blocks together, alternating the sashing (i.e. the first block has sashing to the left & the top, the next to the left & the bottom, repeat, etc.). In this way you will never need to match seams until you assemble the actual rows. & even then, a screw-up will not show. Much.

If you would like the actual class handouts, leave a comment & I will send them on. I swear I have made 10-15 of these, but I cannot seem to find any pictures except these!

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