I LOVE talking about blocks, studying blocks, and playing with them in Photoshop... I am always on a quest for great blocks and trying to figure out what makes them so great ... So I started this companion blog that will be devoted to this quest. But also check out my regular blog at http://olderrose.blogspot.com

Monday, December 15, 2014

Piecing multiple blocks the easy way!!!

(I combined two previous posts into this one.) I know many people love piecing blocks but for me it is a tedious chore at  best.  So whenever I'm doing a batch I do a couple extra.  Since I have the whole mess out, it's not that hard to do a couple more.  I keep a bag of the extras and sometimes I use them when I join a round robin or give them to a student to get them going...  I just want to get the blocks done as soon as I'm able and get to the fun part...

I've tried the Martha Green's crumb method,  Allie's curve method, and Judith Montano method's of piecing.  But I always go back to just paper piecing and mostly use the same pattern over and over... This time  I'm using  Sharon Boggin's block pattern - #28.  This means every single block is #28.  Once you rotate the blocks and embellish, no one ever notices that they're all the same pattern...  Believe me!!!! I  enlarged it a bit so I will have an 8" square block when done.  If want some advice on choosing a paper pattern I posted some here.

I don't even pay any attention to what colors are going to go where on a block when cutting.  Once I have my pile of fabrics I just start stacking and cutting at random ... trying to get as many different fabrics per patch as possible...  Then I will sorta deal them out at random, making any necessary adjustments.  Of course this works the best when you have a large selection of fabric like I did this time..


If you did a good job gathering fabrics which  are harmonious, it is nearly impossible to mess up from that point on.  If you look at your fabrics in a pile and like them, toss them around and still like them, they are going to look good on a block no matter what you do... This the "pile test".  I do this with trims with students even before they pick fabric because it you assemble a pile of trims that work together, you can work backwards and pick the fabric last..

Now I had several choices.. I could make blocks one each month, or in smaller batches or do all 12 at once.  Doing them all at once will give you a more consistent look if you plan to use them together.. I chose all at once because piecing is not my favorite and I wanted it over with.  Here is how I go about it.

First I had cut 14 assorted of each pattern piece.. no plan.  I just stacked random fabrics from the pile five at a time and cut.  You can see the pile of patches on the left. I put up two card tables and laid out 14 squares of card stock.

Then I took a pile of each pattern piece and just randomly put it on a square. Trying not to put two of the same fabric adjacent to each other.

Until I had them all out... Then I stepped back and tweeked a few here and there.  I try to balance out color, value, and patterns at this point...I'm not too fussy.  I had a lot of   patches from paisley ties and I wanted some on each block..  This goes VERY fast because I try to not overthink this at this point...  Any goofs I make at this point can be dealt with when I start embellishing.

The pieces of card stock act like trays and I can just pile them up and head to the sewing machine.

I set a small folding table next to the sewing machine, put a towel and my little travel steam iron on it so I can press each seam as sewn.  And off I go with the pieces already on the paper trays  next to the machine

Within no time I have them 14 done.
Although I pressed seams as I went along, at this point they need a good press and put on a foundation but the piecing is done for the entire year..

These are very rich blocks in this winter pastel palette.  Lots of silk, taffetas, and velvets. Most of the silk patterned patches are from a day we hit a thrift store with an overstock of ties that were only 49 cents a piece.

And what's a perfect day...?.  A cold wintry day with a fire, a white chocolate mocha and a dear friend to stitch with....

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Tips on picking a paper piecing pattern

In the previous post I mentioned that for my CQJP2015 project I had chosen Sharon Boggin's Block 28 from the "I dropped the button box quilt".   All these block patterns can be found here   They are a fabulous resource and Sharon is so generous to make them available..    She has by far been the biggest influence on my crazy quilting and I can never say enough kind words about her.
I received a comment this morning from a newby that she was overwhelmed by the number of patterns available and thought she just might pick a number at random... NO NO NO... There are things to consider. First I chose number 28 because it has more patches than I usually do.... (because I have so many fabrics for this project).  It is also a very balanced block with the patches at random to each other..

If it were my first block I might chose one with fewer patches.  This block is also well balanced with a random layout.   In fact this is very similar to the one I used for my Morris block. For that  I had very wild graphic fabrics and lots of images so I chose a simpler block  ...

But there are other factors also... and many times it is just a personal preference.  I mentioned I liked the patches in a random pattern so I would not pick this block with all the patches in a row.... 

There are two things I always avoid  and that are patterns that will end up with small awkward corner patches... like patch #8 here..  If I were to use this pattern I would make that patch larger to begin with.  In fact I just worked on a block in a recent RR that had 3 tiny difficult corner patches.  I think I blogged about it..   So just be sure to look at all patches when considering a pattern....

The second  thing to be aware of is where seams intersect.  I try to avoid blocks where several seams come together like where pieces 4 & 5 meet at piece 6.  Depending on your fabrics and your skill level, this could be problematic.

Here your have seam 5 & 4 coming to piece 7 dangerously close to where you are also most likely have a seam allowance.  Multiple converging seams often have bulk that is hard to conceal and stitch through...  Keep an eye out for them.

This is a great block but I would divide both pieces 5 and 6 into two sections to make it more balanced... Keep in mind that you can always do that to any of the patches if you think ahead.

My second choice when I was choosing for this project was # 52 except I would divide piece 6 into two pieces...  I have printed it to use in the future...

Janet Stauffacher also  posts crazy quilt patterns.  Her blocks have allowed for an image.  She has a Free Crazy Quilt Block Patterns board at Pinterest at http://www.pinterest.com/j…/free-crazy-quilt-block-patterns/  Be sure to check hers also..

I did this post for Mary Ann, but  if you think you are going to be a paper piecer like me, this post is for you also...

p.s.  I actually have seen IN PERSON the "I dropped the button box" quilt and have endless photos of it...