Monday, September 12, 2016

When Spaghetti is the Main Course

Quilts and spaghetti don't really go well together.
  • Spaghetti stains.  Need I say, "Don't eat it in the sewing room?"
  • Spaghetti inherently requires noodles, which are full of carbs and cause fat retention.  Try the sauce on veggies or quinoa instead.
  • When you are eager to get to sewing you may forget to put it in the crock pot at noon to cook, resulting in no dinner to fill your tummy after burning lots of sewing calories.
The other kind of spaghetti has no calories, does not stain and "cooks" as you sew, although it may cause temporary, frustrated hair pulling.  This is the center of my quilt with 8 seams coming together with a seam down the center of each piece = 16 seams!  Is that a mess, or what?  I couldn't even attempt stitching because, with the paper from paper piecing in there too, I couldn't get the presser foot to go over it.  I love my baby spiral better every minute and can't wait to cut this mess out and attach the spinning center.  I have to pull out the paper backing first and that is tedious, but is a great bit of television handwork.

Spaghetti at center point.
Additionally there is the problem of skinny points in my spiral quilt.  It begins with the design.
Pattern with fabric sewn to other side (seam allowance untrimmed).
These big triangles will be sewn together down the center.
See the arrows (click to enlarge)?  They show the troublesome, long, elegant strips of fabric.  Now imagine all these skinny pieces of fabric with 1/4 inch seam allowance between all of them.  Then sew the two main shapes together and you have another seam with another 1/4 inch seam allowance.   The result is major spaghetti.  The points at the very bottom are the center of my quilt and this is only one quarter of the center.  It is a major mess that I did not visualize in the design process.  A real learning experience.  Burned spaghetti!!!  Not only that, but the mess of tiny points is so thick it is impossible to work with.  What to do?  As usual I let it percolate and worked on some less problematic point challenges, which I will address next week.  

TIP:  Got a problem?  Don't despair.  My favorite, and oft-stated recommendation is to sit on it, sleep on it, think about it, and you will eventually come up with a solution.  I do this often!

I was not giving up on this quilt!  I went to my computer to play with ideas, and decided to try covering the center with a four-point star offset from the one already there, then appliqué my spiral into the center of it before appliquéing the whole thing to the quilt.   Ultimately, I will cut away as much of the over-seamed area underneath as possible.

This was not exactly simple, but do-able.  Without the center sewed together the quilt was a bit unstable so that had to be tackled first.  I cut away about 1/2 inch of the spaghetti so I could see what I was doing.  I unglued the center seam allowances (see above) and ironed them open.  That helped the center to lay a little flatter.  Then I pinned six straight strips of fabric across the center to temporarily stabilize it so I could measure the center of the quilt east to west and north to south.  It came out the same!!!  Now it was time to make the star.

TIP:  It is imperative to stay on top of the quilt measurements or you will have difficulty when it comes time to apply the border(s).  It was especially important here because there was real risk of the center going wonky.

Four pieces for a star.
I used one of the above points to cut two pieces of freezer paper ironed shiny sides together as a guide for pressing back seam allowances.  Then I cut the fabric, starched and ironed the seam allowance around the sharp pointed sides of the pattern.  I stitched the four pieces together to hold the center solid.  Next I hand appliquéd the spiral to the center of the star.  I laid the quilt back on the table, measured again, removed the pinned, stabilizing strips, and glued the star in place.

Appliquéing was the easy part.  I did the hand sewing with Kimono silk thread.  I had never used silk for appliqué and I LOVE it.  It is strong, thin and melts into the fabric invisibly.  Hurray!  Very happy.

Here is a graphic of what the center was supposed to look like:

Illustrator version.  Four point star

Here is a photo of the  new center with the appliqué completed:

Red marker is appliqué.  Green marker is the star that is part of the pieced quilt top.
Eight point star.
(click to enlarge)
See how the appliqué points line up over the teensy points?  The worst of the spaghetti is underneath and will be cut away.  Not only did this solution fix the problem, but I really like the way it looks!

Sew a happy seam this week.  I wish you successful solutions to your problems.


  1. Looks great. I must admit appliqueing a centre is always my go to when things start getting ridiculous

  2. That is a fabulous solution! I had to go back and forth a couple of times from the graphic to the actual quilt to 'get' it, so clearly you have done a most excellent job at hiding and ultimately eliminating the spaghetti. I, however, will always make room in my diet for spaghetti ;-) !!

    1. Ah, I love spaghetti too, but the noodles don't like me so I eat the sauce with other things. Almost as good! Quilt spaghetti I can do without!!

  3. Oh my, what a lovely quilt. You are right, don't despair-and throw the thing away. Sleep on it and a solution will come. Your fix is perfect!

  4. What a perfect solution - I love the eight pointed star! Thanks for sharing this on Midweek Makers

  5. Sleeping on it is my go to solution for these type of problems. Except that sometimes I go into hibernation with the quilt stuffed way back into my closet quilt cave. So glad you persevered and shared your solution. I particularly enjoyed the spaghetti analogy throughout! Last but certainly not least, the quilt thus far is positively gorgeous.

  6. What a fabulous quilt! It is quite detailed, and with my experience, (or lack of experience) would not attempt it at all. I am in awe of your sewing prowess!

  7. Beautiful save. I don't think I'd ever even attempt this piece!