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: Cutting up the Boxers

A few weeks ago, I began the task of Unboxing Boxers for Quilting a Quilt for a quilt that I have been thinking about making for several months now.  It took me a couple of weeks but I managed to get most of them to be one solid piece of fabric by taking out the middle seam between the legs and then the seam out of the back.

Unlike when I made My First Quilt and did not follow any pattern but instead, just started cutting and sewing, this time I picked out a pattern that I will attempt to follow.  The problem with the pattern I picked out is that it assumes I bought fabric in a certain size and to cut it from those certain sized pieces – not from my old pairs of boxers.

Math has never been my strong point.  I am sure if not for my creativity in coming up with my own formulas (or probably more so, literally dumb luck) I never would have barely passed Physics 11 with 51%.  Looking at the pattern was taking me back to Math and Physics classes and feeling completely lost.

Scary Quilting Fractions

I studied the fractions and read the words for quite some time and on more than one occasion   I eventually concluded that I needed to cut out two 6″ x 3.5″, one 6″ x 6.5″, one 4″ x 8.5″ and one 4″ x 5.5″ sized pieces from 12 different fabrics.  I was fearing not having enough fabric but came to realize that I only needed half of each pair of boxers.  The other half of the boxers I have folded and put aside while the leftover bits and pieces have gone into the scraps pile for making a scrappy quilt in the future.

I initially started with one of the harder pairs that had lines.  It took me about an hour to cut up one pair and I was fearing how long it was going to take to get through 12 pairs of boxers!  The second pair only took me about 20 minutes because after how long it took me to cut up the first pair, I did not care if the lines were perfect and this is after all a practice quilt that will be used outdoors.

Boxer Cutting for Boxer Quilt

If there was one lesson I learned from the last quilt I made:  iron the fabric before cutting out the individual pieces for the patchwork.  My experience has been that you cannot lay the fabric out perfectly flat to get a good straight cut if the fabric is not ironed before doing so.  The fabric stretches, moves, crinkles and is otherwise not very cooperative before running a hot iron over it right before you take the rotary cutter to it.

Taking this lesson into account, I was trying to cut out the individual pieces for the patchwork but was finding that even though I was ironing it out, it was not completely flat because there was still some “pull” from where the seams had been and/or still were.  The upside to it taking me almost an hour with the first pair was I learned how to do it faster and where not to waste time ironing.

After cutting out the second pair and having been at it for closer to 2 hours on both pairs, I decided to just prep the one half of the boxers I would be using for making the quilt.  The further along I got, the less I cared about whether or not it was a perfect cut.  Where there were straight lines that could be cut out with the lipped quilting ruler, I would use it.  But when it came to cutting out the opening on the front of the boxers, I went freestyle with the rotary cutter.  It took me about an hour to prep the last 8 pairs (I still need to seam rip another 2 pairs) in this manner.

Now that most of the fabric is prepped for being cut into their individual pieces, I just need to iron and cut them out:

Iron Knob

I have to admit that I was feeling extremely overwhelmed and wondering what I had gotten myself into when calculating that it might take me upwards of 10 hours just to prep the pieces for sewing together!  Remember, math is NOT my strong point but problem solving and removing bottlenecks thankfully is.  After changing how I was preparing the fabric for cutting out the individual patchwork pieces, I am hoping that it will not be too much longer before I can sit down at the sewing machine to start sewing the pieces together for the quilt top.

I do still have a bit of preparatory work to do.  I need to pick out which solid color I will use for the rest of the quilt top and prepare the last two pairs of boxers for the quilt.  At this point, I am feeling a little less overwhelmed and getting excited about pulling out the sewing machine!

Wish me luck!