Sunday, November 30, 2014

Grand Illusion - Part 1

Bonnie Hunter has released clue #1 of the 2014 mystery quilt, Grand Illusion. Woo hoo! I figured I wasn't going to make the mystery this year but the clue sucked me in and I decided to do the half size option. It really is fun to participate in mystery projects! I enjoy being able to write about the adventure on my blog and hearing from you wonderful, commenting readers who visit from Bonnie's link up! If you like my posts, feel free to explore my posts, pin what you want to remember, and maybe even "follow" me!

If you checked out my posts last year, thanks for coming back! Here's my Celtic Solstice quilt that I gave to my husband for Christmas (in January).
I love it!

And when he's not using it, someone else usually is! Sasha approves!

Back to Grand Illusion.......
Considering all the colors and quantities called for, I found that I had almost all of them in my stash! The only color I needed to get was turquoise. That in itself was a great boost to jump into the pool!

About a year ago, my mom recommended using the June Tailor Shape Cut, a strip cutting guide. Do you have one?
There are cutting slots every 1/2 inch and it was perfect for the 2-1/2" strips and squares that this clue called for. You place the fabric under it and slice away. It holds the fabric nicely in place; no moving and realigning after each cut. It's a time saver! 

Thanks to that tool, my black and yellow squares were done very quickly!

Recently, I saw a you tube video called Fast and Easy Pinwheels!!! from Missouri Quilt Co on how to make 1/2-square triangles with larger squares that are X-cut into triangular quarters. When you open them up, you have four 1/2 square triangles. Brilliant! Thank you for the technique, MQC!

Although I have the awesome EZ Angle tool, I decided to try this method for my 140 1/2-square triangles. Trying new things is good, right? Now for the math: since each square will produce four 1/2-square triangle units, I need to make 35 pairs of pink and turquoise squares to sew. 35 x 4 = 140

After experimenting a bit with some test pieces, I found that my squares needed to be 4" in order to produce the 2-1/2" 1/2-square triangles after X-cutting them. Each WOF strip can easily give ten 4" square cuts, so I made four 4" WOF strips from both colors, lined them up right-sides-together, and then subcut them down to the 4" squares. 

The pile of squares are ready for sewing! 

This is a strange step. Every square needed to be sewn shut 1/4" around all four edges. That seems wrong to do but it is right!

The X-cut is next. Just line the ruler up corner to corner and slice. Turn to the opposite corners and slice. Don't forget to breathe!

Now, when you open each of the triangles, they magically turn into 2-1/2" 1/2-square triangles! They can be starched if the bias edges are too stretchy, but I didn't starch mine.

Bonnie said to get rid of those dog ears! With a little cleanup trimming, they came out perfect! (As long as the seam allowance is 1/4" on the outer edges.) my little squaring ruler came in handy here!
If your seams run big and your final units are too small, just make the initial 4" squares 1/4" larger and trim the final units down to size. Or better yet, practice sewing your seams to be closer to the 1/4" allowance. I measured around my needle to see where the 1/4" points were on my foot so I had better control over eyeballing the place the fabric needed to land under the needle.

It was worth it! Look, not much waste! This was about half of what was trimmed off of my blocks. 

All I needed to do from here was make the 50 broken dishes blocks. Those yellow and black squares came into play and both halves were sewn. Line up the solid square in the corner points of the triangles and sew the edge. Just make sure it's the correct edge that gets the seam! :)

To keep things in order, I put a completed block next to my machine and the halves to be sewn in front of the block. That way, there was a reference of the block I was to make at a glance away. I always knew which way to place the halves together and where to sew.

After doing about half of them, I was noticing a bothersome result. Running the halves under the needle with the work off to the left, my center points weren't lining up very well. This was the worst of them. 
And yes, it was beyond my misalignment tolerance level and I ripped it out and redid it!

I noticed my center seams were pressed in the direction so the top seam edge faced me. Therefore, they were more apt to pull apart from each other when the needle came to the center point.

I got my ruler and measured where my fabric needed to go under the foot to get a 1/4" seam and flipped the broken dish unit over and the edge of the top seam faced the needle. The fabric was feeding opposite of how we always sew, lying to the right of the needle! This way, the top seam is facing the needle (not me) and will be butted up against the bottom seam as it's sewn not pulled away from it.
It felt very left handed to sew this way! Slow going at first, giving my brain a workout, but it became easier after a while. :)

And it brought my center points in line!

What way did you press these blocks? I don't recall seeing specific instruction for that. Did you spin the center seams? I took my iron and, starting at the bottom of the block, did a backwards C motion (counterclockwise from 8:00 - 2:00) to get them to lay as flat as they would go.

Voila! My 50 blocks were done! And the 40 extra 1/2-square triangle units were set aside for later. 

Making the half-size option is a good pace for me. 44"x44" will be a beautiful center in a personal-sized quilt. Add some borders and it'll be great! We know that Bonnie's patterns are all great!

I'm ready for the next clue on Friday! Want to join in? Find the pattern on Bonnie's blog, and look for the Grand Illusion Mystery tab for the clues! Hurry, she says it'll only be there til spring! Are you a watcher? Did you join in on the mystery? What is your 1/2 square triangle method of choice? I'd love to hear from you all! 


Andee said...

Beautiful CS and cute quilt inspector! Love your blocks for GI too!

Karabeta said...

Sewing along the edges of the square looks weird ;-) but after the x-cutting it seems quite straight forward.
Love the blue-on-white-flower print.

lourixe said...

I had the same doubt than you about ironing the seam allowances, but Bonnie added pressing instructions when she modified her post, check it out. I also got June Taylor's ruler from Santa last year. The bias edges scare me to death for the HST, so I used the Easy Angle ruler instead, and was very glad no squaring was required. I love your fabrics, especially the turquoise floral.