Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Cinco de Mayo

I bought the Karen Stone book and program from the Electric Quilt Company many years ago. (It is an EQ5 program and I am currently working for several years on EQ7. Luckily I could import the blocks into EQ7 and did not have to figure out how EQ5 works.

I always thought one day I will tackle her version of the New York Beauty pattern; Cinco de Mayo, When our Boland Gilde announce that our year project will be a variety of New York Beauty blocks, I knew the time has come. I first make two of the suggested blocks. That just wet my appetite for this project and I was getting enthusiastic.

So I analyzed the 36 blocks that Karen designed. As she explained herself, she designed 6 different blocks and then use them and design variations of each one. I grouped them to determine how many repeats of certain design elements need to be made. I print the different blocks and the paper piecing patterns.

My brother brought me a huge role of freezer paper years ago from Canada. So I made stacks of 6 layers of freezer paper and stapled the printed pattern to it. I then sew on the lines without thread, to punch small holes in the paper where the sewing lines would be. Then I cut the paper stacks apart so that I have every arc separate without seam allowances.

Then the fun part starts. For every arc you just focus on the two or three fabrics that you need for this specific arc. I start by just making one or two different arcs. Once I have that completed I start building my blocks. The first arc do influence my fabric and colour choice of the other arcs,  In the end I can still swap it out with the arcs in the other blocks if I am not completely happy.

What amazed me from this project is how much I am enjoying the whole process. I first thought that the project is to big, to many fabrics are involved and the sewing is complicated. I love choosing fabrics for a project but usually this fun part is right at the beginning of a new project and then one just work with the chosen fabrics (In a sampler quilt one do have the decision making process of which fabric to use where- that is why I love samplers) In this project one get to choose and combine fabric all the time. If one choice does not proof so successful, you learn from your decision and try to make a better choice. In the big variety a poor choice just disappear and there is no need to resew anything.
The first 6 blocks

I also love the whole piecing process. I chain piece the paper based pieces, then cut the chain apart, press the fabric to the freezer paper and fold the freezer paper out of the way to serve as guide for the next seam. This is a method described by Judy Mathieson in her Mariners Compass book and DVD, If one make sure that you sew right next to the paper fold you can achieve very precise results. This is very important to achieve nice sharp points on the arcs. One do not sew through the paper so there is no difficulty in removing the paper and you can re- use the freezer paper.

To combine the arcs I first start with appliqueing by hand. I realized that this would take to long and also use some valuable time that I need for my other hand sewn projects. I changed to appliqueing by machine using a small zig zag stitch. I want to use invisible thread but after several attempts with my Bernina not cooperating I decided to use a thin grey thread that will blend in with most fabrics. When it was showing up on lighter colour fabrics I look for a more matching thread.

Blocks of another variation
This is really a wonderful challneging but satisfying project. I look forward to start working on the next six blocks.
Enjoy your quilt challenges

Monday, May 1, 2017

My Wedding Sampler

When I started to look at a lot of Sampler Quilts in Pinterest, I knew I had to do something fast, before I start another quilt again- I need to complete 60 quilts by June next year and has to focus on my half completed or just started projects, not start another time consuming project.

A Sampler quilt is a project with lots of tasks. Every block has a lot of decisions to take, templates to make, a cutting plan to devise and planning the sewing of each block. That is why I love it so- it stay a challenge throughout the process!

I have fallen in love once again! But I shouldn't!
Timeless Tradition--good layout:
Timeless Tradition - A Pattern featured in Bitsnpieces, website 

So I quickly dig out my Wedding Sampler. I started it in October last year and was quite well on track. This is a project where I work on my embroidery machine (digitizing some of the stitching and modifying some), I sew by machine and I do some handstitching. This complicate matters and once I put it away temporarily it leads to procrastination. Again I started to fear my own project.

But I have learned to be brave. (My 60 project is a real character builder). So  I unpacked my project. I am still in the process to determine what needs to be done, but I have already made some templates and mark and cut some fabric for handpiecing.

I have 8 blocks in different stages of completion, 2 completed and did the last bit of stitching on a third block last night to complete that as well.

A problem I discovered was that my small templates was not well marked. I use a plastic (that are sold by Pep Stores for place mats) and one cannot write on it. So I got some small circle stickers and cut it to make it small enough so that I could write the measurements on it. This will make it easy to reuse the templates if it is the correct size needed in another block.

When I want to start a project again (after a long absence) a reason to procrastinate is that I know I will have to figure a lot of things out again. Well this time it wasn't a problem. When I started the project I took a 20 page flip file and have a lot of the info in it. I am so proud of myself when I do not repeat the same mistakes over and over again but indeed learn from past mistakes. (I give myself a pat on the shoulder!)

Some more blocks got completed since I started writing this post.

I also completed a block with machine embroidery
My project is well under way now,  I just must not stop. There is so many reasons to stop because I am working on other hand projects as well. So I hope scheduling and not putting the project away will help to keep it moving to completion.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Be Brave

If it was my aim yesterday to work on this quilt today, I would not have entered my sewing room today. People think I am brave to swim from Robben Island (my second crossing will be on Saturday 8 April) but it is working on old forgotten projects that really needs bravery. As a master procrastinator the fear can become so big that it is easier to just not go there at all.

The problem with this project is that I do not have the templates anymore. I have made the decision to fill in the triangular spaces on the sides but how to create the template was the thing that was halting any progress.

Yesterday I tried to look in old EQ5 and EQ6 projects to see if I can find it. As far as I can remember it was a Judy Martin project on the internet, but I usually redraw things like this in EQ. I found the project this morning but after printing out the templates, I saw it was not quite right. I made adjustments and when that worked and I had the correct templates I immediately proceed to cut the fabrics before I could have second thoughts. Luckily I already selected and made the decision of what fabrics to use.

It is my 60 Quilt project that inspired me to really work on my UFO's and not just take it out to look at it and then put it away again as I have done before. Every time I do something that is so difficult to start, I am always amazed at how easy it actually was. The fear for the project escalate out of proportion the longer I delay tackling it. Then like with this quilt it was actually so easy that the fear dissolve instantly and it become quite unreal that I was actually scared of my own project?

So now I must just carry on with the knowledge that no project can be to difficult to handle.... till the next long standing UFO scares me again!
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