Monday, March 22, 2010

The Making of a Modern Lone Star, Part 2: strips and piecing

I've been busy on the lone star.  To start where we left off,  I had to cut enough strips of each color according to my grid mock up.  As a reminder:  I needed 1 strip of fabric for EACH diamond in my grid mock up.  I am making a 7 x 7  lone star, which basically means there are seven diamonds that travel out from the center diamond, for a total of 7 x 7, or 49 diamonds within each point of my 8 pointed lone star.  I used 49 strips; 8 each of turquoise and yellow/orange, 13  lime, and 20 pink.

I decided on a 2 1/4" side strip which would give me a 1 3/4" finished size diamond.  After cutting all the strips, I stacked the first set of 7 strips and made an initial cut on a 45 degree angle. 

I lined up the 45 degree line on the ruler with the bottom edge of my  fabric strip stack.  This saves a ton of fabric.

With the first set of strips all angled up nicely, I laid out the 7 strips in order so I wouldn't get confused when sewing them together.  This is a really good way to keep yourself on track.

I've lined up the 7 strips as my map tells me to do.  I'm working on row 6.  Pink, turquoise, pink, turquoise, pink, lime, pink (laid out from top to bottom).   I sewed the strips from bottom to top! Pink, lime, pink, turquoise, pink, turquoise, pink

Sewing the strip sets was easy!  I decided to use a seam guide on this project so all my seams would be consistent.   To do this, I put the seam guide under my needle and brought the needle down and through the tiny hole in the guide.  I then used a stack of pink post its and lined the post its up against the guide.  That way, as I feed my fabric, I will have the post its as a guide.  Since I'm just sewing long strips together at this point, there are no seams/points to join.   Just sew a nice, consistent, scant quarter inch seam. 

 Once you've got your post its lined up, just remove the guide and you're ready to piece.

 The fabric glides beautifully along the post it and keeps my seams very consistent.

While it's OK to wait to press open the seams, I found it much easier to sew a row, then press a seam, sew a row, press a seam.  And yes, I pressed the seams open!! Not to one side.  There is a trick to perfectly matched seams, and it depends, in part, on a pressed open seam.

 I hold the seam and lift a bit with my right hand (since I'm a lefty) as I use the nose of the iron to open the seam.

Once I had the 7 sets of 7 strips sewn together,  I had to make 2 1/4" strips of each set.  I got 10 sets of strips from each strip set, although I will only use 8, one for each point of the star.

Here's a picture of my ruler, still with the blue tape guides I used before, since I started with 2 1/4" long strips, I will cut my strip sets also 2 1/4" wide, starting with a 45 degree initial clean up cut.  This step is very important, so go slowly.

All my strips sets stacked and ready to piece together.  Yay!

Now it's time to sew together each set of strips to make 1 complete point of the 8-pointed star.  Jan Krentz has an amazing trick to help get seams that "kiss" each other perfectly.  She makes a DOT with a pen or pencil on one strip and matches the dot up with the bottom edge of the pressed open seam from the other strip.  I know this sounds complicated, but I've got a few pictures below to help you along with this.  

Using my ruler, I made a small dot with my micron pen on strip 1, placed strip two on top of strip one, Right Sides Together, and brought the bottom edge of the pressed open seam of strip two to meet with the dot on strip one.

Can you see how I'm making a dot 1/8" above the seam where the lime and pink strip meets?

Here is another picture showing the dot 1/8" above the seam.

Look closely at this picture so you can see the bottom half of the pink/lime seam of strip 2.  I have tried to match the bottom edge of the lime with the dot on strip one.  I continued to match each seam with each dot for each strip!!

Once I've sewn together the 7 strips in my stack, I've got a complete point!  So far, I have 2 done and #3 half done.  I've been away for 5 days visiting the mother-in-law in VA, so I'm going to get right back to it.  I want to have all 8 points done by end of day Wednesday.

They look kinda "bumpy" at this juncture because I am not going to press the seams until I'm done piecing all 8 points.  I'm going to "block" each point, kind of like blocking when you knit something, so you can't really see just how well the seams "kiss" each other, but believe me, they do!!

Next time we'll start putting the star together!!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for all the fabulous tips. I must try your trick to iron seams open. I always seem to burn my fingers.