Friday, September 9, 2016

Glitter, glitter, everywhere...

I'm feeling quite pleased with myself this week.  I made a thing.
Actually, I made two things.
When I started Jen Kingwell's Glitter, I traced out the template shapes in the book (Quilt Lovely.  Terrific book!), added seam allowances, and cut templates from gridded quilter's template plastic.

They're useful, but flimsy.  I can't use them directly for rotary cutting - I have to either trace around them, then cut using a ruler, or line up the ruler on top of them and try to cut without anything slithering around.
I had wished many times for cutting templates, but thought I'd have to either do without or pay through the nose for someone to custom make me some.
After all, those templates are all laser-cut, right?  And I don't have a laser.
But then.
I was reading a blog post somewhere (and I foolishly didn't bookmark it and now can't remember where) where the quilter referred to cutting her own templates out of a clear plastic sheet using a utility knife.
Lightbulbs went on in my head.  There were trumpets and bells and the smell of fresh-baked cookies.
Cut my own templates???  Seriously???
I started shopping around for plastic, but could only find large sheets - much larger than I could ever use, whether or not this even worked.
Then a smaller lightbulb went on.  "Picture frames," I muttered to myself.  "Cheap picture frames."
And I found this one

for a grand total of about a buck and a half.
I cut off a hunk with my handy utility knife, traced around my flimsy templates, and used my quilting ruler to cut straight lines.
Score, snap, and woohoo!  I made templates!  My very own custom templates!

I drilled holes with the point of the knife blade so I can mark the seam allowance intersections.

Then I labelled them, and colored along the edges of each template, so they wouldn't become invisible when I set them down on my cutting table.  (Ask me how I know that's a good idea...)

You probably guessed that I had to test them right out.
I've discovered that the background pieces of the block can be cut almost perfectly out of rectangles measuring 3.5"x4.25".  By cutting those rectangles in pairs, either wrong sides facing or right sides facing, I can cut the reversed pieces at the same time as the regular ones.
The easiest way I've found is to first place the template in the corner, matching those right angles, then line up a ruler along this edge:

Cut along the line

and then stack the pieces, matching that angled edge.  There's a tiny bit of extra along the bottom, because the 3.5" measurement is just a wee bit more than necessary.

Drop the template on top of the stack, and slice away all the extra bits.

 And you get this!

And since those pieces were so nicely laid out, I had to  do this.

And before I knew it, I had this.

I've found that all the pieces for these blocks can be cut from 3.5" strips and charm squares.  The background corners I just showed are 3.5x4.25 rectangles, and the four squares are just a 3.5" square cut in quarters.
The main fabric in each block fits beautifully into a charm square. 

And now I've got a perfect use for those charm squares I end up with.  (I don't know how it happens.  Stacks of them just turn up out of nowhere.  I'm starting to suspect the monkeys...)

Since my Glitter is a scrappy quilt, I'm linking to Scraptastic Tuesday.  Come see all the scrappy fun!


Cynthia Brunz Designs said...

Brilliant! Thanks so much for sharing. I am sure I will need this idea someday.

Vroomans' Quilts said...

Clever!! I am lucky that a friend does plexi-glass work as I would cut my fingers off.

Libby in TN said...

My mother used to get someone/a friend to cut templates out of galvanized metal. But she didn't have a rotary cutter -- just used them to trace onto her fabric. I still have some of those templates. What kind of utility knife did you use?

Linda @ kokaquilts said...

Very clever trouble shooting Gayle! Your 'glitter' blocks are looking great, an eclectic mix of scrappy goodness! I'm keen to give them a go, but already have so much on at present!

kmkat said...

As I have always said, you are a genius!

Ariane said...

Your a genius! I have this book and wondered how this quilt would be made more easily. You just figured it out for me. Thank you for sharing!!

Wanderingcatstudio said...

That is pretty smart! If you ever need thicker ones, ask around at places that cut glass - they will often custom cut plexiglass too. Not sure on the price, but may be worth looking into!

Sally Trude said...

Brilliant! And I just went and looked and I actually have an OLFA "heavy-duty scorer" for cutting plexiglass. I used it for cutting plastic for picture frames, but had never thought to go from picture frames to templates. (Probably because I haven't done any fussy piecing until I met Dear Jane.) Thanks for the idea!

Scrap and quilts said...

You are the sharpest tool in the shed! Boy! am I gonna use that idea? You betcha! Just brilliant. Thanks for sharing. ;^)

Mystic Quilter said...

OK Gayle - when do you open for business, this is one quilt I have marked in the book!!!

Judy said...

Great idea! Thanks for sharing I filed away in my Bloglovin library.

Angie said...

Very cool idea - thanks for sharing!

Quiltdivajulie said...

I have used templates cut from plexiglass for a long time - mine comes from the depths of DH's workshop but I know our local glass company has it and cuts templates. Using the cheap picture frames to DIY is a TERRIFIC idea. (ps - I despise that flimsy stuff)

Magpie Sue said...

Woohoo! Victory! Tastes almost as good as freshly baked cookies. ;- )

SandraC said...

Great tutorial, thanks!

LA Paylor said...

clever you!

Cathy said...

Aren't you the problem solver! I really wanted to make Glitter some day but when I saw templates involved I turned the page on that one!

Maryse said...

Wow, I can't believe you made your own templates, I'm impressed, I have to remember that one!! The Glitter quilt, Oh I love that quilt, and it's on my list!! Your blocks look great!! (yes, I looked at your previous post to see more glitter blocks) Well done!!

LIttle Penguin Quilts said...

Such a useful idea; I'm glad it worked for you! Are all the glitter blocks the same or will you eventually need more templates? :)

Nicky said...

Are you finding it much quicker to cut out now!? I'm guessing you are. Brilliant idea to cut your own thicker template and looking forward to a Glitter quilt. Thanks for linking up to #scraptastictuesday.

Colleen Potter said...

brilliant ! thanks so much for sharing - I have to try this

Shasta Matova said...

This quilt has intrigued me ever since I first saw it in the book. I have the pattern and am waiting to finish my current quilt (Adinkra)) and was planning on starting it this week. This is very clever. I am sure I have a picture frame somewhere! Thanks for the idea.

Linda said...

So darn clever! I know what you mean about the monkeys, and I think they're starting to breed and produce baby monkeys! They're so cute and tiny that they're hard to resist......sigh!

---"Love" said...

A really smart idea for the template! I'm again amazed at your volume of piecing. Like everyone else, I love the glitter pattern. ---"Love"