How Hard Is It?

As I put the finishing touches on some new patterns, it’s time to address something I’ve been ruminating on for a while… I find myself wanting to make sure I communicate the skill level effectively so that you know what you’re getting in to. So how does one meaningfully describe difficulty?

Yes, there is the Easy/Intermediate/Advanced scale, but I think there is wide real estate living between Easy and Intermediate, especially for our up-and-comers. And what may be easy to a quilter with a hundred projects to her credit might still intimidate our recent and eager graduates from the local store’s 101 class. A scale of 1 to 5 is better, but still, what does a 2 really entail? Is a 1 a rail fence and a 5 a feathered star? Or is a 5 a Baltimore Album? With curved borders? Is there a separate scale for applique? And for the record, everything outside of fusible is a 5 to me!

I know for a fact I have friends who can make a feathered star while juggling a souffle in the kitchen, and others who think curved piecing is a snap, but frankly, I’m seriously intimidated by the first and still far from comfortable (as in I keep the the seam ripper close) with the second.

So here’s what I’m thinking – and yes, the description will go with the scale:

Skill Level 1. All straight seams, no bias edges. Pattern will still work well even if quarter inch seam isn’t always accurate. (Loose Change, Easy Money and Birch Bark are good examples of this)

Skill Level 2. All straight seams, no bias edges. Pattern requires greater quarter inch seam accuracy to make units fit together and lay flat. (Mouse Trap and Big Block Jelly Logs need this skill set)

Skill Level 3. All straight seams, straight and bias edges. Pattern requires greater quarter inch seam accuracy to make units fit together, as well as attention to not stretching bias edges. (Big Block Tumble fits this well)

Skill Level 4. Straight and bias edges, with straight and curved seams. Pattern requires very good quarter inch seam accuracy to ensure unit fit together and lay flat (I haven’t come up with anything this hard yet!)

And so on.

What do you think? I’d really love your thoughts on this!

All Printers Are Not Equal

My trusty testers and I have been trying out some new pattern ideas that include paper piecing. I like to use paper piecing when I need accuracy in small places, although I can find it a bit long-winded at times. The best cure for long-winded sewing that I know of is sewing with friends… somehow a project that, if done solo, might make you want to run screaming for the hills is a pleasant afternoon’s sojourn when done in the company of people you like hanging with. Add some chocolate and laughter and the afternoon turns into satisfying play.

We were playing with some words, and I missed printing one of the letters that morning before heading to my friend’s home. I at least had the PDFs with me… no problem, says friend, running to her office with the jump drive. Two minutes later we were looking at the pattern for the missing letter. Which was almost a full quarter inch shorter than the ones made by my printer at home. Hmm.

We solved the problem by tracing an existing pattern onto scrap paper – we are, after all, a resourceful bunch. But good to find out that all printers are not created equal during a test drive and not at a higher stakes moment. And duly noted for the tips in the pattern.

Not a Fabric Crush, but a crush nonetheless!

My friend Carrie over at SUCH Designs created this little gem of a sewing machine from the family Lego pile, and generously shared a tutorial on how to make it here.

Now there’s a way to ask Lego to make it for real – check it out.

I so want one of these. Alas… The Boy (my son) is grown and gone and there is no Lego left in my house. Which is maybe a good thing considering how much of it I had to pick from between my toes back then. And I know all you parents have had the same “conversation” about keeping the bedroom floor free of the Lego minefield!

And so now I plot and scheme… who still had Lego-loving kids at home, and how much can I bribe them? Hmmmm….

Good friends

Every one needs good friends. I’m a lucky gal as I have several on my “I could call at 2am list.” They each fill different parts of my world, in composite making a lovely circle that keeps me going through the ups and downs. I even have friends that will help sew my samples for me – how lucky am I?!

And so today I just want to throw out a big bunch of thank you. My Kickstarter campaign is 50% funded, and such wonderful support could not have happened without the huge efforts made by my friends to help get the word far and wide. There are also pledges from people I’ve never met, but they must be cool people to lend a hand to a stranger, no? I hope they come up and introduce themselves when they next see me – I have a hug waiting for them.

And on the topic of Kickstarter… 4 days to go! If you are at all able to help out, here’s where to do it (feel free to forward to your friends and guild too):

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1079495455/hunters-design-studio-pattern-launch-at-quilt-fest

I have plenty of hugs in the bag for new friends!