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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Geometrically Challenged

Hello, I'm Geometrically Challenged. Pleased to meet you.

Today's latest blooper: Loading the quilting stand

I have what's officially known as a "short-arm" quilting stand. It's twelve feet wide - that's not the short part. The "short" part is the throat depth of my sewing machine.

Say what?

The distance between the needle and the back of the machine's arm - where it goes "bump" against the quilt. Not being a lottery winner, independently wealthy, or an heiress, I didn't have $25K to fork out for an APQS Millennium machine, which has a 25-inch throat depth.

That means a Millennium owner can quilt 12 feet wide by 25 inches forward & back, before having to roll the quilt into a new position.

I, on the other hand, have a scant six inches.

No snickering.

A "short-arm" quilting machine works the same way a "long-arm" quilting machine works. It's just that you have to roll your quilt forward every six inches, less by the time you're at the end of the quilt, because the roll has by then gotten quite thick.

Almost, you could say, as thick as me.

Tonight I began by carefully laying out the backing and top against each other to make sure of what the borders would be. Then I carefully pinned the backing to the lead fabric which is attached to the rollers. I was so please with myself that I was finally able to do this on my bed, meaning it would be much easier to make sure the fabric was straight and not pulled.

I got the backing all rolled up, put the roll on the stand, pinned the leading edge to the take-up roll, and began to pin and roll the quilt top in the same manner. Remembering that I had to put the batting in the middle, I left the rolled top on the bed and carefully pinned the the leading edge of the batting over my backing.

But it struck me that something just wasn't right.

I looked, and thought, while I sucked on my pins and kept on pinning.

Then it hit me.

I'd put the backing on right side UP. This meant that, had I begun quilting, the seamy underside of the backing would have been the side that showed, while the nice colors would have been on the inside.


Moving past the expletives, tears, and phone calls to Great Quilting Friend... (who once again accused me of being in a rush... Sorry to disappoint, I did this calmly, slowly, and very very carefully. I just did it WRONG.)

I eventually found myself back on the bed, pinning and rolling the backing up, this time with the RIGHT SIDE DOWN.


Geometry. It was always the most difficult branch of math for me.

With 20/20 hindsight, becoming a quilter is possibly the stupidest move I've ever made. Had I taken up architecture or civil engineering, there would have been computers to check the geometry for me, spit my calculations back in my face, stop me from putting the aluminum siding on the inside of the house, the hardwood flooring on the roof, the garage on the side of the house opposite the driveway...

But here in the quiet privacy of my apartment, I'm free to make loads of mistakes, with no witness save my kitty, Bijou.
And while she enjoyed her little romp over the backing - twice! - she's just a kitty, and couldn't possibly know what a mistake I was making.

The scary part is...

I've done it before. And didn't learn my lesson.

My Great Quilting Friend assured me I'd learn my lesson this time.

I only hope she's right. I wish I could have told her I'd been in a frantic rush - that, at least, could have hidden a bit of my shame. No, it took me over an hour to do this completely inside out, and I very nearly quilted it that way, too! Slowly, methodically, carefully...

Quilting just doesn't get any scarier than this!