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.

Quilting: Our Starter Quilting Tools

Over the years, I have jumped into new hobbies without putting much thought or research into them. Now that I’m older and supposedly a bit wiser, I have become more frugal in my spending. Not wanting to waste any money on items we did not need to get started in our quilting endeavors, I turned to the Internet. At first, I watched quilting videos on YouTube to see what tips quilters gave, tools they were using and generally how to create the top layer of the quilt.

I knew the first three items I would be purchasing: Rotary Cutter, Rotary Mat and a lipped ruler:

Quilting Tools

As much as it sucks forgetting coupons at home, it also helps keep tabs on my spending.  Because of the cost, I almost bought a much smaller cutting board until deciding to go home and print a 50% off coupon. While home printing off the coupon, I watched some YouTube video’s of someone cutting to see they were using a 36″ x 24″ rotary mat which at regular price cost a lot more than the smaller mat but was about the same price with the 50% off coupon!  The same was also true with the rotary cutter only initially we picked up what we thought was a smaller rotary cutter to realize it was meant for paper and not fabric.  Whoops!

I am glad the ruler we picked up at the same time as the rotary mat has a lip (I think this one of the tips I read about on a blog).  I hook the lip on the top edge of the cutting board and then work on lining the edge up with the lines of the rotary mat, laying it down flat before firmly placing my hand on it in preparation for cutting.  So long as the ruler does not move and I am able to cut in a straight line, having the lip catch on the edge of the rotary mat gives me one more “check” in ensuring I cut a straight line.

Having these three tools in hand, I started using our “fugly” fabric to practice my cutting.  My partner kept trying to get me to start out with our good fabric but I did not want to waste it getting used to cutting.  With the amount of oopsies and wiggly first lines, I am certainly glad (as I believe she now is) that I elected to start off with the cheaper fabrics we have.  The only drawback I have found with it, is that it is flannel and tends to stretch a bit.

After spending a few days of cutting, we both decided a sewing machine would be the next step in our quilting endeavor.