Archive for September 28th, 2010

whether I want to or not…

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I’m not a big fan of moving between various projects,at most I’ll be working on three things at the same time. Usually I’m only working on one and make myself finish it before I start anything else. But occassonally I will get stuck on a project and just won’t want to finish it. While this tree skirt may look sweet and innocent

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I assure you it’s evil! I first saw this when mamacjt posted it on flickr

Tree Skirt

Carol created the tree skirt and after so many people expressed interest in it she also created a pattern which can be purchased directly from her. Simply contact her through flickr at the link to her above.

I was really excited to make this tree skirt and readily shelled out almost $50 for 12 different fat quaters in shades of reds or greens. The pattern only calls for 1/8 yards but I don’t have a quilt shop that sells cuts that small. You could also use scraps to make a more interesting tree skirt but I didn’t have anything in my stash that would work.

Where the love affair ended was all the tiny strips. The pattern calls for strips 1 1/4 in or 1 1/2 in wide but piecing those thin strips to make a 7 inch thick rectangle is tedious. Eventually I just cut mine wider 1 1/2 in – 2 in wide. By the time I had pieced my red rectangles and my trees I was done! The skirt got set aside for a week or so before I gathered up the energy to start working on it again. After the pieced portions are done the top actually goes together pretty quickly. You sew white strips on the sides of the trees and then sew the tree to the red rectangle. There are only two pattern pieces- one is the tree and the second is the section. You lay the pattern piece for the section over your work and trim off the excess. Then you sew the trimmed sections together. Until this point the directions were concise but detailed and my only frustration was personal (I don’t like sewing thin strips together over and over and over again). But at this point I have a real problem with the pattern. Perhaps you will understand when I quote step 11 for you “Layer and quilt as desired.” If this was a square or a rectangle I wouldn’t be complaining but it’s not. And even patterns that use squares or rectangles will tell you how much fabric and what dimensions the backing should be. But this is worse because it’s a hexagaon with curved ends. What size backing should I use? What size batting? Should I cut it in a circle, if so how large? Should I cut it in a square, if so what size? I used a square for the record and it wasn’t brain surgery but this is a pattern and I personally believe a pattern should walk you through all the steps. I also have a problem with step 12 which tells you how much “BIAS” binding you need but not how to attach it. Again this isn’t a square or a rectangle, you have to bind curves with points, I’ve never done that before. Feeling really frustrated at this point I contacted Carol and asked for assistance. I didn’t specifically ask how to get the binding around the points where the curves meet, I figured when i asked how to bind it that she would understand what I needed. Her response was a reminder that I needed to use “BIAS” binding, to ease it around and go to a local shop if I needed more assistance. I was tired and frustrated at this point, really frustrated and I put this project on a high shelf out of sight for a day. Because honestly if I didn’t I think I would have thrown it away. I was that frustrated and really the only thing that stopped me wasn’t the time I had put in but the cost of the fabric itself. I’m not throwing out $50 plus dollars of fabric over a temper tantrum. But again I believe a pattern should equip me with the knowledge I need to complete a project from start to finish.

The next day I turned to my old standby- google. And for one of the very few times ever it failed me! The sum total of advice I could find on the various blogs and websites was “ease it around.” In desperation I bought (sight unseen) a book referenced in a blog post about binding curved edges. The tree skirt went back into the closet for three weeks until the book arrived and it too was pretty useless. The book was supposed to be about binding and borders but it was more of visual option book versus a practical how-to. At this point I just needed this tree skirt done and out of the way so I sat down to channel my inner Tim Gunn and “make it work.” The binding is not pretty but it is done so at least I can check it off the list.

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When I started this project I was going to keep the tree skirt but about half way through I decided it would be a gift for someone else. Now that I’m done I’ve decided to give it to a good friend who’s taste is a bit more traditional than mine. Because time and frustrations aside after making this I realized it’s just not me but hey it sure looks cool. And she loves me enough not to look to closely :)

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