Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Seeds Part 2

Seeds Part 2
71" x 71"

...I was stitching these small circles....And, then I decided where to put the blue one.  The blue one relates to the story of the quilt and what the other side will be about.  The grid is not complete yet, as the finished size will be 9 x 9 circles.  But it was time to cut out the white blocks that these circles would be stitched to.  And, it was time to visualize the real spacing of the circles, something more like this:
Each corner of a circle will be stitched to each corner of a white square.  Then all the white squares will be stitched together.  Also, these are still looking larger that they will actually be because they are just placed, and not yet stitched, so the seam allowance of the circles is still showing. Here's a close up.
Many afternoons that looked like this: (Also, perfect project for zoom meetings!)
When I finished all the little arcs, it was time to start stitching them to the white blocks. I needed to make sure to sew the right piece to the correct corner and it helped to lay them out in order.

Pinned to the blocks, they kind of look like little boats:
Just another issue, since all the circles were slightly different sizes, the corners of the white blocks had to be cut to fit.  This essentially meant measuring the size of the stitched circle and then using that to draw an arc on the corresponding corner (and then making sure to cut a slightly larger seam allowance).  At first it felt daunting, but after getting organized, it was fairly straightforward.

I think back to making these blocks and being surprised that they weren't perfect.  I had taken so many steps to try to piece them accurately, and yet some of them were just off a bit.  The question was that after I discovered the tiny imperfections, should I re-do it or leave it as is?  That was when I sort of fell in love with the imperfections.  They are like life, imperfect, and I love them!
I also discovered this wonderful halo effect, of the outermost ring color showing through the white background fabric.  This will most likely get me some pretty negative comments from judges because it is seen as a mistake or poor craftsmanship.  I realized early on during the piecing phase that this would happen and decided to leave this because it looks like a small halo and like the seed is starting to grow!  Which is fantastic!  I love it! 
The last photo I have before the reveal next week is the blocks, all pinned together.  

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Seeds - Part I

Seeds - Part I
71" x 71"

It started with an inkling of an idea to make tiny pieced circles.  I already know how to applique circles, but I wasn't sure if I could make some tiny pieced ones.  I selected a color palette and got out my compass. I really like a large sampling of colors.

I started with quarter circles drawn on freezer paper, cut out the pieces, and then pressed them to the fabric.  Once they were on the fabric, I used my scissors to cut a 1/4" seam allowance, and then started the stitching.  I actually thought I would be doing this on the sewing machine because I had gotten quite proficient at sewing quarter circle curves on this quilt.

For reference, the A1 section has about a 1" radius.

I also wanted my circles and sets of circles to be lots of different sizes.  So I drew about 8 different sets, some with just 2 rings, and some with 3 rings.  Here is Sharky trying to distract me! 

Quite expectedly, this project required a lot of repetition.  I cut out 4 pieces of each quarter circle template, and then traced the edge of the freezer paper as my stitching line, lightly with a pencil to the back side of the fabric. 

I did try stitching these by machine, but it was an epic fail.  Also, using a 1/4" seam allowance on these small pieces was a fail.  I just could not get the fabric to stretch enough to go around the tiny inner curves.  My solution was to cut a tiny seam allowance for the inside curves only, approximately 1/8".  Well after starting my project, Jen Carlton-Bailly began posting on Instagram about sewing tiny curves like this! Ah ha! Great minds think alike!  Then MQG offered her tutorial on her process.  It involves glue basting the seams and cutting the seams, and then trimming the seams after stitching, ultimately down to tiny seams....which I was already doing.  My methods were not any easier nor harder, so I just buckled down and continued on.  I did like that she offered plastic templates, that could have saved me some work, but I wanted to custom choose my own sizes. The traced pencil lines helped me hand piece more accurately.  And, the hand piecing of the curves went relatively fast.  I mean, the pieces are so small, that they don't require very many stitches. So good!

Ultimately, I used pins, only 3 per seam.  The first pin is pretty easy to pin, right in the center. I folded the pieces in half to find the center. 
Next, I would sometimes hold it up to the light, to overlap the seam line and stick the pin in just the right spot.  These are those tiny little applique pins.  

The pins to line up the ends are a bit tricky to both hold and pin at the same time.  (I think you can also see in the above photo how small the seam allowance is in the orange piece.)  I got better over time, but it definitely took some practice. Also, I don't know why, but these started looking like little fortune cookies to me!

This is one that is stitched, and before it is pressed flat.  I became a bit obsessed with the interesting 3D shapes of these little curves. So fun!

Over time, I became increasingly concerned that the seam was so small, that it would unravel, especially when some of my fabrics were more coarsely woven.  Some of the fabrics were linens, and those were both easier to stretch and sew, but also more likely to become unwoven.  So, I went back and added a line of stay-stitching.  Also, since this is going to be a quilt, the quilting lines will help hold together the seams.

Over time, I began accumulating a set of the little circle quarters and arranging them on my design wall.  I improvised to select the next round of colors and sizes. 

The colors and the shapes were so incredibly satisfying! The power of circles!