Sunday, March 29, 2009

Row Robin Progress

I bet you've been wondering what I've been up to that's kept me from blogging for a week. No? Well, I'm going to tell you anyway. I took this:

...and searched through almost my entire stash to turn it into this:

I didn't intend for this starter row of my row robin quilt to take so much of my time, but as usually, I set myself a fussy and time-consuming task with these 6" house blocks and the 3 & 4 inch tree blocks in between. Click on the pictures for a larger view to compare the paper vs cloth versions.

It's 43 inches long (yes, I know - a number that no conventional block size falls into) and 7-1/2 inches wide with the strip I added along the bottom of the blocks. That's my house there on the right and my landlord's to the left of it (artistic license taken of course). Then there's a little cottage and what I fancy an older brick house on the end.

Part of what took so long was the size & number of the individual pieces within each block. For the most part, I used my favorite version of paper piecing where the pattern is drawn or printed on freezer paper (I did both) and the freezer paper is folded back so you stitch next to, not through it. That way, pattern pieces pop right off when you're ready and can be used again. This pattern was printed out of Electric Quilt 5 which automatically numbers the piecing order. I usually don't agree with it, liking to start in the center and work my way out to the edges if possible. You can change the order before printing, but it wasn't something I needed to do on something this simple.

Here's the front. That's a 1 inch grid it's lying on, so you can see just how tiny some of the pieces are. I cut "chunks" slightly larger than the area to be covered so that I could keep my grain lines going in the right directions. Where the pieces weren't too small, like the bases of some of the trees, I just cut strips to size and sewed them together normally. Fussy fussy work.

The other thing that took so much time was choosing just the right fabric and trying to blend the sky from morning sunrise across to where it is still nearly night. I'll need to do some paint or thread work to make some of the transitions less abrupt. And then there was the search for just the right door fabric for the block above because I didn't want to use the same yellow as in the windows. I must have tried a dozen different things. As you can see, I ended up using the yellow anyway.

And now all that is left is to write a few guidelines, decide what fabric to send along with it and get it into the mail. All I can say is, good luck to the 6 women who will be adding their rows to this!

Can I get back to some art now??? Not until the piles of auditioned fabrics are put away. Seriously, I tapped into nearly every stockpile I have save my plaids and batiks: the tote with a hand piecing project started in a class, the Ziploc bag with the fabric used on the Suzanne Marshall applique piece, the bins of reproduction fabric, my standard stash, a fruit crate with leftovers from several reproduction quilt projects. Lovely stuff all reminding me of all the beautiful quilts I've made and plan to make. Kind of inspirational and disturbing at the same time.

Before I launched into this, I did spend a few hours quilting the second painted piece, but I hit a snag on one spot and need to rip out and re-quilt it. So I've decided to put off showing you that piece until it is actually done, which should be this week. Right now I'm heaving a huge sigh of relief...


RHONDA said...

Looks great, but I shudder at the fiddliness of it all. I think that's why I don't make quilt blocks anymore. I lose patience with trying (and failing!) to be exact. Good to see that you enjoy it, though. That way I get to enjoy looking at your lovely work!

The Idaho Beauty said...

Thanks, Rhonda. I was shuddering too once I realized what I'd gotten myself into! This little exercise reminded me how rarely I work like this anymore, really do very little piecing, and that used to be ALL I did - the fussier, the better! Now it's mostly applique or wholecloth style pieces. Why I didn't go the applique route on this I don't know. It sure would have been easier to cut and fuse onto a landscape background. But in truth, I did enjoy the challenge this approach presented...up to a point! vbg