|Jingle BOM Pieced Block No. 3|
The outer border of that block was very difficult to piece, with all those bias triangle edges, but I love it now that it's finished. Very Christmasy! You know, late last night when I finished that block, I thought I had finally gotten it perfect, but looking at the photo now I see a sloppy seam intersection right at the top, where my white triangle does not have a sharp point on the left. I have to fix that or it will drive me crazy!
UPDATED 7/9/2013: Guess what? I didn't have to resew that seam after all. The bulk of the seam allowance was "eating" my triangle point. All I did was press that seam in the other direction, and voila -- pretty darned perfect (or rather, no longer imperfect enough to warrant ripping that triangle border apart yet again):
|"Fixed" by Pressing Seam Allowance in the Opposite Direction|
I also completed Pieced Block No. 4 -- TWICE. Here is the first one:
|Jingle Pieced Block No. 4, First Version|
Lovely, isn't it? I thought so, too -- until I put it up on my design wall next to the others:
Hmmm... I cut everything twice but it's still too small! ;-) What happened is that, since I'm using Kaye England's Cut For the Cure specialty rulers, I disregard the pattern instructions and cut all of my squares, triangles, or whatever from the same width fabric strips. The width of those fabric strips is determined by the size of the finished block and the grid of the block pattern. The previous pieced blocks for this quilt have all been based on a 3 x 3 grid, so I've been cutting my HSTs (half-square triangles) and QSTs (quarter-square triangles) from 2" strips of fabric. Unfortunately, I did not notice that the Dutchman's Puzzle block is based on a 2 x 2 grid before I started cutting. I was so absorbed with fabric selection and then with getting comfortable with the Featherweight and learning how to get my perfect 1/4" seam on that machine, that I didn't notice this block was too small until it was completely finished -- and measured exactly 6 1/2" x 6 1/2" instead of 9 1/2" x 9 1/2". Ah, well -- another "oops" for the FMQ practice pile!
Since I had to redo this block anyway, I decided to switch out some of the fabrics to get more contrast and to make it a bit livelier. It needed more red! This is the final version that will be going in my quilt:
|Jingle Pieced Block No. 4, 9 1/2" x 9 1/2"|
The Featherweight was fun to use, once I got used to it. The biggest issues I had were the challenges of inadequate machine lighting (by today's standards) and figuring out how to get an accurate 1/4" patchwork seam. I have ordered a replacement LED bulb that is supposed to fit the Featherweight, although it has mixed reviews on the Internet, and that may help. Meanwhile, I set up a desktop Ott light to shine in front of the machine, and that improved visibility a lot without creating too much glare.
Since my Featherweight's original stitch plate (sans markings, which were a later innovation) had a significant amount of chrome worn away around the needle hole, I bought an after-market replacement stitch plate that does have markings for various seam widths, but the lines are very difficult to see. I tried out four different after-market 1/4" patchwork feet that other quilters recommended for the Featherweight, but I finally realized that my presser bar is not set perfectly straight in my machine, causing the presser foot to angle ever so slightly to the right. For that reason, I can't use the front edge of any foot as a seam guide. I'm sure that a tech, or even my Handy Husband, for that matter, could easily turn that presser bar so that the presser foot would be perfectly straight, but I didn't want to wait for that. I also thought that all of the after-market presser feet seemed pretty flimsy and lightweight, with too much side-to-side play for my taste. I went back to the original Singer foot that came on the machine, and I think it feeds the patchwork more smoothly and glides across the bulky seam intersections more easily and with less distortion than those other, wider feet. I aligned a piece of low-tack, neon pink tape (sold for temporarily marking lines on acrylic rulers) to the 1/4" line on my stitch plate, and used that as a visual guide for my fabric edges. I also found that the fabric pieces fed more consistently, without flagging at the beginning or end, if I positioned my left hand just to the left of the presser foot and watched the edge of the fabric at the tape line right next to the needle instead of watching where the fabric lined up with the tape in front of the presser foot:
|Getting a Perfect 1/4" Seam on My Featherweight|
Meanwhile, here's what my design wall looks like today, with all of the Jingle blocks I have completed so far. I'll be switching gears back to hand applique next. There's been one more applique block released that I need to get caught up with, and I still need to do the large center medallion applique for this quilt as well. The finished quilt is going to have a total of 16 blocks, 8 pieced and 8 appliqued, so I'm almost at a halfway point. I'm really glad I decided to do this project. It's a lot of fun and I'm learning a lot along the way!
Have a wonderful weekend!