Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Celtic Solstice Mystery - Part 2 and a look at process

If you are visiting to find my Giveaway Day post you will need to click here to enter for the prize.

Although my current preferences are for modern fabrics and contemporary quilt design I felt compelled to join in Bonnie Hunter's current mystery project, Celtic Solstice. I have a lot of scraps and this lady can show you how to do amazing things with them! I figured it would be okay to just say "whatever" for one project and see what happens. So far, so good. I joined a couple of Facebook groups for this mystery project and reading all the posts there got me thinking about how everyone approaches these types of projects. I figured I could write one post to cover off the weekly Celtic Solstice link-up and to also share a bit of how I've been coming at this project so far.

First, I changed the colours. It isn't that I don't like the colours Bonnie chose, I just don't like them together, in the particular values and hues she has suggested. So, I edited the palette to better suit my taste which, coincidentally enough, matches the scraps I have on hand. Go figure.

Like any good instructor, Bonnie provided a comprehensive list of materials, including the amount of each colour required and photos to show us the kind of fabrics she has in mind. Bonnie has a system for organizing her scraps to make them really usable - me, not so much. I have plastic drawers into which I separate my scraps by colour. Bonnie - and many of those who posted photos on FB - pulled lovely, nicely organized stacks of fabrics on the eve of the mystery's start. As for myself, the only thing I pulled was my drawer - and I had to pull it good and hard to get it open because it's so jammed up with scraps:

This step of the mystery required me to cut 200 green rectangles, each 2" x 3 1/2". My criteria for selecting fabrics was to pull any piece that would net me at least one rectangle of the required size and nothing that was either too acid or too greyed-out. I also tried to stay away from anything much darker than a real primary, grassy-green.

Here is a post-pressing selection of some that (literally) made the cut:

The next step simply required me to cut my fabrics into the required rectangle size. As you can see, some scraps yielded more pieces than others. In order to keep with the scrappy theme I tried not to cut more than eight rectangles from any given fabric.

I am always anxious to get sewing and try to find efficiencies in my cutting when I can. I still want accuracy, but sometimes there are ways to minimize the number of times I have to move the ruler or pick up the cutter and it all adds up, especially when there is a lot of cutting. A trick I really like is to extend my ruler onto my fabric by as many sub-units as I can get out of that piece. For example, the 2" strip below was long enough to sub-cut two 3 1/2" long units, so I set the ruler down so the 7" mark (2 x 3 1/2" = 7") was on the freshly straightened edge of my fabric. I cut once at 7" and then slid the ruler to the left until I was at the 3 1/2" mark, and I cut again.

It would make more sense if I had a video, but hopefully this helps give you the idea. It means I can lay the fabric down once and not have to keep moving it, which helps save a little bit of time.

I piled my rectangles in stacks of ten and then piled my little bunches of ten into stacks of fifty. This helped me keep track of how many I had and how many more I needed to go, even when interruptions came along. Step 2 of the mystery will eventually yield me 100 chevron blocks. I am a long way from finished right now with only the first square sewn onto 100 half-blocks. Good thing the next clue doesn't come out until Friday.

I have not fussed much when it comes time to add the other pieces. My main goal is to ensure there is enough contrast between the pieces I am combining; in this case, between the green rectangle and the neutral square I am adding which is the start of the chevron design. As long as I can distinguish between the value in the two pieces, I am calling it good.

I am chain piecing and decided it would work best for me to make one side of the chevron at a time; I worry I will forget to sew from the other direction on 1/2 the squares so I simply eliminated that other half from my sewing space to keep me from making that error. My process is to chain piece all of them, then trim, then take the lot to the ironing board for a good pressing. I am experimenting with a dry iron for the first time ever (I love steam!) but I do keep the spray bottle handy in case a bit of fabric gets stubborn with me. I also measured my units after pressing and trimmed any that had gotten a little wonky. My next step will be to dive into the drawer with the pink scraps to get those cut (my pink is Bonnie's yellow) and start the chain piecing process again. 

So there you have a little insight into my process on this particular project. I noticed another great process post here if you want to check that out as well. I'm linking up to Bonnie's blog along with all the other mystery quilt makers.
Happy quilting.


PS. You would think this would make a dent in my scrap drawer but so far you can hardly even tell I've taken anything out. The cool thing? It's like getting a quilt top for free!

PPS. Sorry for the dark photos; there is no natural light in my sewing room and the darkness of our late afternoon's and evenings is not so great for picture taking.

1 comment:

  1. The fabrics are quite lovely I look forward to seeing the units.