Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Jingle Is Definitely On Santa's Naughty List! In Which It Becomes Clear That I Have No Idea What I'm Doing

UGH, y'all...  I am remembering why my Jingle BOM project stalled out in the first place.  :-(

With new resolve to get this top assembled and off my design wall, the first thing I did was to trim away the backing fabric from the largest applique shapes on the center medallion.

Oh, YES, I Trimmed That Backing Away!
I know quilters have mixed opinions about whether to trim away the backing fabric, with some saying the longevity of the finished piece is compromised by trimming backing away from beneath the applique and others saying it reduces bulk for more quilting possibilities and a softer finished quilt.

Is My Applique Stitched, or WOVEN INTO the Background Fabric?
However, with this first-ever applique attempt, I was overly neurotic about my hand stitches being small enough and I'm afraid there was a bit of overkill on that end.  (I have eased up and am no longer weaving my applique into the background fabric like this!).  Anyway, as you can see in the above photo, there is no way this stitching is going to come out, and my hand stitched applique seams are way more secure than my machine pieced quilt seams.  I only trimmed behind the center poinsettia and the layered pomegranates, though, because it was taking too long and I was on a mission to get this thing DONE.  And so I dug out those pattern directions and found the place where the designer tells you to cut down this 30" applique medallion to a finished size of 26 1/2".  Just "trim it down," she says, with no advice or instruction as to HOW to do this.

My 30 Inch Applique Medallion, Before Trimming
Well, folks -- I struggled.  I measured carefully, and tried my best to trim off the same amount from all four sides, and I ended up with TWO sides measuring 26 1/2" as they were supposed to, and the OTHER two sides measuring only 26".  Also the corners were no longer square.  Did you hear me screaming all the way at your house?!  

I'm convinced that the stuffed berries are what did me in.  Normally I'd lay my acrylic ruler on top of my block and trim away the excess fabric with my rotary cutter, but these stuffed berries near the edges of the medallion lift the ruler up off the fabric so the ruler can't hold the fabric in place while you're cutting.  Instead, I tried to place the ruler over the outside edge of the block that I was trimming away.  Didn't work so well.  :-(  I trimmed again and managed to get all four sides of the block to measure the same 26" with square corners again, but now I'd lost the seam allowances and some of my outer leaves are awfully close to where the border seams are going to  be stitched.  I'm going to have to finesse that with my borders.  If I was planning to diagonally set this medallion as Erin did in her quilt, I would be in deep trouble because it would be too small.  Thankfully I'd already decided to set the medallion straight and add inner borders rather than setting triangles.  So those inner borders will be next.  That's my To-Do for Tuesday! (Linking up with To-Do Tuesday at Stitch ALL the Things: http://stitchallthethings.com).

My Border Print Fabric
Nothing like a royal screw-up to sap your motivation!  What really kills me is that my medallion was so straight and square to begin with, since I tore instead of cutting to keep the edges perfectly on grain.  Thinking ahead to my next applique project with a large medallion, I'm thinking that maybe I should machine baste the final cutting line onto my block background in a contrasting thread color before I start stitching, and then use that thread line as a cutting guide at the end.  What do you all think?  

If anyone knows the magical secret of how to trim completed applique blocks without ruining them, PLEASE TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS!  The only gadget I've seen to help with this is pricey, Karen Kay Buckley's Perfect Adjustable Square set:

Karen Kay Buckley's Perfect Adjustable Square Set
The suggested retail is $75 and the best price I've found is on the AQS web store, $56Amazon also has it for $65 with Prime "free" shipping.  My understanding is that this tool wouldn't have helped with my Jingle medallion because it only goes up to 26", not 26 1/2" like my block was supposed to be.  Does anyone have this tool, and if so, is it worth it?

Okay, so writing about a quilt actually does NOT help it get closer to being finished...  Have a wonderful Tuesday, everyone!  I'm linking up with WIPs On Wednesday at Esther's Quilt Blog.


Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

just my opinion but as the tool only goes up to 26 inches it wouldn't be much good unless you know you will never applique anything larger! Good luck on your quilt it is lovely!

Home Sewn By Us said...

Hi Rebecca! Ugg. It sounds like this project is doomed to stay a UFO, and for good reason. I'd say cut your losses, get those borders on, quilt it up and get it out of your life. Of course, it is easy to type that. The actual fiddling with the borders is going to be a challenge, but you're up for it. Why? Because the end is in sight. How darn annoying though. {{Hugs}} It is really a beautiful piece. Maybe your bestie will finish it up for you?! If you ask her really, really nicely. I don't have that tool but that seems really pricey and too small in this instance for your purpose. Happy Happy Tuesday to you. ~smile~ Roseanne

Sue said...

I would very carefully place it on my cutting mat with equal amounts over the required size, then cut off the extra. I hope that makes sense!
I LOVE your block and fabric choices!

Carole~Quilter on the hill said...

Oh you poor thing, how frustrating! Hilda from Everystitch has thie tool, you could email her to find out what she thinks.

KaHolly said...

I feel your frustration. I carefully embroidered a beautiful piece, and no matter how carefully I worked, when I trimmed it down, it didn’t measure up! But unlike you, I didn’t persevere, and it still sits unfinished. I used it to practice FMQ in the beginning, as a matter of fact, and some day, it might become a pillow. Hang in there! You can do this! And it will be beautiful upon completion. Promise!

JoanG said...

I divide the size in half and measure from the center out to the edge. I've been known to mark that edge with a chalk pencil and not cut it at first. When I've marked all the edges, I carefully measure the whole piece and if it is the correct size, then I will cut it. I know this is overkill on the measuring, but so far it seems to work for me. Hope that helps. It is a pain to measure an applique block when it is larger than any ruler you own, isn't it?

Shar said...

I have been reading your blog for a while now, and I think I have a good idea of your personality and work habits and they are quite admirable. But, I'd like to suggest that the human element of quilting is what keeps me interested. If your berries are off a bit, it gives some artistic license and makes it a personal work. If you aren't submitting this to any quilt competitions, no one is going to know. You started this years ago and since then your work and habits have changed. Accept what you learned from this, put it together, and quilt it. And then there is the old saying here; "It'll quilt out."

Karen in Breezy Point said...

Been there, done that--it's the worst! One technique that worked for me was to make a template from freezer paper in the size the block is to be cut. Press it onto the block and trim. For accurate placement, fold the template and the block into quarters and match up the folds. You can make a pretty large template by overlapping freezer paper pieces and ironing it to itself. Also, freezer paper shrinks when it's pressed for the first time, so press it all over before cutting it to size. I just press it onto my ironing board and peel it back up. Hope this helps!

colleen said...

Oh Karen in Breezy Point your freezer paper tip is perfect. Rebecca don't forget why designers have you start with over sized backgrounds.....because appliqué can shrink the block and it can shrink it unevenly.
Right now I am making a pillow for a friend that is a seasonal gift so....I made the front great loved how it turned out then pieced the back and three sides perfect on the fourth side the front and back had a perfect top corner but.... from that corner to the bottom there was a 3/4 inch difference

Uhg what to do each piece front and back looked great so it's a pillow it will be 3-D so I picked a side to put the zipper in did that then sewed up the sides and it is done.....is the pillow perfectly square? It looks square did I measure not on your life if it looks good it is good

I am working on this project once a week at my friends house it is a seasonal gift I need to deliver it in the season (football related) so for what it is, it is perfect.

Now take a break from stressing tell us about singing this year and where you are on the pineapple apple quilt and do you have an unused paper pineapple?
I know it was expensive to print out all of your papers I am thinking I could use my light box and trace a few here and there and over time get a similar quilt as I really really like your version I am I think more pastel

Kootenay Quilter said...

For trimming a large block or border in future, I am with Karen in Breezy Point. Freezer paper is your best friend.
As for your current problem, consider adding a border to bring it out to the proper size to finish at the dimension required for the pattern. You could do it as 1 border with the extra 1/2 inch added to the pattern dimension, or add a narrow separate 1/2 inch border to bring it out to the 26.5 inch square, then add the border size that is in the pattern.
When doing a framed quilt with multiple pieced borders there is often a narrow border between the pieced sections that allows one to bring that section up to the required size before adding the next pieced border.
Love the block. I am also one that removes the excess background from my applique to make easier for hand quilting.

Gretchen Weaver said...

What I've done with applique medallions is to tape it on my mat and trim from the outside. My ruler isn't laying on top of the applique but on the outside. Cut slowly, check often and move the tape when necessary. I'm too frugal, I wouldn't spend $$ on a pricey special ruler that would be used only once or twice in it's lifetime if that often unless you plan to make a lot more appliques that are 26" or smaller. I think your medallion is beautiful and I don't think anyone is going to notice that it's not completely square. This time next year you'll have a beautiful Christmas quilt to place on your bed or wall!

Anonymous said...

Make your own template from gridded template plastic. Tape together sheets of template plastic, cut to size using the grid lines and mark vertical, horizontal and diagonal center on the template. Best part is the templ plastic can be reused for future projects.
Have fun!
Barbara in AR

Unknown said...

Chocolate helps when you cut applique blocks (wine dosen't) but what does work is to draw a line accurately around the block then cut it with a scissors.

Nancy said...

Your first photo is fabulous, Rebecca. I cut out the back of appliques, too, and I love seeing them trimmed so perfectly. And your stitches -- I don't believe I've ever seen any so tiny! Of course, the front of your quilt is beautiful.

I can sympathize with your frustration about getting the quilt square. I struggle with that whenever I applique. I'm not sure about basting the final cutting line before appliqueing, though. My experience has been that the edge stretches when I stitch, either by machine or hand, unless I'm stitching two fabrics together.

I hope you can feel comfortable with getting this close enough to perfect to be happy with it. It's too beautiful a quilt to linger unfinished and, honestly, no one else will notice its imperfections (unless maybe it's another quilter who is a perfectionist and doesn't mind making you feel bad by checking it for square!). My most recent most has become, "done is better than perfect" especially when I've done the very best I can.

Annette Mandel said...

I often trim my applique and embroidery blocks with the right side on the cutting mat. This helps with the uneven ridges on the front. Freezer paper is a life saver. If you were already planning for this to look different from the pattern, you could have made it any size.

Christine Slaughter said...

I am no good to you with the advice portion here, but I wanted to say how beautiful your medallion looks! I just love it and the back is perfect!

greg @ grey dogwood studio said...

I like to measure out from the center to each side, and then I cut it slightly larger than needed. That allows me to then trim a minute amount from each side (like 1/8 or 1/16 of an inch) until I reach the exact size that I need. Not scientific, but it works for me!

Maybe this gives you the artistic license to get creative with your setting!

dq said...

I am so sorry you are having struggles. My Sliced Snow Globe center had similar problems. I just couldn't seem to get square corners, but it all worked out in the end. My advice is to push forward with it anyway. If you don't, it could sit unfinished for a long time which would be sad because this is a STUNNER!

You likely have a finished plan for this where it must fit perfectly in the center and be a certain size. If it doesn't need to be a certain size, I would add borders of the background fabric all the way around and trim it again only larger. No one will ever notice.

Sara en Marie said...

I applique on a too large background, then starch and press the whole thing. Then I'll draw the seam lines and the cutting lines in Frixion pen, and only cut when I'm satisfied with those. But even with this procedure, mistakes do happen...