Category Archives: English Paper Piecing

WIP 2.13.13: Instant Gratification

After a rocky start to February, I finally had a chunk of sewing time this past weekend. As much as I’m committed to clearing my WIP;s, I had a hard time getting excited about my current projects.

I’ve been slowly quilting my You’re Never A-Lone Star 1 and am happy with my progress. I decided to quilt the star in a lone star pattern which is requiring a lot of starts and stops. I decided early on not to bury my knots and am utilizing my machines automatic stay stitching feature. My one complaint is that it stitches 5-6 times at the end of each row, creating a sizable knot on the back. I’m using flannel for the back and don’t think they will show much, but I do wish my machine would allow me to change the number of stitches taken. As for this weekend, I wasn’t up for the heavy lifting required to quilt this project.

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The next project under consideration was my 1/2″ hexagon mini quilt. I pulled this project out at the beginning of the month and got the rest of my sewn strips joined. My current piece of patchwork is approximately 12″ X 18″ and I can’t decide if I want this portion of the mini to be bigger or not. I plan to add a border of charcoal hexies and then a final 3-4 rounds of the scrappy hexies to finish it off. Right now, this center section seems like it would be proportionally right given those plans. I also like the balance of color and value in this section. I’ve attempted to lay additional hexies out to see what it would look like bigger and can’t quite seem to keep these elements consistent. I also question whether a bigger center will add much impact given the extra time it would take. Which is to say I “think” I’m ready for the charcoal border, but am still indecisive enough, that this project was set aside for the weekend. Please feel free to chime in with your thoughts.

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The rest of my early February sewing has centered around paper piecing bee blocks. I really love the Cartwheel Block from Lee Heinrich of Freshly Pieced that I chose for this round of the 4 X 5 bee and I need to get them finished up. For some reason, this just wasn’t the type of sewing I was looking for.

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I just didn’t feel like I had the energy to focus on paper piecing and was really wanting to feel like I was making progress towards a finish. What I needed was mindless sewing and instant gratification. A simple, straight-forward patchwork project was just what I was looking for. Fortunately, I had one on my  Q1 FAL list, cut and ready to be pieced. In the past I have chain pieced pairs of charms, then joined them into 4-square blocks, then continued doubling until I had rows and then doubled up rows until I ended up with a finished quilt. I remembered another chain-piecing technique I saw on a quilting show where you joined the first two columns and then added the third one on without cutting the thread between rows. You end up with all your rows formed and attached to each other by small lengths of thread. I’ve also decided I”m going to try minky for the first time on this quilt. Since it’s for a young child, I was able to keep it small enough that I won’t have to piece the back.

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Despite this quick finish (about two hours from layout to done), I wasn’t very happy with my final product. I knew I wanted to use solids to break up the charms, but didn’t have enough of any one color to use in the entire quilt. I thought these four colors would work well together, but I don’t really love it. Too sherberty for my taste. Fortunately, the mom of the little girl it’s intended for likes it, so I will go ahead and finish it up.

Since I was luke-warm at best with this side project, I was still feeling restless and unable to jump back into one of my other WIPs. What I really wanted to do was play with some of my favorite fabrics. I fell in love with Svetlana’s Pixelated Heart Pillow and having collected quite a few low-volume, neutral and text prints was itching to cut into them. My problem was I have been collecting them for specific projects, none of which would satisfy my desire for instant gratification. I didn’t want to cut into them randomly and end up short when I finally found time to execute my plans. With that in mind, I set out to liberate some scraps. I made a list of six different projects and the cuts required for each, along with some criteria to determine which fabrics would work best in each application. Only one project utilized them all and when I was done I had enough fabric cut for the neutral (used loosely) parts of 110 blocks (2 from each stack).

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I have to say that I was feeling a bit giddy looking at these piles of fabrics. There are just so many favorites here and I can’t wait to start on these blocks. In the meantime, after a full day of cutting, I took the scraps from the lightest of these fabrics, cut some 2 1/2″ squares to pair with squares of pink scraps and pieced together a Pixelated Heart Wall Hanging for Cate and Ava’s room.

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Ahhhh, that’s what I was looking for. There are a few misplaced squares (I really need a design wall!), but all told, I really love how this turned out. I’ve already finished up the quilting and have the binding attached to the front. I hope to get it sewn down while the kiddos are at their dance classes tonight and to have a post up for Finish It Friday. As an added bonus, this little bit of quilting was just enough to motivate me to jump back into quilting my You’re Never A-Lone Star 1, so I’ve come full circle.

On tap for the coming week….

  1. Finish quilting You’re Never A-Lone Star 1
  2. Finish up and send off 4 X 5 Bee Blocks and February Color Bee Shocked blocks

Linking up….

.WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

A Bunch of Firsts and a Finish!

My first fabric purchase, my first English Paper Piecing, my first zipper, my first pillow!

Flea Market Fancy was my first fabric purchase last April and it sat in a neat little stack for quite a while after I purchased it. Then one night I decided to cut squares from the corners. Armed with a package of 2″ hexie papers and a needle, I went to work basting. A couple of nights later I had this piece of patchwork and was hooked on sewing. My initial thought when I included this pillow in my Fourth Quarter FAL list, was to hand quilt it. After spending so much time this past month QAYG, I changed my mind and went for a quicker finish. I really enjoy the spirals and I feel like this is the one part of the project I did a good job on.

I’m especially proud of my beginning circle, which is about the size of a quarter. I was able to do it with my walking foot, going extremely slow. There’s a slight bobble on the second ring, but you don’t notice it unless you look really close.

Then I turned to Sew Katie Did and her invisible zipper tutorial. I’ve dreaded zippers for a while now and decided I just needed to jump in and do it. The only problem I had was sewing over the zips a couple of times when I feared I wasn’t getting close enough. It didn’t dawn on me that after I was done sewing it would roll up again, so I didn’t need to get that close. It is tight! But that’s okay, I just have to be careful.

I’m not sure what’s up with that wonky left hand corner. I adjusted the insert a couple of times, but will probably have to go back in and square things up a bit. For now I’m going to sit back and admire all those pretty prints and cross this project off my list.

Linking up to:
from blank pages… for A Celebration of Beginnings linky party
Making Rebecca Lynne for TGIFF!
Crazy Mom Quilts  for Finish It Friday
Eventually to the Fourth Quarter FAL at Quilter in the Gap

The Handmade Parade 9.28.12

It’s another Friday at There and Back’s Handmade Parade. The best thing about Katie’s linky is everyone understands when progress is slow. Sometimes it’s feels like I’ve worked and worked on something without much to show for it. When I looked at my pile of 1/2″ hexies this morning, it didn’t look much different from a couple of weeks ago. How nice it was to go back and realize that my project had actually grown by a third!

I desperately want to enter the Blogger’s Quilt Festival with this mini quilt. After I finish adding in the strips shown, I think I’m going to lengthen it a bit. Right now my plan is to add three rounds of coal or charcoal for a border (which I’m kind of dreading) and finish it off with a scrappy binding. I don’t know yet what I’ll do for the quilting. Anyway, here’s this progress I’ve made over the past couple of weeks…

The other project I’ve been hand sewing this week is the binding on Leo’s I-Spy/Matching quilt. It is so close and yet, due to my own foolishness, is still going to take a while. I had worked on this quilt all day on Sunday and after I finished sewing on the binding I could feel how close I was. I wanted to finish it so bad and fell prey to the siren song of a machine sewn binding. This despite the fact that I had cursed my machine all day. I jumped in any way and it was a disaster. I did stop after half a side, but since I have been unable to adjust the stitch length on my machine, the stitches are nearly impossible to unpick. Imagine layers of super soft cushy flannel and micro stitches. They were so close together that even the slightest tug ripped the fabric and buried so deep that I have to put reading glasses on top of my bifocals to see them.  Ironically, I stitched done the rest of the binding in no time at all. Lesson learned! Hopefully I will be back to report a finish soon!

Linking up to There and Back’s Handmade Parade.

Edited to add: I can’t resist popping back in and posting the following pictures. When I went back to continue on the binging this is who I found. Sage seems to think I made this one for her!

Apparently Sage doesn’t care that it’s not finished!

“What, you don’t have a problem with this do you?”

“Maybe you’ll feel better after you give me a belly rub or a scratch behind the ear.”

“See, like this.”

“Pleeeeaaaaassssse!”
She graciously accepted a rubdown as payment for her modeling services. 🙂