Friday, April 26, 2013

4th Quarter...and I'm Not Talkin' Football

I've been working on the last quarter of my friend's African quilt, the part she had not developed even a little, although she'd set aside 3 pieced blocks and a large appliqued panel for it. I'd been thinking about what blocks and fabrics to duplicate in this last section and started playing with placement on graph paper.

Just like her idea to repeat the large zigzag section from the first quadrant in the third, it seemed logical to repeat this large design from the second quadrant in the last. The applique block to the left of it can also be repeated in a smaller size and the blue shield fabric may work as a filler piece. Hedging on whether or not to duplicate the applique block on the lower right.

This designs looks ultra complicated, but Judi had broken it down into just two different sections that could be paper pieced, 4 of one and 6 of the other. I decided to default to my old friend freezer paper for the patterns, and my fuzzy brain suddenly remembered that I did not have to photocopy the pattern onto it, but could use this nifty needlepunch method. Just trace the pattern onto the top piece of your stack of freezer paper, "tack" the stack together using the tip of an iron, then "stitch" along the lines of the paper with no thread in the needle.

I also remembered what I learned from Judy Mathieson about "chunking" your fabric pieces in advance. Basically you are cutting the shapes a little oversized which allows you to control grain lines and saves some fabric. When you have multiples of the same section to piece, you can chain stitch if you have all your pieces cut in advance. 

On this pattern, the triangle in the middle goes down first and although I could have cut oversized triangles, I opted to just cut rectangles and trim the excess. Starting with a piece cut with 1/4" seam allowance is another of Judy's tricks. Just fold the freezer paper pattern back along the perforated line, line up your ruler and trim.  

Now you can take the piece that will be sewn to it and line it up just as if you were lining up two pieces of fabric to be seamed normally. You can also easily see if that second fabric is lined up right to cover its portion of the pattern - very helpful with angles like I'm working with here. You can either leave the paper folded back like this and sew right next to it (and then it can be used numerous times) or fold the pattern back out and stitch on the perforated line. Since I will not be reusing these patterns, I sewed through them. When you press the seam, the added section will stick to the freezer paper and you repeat the process of folding the pattern back along the next line, trimming the exposed fabric to 1/4 inch, lining up the next fabric and stitching.

Here are 2 completed units from the back. The one on the right shows how there will be extra fabric extending past the outside of the pattern. The one on the left has been trimmed to include 1/4" seam allowance all round.

And here are the two sections as they will be sewn together. There are 3 of these pairs in the design, separated with the diamond design. I was going to sew all those sections together and then add the applique crescents when it occurred to me how much easier it would be to satin stitch around those appliques before the units became one long piece. 

So I set my pairs and diamond units aside and moved on to the applique, tracing not only the crescent shapes but the shapes for two other applique blocks. I wasn't looking forward to fighting with my recalcitrant Wonder Under again but didn't really have a choice. Was already thinking of what else I could get done after fusing to the appropriate fabrics as I knew I'd have to let them set for at least a day. On a whim, I checked a cutout from the heart block that had been sitting for over a week, to see if the paper was still refusing to release cleanly. To my amazement, the paper popped right off! I have no clue here about why all this is happening, but it gave me hope for these next appliques. On this fresh batch the paper was willing to lift some after cooling but still pulled up fusible in spots so I moved on.

I'd been thinking about using this design in the 4th quarter, partly because there was a short strip of the black and yellow squares left over from this longer one. And I wanted to repeat the flower applique anyway - maybe I can use the two together.

I had to search through Judi's patterns and fabric to figure out how she did this. At first I assumed it was more paper piecing. But instead, I found strips of the two triangle fabrics with angled ends. I'm pretty sure she just cut the triangles from those strips using some kind of template for a guide for the angle. That is not a 45, 30 or 60 degree angle like you commonly find marked on rulers. Again, fuzzy brain took awhile to remember how to do this but finally remembered the trick of taping a template to the underside of your ruler. Because of the width of the strips, I could line up the triangles pretty easily so that when the seam was pressed, top and bottom were even. This is a tricky shape to line up properly. I probably should have made it three diamond shapes instead of two but I let the length of the black and yellow piece be my guide.

Not much else I could do that day, except fussy cut more hands and their spacers, pin a few things to the design wall, and start the lengthy process of pulling and auditioning fabrics, getting the brain working on positionings and solutions. Once I finish the applique blocks and their satin stitching, the machine I use for that and its stand will have to be moved so I can access the rest of my design wall.


Anonymous said...

I'm impressed with your skills and your rememberer.

Susan S

Michele Matucheski said...

Thanks for the reminder about paper piecing and not having to sew through the paper. I always cringe a bit at having to rip out quilting paper, and little bits getting stuck even after washing it. This is a nice alternative! And thanks for the tip about not having to print/photocopy all the templates either. Just stitch them out with a "dry" needle, no thread. Another handy technique I had since forgotten. Cheers!