Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Holiday Sewing

Why, yes, I am still finishing up some of my holiday gift sewing. How about you?

Here it is: a set of six placemats, with napkins, for The Man. I'd made him placemats for his birthday some years ago. It was probably not the most exciting birthday gift he'd ever received, but we have used them enough that they've started to look pretty beat up.

I made those original placemats at my sister's house so the he could be thrilled and surprised when he opened the package. This time I made them at home so he could hear me cussing and ripping. As I'd told my nephews all those years ago, if you grow up to have a girlfriend who makes you placemats for your birthday, what do you say? "Wow, now I know how much you must love me because placemats are a big pain in the ass to make."

I stole the idea for the pattern from a booklet called Magic Inch Quilts that I got at Back Porch Fabrics in Pacific Grove. I was there to admire a quilt display with a couple of friends. One of the quilts from this book was hanging on the wall and I thought it looked very nice; colorful and happy and moderne.

The book is only 25 pages long. It explains the "magic inch" technique and then gives you some quilt patterns to practice its use. The patterns are all pretty cute, I think:

Cute quilt one

Cute quilt two
To deploy the "magic inch," you start with a fabric block of your chosen dimensions. I cut six blocks sized 8 inches by 15 inches. Then you cut a bunch of one inch strips in contrasting fabrics.

Then you slice up your fabric block and insert those one inch strips in whatever fashion tickles your fancy. I did slightly wonky stripes.

Since you are inserting a one inch strip of fabric and subtracting four 1/4 inch seam allowances, the measurements of your original block stay the same. Magic!

The technique is straightforward and it feels very improvisational and happy-go-lucky, but you have to be accurate with your cutting and seaming. And with your pressing and fabric handling, so that your little bitty strips don't get torqued. As with most quilting, precision counts. Otherwise Bad Things can happen.

Cleverly, I gave myself some insurance by cutting my blocks at 8 x 15 when I wanted a finished size of 7.5 x 14.5. A couple of those blocks just barely trued up at the end.

I don't think I have the skills or the patience to make a bed-sized quilt featuring this technique, but it was fun to try. It might also be fun to play around with as an embellishment for garment sewing.

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