Rag Time Quilt

Have you seen these raggy-edge quilts? My first encounter with one was a few years ago, and I loved them: usually they looked like denim, but sometimes flannel. I always wanted to make one but they seemed so labor-intensive.

rag quilt
ragged-edge lap quilt

The old time-honored method was to sew the blocks together, with the edges exposed, then clip the edges so they fray when washed, as in this Craftsy article. I shudder to think of what my wrists might feel like after all that clipping, even with these special snips made just for that purpose.

Our local sewing shop started featuring a cutting tablet to make quilt blocks, and a rag quilt block template which cuts the snips at the same time the blocks are cut. The tool was called Accuquilt Go! cutter. The way it works: one or more layers of fabric are lined up on a cutting template, a thick mat is fitted on top of the fabric, and then the whole sandwich of template, fabric and mat are rolled through a pressing bar so that the fabric is mashed onto the blades embedded in the template, and cuts the fabric into the desired shape. Not an automated procedure, but a little more streamlined than making each individual cut with scissors or a cutting wheel. Actually, they do make an automated cutter but I haven’t tried that one yet. It’s about double the price of the Go! cutter.

Accuquilt cutter
Accuquilt cutter (on desk top) and cut blocks arranged in a pattern

For this lap quilt with a Christmas theme, I used flannel remnants from the remnant bin at JoAnn Fabrics. They often have smaller-than-one-yard pieces left at the end of the bolt, and they package them up in little bundles and sell them for half the normal price. The pattern for this lap quilt, which is on the back of the 8 1/2″ rag square template, calls for 49 double-sided 8 1/2″ square blocks sewn together. It gives you the yardage of each color you need, but I just cut up a bunch of remnants and then picked out 49 x 2 blocks of fabrics that I thought looked good together and arranged them so that no two of the same butted up against each other.

1-inch seam allowance
marking the throat plate for 1-inch seams

All the blocks are sewn with 1-inch seam allowances, then a 1-inch border is sewn around the perimeter. Next, it’s washed and dried (they recommend using a commercial washer because of the ton of lint that’s generated during laundering) and that makes the cut fringe fluff up.

cats on quilt blocks
who let the cats in? Arf, arf, arf

I kept all the blocks down on the floor until I sewed them together, so as not to get mixed up. As it happened, I had enough solids and prints to alternate them without ever having a solid connected to the side of a solid or a print to the sides of another print.

leftover fabric
leftover fabric bits and pieces for another project and better view of Accuquilt Go! cutter
fabric storage box
some will be stored here for patchwork and crazy quilts

Give That Man a Cigar (pen)–Part 1

Not that this was planned to go along with WordPress’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Grid…but there is a grid included in the project…

craftsbyjennyskip.com stabilized cigar
grid inside the vacuum chamber

For more Weekly Photo Challenge: Grid click here.

Not being a cigar smoker, I don’t fully appreciate the culture of cigar smoking but I do have a relative that does. I thought I’d see if I could take a cigar (in this case, one that was made in the Dominican Republic) and make a ball point pen out of it by turning the cigar on a lathe.  In order to accomplish this, I considered two alternatives; stabilize the cigar with some kind of resin or grind up the cigar and mix it with a resin to cast a pen blank.

The option I chose was to stabilize the cigar with resin and use the stabilized cigar as a pen blank.

stabilized cigar parts
stabilized cigar parts after undergoing the treatment listed below

As I prepared for this project I couldn’t help but reflect on the memorable times my family spent visiting Ybor City near Tampa, Florida and eating dinner at the Las Novedades or Columbia restaurants.  I can remember the waiters having fun with my brother and me by seeing just how much Cuban bread we could eat at one sitting.  I can still remember how fantastic that bread tasted once we had lathered it up with (what seemed like) a pound of butter!

The history in this area is steeped in the manufacture of cigars.  I learned that in the cigar factories, a hundred or more (it seemed like that to a 10 year old) Cuban immigrants sat at tables rolling cigars while a man sat at a lectern in the middle of the room reading aloud articles from the newspaper.  Ybor City’s cigar history goes back to the 1880’s.  By the 1930’s there were 150 cigar factories in this area and Tampa was referred to the Cigar Capital of the World. For more history of this era of cigar manufacturing visit Save Cigar City’s page.

Dominican republic cigar
cigar made in Dominican Republic

Taking the cigar, I used the pen kit tubes for the Roadster pen to measure off the lengths of cigar I needed for the pen parts.

Note: If you go to the Craft Supplies web site to check out the link, you may see another link for a “Cigar Pen” kit, too. But don’t be fooled, that kit is for making a pen that faintly resembles the shape of a cigar, not a pen from a real cigar like we’re making here!

I wrapped the cigar at the cut point with blue painters tape to help support the cigar when I cut it into two parts.

prepping cigar for pen kit
cutting the cigar into lengths that will fit the parts from the pen kit

The two cigar sections were then placed in a Turn Tex Woodworks Juiceproof vacuum chamber for the stabilization process. The chamber was supplied with a plastic grid called a pressure fit submersion plate that can be used to anchor the cigar parts in the chamber when the Cactus Juice is added.

vacuum chamber
placing grid on top of cigar parts in vacuum chamber

Enough of the Cactus Juice is added to completely cover the cigar parts with an additional inch or so to allow for the Cactus Juice to ultimately be absorbed by the cigar parts.

adding Cactus Juice to vacuum chamber
pouring the Cactus Juice into the chamber

The lid is then placed on the chamber and the chamber is connected to a vacuum pump.  As the vacuum pump runs, it evacuates air from the chamber and the voids of the cigar parts.  As the air leaves the voids, you can see the Cactus Juice “boil” as the air bubbles up through the resin.

bubbling
bubbling in the chamber

After about 20 minutes, the bubbles stop, indicating that most of the air has been removed from the cigar samples. The vacuum is then released and the cigar parts are allowed to soak in the Cactus Juice for about 20 minutes.

Following this soaking period, the cigar parts are wrapped individually in aluminum foil and then baked at 220 degrees F for two hours.  

cigars stabilized with Cactus Juice
stabilized cigar pieces ready to go in the oven

Next post: Part 2, turning the stabilized cigar on the lathe and turning it into a pen…

Using current technology to create 19th Century crafts