Friday, March 23, 2007

A Bit of Progress

I'm getting a bit obsessed with this Crow's Feet project. I pieced 4 blocks yesterday, as many as could be sewn with the navy thread in the machine. I enjoyed the rhythm of joining the parts, the repetition soothing, not tedious. I got to wondering why that was, why sewing four identical blocks in a row wasn't boring me. I decided it was because these were not identical blocks. Each had its own pair of fabrics, its own combination of colors and textures. Each held a certain mystique - would my choices be as successful in the finished block as I imagined they would be? When I added that block to the ones already sewn, would it fit, blend, help add interest, make the whole greater than the sum of its parts?

Back when I was new to patchwork, I was fascinated with geometric blocks and what seemed an infinite number of ways they could be colored and joined to change the look of the basic block. I'd read about quilters who found traditional blocks boring and quickly fled to the type of contemporary quilting that they found less rigid and more interesting. I really couldn't imagine running out of ways to manipulate traditional blocks into exciting designs and found myself pretty impatient with these renegade quilters.

Of course, now I too have moved beyond traditional blocks, although I still find ways to incorporate them at times. I understand better the hazard of getting bored making the same block over and over again. I'm sure that sampler quilts and scrap quilts have such a strong following in the traditional quilt world because they are not boring to work on. For anyone who loves all kinds of fabrics, commercial prints as well as hand-dyed fabrics, there is always excitement in pulling many different combinations together to see how they interact. Otherwise, yes, making say 20 or 30 absolutely identical blocks can be incredibly tiresome.

Today I wanted to finish up the piece I've been experimenting with to try out a casual curved piecing technique. I'm making it work, but I'm not all that keen on it. Best to finish it up so I can clear some things off the work table and be done with the blue thread for awhile. Yes, this is one of my quirks: I hate changing threads back and forth so I've been known to sew as much as I can on as many projects as I have going that use the same color thread before changing to another color for the original project. Dumb but that's the way I am, although I'm not quite as obsessive about it as I used to be.

I used a lot of steam today to block the units into submission. This is one of the things I don't like about this method - too much distortion. I added an insert and a piece to the top and bottom of the smaller unit, the one with the extreme curve. Then I joined it to the larger piece with a bridging insert. You can see quite plainly from this picture that this technique leaves you with quite a skewed piece to be squared up. It's fairly obvious that grainlines are off, although that might not bother some people. Me it bothers. I decided not to square it before quilting and got it layered using 505 Spray Baste. I don't think I'll quilt it right away. Grid 3 is still waiting for me to get back to its quilting. But at least it's ready to go.

I would have layered another piece for quilting while I was at it - one of the willow leaf prints - but the fabric I want to back it with needs washing. I cut a length and will wash it along with some sale fabric I picked up last week. At $2 a yard, I couldn't pass it up, falling back on the quilter's standard excuse: I can always use it for backing...

And before quitting for the day, I couldn't resist changing threads and sewing one more Crow's Feet block!

1 comment:

The Wittering Rainbow said...

Gosh, it's ages since I did any blocks. I used to love doing them when I started out too and it was about the only use I'd ever found for all those geometry lessons and pythagorus' theory!! Good to catch up with you after a blogging break