Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Numbering system

I think the best way to explain the logic behind my numbering system is to look at an example.

Here I have a design for a little fish.

 The first thing to do is identify all the angles that could be a problem.  An acute angle is an angle less than 90 degrees.  I'm going to introduce another term, a sharp angle.  As a maths teacher, I have to tell you that this term doesn't exist - except in my quilting world!  My definition of a sharp angle is an angle less than 60 degrees.  Obtuse angles are angles more than 90 degrees and they are not a problem.  Anything down to 60 degrees you can fold the fabric and tuck in the excess without much problem.  Less than 60 degrees and you are into advanced hand applique territory.  We don't want to go there. We want to keep things simple and fast.

So I have marked my sharp angles above.

Looking at my sharp angles, I see that I have a piece with two sharp angles.  I'm going to make that my first piece so I don't have to fold those angles. This piece is basted flat all the way around the shape.
This design has gentle wavy lines from one edge to the other so it makes sense to construct the design in strips.

Piece 2 is folded on the edge that is connected to piece 1. Here I would baste the other three sides first and then topstitch the folded edge (the bold line).
 Piece 3 finishes off the strip. Again, the folded edge is marked in bold.
 This next strip has two pieces with sharp angles. If I did the fish body first then I'd have to fold both sides of the sharp angle in the top bit. So I do the top bit first.
 Now we get into the interesting bit - folding two sides. I've marked the folded edges with a bold red line.  This is a nice obtuse angle so not a problem.
 And the next piece on the strip also has two folded sides.  This time it is an acute angle but not a sharp angle.
 The rest of the angles in this design are almost right angles or bigger so they can be done in any order.
 Here's a little exercise for you to try.  Draw yourself some doodles. Mark the sharp angles and then start numbering the pieces.  Usually one of the pieces in the middle is a good place to start. Imagine piecing this design and mark each fold as I have done in this example with a bold line or highlighter.  As you mark each fold, make sure none of the folds are sharp angles.  I must have done this about a dozen times on paper before I made the heart quilt I use in my profile.

More tips on piecing using the baste and topstitch method coming up as I continue with the gecko quilt.

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