Thursday, January 13, 2011

Lessons Learned From a UFO

We are having a UFO challenge in my class. For those of you who might not be quilters, these UFO’s are not the extraterrestrial type, they are UnFinished Objects—quilting projects that for one reason or another are unfinished. The challenge is to finish as many of your UFO's as you can by the end of this class session in March. Prizes will be given at the end based on the total number of square inches of the projects completed.

I thought I would work on some of mine, so I pulled out two bags from my hundred or so UFO’s, both of which are old Stack ‘N Whack projects. I started with one that is an 8-point pinwheel pattern in a quirky country fabric and green. The blocks that were finished had interest and movement to them, so I sat down and spent one day sewing the rest of the blocks together. Then I measured the blocks and it turned out they were all just “slightly” larger than they should have been. I couldn’t trim them down without losing the points of the pinwheels. If they had been less than ¼” too big, I may have been able to avert the fiasco that resulted, but they were more like 3/8” too big. The unfortunate part of this story is that I had already cut the setting triangles when I started the project several years ago, and now they were just “slightly” too small. Normally I wouldn’t have cut them until the blocks were all done, but years ago who knows why I did that. Well, to add insult to injury, I thought, “It’s just a teeny, tiny difference. I can just ease it in.” (ignoring the fact that 3/8” is not teeny, tiny) Big mistake! I knew better, but didn’t have enough fabric to cut new ones, so I thought I could MAKE it work. Nope, nada, no way. The quilt top will not lay flat because the triangles are too small. My only option is to unsew them, and resew them into the sides without stretching or easing, then trim the sides of the quilt even with the triangles. Luckily, I can do this without losing any part of the pinwheels. I should have done it in the first place.

The moral of this story is three-fold: 1) Even the most experienced of us make mistakes—stupid ones at that, 2) NEVER, EVER cut the setting triangles for an on-point setting before you finish the blocks, and 3) don’t try to MAKE something work, especially when it involves bias edges.

Here are a few pictures of the top. I fixed one triangle, but have to do several others to make this lay flat. Hope this doesn’t end up back in the black hole of UFO’s.

These show some of the wrinkles I need to get rid of.

Closeups of a couple of the blocks.

The triangle I fixed. Notice it doesn't meet the corners of the blocks. That's why I will have to trim the edges of the top.

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