Boxer Quilt: Sew it begins!

I have been chronicling my adventures of freecyling boxers into what has become known as the “Boxer Quilt”:

Boxer Quilt: Patchwork Pieces Ready for Sewing
Boxer Quilt: Patchwork Pieces Ready for Cutting
Boxer Quilt: Cutting up the Boxers

Since clearing out and cleaning up our office, I have been making a lot of progress on my quilt.  Two weeks ago, I finished cutting out the pieces for the patchwork from my old boxers and chose the colors for the borders of the blocks and for the quilt itself: 

Boxer quilt picking out the boders.

It felt really good sitting down at the sewing machine for the first time in almost two years:

Boxer quilt pinning the pieces for sewing

I tried unsuccessfully to finish off the first of 12 blocks before class but instead had to complete it after class:

Boxer quilt first block completed.

Two Saturdays ago, I completed three more blocks for the quilt which means I am almost a third of the way through making the quilt top:

Boxer quilt first four blocks completed.

I say almost because there is still two more pieces I need to add to each block before they would be ready to be sewn together.  In piecing just these few blocks together, I am being reminded of how much fabric can stretch – especially when being ironed.  I wonder (and hope) that better fabrics does not stretch.  

There is a definite benefit to ironing the material before sewing it.  My logical brain thinks that the heat would make the fabric softer but the fabric actually becomes stiffer which thankfully makes it easier to pin and sew.

There has been a lot more ritual in sewing this quilt. As much as I love running the material through the sewing machine, I am coming to love the steps in between trips to the sewing machine.  I can stagger the starts of each block so that I am working on more than one at a time.  Based on recommendations from the book I got the pattern from, I have been opening rather than ironing the seams to one side.

I have unfortunately not sewn in two weeks and look forward to spending more time at the sewing machine this week!

Boxer Quilt: Patchwork Pieces Ready for Sewing

I am finally ready to start sewing together the top for my Boxer Quilt!

I am contemplating whether or not I will use the fabric from my boxers for the bottom of the quilt as well.  There is plenty of fabric left and I am not sure what else I would use the fabric for.  The quality of the fabric from the boxers is not the greatest and by using it on both sides, it would wear out at around the same time and I would not feel I was wasting newer and better fabric on it.

Once I finally had all the pieces cut out from freecycling my old boxers, I looked through our fabric stash to pick out the fabric for the solid colored borders of the quilt.  I used my cell phone to take pictures as I tried laying out the patchwork onto different colored borders to see how they went together:

Boxer Quilt - picking out the borders

I do like the burgundy both as the window piece and for the outer border but felt it would be too dark for the quilt and wondering if it would clash with any of the other boxer patterns.  I have decided on black for the window pieces and a cream color for the outer border as I feel it will best highlight the boxer patterns.

Little Miss Mew was of course eager to help me out as I was cutting up the fabric and placing the long stringy pieces either into the garbage can or my scraps bag:

The mews

One of the tips in the book I am using the pattern from recommends collating the pieces onto index cards for each of the quilt blocks.  This makes it easier to just sit down and sew the pieces together.

I have not sat down to use the sewing machine since February of 2012.  As I write that, I am trying to grapple with it coming up on two years since I last used our “new” sewing machine.  I may dust off and finally watch the DVD that came with the sewing machine.

Running the pieces through the sewing machine (and trying to keep a straight line with my 1/4″ foot) is the part I like the most because I find the process therapeutic.  The part I probably like the least at this point (especially with this quilt!) is getting up to the point of actually sewing the pieces together.  I am sure the added chore of doing this from old boxers is not helping at all!!!

Wonder how long it will take me to sew together the quilt top.  Time will tell.

Boxer Quilt: Patchwork Pieces Ready for Cutting

I started writing this post on December 9th, 2012 with:

I spent a few sessions heading into the Winter on my outdoor quilt made from old boxers.  As appropriate timing as making an outdoor quilt in Winter is, I am hopeful it will be complete in time for our first trip to a park in 2013.  Now I am fearing I won’t have it completed in time.

It is now January 2014 and as I come back to polish off this post for publishing, I am realizing I could have months ago.  The post was complete sans photo that I was going to take when I got home to make the post publishable.  Without any further delay, finally, another post on quilting my boxer quilt!

In November 2012, I began the task of Unboxing Boxers for Quilting a Quilt with a bag full of boxers that I no longer wore and was going to donate.  The task took me several weeks to complete but I finally got to a point where I was ready to start Cutting up the Boxers for the individual pieces needed for sewing the quilt top.

Unboxed boxers for boxer quilt.

After it taking over two hours to fully cut up just two pairs of boxers into the individual pieces needed for doing the patchwork, I decided to switch to just preparing the fabric for cutting which only took an hour for another six pairs.  When I started doing this, I was using the lipped ruler to ensure I was cutting the fabric in a straight line and not wasting any fabric.  As time went on, I was cutting freestyle and hoping to not regret doing so later.  The last four pairs took me not much time at all to trim up in preparation for cutting.  

Two things I have learned thus far with sewing:  iron right before cutting out the pieces and if freecycling fabric, cut the fabric off the areas that had seams.  I learned the latter when I was first cutting up those two pairs of boxers and the former from making My First Quilt.  Even though I had seam ripped those first two pairs of boxers (the rest I cut enough to then use the rotary cutter to cut out the seams), when it came to ironing and cutting out the pieces, I found that there was “pull” not only where there was still thread present but also where I had seam ripped out the thread!

I figured there would be pull if there was still sewn areas but was surprised when I realized that there was pull even where I had seam ripped out the thread.  It was challenging to cut out the pieces in a straight line because the seams, whether the thread was still in it or not, was pulling on the fabric making it difficult to cut out the pieces in a straight line and I kept finding I was having to trim them up after making the initial cut.  I found that if I trimmed it up to remove those, then ironed them, my cuts were much better.

Now that this major task is done, I can move on to cutting up the prepped fabric into the individual pieces for the patchwork.

Do you quilt?  Do you freecycle fabric?  Have any tips for reducing the amount of time involved in preparing the fabric?