Friday, June 15, 2012

True Story of an Everyday Hero who Squared a Quilt!

Okay... This is going to a little difficult because I don't have actual pictures from the event. But I think it's important to document for anyone else out there who might be trying to figure out how to get a reasonably square quilt at the end of the process.

First of all, when I was making the strip quilt for my son, none of the rows were the exact same length. The way I worked the cutting of the strips was to make them all the same height, but I didn't do anything to decision the length. That was determined by the fabric and how much shrinkage occurred in the wash. Because all fabric shrinks differently and because I used embroidered panels, which were all different sizes, and because I did not want any seams to line up, the edges of the finished quilt top were very uneven.

At the point where the quilt had been quilted and it was time to sew the binding on, I absolutely had no idea how to proceed. I read every blog entry, watched every You Tube video, and checked out every available book from the library. I researched for a day and a half to no avail. No where could I find an honest discussion of what to do if your quilt top isn't magically square. Now I realize that not everyone has my inability to get the seams to line up, but come on! I don't believe for one minute that every quilter hasn't struggled with edges that are out of square at least once.

And if there is a good discussion of it, I could not find it.

Graduation is looming and I'm beginning to freak out. Though my husband doesn't quilt or sew, he is the handiest person I know and has an abundance of common sense. Sometimes I find that just by talking in through with someone else I can arrive at the solution and I was hoping this was the case this time. So I say to my husband "I need some help trying to figure out how to get this quilt square." "Ok." is his reply.

Several hours later, I'm hanging out the back door yelling into the looming darkness "I really need some help trying to figure out how to get this quilt square or square-ish". There is an element of frantic desperation in that phrase.

He comes in, looks at the quilt, I explain what needs to happen and what my thoughts are. (My plan was to tape a piece of yarn to each side of the top of the quilt, eyeball it and cut. He says why don't we just run some painters tape all the way down each side. Okay! So we do that. It doesn't look even. I adjust by picking the tape up, moving it a little and sticking it back down. My youngest strolls through, looks at it and says it isn't straight. He adjusts. I look at it - it still doesn't look straight. Hubby looks at it, adjusts the tape and then we both look at it. It just doesn't look straight.

Now, I'm going to tell you the truth, though it ain't pretty... At this point I'm on the edge. We are standing there looking at this thing, it's the night before graduation and by now it's 9:30 at night. I've been working on this quilt for two solid days and it was HOT! I can feel the tears welling up and I hear myself saying "I just need to suck it up and cut it." I'm not sure, but I think I might have stamped my foot in frustration. My husband lays a hand on my arm and says "Well, hold on now. We just need to think about this a minute because I'm sure we can get it lined up."

He begins talking about pinning the corners & measuring diagonally and I start crying in earnest. He may as well have been speaking a foreign language for as much of that as I understood in that moment. But, as I have no ideas and I trust him with my life I say okay. I took a minute to blow my nose and drink some water, then asked him to explain again. And this is what we did.

We put a pin in each of the top corners of the quilt. Measured that distance (68"). Then we measured down the side of the quilt to the same distance on each side (78") and put pins in the bottom corners at the same width as the top measurement. So the pins were marking the quilt at 68 x 78. Then we took the two diagonal measurements and compared the numbers. Because they were not the same meant we had a parallelogram, rather than a rectangle. By moving each of the top pins over an inch, measuring the two diagonals again, moving the pins another 1/4 inch, we ended up with a rectangle. Once we were sure of the pin placement, we moved the tape to the inside of the pins and cut.

I was afraid, but I'll be darned if it didn't work. Even after sewing on the binding, those quilt corners all meet up. I hope I've explained this fairly well and that even without pictures it can help you if you find yourself in a similar situation!

And that is the true story of an everyday hero who made a quilt square and saved his wife's sanity ♥

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