Friday, May 1, 2015

June is for crackers

I have been taking some time getting the next Facebook Quilt Block Swap Group block up because we have been....experiencing some difficulties.  I wanted to take that time to go through the problems, see where I was going wrong, maybe identify a problem swapper or two (this is not a blame thing, just an information misfire that happens when particular features when I say "low volume" when describing fabric to people for whom English is maybe a second language...or a third.  Yes, this was a thing).  I think I have plugged some of the larger holes, but it is going to be an ongoing process over the next few swaps. 

Which brings me to our June 2015 block, which is the traditional cracker block with some swap-specific features sort of sprinkled in.  First though, the directions.  They can be found here.  Yes, I do usually recreate even available directions just to have the pictures, but this time I am not going to.  I figured these directions have worked for slews of people before & lets just leave them as is.  So go ahead to the Cracker Quilt Pattern by Janet Wickell on the quilting.about site & do a read thru & then come back here.  Also, there have been a few complaints about my directions so I want to see if this helps.

You will have noticed this link has directions for a whole quilt top.  We will be swapping one component of one block.  In other words just this piece: 

You will need two fabrics for each of your blocks:
  • either a solid or read-as-solid DARK or a solid or read-as-solid LIGHT.  Interpretations of dark versus light & read-as-solid have varied over some of the swaps so I am going to make this suggestion.  If you cannot tell if your fabric is dark, it probably isn't.  Ditto light.  We want true darks (black, dark navy, dark green, dark brown, etc.) for the darks & true lights (white, cream, pale pastels, etc.) for the lights.  You only need one or the other so this really should not be hard to find.  As for the read-as-solid portion all I can suggest is it should be a blender in a uniform color & if that is still too vague (I accept it might be), maybe just use an actual solid.  Bleached muslin will fit the bill nicely, as would a black broadcloth. 

    As I said above, the term read-as-solid has been yet another tripper-upper so I wish I could give a more exact description.  The best I can come up with is a fabric that is patterned but very subtly with a minimum of contrast in color: both shade (light to dark, dark to light) & hue (blueness VS greenness, for example).  If you are looking at a fabric & are not sure if it does read-as-solid, please put it aside.
  • the second fabric is YOUR CHOICE with one guideline:  if your first fabric is a light, please do not use another light.  If you first fabric is a dark, please do not use another dark.  The rest is up to you.  Large bright cartoon characters? Fine.  Pastel florals? Also fine.  Another solid the opposite (light or dark) of your first fabric?  Still fine.  When your block is finished, the lines should be sharp & clear; this is easy to test for by putting on piece of the fabric against the other.  If the edges blur, those fabrics won't work together.
In my example I used a bleached muslin for my solid/read-as-solid light side & a densely patterned floral that is indisputably dark but not read-as-solid for the other side.  You will need enough fabric for one strip to make the on-point center (again, please see block directions in the link) & the two corner triangles that set it on point in one fabric & exactly the same + one more strip of the other.  You will notice I am carefully avoiding giving dimensions here; they are all in the link & they are VERY SPECIFIC. 

Bringing us to another problem we have been plagued with recently.  I usually let blocks that are within <1 1="" 9-patch="" a="" adding="" allowance="" also="" am="" amp="" another="" anyone="" as="" at="" been="" being="" block="" blocks="" but="" can="" cannot-sew-a-straight-line="" cause="" check="" cut="" cuts="" dark="" dimensions="" directed="" doubt="" each="" especially="" fabric="" for="" frequent="" full="" have="" href="" i="" inches="" individual="" into="" is="" issue="" it="" last="" less="" light="" link="" look="" making="" matter="" nbsp="" no="" not="" of="" only="" or="" particular="" picture="" piece="" problem="" pun="" reads="" really="" reason="" recurring="" seam="" should="" size.="" size="" small="" smaller="" solid="" surprisingly="" swap="" swappers="" target="_blank" tell="" than="" that="" the="" there="" they="" this="" three="" time="" to="" too-deep="" too="" unfortunately="" unlike="" up="" urge="" was="" way="" were="" whatever="" when="" whether="" with="" wrong="" you="" your="">metric conversion chart
(you might need to change the INCREMENT field to 1/4) although I feel I should add NONE of the way-off measurements came from metric countries.  NONE of them.  I think the lesson here is that people who know they need to check their measurements are not having an issue, instead people who assume they do not need to are having the issue.  Measure twice, cut once was never more apt. 
These blocks are due in-house the last SAT in June (June 27th).  I will swap the following week-end (because of some delays with the post office) BUT your envelope must be postmarked before the deadline & if you have not received confirmation the envelope arrived by the deadline (SAT June 27th) you need to let me know it is en route.

As always we swap in sets of five, send five get five back (or send twenty-five & get twenty-five back).  If you do make more than two sets of five (or ten blocks), please mix up your fabrics when you get to the third set.  Because this is a not-frequent but not-rare I am going to restate this in a different way:  if you send more than two identical sets you are guaranteed to get some if not all of your own blocks back. 

UPDATE MON May 11, 2015:  it appears that Blogger had a few updates during my hiatus & this post appeared briefly when it should have & has been reappearing & disappearing (mostly depending on which device I used to upload the photo &/or how your device handles the out-of-date photo-format) ever since.  The problem is now resolved (I upgraded my Blogger photo-posting tool anyhow, & it all seems to be working) but this means some people will have less than the preferred two months minimum to work with the block.  Still, everyone should have more than one month & that should be plenty of time. The in-house due date remains that last SATURDAY in JUNE. 

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