Thursday, September 18, 2014

Cutting Mats & 6" Blocks

Many years ago, I heard or read that we teach people how to treat us. And it makes sense that they teach us how to treat them as well. It struck me that I teach myself self-esteem, self-critism, self-whatever. And as my own teacher, I make up a lot of tests along the way and hold to a pretty high standard.

I've been struggling with a cutting mat that I've sliced through the center many times (rendering it almost useless), bought a new one, and yet today found myself using the same gnarly mat instead of the one I bought. I took my kitchen shears and cut out the center and cut the outsides into three quite useful pieces. I found another site that gives Rotary-cutting-mat-care-tips/. Now. After the fact. 

I put up with the decrement old mat because they are expensive, and I was feeling a bit guilty that the center of it was shot. So I did my usual, "that's ok" until the retreat came up. I needed to bring a cutting mat there with sharp rotary blades (I have a pack of them yet). So I ordered a new mat...and then was able to use the store cutting board.

It is still fresh as the day it arrived. Look, it even is marked for a 12" block and eventually cutting through the center of it. The smaller piece from the old mat is perfect for working with the 6" blocks I make every month. Its actually almost 8" wide and fresh to cut on! It made my work today joyful. The larger fragment is barely 12" wide and wavy at that, so its not going to be the best of choices when I make the 12 1/2" blocks, nor is it the right size for cutting width of fabric strips. Maybe I learned my lesson about how to cut on a mat and can make all these pieces work for what I do on them.

My first project on the reclaimed mat was my 6" blocks.

My September swap partner requested black and white prints for her blocks and gave the style to be quilter's choice. The first pattern I made was incredibly hard and off in many ways. I kept trying more patterns with different fabrics until I came up with these five, which all seem to work. They are each 6 1/2" squares in various black & white fabrics. I think we are to make four blocks, but once I found these patterns, I wanted to keep going and see which ones worked or didn't. I made two more and didn't remember to take pics of them.

I think a huge lesson from this project was in how the colors work. I am still using a stash grouping that includes bits & scraps, all the way up to fat quarters. The accuracy that is required seems to build the more I quilt. If in fact, there is a teaching here of how the art of quilting wants to be treated, and I personify it, the use of well-cared for tools is essential to the finish as well as to the process.

A clean cut is dependent upon a healthy cutting mat, a sharp rotary blade and strong holder, as well as good eyesight to make good choices and see the seams. 

My real life changes every moment. Every moment I am faced with choices that either enhance my greater good or take me down a road that is hard to travel. One of my values is the concept of recycle, reuse and repurpose. I really believe in it and live it. However, I think that I also have to keep a fresh outlook on the service of something that has reached its limits and see if change is needed for my greater good.