Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Farmer's Wife Block 65, "Peaceful Hours"

6" Farmer's Wife Block 65, Peaceful Hours
Happy Wednesday!  I did something yesterday that I have not done in years...  I stayed up past midnight because I was in a good groove in the sewing room and didn't want to stop until I finished this 6" sampler block.  This is Block 65 from the original Farmer's Wife sampler quilt book, and it's called Peaceful Hours.  It took me about 3-4 "peaceful hours" to cut and sew this block from start to finish, foundation paper pieced.  I am very, VERY happy with how this block turned out technically, as far as seams matching up where they are supposed to. 

I am not so sure I love how busy this block is, though, with all these crazy fabrics.  At first I was just going to use the large floral print, the tiny blue and white floral, and the solid orange.  However, I dislike having unnecessary seams in my blocks (seams between two patches of the same fabric that only exist to simplify piecing).  I thought I had found a similar enough block in my EQ7 block library (it even has the same name, "Peaceful Hours"):

Peaceful Hours block from EQ7 Library
See how there are no seams dividing the triangles going around the center of the EQ7 Peaceful Hours block?  I added seams in the software to turn the corner squares into HST units and printed out my new foundation patterns and templates for a 6" finished block: 

Block Key and Templates for Modified EQ7 Peaceful Hours Block
And, just for kicks, here's what the block looked like colored with totally different fabrics in EQ7 software:

Modified EQ7 Peaceful Hours Block
But then, just as I was about to cut into my fabric and make a start, I realized that the block in my Farmer's Wife book was different -- the EQ7 block had a different grid proportion (the center square didn't finish 3" for a 6" block) and it had different angles on the star points:

See? Dark Blue Triangles have Different Angles
The version of this block in EQ7 looks like a sawtooth star variation.  And after studying both blocks, I preferred the one in the book because those tricky angles give the block an interesting vintage vibe.  I just didn't like those seams slicing through the gray triangles.

Rather than go back and redraw the block all over again in EQ7, I decided to use two shades of orange in my bisected triangles so the seams would have a functional design purpose.  And I found a few small scraps of this lighter speckled orange fabric in my scrap bins:

The Plan
You can see how I've scribbled on the foundation patterns with colored pencil so I know which fabric goes where, and I've also drawn little arrows to check that the piecing order will result in nesting seam allowances for those tiny triangles around the center of the block (had to change the piecing order for a few segments in order to make that happen).  But alas -- when I cut up the speckled orange scraps, I forgot about the larger corner triangles when I was deciding how wide of a strip to cut, and then I found myself without a large enough scrap to cut them from.  I dug through my scrap bins again, hoping to find another scrap of the same fabric, but no dice.  Boo, hiss!  I found another scrap in a very similar color, but with little orange swirly lines on it instead of dots, and decided to use that for all four corner HSTs because I thought it might be weird to have that fabric just on two patches.  (I regret that now and wish I had continued alternating the two shades of orange so that two of my corner HSTs would have been the dark orange).

Foundation Piecing Completed, Ready to Remove Papers for Traditional Piecing
That's what the block looked like once all of the foundation segments had been paper pieced and trimmed.  I have been starching my foundation segments once the paper piecing is complete, so they are nice and crisp and the fabric doesn't shift around when I'm trimming the units down with my rotary cutter and acrylic ruler.  It is much easier for me to cut and piece accurately when my fabric is stiff and crisp, almost paper-like.

Piecing these segments together went so smoothly.  I sewed the entire block on my 9 mm Bernina 750QE with the straight stitch plate and foot 97D, using Mettler 50/3 cotton thread, a size 90/14 Quilting needle, and piecing straight stitch #1326 shortened to 1.5 stitch length.  I screw the guide into the machine bed, pushed flush up against the presser foot, once my foundation papers are removed and I'm piecing the sections together.  As long as I have trimmed my segments so the cut edge is exactly 1/4" from the seam line, and I've starched my units so they lay flat against the guide rather than bending or curling up the seam guide, things tend to come out looking pretty good.

So I've nested important seam intersections, and I'm using my own tried-and-true "personal recipe" for precision piecing.  I'm also pinning those important seam junctions, especially in instances where I was not able to have opposing seam allowances.  I place my pins with the heads to the left and the tips pointing right, not extending past the raw edge of the fabric, so the pins don't interfere with my seam guide.  In this block, I decided to press some of the seam allowances open to reduce bulk:

Rear View, Showing Pressing Path
I still have my stitch length set to the shorter 1.5 from paper piecing, and that helps to ensure a tight seam even where I've pressed the seams open.

So here it is, up on the design wall with my other 6" sampler blocks.  Maybe it will be fine mixed in with all the others in the finished quilt:

Assorted Sampler Blocks on the Design Wall
Really, there's just not enough contrast between the lighter orange fabric and the light blue ditsy floral fabric for my taste.  Bummer!  Meanwhile, I do still have the foundation papers and templates printed out and ready to go for the EQ7 version of the block.  In a totally different color scheme like this one, with the different angles in those outer triangles and no seams dividing the inner triangles, it really is a completely different block, don't you think? 

Should I make this one, too?
Maybe I'll make this version, too.  I love making these little blocks!  I'm linking up with:

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Happy Fall, Y'All: Bernie's Sugar Shack Leaves Quilt circa 2004-2006

I know you're all tired of my snail's pace updates on my current projects, and Val's Archives Linky for this week is Fall Themed Projects, so I thought I'd share the Vermont-inspired Sugar Shack Leaves quilt that I made for my husband Bernie back in 2004-2006.  That was before I even knew what a blog was, so I haven't written about this one here before.

"Sugar Shack Leaves," 51" x 51", completed in 2006
The pattern for the leaf blocks came from Quilter's Newsletter Magazine Issue 357, "Shelly's Swirling Leaves, but I changed the borders.  I wanted to evoke the feeling of laying on our backs on that Vermont mountainside outside the sugar shack, surrounded by the forest at peak foliage season, with those brightly colored leaves floating down from a clear blue sky.  My version of the quilt was published in the Quilting Bee section of QN Issue 397, November 2007.

This was my third completed quilt, my first attempt at hand stitched applique (for the leaf stems), and my first and only hand quilted quilt.  It's only a throw sized quilt, but my boys were little at that time and I was only able to work on it in small snatches of time here and there so it took me about two years from start to finish.  Here you can see a much younger, exhausted version of myself working on the hand quilting back in 2005:

Hand Quilting In Progress, back in December 2005
How time flies!  That photo was taken in my in-laws' motor coach after we had spent the entire day in Disney World with toddlers.  Hence the dark circles under my eyes, general exhaustion, and "Really?  You need to take my picture NOW?!" look on my face.  But it's kind of neat now to have an "in progress" shot to share.  I'm using my square Grace lap hoop and my Roxanne thimble.

Hand Quilting Detail
This quilt wasn't really the best choice for showing off hand quilting.  You can't even see it unless you look up close, and my little random leaves quilted in the background look pretty lame to me now.  But it was relaxing hand work and I did enjoy it.  Maybe if I ever get around to setting my Jingle applique blocks, that one might be a good candidate for some hand quilting.

One more shot to share -- the machine embroidered quilt label:

That's it for today.  I'm linking up with Val's Tuesday Archives linky.  Have a great day!

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