Showing posts with label Foundation Paper Piecing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Foundation Paper Piecing. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Happy New Year!

Pattern by Judy Mathieson

So, it turns out that I am very bad at quitting anything. I'd like to say I've found my compass, or something apt like that, but truth is I'm just blowing around in the wind. But in any case, I may as well blog about it. 😂

The new Quiltville mystery, Frolic, has started! I started too, but I'm not so sure my colours are working. I'm waiting for the reveal to see if I need to change course. In the meantime, I have plenty left to do on last year's mystery, Good Fortune! I've shared a little of that on Instagram, but never here on the blog.

I decided to try a dark background for a change, and I'm very happy with that. The instructions called for string units, but I didn't have a lot of orange strings. I tried some slightly improvisational skinny inserts instead:

I'm happy with them too. Of course, the process of making them created a lot of orange strings! And since I decided to make the quilt larger by adding blocks, I made some string blocks as well.

My new laptop doesn't have the good editing software, yet, so apologies, my pictures are not the usual standard.

The orange blocks are nearly finished. I made two test blocks for the stars...

They looked a little small when I took the photo, but I don't know if that is just a question of pressing or if I need to tweak them.

And that Mariner's Compass at the top? A medallion for the centre! The pattern is easy foundation paper piecing from Judy Mathieson's book Mariner's Compass Quilts, New Directions (C&T Publishing 1995).

I'm super happy with everything in this quilt, the warm colours will be really nice in winter.

I want to do another dark background for this year's quilt, but I'm not quite sure of the colour placement. Bonnie's colours blend where mine contrast, so I think I should wait for the reveal. And as we all know, I have plenty of other projects to keep me busy.

Happy new year everyone! Let's sew!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Made by a Human

Moving forward with my new colourway for Judy Niemeyer's Prairie Star, the next step is the RS units, or "large corner spikes." I planned out my own cutting instructions, concentrated, and the first one turned out great. Here is the new yellow and white section, laid out with the flying geese and melon spike units that I made a few years ago:

It was a little tricky to manoeuvre the big paper section through the machine, but doable.

The whole project is very well designed, and the instructions are detailed. But, they do frequently say things like "After you pin the papers onto the fabric strips, take the strips and the papers to your machine," as if your cutting table and sewing table are different places. It is all the same table here! It really felt like you need a large, dedicated studio to follow the instructions, and I decided it would be easier to simplify the cutting and strip piece it, instead of using all the cutting templates. Strip piecing is also easier with prints. I measured off the pattern, and rough cut everything without even ironing the fabric:

I iron the strip just before I sew it on, since the iron is right beside me anyway. And then I iron the seam open. The advantage of the strip is that you can sew along either side, and you don't have to worry about the right side triangle or the left side triangle. Everything always fits.

Well...everything always fits as long as you stay focused! You still have to take care pinning the strip.

This is the one segment where the strip has to extend well past the end of the seam, and I forgot. Those are very tight, small stitches, and I didn't want to unpick it. So I cut off the far end of the strip, which was now too long, and sewed it to the short end, not through the paper. I think it did the job:

If I hadn't fixed it, there would have been just a tiny quarter-inch hole there. You can see the seam allowances through the white fabric, but to me that was better than the damage I would have done unpicking the seam.

Made by a human! Two done, six of these sections to go. I'm going to do my best to stick with it, because it's not an easy thing to set aside and come back to later. And the warm weather is coming, so I want to finish the top before it is too hot to sit next to the iron. Fingers crossed!

Saturday, March 18, 2017


Here we go with Prairie Star 2.0! I've changed the colour scheme on this sooo many times, but this week I put a freeze on the changes, and cut the fabric.

The new, and final, version of the centre star.

It's been a long road. Prairie Star is a Judy Niemeyer pattern that I bought in 2012. This is another quilt that suffered in the doldrums of family apathy that I described in the recent Hen Party post. And now, I think it will really benefit from the fresh energy I got from that finish!

The original plan was to make it for my dad, who wanted it in red and gold. I struggled with the colour placement:

In hindsight, I can see that a lot of my "design" problems were actually caused by conflicting requirements from my dad. And then, I didn't like that red and dark cream floral background in my first attempt at the centre star:

The floral was too brown, and washed out the lemon yellow. The lemon yellow was going to be a big feature in the square blocks around the star, and I had a lot of it, so that was a big problem for me. Still, I kept going, and the next two sections turned out well:

Then I started to have doubts about that red spiky border. From a feng shui perspective, a bunch of red spikes pointed in toward the centre of the bed is not good. My dad is elderly, and it just seemed undesirable. I tried to involve him in a redesign, but he had come to the point where anything new, even a quilt, was simply too stressful. He didn't want it any more.

What to do? I packed it away, and every so often I'd get out the coloured pencils and try another variation.

Goofy, but appealing too.

In the baking heat last summer, I thought the quilt would be nice in cool aqua and fresh green. If those spikes around the edge were green, that would solve my feng shui dilemma. And they'd be like prairie grass! Light bulb!

I bought yards of a pretty aqua and red floral, and some coordinates. Plus, I wanted to save something from the first version. Since the arcs of red flying geese were the most work, and they seemed to match, I decided to use them. But, this kind of large scale foundation paper piecing requires the iron at every step, so I planned to restart it when the weather cooled off...

Last week I finally opened the boxes and looked at it again. Gosh, were those red flying geese really going to work with the aqua? Hmmm. Where are those coloured pencils? Maybe I need to think outside the box. What about something totally different?


No, that would be terrifying on the bed! Like a hippie tie dye.

What if I just carry the red of the flying geese through the star, I thought? With lots more white. And that lemon yellow fabric I originally planned for the squares is already cut. So how would that look? Hey, I like it! Now, what about fabrics?

No more shopping, I said, let's see what else I can find in my stash. Well, that turned out to be no problem at all. So, I have scrappy greens for the "grass," the original geese and melon spike units that I made in 2013, the original lemon yellow print for the squares, and a range of fun stash prints for the Lone Star. Freeze the plan! I cut the fabrics, and now I'm committed. :D

Monday, December 19, 2016

New Project Week

Usually I start a bunch of new projects in the spring and fall, something about the change of season, I guess. This year, I was obsessed with Brinton Hall, and I stayed focused on that right through the fall, pretty much.

But now, I cannot stand it any more. My Flamingos en Provence is on hold this week, because I am worried about my white fabrics, and I want to see more before I commit with them. There are several projects that I've been planning for as much as a year, and I've decided that this week I'm going to start every project that has it's own pile of fabric already. I think there are three for now, and one more for January. It seems counterintuitive, but I think they will be less distracting once they are started.

Two of them are Bonnie Hunter designs.

Today's new project is from Bonnie's latest book, Addicted to Scraps (Kansas City Star Quilts, 2016). I bought the book for "Garden Party," which I think is a design that people will still be making in 50 years. And I really like the cover quilt, "Idaho Square Dance." But, the one that completely hypnotized me was "Wild & Goosey:"

I think my first thought was something like "jeepers, no way!" But then the next day I had to read how it was made. And the day after that I wondered about a different colour scheme. And then the graph paper came out and that was pretty much it.

In her introduction Bonnie tells a funny story about her report card from fourth grade, where the teacher wrote, "Bonnie is bright and cheerful, with much potential if only we could contain that extra energy and get her to slow down and focus..." I bet she was the sweetest kid! Quilt guilds are full of high energy people who probably had similar comments in school. I know that I stayed focused only as long as the work was sufficiently challenging, which is quite possibly why I am always expanding my projects! But I think Bonnie's genius is that she makes these really outrageous, densely stitched quilts seem both manageable and reasonable. And once you've done one yourself, you get hooked.

Part of the appeal of Wild & Goosey is that it will use up all the brown and black scraps in my scrap box:

There was a lot of really ugly dark fabric in there, left over from my Hourglass quilt, which was my first attempt to clean out the ugly stuff. In fact (cue the theme from Jaws), right on the bottom of the box...

...was a strip of the dreaded banana fabric!! I really thought that was all gone. But this time I have finally put a good dent in my scrap box. Maybe 2/3 of it is now ironed and rough cut for foundation paper piecing. Maybe 3/4!

Bonnie used a solid yellow in the flying geese sashing strips. I thought it would look good in red, with light-coloured geese instead. Then if the geese in the sashing were light, it looked best if the diagonal geese in the squares were also light. Then one thing led to another and I redesigned the piecing of the squares too. Mainly, I had to do it because I changed the placement of the darks and lights, but also, mine will be less sewing.

Some of the blocks developed their own colour schemes. I love this one! Not my usual colours at all.

There weren't a lot of light fabrics in my scrap box, so in a few places I used the back of the fabric instead. The high contrast black and white fabric on the right is a nice soft grey and white in the block on the left.

The purple gingham in the block above was also used backwards.

There was no fussy cutting of any kind, but there were still some happy accidents, like the three dots here...

...and this perfectly placed daisy. Couldn't do that on purpose if I tried!

Overall, the whole set turned out way, way better than I expected.

They look almost like faceted gems to me. It's much richer than I expected for such a hodgepodge of mostly ratty fabrics. Now I am less sure about the red sashing. Maybe there is still a better choice out there? A slate blue, maybe? A warm caramel? No matter what, I'll probably have to buy something, so I'll look around a bit. One week 'til Boxing Day!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Feathered Star

I'm still not sure that I should have done it, but I did, and here it is!

This is Sue Garman's feathered star pattern, which is Month 1 of Stars for a New Day. It was the 2009 Block of the Month at The Quilt Show, and now you can buy the pattern on Sue's website. I've been holding onto the instructions since 2009, waiting for the right time to start it.

Almost three years ago I bought some of the Victorian Modern collection by Weeks Ringle for this same quilt. But that just never felt right.

This fabric is all from Connecting Threads, and most of it is their new Heirloom Manor collection. I loved it immediately, and I also thought it would work well for some fancy, fussy-cut English paper piecing. "But I'm not going to do that," I said to myself! "I'm still working on Texas Star, which is all EPP, and after that I have Best Friends Forever."

Then I remembered Stars for a New Day, and I bought it. While I was washing it all, I thought again how ideal it would be for fussy cutting. "But that would be stupid," I said to myself. "Just because you can, doesn't mean you should."

Ironically, it was while I was doing some improv sewing that I decided to just go for it. Improv seems to foster a "why not?" attitude, I've found.

This freezer paper frame idea is adapted from Janet's idea at Quiltsalott. You position and lightly iron down the frame...

...then iron the template down in the middle, and peel off the frame. I reused the frame, but made separate templates for each piece, and scissors cut them all with a generous seam allowance.

I ended up fussy cutting almost every piece. The navy diamonds and small tan triangles were cut to avoid the pattern and make them more solid-coloured. In for a penny, in for a pound!

In the end, though, the fussy cutting was not the tricky part of the block. The tricky part is right here:

If you ever find yourself judging a feathered star, that is the place to look. But, you definitely shouldn't judge it unless you've tried it yourself! The first one took me five tries, and then I wised up and basted each seam first.

Until I got to that point, I was thinking that it is a surprisingly forgiving pattern! The blue feathers are foundation paper pieced, so it is easy to keep them all sharp, and Sue's pattern eliminates the Y seams.

Anyway, there it is, and now I will pack it away until the new year. While I was working on it yesterday, zoned out in the blue, white, blue, white, paper piecing, I had another idea for a new improv project! But, surely I have enough already...

Sunday, November 8, 2015

My Country House Blocks

The last four pieced blocks for the TQS 2015 BOM, My Country House by Lynette Anderson, are finally done! Yes, I've been distracted by various new projects, but they were also a little picky to put together.

The original blocks finish at 9" square, but my 3/4 scale blocks finish at 6 3/4" square, and the math starts to get complicated. So I decided to foundation paper piece all the outside units.

I drafted my own foundations on graph paper at the original 3" finished size, and then used the photocopier to reduce them to 75%, which is 3/4 scale.

I don't know why my cutting mat always seems to be upside down!

Anyway, then I trimmed the units, removed the papers, and put the rest of the block together like a normal nine patch.

This block is called Garden Path. The white diamond is normally continuous around the block, but I deliberately broke it up. My hope is to balance these pieced blocks with the applique blocks, so I don't want the piecing to be too dominant.  We'll see soon if I was successful with that!

Truthfully, I was running out of ideas at this point, but I thought it might be interesting to have a block that is all background fabrics. It looks a bit like a swampy pond to me!

And, here are all four together. If you missed the first nine, you can find them here.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

What I Did This Summer

...And What I Didn't...

This foundation-pieced pine cone was designed by Cyrille Zellweger, who has an Etsy shop full of cute camping-themed paper piecing patterns. I bought several of them last fall...

...and promised myself that I would make them this summer. Full of enthusiasm, I started the pine cone right after my last post in June. I'd really enjoyed all the paper piecing I'd done previously, so I thought I would take it to the next level. My plan was to make the entire project with fabric by Art Gallery, which is really beautiful -- lightweight and with a high thread count. And it is great for paper piecing. The only problem... that they seem to have banned forest green from their production line. So that didn't work, but fortunately I still had a lot of my trusty Kaffe Aboriginal Dots in forest green left over from Sedona Star 1.0. I used that in the first photo above, and also in my second block:

You can also see that I used a medium scale modern print for the aqua sky. The colour in the pine cone photo is more accurate. It was an experiment, but I think it worked quite well.

But, even though they didn't take too long and all the problems were solved, I lost interest at that point. The thing I like best about paper piecing is the rhythm of sewing all those points. You can pre-cut your strips, and just sew -- light, dark, light, dark. When I looked at the rest of the blocks, I could see that every piece was a different size, and that templates would probably be needed, and it looked more like stop-and-go city driving than driving on the freeway. So I put it aside. I'm not saying I won't go back to it, but it wasn't the big summer project that I planned.

The big event in Toronto this summer was the Pan Am/Parapan Games. Although I didn't seek them out, the Games still found me. Near the end of the last week I was driving home from the grocery store, far from any of the venues, when I passed a couple of cyclists from Chile dressed from head to toe in their team colours. They caught up to me at a red light, and I could see that they were having a fantastic time, laughing and smiling from ear to ear. Toronto cyclists are not usually that happy, lol. It was like seeing a couple of flamingos among the pigeons, and a very nice moment.

It was also in July that I became very motivated to work on Texas Star again. Surprised me! After reading EPP guru Karen's blog for a while, I noticed that she sections her large quilts in rows, and then joins the wide rows at the end. My diamond section experiment was a total failure, but I decided to try Karen's approach. So far it's been a lot easier to manage, and I now have 245 of the stars joined up:

That's 99 more than last time, and there are just 88 left now. Isn't it funny how the numbers keep working out?

In my Summer Break post I thought I might work on Down in the Garden (DitG), Jacks and Cats, and Best Friends Forever (BFF) over the summer, but I've done very little on any of them. I think I need to pack DitG away for a while, because I've totally run out of steam on it. I may still pick up Jacks this fall. BFF is on hold until Texas Star is done, and I'll probably be happy to get back to it by then. I'm embarrassed to say that I still haven't bound those Homegrown placemats, but at least the potholders are done:

I really like them, actually, they're like fun little mini quilts.

And, over the next three Fridays I have three finished flimsies to show you, starting with Collector. I was hoping to bring that up to five, but I promised myself that I would make a big push to get some things quilted this fall, so that's a higher priority. But then again, after less than a week of catching up in Blogland, I was captured by the Ad Hoc Improv Quilter's link up that Ann and Kaja are starting. I knew immediately what I wanted to make for that! And then the next day this order of Laura Gunn's Painters Canvas, for a completely different project, arrived in the mail:

It is awesome, so you can understand how I am torn between too many options.

I know it seems like I am picking up right where I left off before the summer, but the long break from blogging was actually very helpful, and I will probably do it again next year. It gave me chance to step back and gain some perspective on all my projects. I'm tired of working on ideas that are three or four years old, or more, so I'm very motivated to clear out some old UFOs this fall, and get more current with my projects. We'll see how it shakes out!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Long Time, No See!

Remember those diamonds I made in March (here and here)? Well, this is what they are for. The last time I posted on this project was almost three years ago. Since then, it's been growing!

I have already written more than enough extensively on this project, and it went through many changes. But, the end is in sight and the plan has pretty much jelled. I started with these three cross stitch designs by Jim Shore:

They were stitched on raw linen aida instead of the perforated paper in the kit, and the plan was to stack them vertically and sew them into a long quilted banner. In 2012, the paper pieced borders were going very slowly, and the project got pushed aside.

Over a year ago I thought that a long, skinny banner didn't feel right to me. I decided to line them up horizontally instead, and add a couple of borders to make a wall quilt with some presence. The question was whether I had enough of the original fabrics:

The orange fabric was my main worry, because I knew I wanted it for My Country House too. Fortunately, I still had lots, and after searching high and low I was able to find all the other fabrics too.

So in January I easily finished up the last four of those green flying geese borders. My paper piecing is so much better now! I know it looked ok, but I have learned some things since then. The Quilt Show had a Carol Doak video available a year ago, which was very helpful. Also, the Judy Niemeyer instructions with Prairie Star had a surprising amount of good information, and improved my technique as well.

From the start the tricky part with this project was going to be joining the aida and the pieced sections. I used a narrow strip of dark green fabric to frame the cross stitch and transition to the quilt fabric. I carefully trimmed the aida and left a 4 thread seam allowance. Then I pinned the green strip to the front, and from the back I carefully (and slowly!) machine stitched four threads from the edge. Then I went back and stitched a second line three threads from the edge to anchor it:

By accident I found that if I lined up the pins along that fourth thread, it was easier to stay on course:

Then the last step was to trim the seam allowance down to one thread from the stitching:

So, it was a lot of slow, careful machine sewing, and I ended up taking a one month break in the middle, but I am happy with the result so far:

After I finished the hard part yesterday, I was excited to put it up on the wall and see how it looked with the second and third borders:

Why did that look wrong? It's just because I cut the light green second border oversized, I said to myself. Out came the tape measure. Argh! There's an extra diamond block in the top and bottom borders. How did I manage to make too many? I decided which two diamonds to eliminate and just pinned them under for now:

I'm going to applique some flowers in the light green second border. I spent the rest of the day yesterday auditioning fabrics and cutting out the appliques. That's when I really start to feel creative! After all that, I finally realized that the diamond side borders were wrong too! They should be one diamond longer, which accounts for the "extra" diamonds along the top and bottom. Argh again. That fix won't be quite so simple, and I'll have to juggle things around to keep it balanced.

But, the applique flowers are all figured out, so that will keep me busy for a while!
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