In a previous life, when using my mother’s sewing machine (as in closer to a decade ago), I made plain white covers for two pillows of the size 50 x 50 cm (almost 20 x 20″). These days they look very boring to me, but I don’t have a large budget to work with, so when I scored some fabric the other week I decided to try to use it for a patchwork practice project. In fact, for this project I will use scraps of the same white fabric with thin white stripes woven into the material together with the more exciting black with white stripes, Paasi by Pentti Rinta for Marimekko in 1976. Neither is a typical quilt-weight fabric and so it will be interesting to see how they behave in patchwork.
When doing my math and researching half-square triangles, I concluded that the ideal way to assemble the whole loveliness would be to make squares the size of 10,5 cm (10.5 cm for those who don’t use decimal commas), then cut the sewn half-square triangle patches down to 10,2 cm which would equal 8 x 8 cm end product plus 2,2 cm seam allowance (7/8″) in both directions. The pillow would then have the size 48 x 48 cm, which would lead to a snug fit the way I like it.
There is one “but”, however; the centimeter quilter’s ruler. Although mine are the very good Olfa ones, decimals simply don’t work unless they come in loads of five. Sigh. In the kitchen, I like the SI units more, but I have to proclaim my undying love for inches in quilting at this stage, only I still don’t have the inch rulers. Centimeters and a square pillow with the sides 49-comma-something it would have to be then. At least I was observant enough to buy a quilter’s presser foot with the quarter-inch guide when picking up the sewing machine, but at this stage numbers were flying in my head.
So, half-square triangles? Yep. I wanted to try the quick half-square triangles made on a grid to see whether that method or the one of making triangles on a long line of fabric would be “me”. (The word “quick” is key, but on the other hand, drawing by hand on the wrong side of the lighter fabric has not been a huge success in my past – the reason for me still being a real noob at this thing.) This is how the grid itself without diagonals turned out to be:
As you can see, the grid consists of 16 squares only, whereas my square pillow project would need 18 (6×6=36 half-square triangle patches). The remaining two I would have to make separately, by applying the other method, squares on a line. Although I tried my best to be meticulous, I had a nagging feeling that the squares would not end up being perfect squares. “Onwards, brave soldier!” I guess. Next step was to add the diagonals, but kids, don’t do this at home. I was rather tired when drawing, so this is how you’re not supposed to do it… (also notice how the fabric is already fraying along the lowest side):
…whereas this is how I should have done it in the first place (see the cross?):
The cross is here if you didn’t see it above:
Then, when even more tired, things got pretty exciting. The first cut was correct, but the second one of course not; when talking to the husband, I followed the next line (diagonal) and very prettily rolled the rotary cutter along a line which didn’t have sewn borders but was plain pencil. Blargh, really? I stayed surprisingly calm, was probably too exhausted to yell at myself, sighed deeply and said out loud “Well, this is a fine chance to learn even more of the other method”. Hubby couldn’t read my thoughts as to what I was referring to (he’s not that into sewing, lol), but politely agreed with me anyway. If you take a closer look at some of the original squares – the plain grid from the first photo above – you notice that through them run not only one but two diagonals, which is obviously not the point when you cut an original square to produce only two half-square triangle patches.
First lesson learned was to stop to think before drawing (because those superfluous lines can mess me up as proven), second to think before cutting. Third lesson learned has to do with stripes and if there is no other take-home message from this pillow project then it is this one. Before sewing the diagonals, I placed the fabrics with the right sides facing each other in such a way that all stripes were parallel. This meant that the stripes end up going in a 90 degree angle in relation to each other in the half-square triangles (you’ll see if you haven’t tried this yourself yet). Fourth lesson learned is that I really don’t like drawing a large grid, but I’ll get back to this one later.
Thankfully this is a practice project; more practice for me in that I would have to cut more than just two patches on the line (decided to do that the following day, though). Stay tuned, haha.