Filling in the NotQuilt Squares

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This post is part of a series about sewing NotQuilts. If you’re unfamiliar with this method, The NotQuilt series begins here.

As I wrote last week, I selected and sewed down a busy, teeny floral print, using ten pieces in all. I have a few inches of fabric left over, not enough to use again on Dragon Princess’s fashion face. These ten patches roughly follow around the edges of Dragon Princess, parallel but not perpendicular.

Then I spend time debating what to do next. I ended up filling in the blocks that had the busy, teeny floral print with a pale pink with pink, blue and yellow bunnykins and butterflies. This fabric is very light in tone, light enough that it contrasts nicely with its surrounding strips. Although the bunny fabric exactly parallels the busy floral, going all the way around, it doesn’t look like a border. I’m not sure why. It may be too far inside to read as a border or it may be not be enough of a contrast. At any rate, I have plenty more of this fabric, so I will probably use more.

notquilt squares bunnies

Placing the pale pink fabric with pink, blue and yellow bunnykins and butterflies.

With ten of the blocks filled in completely — the ones that have their Roman stripes parallel to the edges, I moved on to the remaining six blocks in the outermost ring of blocks. The Roman stripes in these blocks are perpendicular to the edge of Dragon Princess. They do not and never will imply a border design of any kind. I began with my pink and red roses on white; the floral that didn’t look right laying alongside the purple irises. It did look just fine as light-colored filler in the outer six blocks. I have plenty of this fabric so I also used it in the inner ring of blocks, both the ones that are parallel to the edges and those that are perpendicular. It contrasts strongly with everything in Dragon Princess, as long as its roses stay away from direct contact with the irises.

notquilt squares

Filling the NotQuilt squares with the pink and red roses on white fabric.

Each of these roses on white florals had to be eyeballed for size and torn separately. Dragon Princess’s grid was uneven to start with and now I have to ensure that the strips are long enough to cover the raw edges of their surroundings. In addition, the remaining open spaces are not the same width, anywhere. I cannot use my rough paper patterns anymore. So, back to normal.

When I pin down these long strips, each ten inches or more in length, I use plenty of pins. Because of Dragon Princess’s size and growing unwieldiness, I don’t work on too many strips at a time. Eight to ten seems to be the maximum right now. More than that and the pins prove deadly to my hands. Worse, they try to work themselves out as Dragon Princess gets shoved through the sewing machine, turned and adjusted, and folded between trips to the sewing machine. A loose pin means a strip might work itself free or that someone will find the pin by stepping on it.

I’ve also discovered that while I love my walking foot, it isn’t a cure-all for creeping fabric. If I sew too fast, the fabric patch creeps a bit. Not much, you understand, certainly not as much as the strips would stretch when I sewed on my old Kenmore. I compensate by ignoring the stretch as this is utility bedding. Or I put in a tiny tuck. Either way I don’t worry about it and I recommend that you not stress out over a tuck either. A tuck is always better than a hole.

I should mention two other problems that I have encountered, neither of which I have ever seen addressed anywhere. Perhaps if I got out more often, I would have seen this so these issues may not be news to you.

The first issue is that sometimes the needle comes free from its position. I have not loosened the screw holding the needle in place. Instead, I believe this is caused by the vibrations of the machine encouraging the screw to loosen just enough for the needle to slide down. This is scary and irritating as I have to stop sewing at once and with the huge NotQuilt still in place, unscrew the needle screw and work the needle back into its home and resume sewing, hoping that I won’t get a snarl of thread on the underside.

The second issue is with the walking foot. Like the needle screw, it turns out that the walking foot screw also loosens over time. A loose walking foot holds everything in place when sewing a straight line, but corners become trickier as the walking foot isn’t tight enough. The only cure is noticing when the walking foot is becoming wobbly, stopping, and getting out the screwdriver to tighten it up again.

You may not see these problems but I have them crop up fairly often. Fortunately, they are easy to solve and the irritation they cause never shows up in the finished project.