Thursday, May 9, 2013

Size Matters

The final moments of my frenzied Market Prep are upon us, and I've been giving much thought lately to the size of stuff.

  • The size of boxes I am shipping as they pertain to how much money they are going to cost me to get them from my little corner of MA to the Pacific Northwest. USPS flat rate boxes have become my best buddies.
  • The size of suitcase that will fit all of my quilts. Amazingly, I actually owned one that was going to work.

  • The size of the conniption, heart attack, stroke, and mental breakdown combo I will have if my bag should get lost in transit. 
  •  The size of the check I should write for this week's church collection, because I'm not above a little moral bribery so that God can see he should be good to me and not allow my bag to be lost.
  • The size of container I needed to contain all of my binder clips. Who knew 4 bags of binder clips fit perfectly into an arborio rice container? Dumpster diving into the recycling bin rocks!

I'm guessing the nutritional info no longer applies.
And lastly, the size of my 1/4" seam. Allow me to admit that although I've been quilting for 18 years, my 1/4" seam STILL is not as consistent as I might like, but proof that it has improved drastically even over the last 5 years or so came in the form of an innocent comparison the other day. I was starting to pack my quilts up and couldn't decide which of my "Funky Tree Farm" samples to take with me, so I decided to let my followers on FB decide. I put them right next to each other on the floor to take a photo, and look what I saw.

If you can pull your eyes away from my beautifully teal toes and my cute and oh so comfy sandals for a sec, and I know it will be hard to do, but I have faith in you -  check out the flipping 3 1/2" (!) difference in length between the quilts.

Hotties, these two quilts were both made by me, from my own directions. Until that moment I had no idea I had not made them the exact same size.
How the heck did THAT happen??? Well, size matters.

Since the side borders are made by piecing three strips together, attaching the whole thing to the sides and then trimming to fit, nothing about the construction had really been affected by whatever the heck I did wrong to make one so much longer, so no red flags had been thrown at the time. I first assumed I had added two extra strips to the background of the one on the left. So I counted them. Twice. Nope, that wasn't it. Then I figured I had cut the strips for the quilt on the left the wrong width. So I measured them. Interesting.

They were cut 2 1/2" wide for both quilts. However, the strips in the quilt on the left had finished at exactly (well, this is me, so maybe not EXACTLY, but pretty darn close) 2", but the ones in the quilt on the right were closer to 1 3/4" each, meaning that when I put that one together way back in the day, I used a seam allowance you could have driven a truck through.
Inaccurate Quilter Math - 16 strips x 1/4"ish extra seam allowance = a quilt 3 1/2 inches too short. Dang.

So there it is, proof positive that size matters, and that your seam allowance DOES make a difference. Fortunately for this quilt pattern, it wasn't a factor in being able to put the whole thing together, but for many pieced blocks, it can be a huge factor and even a huge disaster when they aren't done correctly. A product that has helped me immensely over the last few years has been the "Seamingly Accurate" by ReannaLily Designs. It was designed by Jen Eskridge, a friend of mine who has no idea I felt like spreading the love of this product today. However, if 1/4" seams are an issue for you, and clearly at some point they were an enormous issue for me, it might be worth checking out. I think the proof that it helped me is right in that photo!

I've decided to bring the longer quilt to Market. Just in case anyone decides to whip out their rulers and check out my seam allowances.


Jeneta said...

So funny!! I quite like dumpster diving in the recycling too (except when someone has not bothered to notice that banana peels or plum stones do not go in the recycling bin). What a hoot - who would have thought that such a minor difference (loved your description of being able to drive a truck through your original seam allowance!) would make such a major difference overall (hmmm... I think there's a great teaching moment in that; children, obey your parents with exactness or your life will veer WAY off track..or something of the sort!)! Oh - I totally want to go and paint my toenails now (though, as we have now come into the cooler weather nobody will see them through my black socks and Homypeds!).

Allison said...

Great post! I enjoyed reading it - and you are very funny. I can't believe the difference with those seam allowances.

Barbara Chojnacki said...

Beth, if you have a Janome, they have a "scant quarter-inch foot" to take the place of their quarter-inch foot. I just got one, haven't used it yet. I don't know if any other manufacturers make one.

Mara said...

Hah, that's funny, glad you got it figured out.

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