Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Dress Me Up! - the outer borders

My progress on Dress Me Up! has been stalled.  The interior of the quilt .. the part that assembled all the embroidered dress blocks with the sashing ... has been completed for a while.

I had picked out an outer border from Electric Quilt's library but I really wasn't thrilled with it.  Honestly, I wasn't feeling the love.  So, I just let the sewn-together dress blocks hang for a while, as I cogitated on the situation.

Unfortunately, the Light Bulb Moment wasn't happening.

Eventually, I took the bull by the horns, pulled out all of my resource books on borders (which numbered about 5 or 6) and started *really* looking through them.  Surely, there would be SOMETHING there that would work nicely with the dress blocks!

To refresh your memory, the original pattern calls for this quilt to be finished as just the dress blocks being sewn together.  This results in a small quilt .. a personal sized throw ... or a good sized wall-hanging.  Well, I really do prefer to make bed-sized quilts, so I wanted to add some interesting border(s) to the dress blocks to make it at least a twin sized quilt.   Hence, my need for a very wide border.  Specifically, about 12" of outer borders!

And, doggone it!   Didn't I just find something that I liked and would work out nicely!  The border is "Woven Dogtooth" from the book "Foundation Borders" by Jane Hall and Dixie Haywood.  [That link is for the book listed on Amazon, but if you do a Google search, you'll find many other sites offering the book also.]  This is one of my very favorite books for pieced borders; I've used several from this book and I've never been disappointed.

I used Electric Quilt to help with the design process and, in the case of this border specifically, it was invaluable.  To help provide a visual space between the embroidered blocks and the woven dogtooth blocks, I had a 3" plain border.  The measurements of the resultant sides, top & bottom were oddball; of course they were.  They certainly wouldn't have been anything tidy, you know???

I needed to have the woven dogtooth blocks fit the length of this 3" plain border *exactly*.  Electric Quilt let me audition various number of blocks along the sides and it seemed to me that 14 woven dogtooth blocks along each side looked to be a nice arrangement.  There wasn't anything sacrosanct about 14 blocks ... they just looked nice.  If I had put more blocks in the border, the triangles would have been skinnier; if I had used fewer blocks, the triangles would have been wider ... so 14 seemed to be the appropriate number.

Unfortunately, dividing the length of the side by 14 yielded an entirely obnoxious number ... those woven dogtooth blocks needed to be 5.285" wide.   Good grief!!!  Who can figure out a block with *that* unreasonable width???  Well, Electric Quilt can!  All I needed to do was have Electric Quilt print out the woven dogtooth block at 5.285" wide by 5" long ... and voila! .. there was my template for paper piecing!

Ah yes ... I had decided that paper piecing would be the easiest way to faithfully reproduce that block *accurately* every time.  Furthermore, standard paper piecing makes you stitch through the paper template and then remove the perforated paper after stitching .... a step that I just HATE HATE HATE! ... I view it as a waste of time and a huge mess!   However, I have learned an alternative method ... Freezer Paper Piecing.  This method creates a template that is rather like a Post-It note, because you do NOT stitch through the freezer paper, which means you can remove the template *intact* and *reuse* it for as long as the freezer paper remains "sticky".  The link above will take you to my tutorial on this handy technique.

Off I went, making my 14 woven dogtooth blocks, desperately hoping that when I sewed all of them together, they WOULD, in fact, match the length of the 3" plain border.  If not, I was going to need to fudge some of them.  Holding my breath, I stitched the blocks together, pressed the seams open and spritzed the entire column with Magic Sizing to provide some body.

I marked the center of the plain fabric border and the center of the pieced woven dogtooth blocks ... matched them up .... smoothed out the rest of the border to the ends of the top ... and .. and .. and ... OH MY GOSH!  It matched!  Hooray, hooray, hooray!  :-)  Gosh, I love Electric Quilt!  I know there is *no way* I could have ever drawn the pieced block accurately myself.  :-)

The above picture shows just the first 6 pieced woven dogtooth blocks with the outer plain fabric border pinned to it .. just so I could get the full effect.  With all four sides surrounded by the woven dogtooth blocks and the plain fabric borders, it's going to look wonderful. :-)

The next few days are going to be devoted to sewing up the remainder of the woven dogtooth blocks, so it's going to be my nose to the grindstone for a while. :-)

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