Friday, July 15, 2011

Funky Aboriginal Windows [2 - Cutting the Top Fabric]

Alright...last time I wrote about the Funky Aboriginal Window Quilt ("FAW") I explained that Shirley and I had decided on the size for our squares.  To briefly recap we decided on sixteen 14" squares, each with a 2" Frame, and a 10"x10" Center, and a 3" border around all sixteen squares.  Feel free to visit Part 1 with my digital diagram here.

Before I go any further - yes - I know that there are some of you ( probably my mother) who are wondering "whatever happened to that Spinning Stars Quilt and the Squishes' Bedroom?"  Never fear, I have not forgotten.  But, let's be honest, I am a project whore.  Yup, I cheat on my projects.  Shrug, there I said it!  It just keeps me motivated to keep going if I have ten things going at the same time.  I have always been ashamed of this until I read about another quilter and her own struggles with "project monogamy." I was immediately relieved to know I am not the only one!  Thank you Marianne from The Quilting Edge!  So yes, I do have updates on those projects as well as a few others I have started but this is the one I am writing about now...I promise to report back on the others later.  

Focusing on the task at hand...Cutting top fabric for FAW.  I am going to break it down into what you Need to complete this pattern and what I Did.

Top Fabric: At Least 8 but No More than 13 Aboriginal Fabrics

I say at least 8 because that is enough to make 16 Squares and move things around and provide variety so long as you don't mind that every fabric will be used as both a Center Square and a Frame Twice.   Why no more than 13?  Well, as I hope you will see from my photos below, this fabric does amazing things when paired with its various friends.  It is an exercise in complementary colors and reminds me of an optical illusion as Fabric A with Fabric B looks X, meanwhile Fabric A with Fabric C looks Y.  Therefore, it is a positive to have duplicates to create this dichotomy.  What is even greater is that the same fabric can be in your layout multiple times but it is not obvious as it adapts itself different depending on its frame.  

Shirley and I started with 12 different top fabrics (excluding the total border which would create 13).  This is what gives us the freedom to be picky about the composition of our Centers as well as the overall quilt layout because we have extra fabrics to move around and pair with each other.  Some fabrics we chose only to use as Frames while others we opted to use as Center Squares twice.  One thing to keep in mind is that this fabric is heavily patterned and having MORE allows you to be picky about what part of the pattern of each fabric you'd like to use as a Center.  The patterns change so quickly within one Fat Quarter or 1/2 Yard that there are multiple options as to where to orient your Center.  Having additional fabric allows you to choose without worrying about whether you will have enough left over for Frames.

If you are careful about your cutting, and are not particular about where the orientation of your Center Square is, then you can happily cut 2 Centers and 1 Frame from only a Fat Quarter of fabric.  See Diagram Below.   [NOTE: This method only renders 1 Frame per FQ.   Keep that in mind when preparing your math and mental layouts in head.  You will need more than FQs cut in this method to achieve enough Frames and Centers, but cutting in this method will allow you to utilize almost all the FQ and create more than one Center per FQ if that is necessary in your particular design.]  

Tangent (i.e. feel free to skip over)
For you experienced quilters and fabric devotees out there - yes - cutting this way is cutting selvage to selvage.  There is an ongoing debate amongst quilters as to whether to cut perpendicular/parallel to selvage.  As someone who had "no cutting against the grain" beat into her from an early point in her textile career I still cringe a bit when I do this.  But, the experienced quilter in me knows when it is okay and when it is not.  Cutting selvage to selvage (as opposed to along the selvage) may create strips of fabric that are stretchy depending on your fabric.  They appear innocent enough cut, but regret comes later when you begin to sew.  It has to do with the way fabric is woven, cutting with the selvage is cutting along the warp as opposed to the weft - blah blahdety blah - you have to be a weaver to care.  Anyway, my point: in certain patterns I would tsk tsk this method, but this aboriginal fabric is sturdy cotton and the stretch is minimal so don't worry about it.  Rules are created to be broken after all.

Online Aboriginal Fabric Resources

What To Cut
Total Yardage --> 3 yards
This can be made up in a number of ways [12 FQs or 9FQs and 3 Half Yards or 8 FQs and 2 Half Yards, and so on...] depending on what number of fabrics you choose for your pattern.  

16 Center Squares --> 10" x 10" Center Squares (duplicates encouraged)

16 Sets of Frames --> (2) 2.5" x 10.5" strips, (2) 2.5" x 14.5" strips each fabric (duplicates encouraged)

For Reference these are our fabric choices and how I cut it:

Whew, once you have all of your 16 Centers and 16 Frames cut it is time to lay those babies out and arrange things how you want your quilt top to look.  Let me tell you, this can be tough!  The fabric is so diverse and there are so many awesome (as in "extremely impressive or daunting" and not "yeah dude, cool) combinations.  Be prepared to stand in awe as your layout develops...this fabric is so mesmerizing!

I am going to reserve our final layout for the Top Fabric in my next post.  I intended to do it all together...but this post is longer than I expected.   No, I do not regret making my geeky diagrams, ahem!  My delay has more to do with the fact that after playing with our layout Shirley and I saw one glaring issue in our fabric choices...  Do you see it?  

Even a quick layout on the dining room table reveals that your eye is drawn to the BLACK FRAMES!

Those black frames stand out so much that we regrouped and ordered another fabric to see if we could balance things out a little more.  I'll introduce you to our new fabric and our layout in Part 3...

- rebecca lynne

No comments: