The last time I wrote about my Trip Around the World challenge project, I had just removed a couple of rounds because I didn't think the browns were working as I had envisioned. Since then, I've added another 4 rounds and I think the blues were a better choice. The last black round is making me very happy ~ I like the busy-ness of the pattern and wanted to be able to work a black round in to balance that polka dot back in row #7. It's getting pretty large now ~ at this point, about 40" square ~ and is difficult to smooth out on the flannel wall. It's not so much the size, but the fact that the squares are all on point (bias). If not generously pinned now, it tends to sag and stretch a bit.
Last week, I spread it out on the carpet, smoothing it flat to take new photos to post my progress on the Facebook challenge page. Except that no matter how I smoothed in one place, a ripple would occur in another. At first I didn't think much of it, but it started to nag at me enough that I spread it out again later in the day and realized I had a problem. Not a big problem, but one that was only going to get exponentially worse if I didn't do something.
I put it away and mulled it over, as memories of so many TAtW quilt tops I'd considered at antique shows and flea markets over the years flooded back. Always calling my name from across a booth but never purchased because once unfolded for consideration, the wavey edges warned me off. Apparently, lots of mid-century quilters had this problem and opted to move on. A quilter can "quilt out" a bit of that extra, but really, who wants to? And the ripples get worse with each round.
*Sigh* Actually, the remedy wasn't so bad. I could have removed another row or two but gambled that one would do the trick.
If you haven't figured it out, the reason that the top was starting to ripple was that in the last few rounds, my 1/4" seam allowances (eyeballed, you'll remember) were leaning a bit to the scant side. Most were just a hair less (1/16 - 1/32"), but across an edge of a 40" top, it was adding more than an inch to each side ~ each round! I had to start marking the squares for more accuracy. Here's what I did, quick and easy.
After pressing them flat, I lined up the edges that had been previously sewn...
...squared up the ruler...
...and very lightly drew 1/4" marks on the two edges. No need for seam allowances all around, since I'll be doing this on subsequent little squares and only need the two marked which I'll be stitching at any one time.
You might be surprised at my needle choice for this project. So many times we bloggers are recommending some exotic new tool or gadget, needles so fine, they glide like butter. I have very definite preferences for my hand quilting and applique, but none of my 'fine selection' felt right when I started this project. Too long, too short, somewhat fine, resulting in 'bending'. Finally, I just started grabbing and testing needles from my utility pincushion ~ the one I use for resewing buttons, repairing snagged hems, etc. One was perfect, and on a run to JoAnn's, I brought it to figure out what exactly it was. The closest I got was in this very inexpensive package of Dritz quilting needles, the second size from the left.
It's a bit thicker than I usually use, but it doesn't bend. Its length is 1 1/8" long, comfortable to push along with a thimbled finger. I can easily load a bunch of stitches on it at a time, making a quick job of these "steps back", of which there will be no more, I promise you!
As it's growing, it's getting even more difficult to photograph and get the colors and values right. In desperation, I walked around the house, room to room, snapping shots of it here and there until I got one that actually looks like it. This is it, back in the sewing room.
When I started this challenge, I wanted to replicate the look of so many of those wild 1930's versions and so far, I'm really happy with it. If you're interested in seeing more and you're on Instagram, search for #bgtawc to see others in progress. As they grow, they're all quite stunning and the wide range of 'styles' and fabric/color choices made makes quite a show.
Anna, Janet, Meredithe and even Molly (Tokodots on Instagram), among many others, are making versions. If you wish you'd joined but missed the boat, Brigitte Giblin is currently starting another challenge group, same design, for all of those who missed this one. Just go to her Brigitte Giblin Quilts Facebook page for more info.