Tuesday, 10 July 2012

A whirlygig Learn-Along (LAL)

DQ Madhu makes these ultra-fab whirlygig mug rugs and promptly shows them off posting pics on the DQ facebook page, sparking a round of green eyes. DQ Tina first goes green, very green, and then every other shade of green...then decides she has to give it a shot. She's never done whirlygigs before but has a vague idea how to go about them. She decides to see if her vague idea is doable and thinks its a good idea to turn it into a learning experience for herself as well as any interested onlookers/ do-ers. Thus the Learn-Along (LAL) also referred to as LAYGO (Learn as you go) is born.

Here's DQ Tina's Whirlygig LAL...and many thanks DQ Madhu, for the inspiration.

Disclaimer : The method I'm going to try here will definitely result in some fabric wastage. But of course a quilter never really 'wastes' any fabric, so I guess its ok.

Step 1 : Choose fabric. This is ideal for a 2-tone or 4-colour or even a scrappy look. Choose if you want framed blocks, borders , or just the whirlygigs.

Step 2 : Cut squares of 5" for the whirlygigs and 3.5" for the borders/frames, if any. I chose these measurements coz thats what was in the first link kindly provided by Madhu.

Step 3 : Decide on colour placement. This will give you a basic idea of how the finished quilt will look colourwise. Eg.:

Note: You dont really need strips for borders/frames. You can also make do with 5" sqaures in the border colour. Of course there will be a little more wastage, but maybe a little less confusion. Also ideal for those who like to keep changing their placement plans :-)

Note again : In case you are wondering why my squares are shabby looking, its coz they shrank when I ironed them!! So here's what I'm gonna do - I'll resize my squares to 4.5" but also do some paper 5" squares on the side so that we all know what size whirlygigs one ends up with.

Step 4 : Once happy with your placement, sew the squares together. I have chosen these two to experiment with:

The white border is made of sewn up squares of 4.5 and the greens are strips of 3.5". And dont be too shocked, esp., Vidya1, that the top green border is a li'l short. I forbade myself from touching anything other than my scrap basket. And anyways lets see whats the worse that can happen :-)

Next comes the time to make the twister template. I am having a bad feeling about this! I decide to start with the 2nd piece in the pic above and am suddenly not sure if this will give me 4 whirlygigs or just one with leaves in 4 different colours! So I take a sheet of paper and sketch (?) a few of them pesky things. Like so:

(Why am I not able to increase the size of the pic? Or turn it about a bit?)

So, here's what I gather:
1.Each intersection of seams will give you one whirlygig
2.These are going to be tiny whirlygigs. Not my forte :-(
3.Each square will give you 4 leaves..one along each seam..and a small li'l square from the middle is going to be wasted. Well, not wasted-wasted..but we already talked about that :-).
4.Now, we need to cut out smaller squares with the centre point aligned on each seam intersection.
5.But the squares need to be angled a bit on the centre point. Not straight squares, not diagonals on point, but just slightly tilted squares. See if the pic makes any sense.

Now to figure out the size of the 'angled square' or 'twister' template. My fabric squares were 4.5" which means 4" after seam allowances. So, I cut out 4"paper squares and place them on the sewn squares to see if they fit ...

As you can see from the above pic, angled squares (AS) of 4" on a bed of regular 4" squares tend to overlap by 1/4". So, if I want them to fit, I should cut my AS to 3 3/4". But then I'd have to be laser sharp in cutting and my seam allowances shud've been perfect. Nope, not taking that risk. A better thing to do would be to cut my AS to 3.5" instead...


Next? Next we figure out the angle of the whirlygigs. What we need to do now is draw two slanting lines across opposite sides of the squares which pass thru the midpoint of the square. and when we cut along those lines and rearrange the pieces, we get a ...hold yer breath...a whirlygig !! Most tutorials suggest drawing lines 3/4" from the corners. So I did that, and then I did another one with lines drawn 1 1/4" from the corners. See what I got..

Of course, we're not really going to cut the fabric into 4 pieces like this, but this gives you an idea of the shape of the whirlygigs we're gonna end up with. (Our whirlygigs instead emerge from the clever way we've sewn our base squares :-))

Now if you've managed to read till here, comment 'whirlygiggly' below and lets confuse the ones who didn't :-)

(And this is where Tina went to bed)

Looks like nobody did!!

So what we've learnt is that the smaller the distance of the diagonal-ish lines from the corners, the taller and skinnier the whirlygigs, and, the more the distance, the shorter and stubbier will be the whirlygigs.

When you sleep over a project, you wake up with new doubts, nahi? Now I am plagued with these thoughts..
1.I like the proportions of the 1st whirlygig, but what about seam allowances? Wont it become skinnier and shorter if I account for seam allowances?
2.Aargh! But I'm NOT going be cutting and sewing on all four sides, so wont that give me wonky whirlygigs??

I need some tea. :-(

Step 5 : Cut out a 3.5" square out of clear plastic. I used an OHP sheet easily available in stationery stores. Next mark 3/4" from all corners and draw lines connecting opposite sides thru the centre. Now remember, if you want your whirlygigs to go clockwise, mark from the left. Mark from the right corners if you want 'em going anti-clockwise. (or just flip the template over.) Now your AS or twister template is ready.

Step 6 : Place the template with the centre point on seam intersections over your sewn base squares, aligning the drawn lines along seam lines. Mark around template.

Now here I encountered a problem. I have NO clue how, but the angled squares didn't fit !! So I had to make another template 3" square ! (The template is there on the 1st quare of 2nd row in the pic)

Step 7 : Cut using scissors. Use rotary cutter only if extremely confident or foolhardy.

So you get sqaures and scraps like these..

Step 8 : Now comes the magic part. Just bring all the cut out squares together and voila ! Whirlygigs!!

PS (by Madhu): This is what you DO NOT DO when using Tina's Method:

Tina continues..
Step 9 : Join all squares (numbering them on the back helps with correct placement), sandwich, quilt and bind. Tada..!

Happy whirligigging folks! :-)
P.S.: DQ Madhu made her whirlygigs by a different method which involves no wastage. Dancing squares she calls them. Do check out her Dancing Squares LAL on her blog Betukbandi .

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