Monday, November 4, 2013

Festivus redux

Because it was so long ago & I have kinda forgotten the details, I am making a few more Festivus for the rest of us blocks for the December swap & have a few tricks to make things go faster.  Keep in mind that these blocks are being swapped, so if you make identical blocks it is no big deal; this would probably not be the case if you were making these all for yourself as the variety of colors & where the pole falls is what makes the pattern interesting.

We want to end up with a 7.5" by 7.5" unfinished square so you might start with a 8.5" by 8.5" square.  At least that is what I originally suggested.  Turns out to be easier, for me anyhow, to start with a 8.5" by 7.5" rectangle.  The Festivus pole is going to pop the block out just a bit, but only in one direction...maybe it would be easier if I showed you.

Begin with TWO fabrics:

The Festivus pole which is a strip anywhere between .75" to 2" UNfinished.  That means you are cutting a strip of .75" up to 2" wide; please do not begin with a strip any wider than 2".  If you are new to bias I strongly urge you to use the widest strip possible the first few times as it is harder to sew a straight seam the narrower the piece you are stitching.  You might know-you might not care but the Festivaul pole is often aluminium & while this is not a hard & fast rule, I thought it would keep things in the same vein.  So your pole strip should be black, white, silver or gray. OR black & white & silver & gray.  OR black & white.  Or white & gray.  & so on.  You get it right?

The background should be...another color.  Any color EXCEPT back or white or silver or gray.  I originally said read-as-solid & that would still be ideal BUT a blender in a SINGLE color, a color-on-color like green-on-green or red-on-red would also be fine.  The examples on the group page include a plaid made of different shades of yellow & that is OKay.  What would NOT be OKay is anything busily multi-colored or high contrast (very dark to very light), for example a plaid of yellow & orange or yellow & pink.  The idea is that the contrast be between the to fabrics, not within the background fabric.  If you have any concern about a fabric, better to put it aside. 

I have received several messages asking if Christmas colors are OKay, they certainly are.  A red background OR a green background OR a gold background are just fine.  But please no red & green & gold all in the same fabric.  Christmas colors (or Chanukah colors or Kwanzaa colors or whatever are not required just not excluded either).
For these photos the background rectangle was cut 8.5" by 7.5" & the Festivus pole was 1.5".  Notice how the slice is the long way through the axis of the rectangle.  This is because I want to end up with a square; I will be adding the Festivus pole piece which will add width without adding height.

In my original directions I gave measurements for how far from the corner this cut should be made.  My intent was to make sure that once the block was squared up, the pole fabric would be AT LEAST .5" from the corner.  This is to help make assembling the blocks easier; two 1/4" seams overlapping would be hard to manage even without the open bias pole ends.  So long as your black &/or white &/or silver &/or gray pole fabric is at least .5" from the edge of your block, you are just fine.

You might also notice that I made the cut through more than one rectangle at the same time & some of those rectangles were right side up & some were right side down.  This is so I get blocks poles angled left-to-right going up & blocks with right-to-left going up.  These could also be described as acutegrave or / & \.  You do not have to "make flippy flippy" with the Festivus poles, I just thought it added interest.

The easiest way to sew these was to put the pole fabric under the presser foot & start a bit, then put the background pieces face down & feed it through that way.  Because of the angle of the cut, this was the only way I could think from stretching it out.  The trickiest part of the whole thing was matching up the two background pieces around the same Festivus pole.  If I were going to do it again-again I would probably cut different color backgrounds at the same time so the match-up was obvious.  This time I pinned the 2nd back ground piece to the first as soon as the pole had been stitch in & kept them together to the ironing board & back to the sewing machine.

I found that three poles from one selvage to selvage strip was all I could manage.  The rest of the strip went in the scrap pile & I imagine it will show up in something else.  This means that two strips should be adequate for six blocks, five to swap & one to keep.  Four strips would be two sets of five, one to keep & one to send in for the 6th block person.  On the other hand one fat quarter cut the long way yielded two poles, so that might work better or you.

Blocks are due in-house the last Saturday in December, December 28, 2013.  Because mail gets slower around the holidays (even if there are a lot fewer holiday cards being snail mailed, there are also a lot fewer postal employees & they take time off just like the rest of us!) I strongly suggest getting everything in the mail no later than the Friday before Christmas which will be Friday, December 20th.

If you not currently part of the swap group, but you are interested in joining, you are welcome BUT it would make my life A LOT easier if you joined through Facebook.   Log into Facebook, search "quilt block swap" & find the Group.  Ask to join & you should be approved within a day or two.  If you are not on Facebook, but still interested, leave a comment here. 

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