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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Quilt Squares

My fabric recycling class is making a quilt, a donation for charity, creating quilt blocks from reclaimed kilts.  For class this week, my task is to take home one reclaimed kilt and cut a minimum of twenty quilt blocks, each 6 ½ inches square.

Why kilts?  Once kilts are cleaned, the pleats removed with a seam ripper and the fabric pressed, a kilt will yield four times as much fabric as a skirt for the same price from a Thrift Store.

I have the prerequisites:  cutting mat, rotary cutter and quilting ruler.  These tools are leftover from a “Learn to Quilt” class I took years ago.  These classes taught paper piecing and quilt block design – activities at which I did not excel.  The patience and precision required resulted in tears, wasted fabric and a suspicion that I am not cut out for quilting.  It was not a success.

In the fabric recycling course, quilting sneaks up on me.  There was no hint that the fabric recycling course would morph into a quilting class.  But, not wishing to admit my history of failure, I agree.

Sure, I’ll take this home to cut into squares.

Twenty squares are requested.  How difficult can it be? A question which proves my memory selects what it wants to forget.

The fabric is plaid, grey and cream with a navy stripe.  I think a lighter colour will be easier to see.  I choose it rather than the reds and blacks that my classmates take home.

It is easier to see.  But the lines of colour in the wool are not even.  The lines squiggle as they move down the length of the fabric.  This squiggling fools the eye and makes measuring 6 ½ inch squares difficult.

I measure the squares and measure again and again before cutting. I hear the voice of the recycling group’s instructor nagging in my head.

The quilt squares must be exactly 6 ½ inches square.  Nothing else will work.

I wonder.  Will my squares be acceptable?  I shudder remembering my lack of production at quilting class.

In two hours, I cut five squares at twenty-four minutes a square.  This is taking longer than I imagined.  Visions of the quilting class flash through my mind.  I re-visit the face of the quilting instructor; eyeballs rolling, eyebrows arched and mouth twisted.  I sigh.

My husband wanders in with two glasses of wine, to investigate, offering to keep me company.  He sips, watching me.  I talk to myself, measuring, not sipping wine, and wondering if straight edges and right-angle corners are possible.  He offers help.

Cutting squares of fabric can’t be different from slicing wallboard with a T-square and a knife!

Seizing the chance to escape, I show him how to use the cutting mat, the rotary cutter and the quilting ruler.  He asks questions, observes that the rotary cutter is like a pizza cutting-wheel, observes that it seems simple.

I get up.  He sits down.  He fiddles with the fabric, studies the lines in the plaid and notices the unevenness.  He calculates how much wool is needed for twenty squares and begins to cut.  I sip my wine.

He doesn’t talk to me, keeps his head down, mutters numbers.  I sip and put my feet up.  He cuts.  Success, four squares. 

Four 6 ½ inch squares – exactly square.

I turn on the propane fireplace, move to the rocking chair, sip and relax.  I think.

This isn’t hard after all.

My husband works like a machine producing squares.  Four more; the pile grows.  He cuts strips of wool and cuts the strips into squares.

I turn on music, start to hum.  Smiling at him, I offer to fetch him another glass of wine.

No thanks, I need to concentrate.

I pour myself a glass.  This isn’t bad!  Fireplace, rocking chair, music and wine.  He works, produces squares, no fabric wasted, perfect squares.

An hour passes.  On the table, there is a cube of forty-five squares, twice the minimum.  Success!

Well, this cutting task hasn’t been difficult.  Perhaps I’ll offer to do more squares next week.  I'll have to buy more wine though.

All photos are mine.


Jane Tims said...

Hi Carol. This reminds me of the story of Tom Sawyer and painting the fence. I often lure my husband into my projects, merely by looking frazzled. He is better at cutting and folding than I will ever be. Please keep us up to date on how the quilt turns out!Jane

Gwen Buchanan said...

Cute, Carol!!

Carol Steel said...

Thanks for your comments. I didn't appear frazzled on purpose. I was having a difficult time measuring and cutting the squares. Quilting activities are not my best thing.