Allowing for Allowances

This morning I had a little bitty finish. The last of the quilts for the quilting snowladies is finished.

It always feels like a little milestone when the quilt is finished on these stitcheries, even though there's still plenty of stitching left to be done. I think it's important to celebrate these little micro-finishes, don't you?

After that I went into the sewing room to continue working on the Vintage Tin quilt. I'm quickly bumping up against the limits of what I can finish until my sashing fabric comes on Friday. Still, I was able to sew together the row of friendship stars, half-square triangles and one mismatched flying geese that go below the oil can stitchery. You can see it in the picture from the pattern cover here:

When I sewed all the pieces together, the strip ended up two inches longer than it should have been. This was disconcerting, to say the least. My blocks were trimmed, and my points were good. 

Certainly, I didn't want to trim so much from the friendship stars that I wouldn't have enough seam allowance to have nice sharp points. Nevertheless, when I sewed it to the bottom of the stitchery as instructed, it ended up looking more like a ruffle than it should have. Too, too wavy.

Maybe it isn't obvious in this picture, but trust me. It was going to cause me problems if I left it that way. It occurred to me that the pattern could be wrong, and so I even calculated out the width of the pieces and subtracted the seam allowances. It should have worked out right, and so I can only assume my seam allowances are off, even though I'm sewing with a quarter-inch foot. 

Well shoot...or something. It seemed like a good time to leave the room. 

Briefly, I considered throwing a tantrum, but there was no one around to watch. Oh well. It was a beautiful day, and so I went outside and cut the dead blossoms off the sunflowers. They are still blooming away. This one below is one of the late bloomers. Some of the flowers look similar from plant to plant, but they differ in size. 

While I was doing that, I looked across the field and saw that even Miss Gracie had come outside...something she rarely does. She's kind of a scaredy cat. She's looking off in the woods there with great suspicion.

I just kept up with my sunflowers. They were making me feel better about my sewing.

That one above is another one of the late bloomers. 

Then I checked on the tomatoes. Some of them are getting to a good size now. These are Super Marzanoes...very meaty and nearly seedless. They are a funny-looking tomato, but they are wonderful for sauce.

One of them is starting to turn red! It's the first one. I suspect it won't be long now before I have enough to start canning.

The tomatoes have not been very productive this year, and I'm probably going to have to purchase more at the farmer's market to make my quota of pasta sauce, salsa, and chutney. That's okay. I usually do. Nevertheless, Mike and I have puzzled over this and come to the conclusion that it's been too hot for them this year. Mine are grown in the greenhouse to accommodate our too-short growing season. They ripen faster in the greenhouse, but in hot weather, it is even hotter in the greenhouse. We leave the windows and doors open, but it's still substantially warmer. Our June was the hottest I've ever seen in Oregon, and I think the tomatoes are stressed because of it. Such is life, I guess.

The cherry tomato is loaded with tomatoes now, and many have ripened. Mike and I swipe them off the plant and pop them into our mouths as we walk by. I suppose if we left them alone, we could use them in a salad or something. They're just so sweet and good, it's hard not to eat them as quickly as they ripen.

Both Gracie and Smitty kept me company while I walked around, but Gracie was feeling the most like posing for her picture.

Gracie's advice to the lady cats: Never sit in the sun since it will make wrinkles in your furs and cause you to age purrmaturely.

So, I enjoyed a Mike's Lemonade while I was out, and then I felt ready to go back and tackle this sewing problem. It occurred to me that the strip had two spacers in it, and that I could probably shorten it to the correct length if I removed those spacers. It won't hurt the design at all. You can see the spacers in the pattern in the image below:

Each one in the upper strip added an inch to the length of the whole strip. I unsewed it from my stitchery, removed those two spacers, and then, it was almost precisely the correct length. No harm done, and I'll be happier to work with it this way. 

That brought me to the problem of the lower strip, which included three spacers. I sewed it together with the spacers and then measured it.

It was supposed to be 24-1/2 inches long, and you can see that mine it a little more than an inch too long.

So I removed one of the three spacers...the one on the left:

And then measured it again. Perfect.

When I stopped to write this post, I was ready to start sewing together the flying geese to make the four borders of the quilt. I'm measuring them carefully and trimming where I need to. I'm seriously hoping I won't have similar problems with them. I'll be watching my seam allowances like a hawk.

14 comments from clever and witty friends:

Cheryl's Teapots2Quilting said...

As I was looking at the picture, I was wondering why it had the spacers in it. Glad that taking them out made it fit.

Teresa in Music City said...

I can't believe you are already putting this one together! And it is a bittersweet moment to know all the quilts are done in the Snowladies - how does one smile and frown at the same time in a comment? Perhaps the oh-so-beautiful and wise Gracie would have some advice for me?

gayle said...

It's possible that your seam allowances are spot-on, but the designer's were off...
Your sunflowers always make me happy!

Terri in BC said...

Both my 1/4" feet are out so the only way I can get a perfect seam is to mark the 1/4" on the base of my machine with masking tape or that 1/4" glo-tape.

liniecat said...

I agree with Gayle, its the 'destructions' (as my Gran always used to say) that must be skew whiff.
But heavens, it never occurred to me that the blessed machine foot could be out!
Gracie still showing great dignity there, beneath that chair, bless her.
Those tomatoes are a hoot! Wonder if they are firm enough when ripe to stuff, like you could stuff peppers?

Vroomans' Quilts said...

I was wondering about the spacers myself - to make the length instead of change mathing blocks. 2" is a lot, but if removing the spacers worked for those sections, good. You may want to check the accuracy of your foot on some scrap before you sew all those geese together.

Dana Gaffney said...

That's a huge difference, how much would your foot have to be off to cause that and why wouldn't you have had this problem before? It's not your foot. I think the design is off and those spacers shouldn't have been there. Perfect answer, take a walk and let your mind work on it while you enjoy the sunflowers.

Doreen Auger said...

Wow! Thankful for those "spacers", but definitely a curious situation. I like it better w/o those pieces, actually. The sunflowers a so gorgeous.....maybe I'll give it another go next year. Yours are "speaking" to me!!!!

Vicki W said...

Glad you were able to easily solve yor problem! Whenever I start a new project I have to check the seam allowance. My machines sew different 1/4 inch seams and the thickness of the fabricalso affects the seam allowance.

Cinder Gal said...

We went to our state fair on Monday and looking at the quilts there was a snow lady quilt just like yours. Only she didn't do all the fill in on this quilt block that you did. Like yours much better. :)

Sandy said...

So glad you were able to adjust it so easily. It looks great!

Kate said...

It's looking great. Glad you were able to find an easy way to fix those strips.

quiltzyx said...

I'm glad you were able to adjust that row with the spacers. Sometimes taking a walk is just the right thing to do!
Beautiful sunflowers. One of my friends just 'harvested' the seeds from one of her sunflowers. She's saving them to plant next time.
Gracie, you are purrfectly beautiful sitting outside!

Lyndsey said...

Your sunflowers are gorgeous and certainly helped provide space for you to work through the problem. As for Gracie she is such a pretty girl and so sensible to sit in the shade.