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
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