When I left off sewing late yesterday afternoon I had pressed about half of my paired strip sets for Clue 1 of Bonnie Hunter's En Provence mystery. This morning I actually woke up when my alarm went off at 10 a.m. (surprise number one for the day:). I got dressed and ate breakfast quickly as I was eager to go back to sewing. I took a number of photos as I went along so I could show a mini-tutorial about how I subcut the strip set pairs into 'twosies.'
First I finished pressing all the sewn pairs of neutral fabric, including pressing the seams open. I forgot to mention yesterday that my little Clover iron has a very sharp point to the sole plate which really saved my poor overheated fingertips from pain. :) Yet another positive feature.
Now, for those of you who are more precision oriented than I am, I hope my cutting methods don't make you wince. :) I bought my first rotary cutter - a 22 mm made by Olfa - in the fall of 1979. In those days rotary cutters were intended to help garment makers cut out their pattern pieces more accurately and there were no rotary cutting mats or rulers to be had on the market. Almost everything I know about using a rotary cutter (and they are, hands down, my most favorite tool!) I have learned to do by experimentation and multiple mistake making. :)
To start, you have a strip set:
Uh, oops! First come the tools, yes? :) Here is my personal favorite ruler for rotary cutting when I am working with strips:
I like the Creative Grids rulers as they do not slip around on the fabric while measuring and cutting. They are sturdy and accurate as well. This particular ruler is 3.5" wide and 12.5" long - I bought it several years ago when I was making a lot of 12" patchwork blocks from precut strip sets (2.5" wide) and teaching a year-long series of 'modern' designs made with those blocks. One of the most valuable features of Creative Grids rulers, imho, is this:
See that square of black and white triangles? That is what is known as a QR code (Quick Response or matrix barcode). If you use the QR app and your smartphone, take a photo of this square and be moved instantly on the internet to a video showing you how to use this ruler. All the Creative Grid rulers have this feature - you can never lose the instructions for using your speciality ruler as they are all available archived on the internet. :) I don't know if you can use this photo to activate your app (if not, you can go here to see this ruler's instruction video; I just watched it for the first time - I don't even use my ruler this way:).
Anyway, I am using a 45 mm Olfa ergonomic rotary cutter (I sit to cut - spinal stenosis and arthritis keep me from standing to cut - and this cutter puts less stress on my wrist and also allows me to lock the blade open or closed so I don't have to continuously squeeze it to use the cutter) ... and my 3.5"x12.5" Creative Grid ruler to cut my strip sets.
Now, where was I....oh, yes. Some years ago now Debbie Caffrey wrote a book about Power Cutting - precise and efficient rotary cutting guidelines. I am not a precisionist by nature but I took careful note of her ideas as they are extremely useful when doing the kind of 'factory' production of block units that this mystery project calls for. :)
First, I trim the edge of the strip pair perpendicular to the seam line:
Trim away on the left (remember I told you I don't do things normally? I cut the ragged edge away with my right hand, backwards, just like you see it here:).
Now, I want to cut 2" wide rectangles to make my twosies. I made my strips 9" or so (some were longer) so that I have a trimming allowance and can cut 4 two inch twosies from each strip set. Four times two is 8" of rectangles so I line up my ruler at the 8" mark to make the first cut:
Without moving the fabric, I just slide the ruler to the left to make the next cut at the 6" mark:
See the place to the right where I made the 8" cut? Once I've placed the ruler as shown above, I make the 6" cut. Then I slide the ruler again without moving the fabric:
What you cannot see is that my left thumb is clamping the ruler to the surface of my cutting mat by clinging beneath my sewing table ... this keeps the ruler from fidgeting about as I cut. :) For whatever reason, I neglected to photo the 2" cut. (shrug) Here is what you have when you have made all four cuts:
Four twosie rectangles and a trimmed end piece to the right that goes into my 'dog bed' bag:
I have a guild buddy who collects our scraps and makes beds for the dogs and cats at her local humane shelter. I love that she makes something useful with my tiny remnants and happily contribute as often as I can. :)
I knew I would be cutting a whole bunch of twosies and wasn't sure how much volume it would all amount to, so I put the just-cut bits into a big shopping bag I have that is self-standing:
I spent about two hours trimming, cutting twosies and depositing the cuts into this bag and the dog bed scrap pile. Voila! The first half of clue one completed. :) My shopping bag was impractical for the next construction step so I got a big mixing bowl from my kitchen to hold the twosies. (Please, please tell me I'm not the only person who drafts ordinary household implements for my sewing?:)
Here is my big bowl of twosies, all ready to be paired up into 4 Patch blocks. :) I liked using this bowl because I could quicly stir around the bits and choose two rectangles that had four different fabric squares. Not nearly as precise and combinatorial as my first step with strip pairing ... and maybe I got two 4 Patches that were the same ... but I leave it as an exercise for the obsessively curious to find the pairs. I was happy to get four different fabrics in each block! :)
Sadly, between sewing yesterday and today, my neck began to hurt before I got all my 4 Patches made so I had to stop with my bowl still partially filled:
I _think_ I've sewn together about half the 4 Patch blocks I can make. I have to be gentle to my neck or endure days of agony as a result of the pinched nerve my arthritis has 'gifted' me. :P Better to take my time and be without pain. :)
The weather outside today was cold and blustery. The wind battered our house and rattled the windows all day as I sewed. I was really, really happy to be indoors and sewing!
This evening I have been watching 'tv' and finishing up my Wingspan shawl - I am binding off now and will finish it tomorrow. Can't wait to show it off - I like this piece a lot!