14 January 2017

A Fireside Chat: Layer Cakes

I'm spending a lot of time in front of a warm and toasty
fire this weekend.  I've heard some of the side streets
are a little icy but we found everything to be completely fine so far.
The rain has started but the temps are above freezing still.
 Bring it on.  We're prepared to just stay in all weekend,
stepping out only for Mass.

I really hoped to be cutting out the rest of a quilt and then start on
the piecing but the background fabric I ordered is darker than
I had hoped.  And I have another on the way.
(Not a big problem--I always need ivories!)
So, instead of the sewing room, this is my view.
Not bad, huh?
But I'm also watching the mailbox.

I'm excited about this next quilt.
I have a layer cake of reproduction fabrics that
I've been anxious to get into a quilt.  

I love to pick out fabric.
But sometimes I see a whole line that I want to work with.
Insert the pre-cut market.  Layer cakes, charm packs, et al.
A whole set of fabric pieces all coordinated and ready to go.
The sampler pack.
A box of all kinds of chocolates.

I just can't decide if I really like cakes and charms.
I love having that array of fabrics; I like seeing them out on my shelves.
Plus, there is a huge selection of patterns out there designed
around each size of precuts to choose from.

But here are my three big issues:

Accuracy just might be out the window.
They're cut with a zig-zag, or, pinked.
Straight edges can be precise.  Fuzzy zig zags can not.
And that zig zag is cut IN to my 1/4" seam allowance.  
All of this causes some real issues if you are trying to get, say, 
two or even 4 5-inch squares out of a layer cake--which is what
most layer-cake-specific patterns have you do.
And if you have to then cut those squares into triangles,
well, your triangles now have jagged points.
Personally, I'm into precision and this bothers me.

To cut two 5-inch squares above as accurately as possible,
I actually had to measure in from both sides.
(taking more time by the way)
Most squares were a pretty scant five inches.
We'll just have to see how this plays out.
(once I actually had some squares that were so under the said 10-inch measurement,
I had to cast those aside.  Fortunately, I didn't need the entire cake.
But, I still think that cake was defective.)

Can we just make the cuts a tiny bit bigger
so that we can measure from the "dip" of the zig zag
instead of from the "peak"?  Or, better yet, let's just go back
to straight edges.  Please.  And be slightly generous
so we can straighten up the imperfections that can happen
in mass production.  

I guess the moral here is, pick your pattern carefully.
If you need to cut your cake into 
5-inch squares,
you'll have no waste, and that's a great thing.
But beware there may be some pretty scant 5-inch squares.

Issue number two can come with any pre-cut.
We all just want to get the best use out of our piece of fabric.
The above is the waste I get with every square for my latest quilt.
So maybe this is directed more at pattern designers?
But I can see how it would be difficult to make all kinds of quilts
to "fit" specific precuts so, I get it.  I'm just thinking maybe
yardage might be a better choice for some patterns.
Fortunately, I've got log cabin plans so I think this might not be such
a big waste after all.  Or maybe I can figure a way to slip the 
scraps into the quilt border or backing.

Choice issues.
Inevitably, some of the fabrics are just not going to work.
I find that there are often some that are too light,
which is an issue I'm currently frustrated with.
Or, there are just too many lights.
Or too many darks.
And I really don't like when solids are thrown in.
To each their own but, for me, solids are boring and cold.
I have one quilt with a solid so it's not like I'm a hater.
They just aren't my choice.
One more problem here is that sometimes a print is just too big.
You might have one or two objects in a 10" square,
and then end up cutting them up.  Especially if they're off-centered.
Anyway, the moral here?  
It's just not a given that your layer cake will
work for every layer cake quilt.

Perhaps these are all just things to keep in mind when working
with layer cakes, charms, and all other pre-cuts?


Debbie said...

You are so right! I bet I have only bought two or three charm packs, one jelly roll, and no cake layers because of selection, accurate cutting, and all the waste. Excellent explanation and I so agree with you. I do buy FQ and yardage for my stash and projects. I can cut my own jelly roll strips and get the better selection.

Outback Crafter - Debra said...

Beautifully said. The range makes a huge difference to the overall design of the quilt.

Cheryl's Teapots2Quilting said...

I agree, and, I also like to pre-wash my fabrics, and you can't do that with pre-cuts. Other than some charm packs (used many years ago) I've 'made my own' when needed, from yardage. Less variety, but, pre-washed, and less waste (and no pinked edges). I'm supposed to participate in a blog hop in the next few weeks, and I don't keep pre-cuts. I'll cut my own, and make do.

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