Monday, September 14, 2009

The "Jig" is Up!

I took this photo of Indy at my son's baseball game this weekend. I love the black and white against the blue. (I'm beginning to wonder if I selected this dog because of his coloring . . . he looks great everywhere!).

Anyway, I haven't forgotten our "Creative Journey" but am just trying to avoid attacking the most difficult and least fun part of the process, at least from my point of view!

Before I can go further I have to fuse the "wings" to the border. Because I went with butterflies I'm going to have to make sure that they are laid out correctly and that the shape is the same. That's where a "jig" comes in, (and take my word for it, you'll want to dance one when you get through this process!).

Most quilters call these templates but I prefer the woodworking term "jig" because it's more fun. I make jigs all of the time for my real job. When you're making 300 favors, you need to make sure that the labels, cards, etc., line up correctly everytime. A jig will make the process faster and easier, and make it possible to ask your husband to help you finish something up. Give him a jig and he can do it too, (and in my Irish husband's case, play one on his guitar when he's done!).

In this case you'll need a sheet of card stock. I cut it in half so I have two pieces 5.5"x8.5." One piece will be for the corner, the other for the sides.

Let's start with the corner piece.

My border is 2" wide so I used my ruler to draw a fascimile of the corner of my quilt. I then drew a line from the outside to the inside corner so I can place the wings centered. I then took a couple of the actual pieces and laid them out until I found a placement I liked. I then traced around only one of the wings.

Using one of my favorite tricks I placed a piece of tracing paper over the shape and traced it, making sure to mark the corner and center lines so I can line them up when I flip it. Make sure to trace heavily, what you're essentially doing is making your own carbon paper.

Flip the paper over and put it in place, matching up your corner marks and center line. Then apply pressure while tracing over the wing. Now you have a "butterfly" in the corner.

Next you need to cut out the butterfly. I'm comfortable using a blade, but if you're shaky at that, just punch a hole inside the shape and you can use a pair of scissors to cut it out. Don't freak out about this having to be absolutely perfect. I usually cut just outside the lines because I want the inside to have some "wiggle room."

Oops! Another shot of Indy, I thought you might need a break now. This is him climbing on my husband's back, he was getting excited because there were other dogs at the game!

OK, back to the part where we start dealing with that terrible four letter word, "math"!

Now that I've got my corner made I'm going to start working on the side. I've drawn two lines across the stock two inches apart, that's my border. I found the center and marked it with a perpendicular line. This is where I want to place the middle butterfly. I also drew in the 3" squares that are in the center of my piece. This will help me when I align it on the finished quilt.

Using the corner section like a stencil I draw a set of wings onto the tracing paper, making sure to make a heavy mark. Then I flip it over and line it up so I can trace the center butterfly into place.

Now I go back to my corner jig and draw in my 3" squares, this will help me when I combine the two templates.

Now I line them up and use the ruler to make sure the lines are straight. I use a piece of masking tape on the bottom and then wiggle the top to line everything up. Once I'm content I slowly slide the ruler up and use another piece of masking tape to hold the top together. Now I have one piece! Just to make sure everything stays in place I'll flip over the jig and tape down the back.

I promised you math and here it comes! The first thing I do is use my ruler to draw a line down from the top of the border to the bottom at the tip of the corner wing. Then I do the same thing on the outside edge of the right center wing. This will give me the distance between the two butterflies.
Since my butterflies on the sides are all going to be the same shape and size I need to measure the width of the center butterfly.

In this case the distance between the two butterflies is 5 1/4" and the center butterfly is 2 3/4" wide. So the equation I need to do is 5.25-2.75 = 2.5

This equation gives me the total amount of dead space between butterflies. If I divide the 2.5 by two I get 1.25.

So I need to measure 1 1/4" from each butterfly and if I'm correct I'll have a space that's 2 3/4" wide to insert another butterfly.

Bingo! It worked! I use my tracing "carbon" paper pattern and trace another butterfly in that handy 2 3/4" space I just designated. I love it when it works out!
Now it's time to clean up the jig and get it ready to be used. I cut both butterflies out. I also notched the edges so I can line up the bottom and sides to my blue interior border.
Now's the scary part, lining it up to the quilt.
I just want to warn you that it's unrealistic to think that the jig will line up perfectly all the way around. The odds are that there will be distortions and we all know that even though we cut and measure as accurately as we can that sometimes things just don't line up.
No worries! I never expect my jig to be perfect.
In this case it's not. Part of this has to do with normal distortion which I can probably work out by pressing and realigning. I recommend that you do this throughout working on a quilt anyway. I check my corners and edges constantly.

Now it's likely that all of the distortions I find won't be able to be manipulated out and that's OK as well. In a case like this I will line up my corners, then my center, and then manipulate the in-between butterflies to line them up. This won't take much more effort and to be honest with you I knew before building the jig that I'd probably have to do that with at least a couple of sides.

Don't be disappointed if you have to as well. We all know that when working with fabric, perfection is difficult to achieve. So the best you can do is strive to make the piece look perfect, even though you know it's not!

Tomorrow I'll be fusing the pieces so I'll show you how I wiggle out of those minor issues and get everything looking as "perfect" as I can.
Happy Stitching!


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