Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Instruction Reading Fail

I had a splendiferous idea last week. I'd make a two-sided quilt to represent the places we've lived in America so far. Obviously, having just moved to Texas, the Lonestar was the first choice.

I already had a tutorial pinned. Janice at Better Off Thread has also set out tables for making 8 different sizes  of Lonestar (with 9-piece or 36-piece panels) depending on your current level of insanity!

I am going to point out upfront that her tutorials and measurements are all excellent, well written, well-pictured (not a phrase, I know), and just generally spiffing. My attention span is the exact opposite of all of those things.

I got enthused when I realised I had those WOF Amy Butler strips lying around, and that there were more than nine of them so I could totally make the easier Lonestar. Yay! There were pretty pictures, motivation to stay up after waking ridiculously early on a Sunday morning, just to start cutting and sewing. I hate cutting. Basically, I was quite excited.

Early morning instagramming...
Everything went swimmingly, right up until I had to cut my groups of three fabric strips (now sewn together). They needed to be cut at a 45° angle and with a spacing equal to the original width of the strips (3"). Sounds straight forward, right!?

That's what I thought. I dutifully went along and marked every 3" on either side of my strips. I lined my ruler up with the marks, and the 45° ruler line with the seams. I cut merrily, until I had 8 from each group, 28 lovely strips for me to admire.

I had already figured out how I wanted the fabrics to rotate when sewn together, so I could have just ploughed ahead at this point, sewing three strips together to make the 9-diamond panels. But I thought I should lay it out, just to make sure I got everything the right way around, and a picture to refer to should it all get hairy during the sewing.

I spent the next two hours, alternating between sitting on the floor looking at the strips, scratching my head, and reminding myself of a toddler trying to fit a round block into the square hole. I'd take a break. Watch some telly, think 'oh, maybe if I rotate it this way' - no, no that didn't work. Back to the internet - maybe the tutorial's wrong or it left something out (it didn't, but I looked at other tutorials to make sure). 'Ooh, maybe if I place them in horizontal rows instead of vertical' - nope.


'Ok, sit down and read each line of the tutorial and look at ALL the pictures'. Oh shit. Yep, that's the one, right there. At that point, two hours in, pieces all over the floor, sitting beside them, I nearly cried. Somehow, I didn't. I'm not sure why not, but instead the spirit of selfish sewing, and 'sure, you might as well find some way to put them together, they're still pretty' came over me.

They're still on the floor, but now they look like this.

Not right, but pretty!

I should point out, that I noticed last night while I explained to Paul all the ways it was broken that the panels on either side of East are wrong. All fixed now, but no picture yet.

Anyway, yeah, there aren't supposed to be those offsets between each point and the next panel. I kind of like it, in that there's a sort of pinwheel-esque movement (reaching, I know).

After coming up with a couple of different potential fixes, I have found my Make It Work fix. I will be cutting 8 more slimmer pieces from the leftover strips, in order to fill those gaps. It's going to make this look a little crazy, but I think that maybe the busy-ness of the fabrics will pull it all together. Then I shall proceed as per the tutorial, consulted properly and multiple times in future, to sash it in a solid, before surrounding it in a cream (I think).

Hopefully, the upcoming DC side of this won't be as torturous. Still though, I'll never forget how to piece a Lonestar :)

PS something was clearly wrong with our karma yesterday, after I did the above, I then made a sleeve for my phone that would be more suited to being a purse (massively huge), and then we somehow ruined our Shrove Tuesday pancakes...

But it's ok, we're going for Pancakes Mark II tonight!


  1. Ooh, I like this. And I like Make It Work solutions! I had an idea to make a mini quilt out of blocks representing the states I've lived in, but that somehow got lost in trillion other things on my to-do list. :) Maybe one day.

    Can't wait to see the DC side! What kind of background fabric are you using for your Lone Star?

  2. I don't think my comment worked the first time, but if it did, please disregard this!! :) I love the fabric you chose, and the bright center really makes it! I understand the frustration...but it's just lovely. I think you're right about how the offset points gives it a interesting pinwheel effect. I can't wait to see it when it's finished:)

  3. I think this is just beautiful! It might not be exactly as the pattern says, but if it's pretty, does it matter? I hope you can be happy with however it ends up. And sometimes the make it work fixes are better than the original plan anyway.
    E xx

  4. Ouch, what a bummer to make a mistake like that and have so much trouble finding out what when wrong. Those tricky 45ยบ angle cuts then rejoins are fun once you get the pattern locked in your mind. I enjoyed making a Seminole quilt a while back which was all cuts like this but when it messed up it was only one stripe not the whole central design. I hope your Texas make it work design succeeds. Have you chosen a design to represent Wash. DC? There was a great Metro map quilt in our show over at the AAC and I know you used the Metro while you were here. Cheers!


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