Saturday, May 13, 2006

Contest Block - Another Electric Fan

Didn't sew yesterday after all. Turned a bunch of errands into a day of leisurely shopping. I so seldom go into stores other than for groceries or the sort of things you get at Wal-Mart that it is a bit of a treat just to see what's available or in fashion. I wandered the aisles at Michael's Arts & Crafts after finding the one item I came to buy. I perused the fascinating array of papers and notebooks, filing options and gadgets at Office Depot before tracking down the ink cartridge I needed. I lingered among the handbags, summer dresses and luggage at JC Penney after purchasing a pair of shorts on sale (dreaming of a trip???). I dropped off a book at the library and contemplated the exhibit of black and white photos taken at a nearby falls before picking up two more books. Call it Creative Procrastination - I needed the break and different stimuli.

So today I hunkered down and worked on the "stunner" paper pieced electric fan. Foundations were ready to go and some of the fabrics chosen - I just needed to get on with it, choose the remaining fabrics and get sewing. I decided the best way to tell which other fabrics to add was to start piecing the ones I knew I'd use for sure. Fabrics do not read the same in large chunks as in small, and what sits next to them can also alter the way they read, so getting the proportions and juxtapositions in place theoretically makes the process easier. As it turned out, possible candidates I'd left out from Thursday's session weren't used at all. Here is my finished rendition:

Not sure if this is as stunning as the EQ colored version, but I like it. I'd have preferred the two yellows to contrast a bit more but I simply did not have anything in my collection of yellows that would have done that without introducing an orangish coloration. I had to agree with a friend, it reminds me more of windmills than electric fans.

I've mentioned several reason why I like doing these one-off blocks that go away - either to charity or to a block exchange - and while completing this one, I thought of another. It gives me an idea of whether or not I could tolerate making multiples of a particular block. I know many people make a sample block anyway before plunging into a project, but I've always been the type to not want to "waste" my time on a sample. I only feel like it's not wasting time if the block has someplace to go. Having a bunch of "orphan" blocks hanging about is not something I tolerate well. I like them to go away once I've learned what I need to from them.

So what was my feeling about making more of these blocks? As much as I like it, as much as I can see it has interesting possibilities, I tired of the actual making of it once I got the sections of each quadrant pieced. At this point in my journey, I am apparently in need of designs that require less meticulous sewing, fewer individual pieces, faster construction overall. I spent a lot of hours on this block, and in the final few I found my interest waning, my mind wandering, my self getting impatient and wanting to go back to pieces like "Easter in America" or the two birch tree quilts. I also marveled at how much of my fabric stash is 8 to 10 years old and the sorts of things I probably wouldn't incorporate into my current work. I'm not quite at the point of many quilters I read about who actually have cleaned out these older fabrics from their first years of quilting, but I sensed today that I was several steps closer.

I have to say that this block would have been nigh unto impossible to execute, especially with any accuracy, without the use of some kind of foundation or template method. (Although I do admit there are some excellent quilters out there with the skills and patience to make accurate blocks without that kind of assistance.) The fold-back freezer paper method worked particular well for this block because it allowed me the freedom to press my seams any direction they needed to go, including open. Can't do that with tradition paper piecing methods. It also stabilized all those bias edges so that when I squared up the block, everything was perfect. When the paper was removed, the block was perfectly flat with no distortion. Here's the back of the block showing all the different directions those seams went.

Now to decide if I want to make one more block. One part of me is quickly losing interest, another saying one more wouldn't take that much time and the pattern/foundations are already made. Ah, but then there's all the fabric choices to be made again. And I probably don't need to tell you what a mess my room is right now, how much fabric needs to be put away. The thought of getting even more out is somewhat depressing, believe it or not!

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