They’re here! My hand-stitching pals returned their finished blocks to me last weekend, and they’re SO DAMN PRETTY!
I’ve played around with them a bit and decided on a basic layout concept, so now I will have to arrange them into a final layout (and photograph it so I know how it goes), press and trim each one, then start sewing!
A few weeks ago, I had one of those days. One of those days where you just can’t bear the routine another day. There’s a lot of family stuff going on that is very stressful, and I just kind of broke. I know most people don’t have the luxury but in that way I am lucky, and I even had a friend willing to play hooky with me. Instead of our regularly scheduled activities, we went for a visit to a not-terribly-local quilt shop. Just for fun. To look at the pretties. To do something with no real purpose.
We drove out there and spent an extraordinarily long time in the shop, admiring fabrics, talking projects, and making pretty fabric combinations for no reason. Of course we bought things. Lovely things. I managed to stay relatively restrained, but picked out three gorgeous fabrics that are very much unlike me. Sort of. They look almost like me, but softer, quieter, gentler.
I took these fabrics home determined not to just stick them in the stash. These were meant for a small project, immediately, and one that felt the same way as Hooky Day (I was even calling them my Hooky Day Fabrics) – no pressure, no purpose, just for the sake of doing it. I didn’t want to add to the pile because it was beautiful as it was, so I set out to find something for just three fabrics (plus white). After a little browsing, I came across a block called ‘Snow Crystals’ in a book about antique American quilts. I was already smitten with this version on Pinterest so I knew immediately it was the block for me.
It was also my birthday that week, and what better way to celebrate than to just relax quietly with a project that has no deadline and no pressure? I don’t even know what I’m going to do with it. I decided to paper piece it (you’ll see the block as I drew it out at the very top, please excuse the Instagram photo, I didn’t think to take another before I cut it up!) and that’s all there really is to share. The last rectangles will go in next, then a border (as shown in my sketch) with the tiny pink zigzag fabric and possibly roses or dots in the corners. We’ll see when I get there, I haven’t thought too much about it yet. I’ve just been working at it when I’m able, not at all worried about when it will be finished. And it’s been lovely. Exactly what I’ve needed.
The next project my hand-sewing pals and I are working on is (yay!) for me! I searched for a looooong time for a pattern I really loved and that would be fun for us to sew by hand. Finally, I came across the appliqued orange peel design, and then in looking for examples, I fell in love with this beautiful mini-quilt made my Paloma from Three Kitchen Fairies and that sealed the deal. And the design happened to work out perfectly with the fabrics I had picked out already, so it was pretty much meant to be.
Sigh. Looking at them just makes me happy. The pile divided freakishly well into soft backgrounds and bright peel fabrics. Let’s just have another look, just ’cause they’re so damn pretty.
I tested out one peel with the freezer paper method: cut a peel template out of freezer paper, iron onto the back of the fabric, cut the fabric with a quarter-inch overlap and then baste it just like it was being paper pieced. Pin and applique that onto the backing fabric and when there’s about an inch left to sew, remove the basting stitches and paper, then finish up the last inch. Voila!
It was so much easier than I expected, and so pleasing to do.
I made up little kits for the hand-stitchers and should get all the blocks back this weekend. Eep! Just the thought of it makes me a little giddy – I can’t wait to play with them!
It was a while ago now, but remember when I told you about my little hand-sewing quilting bee? I haven’t blogged about it since because we left a few months between each ‘assignment’ to give us lots of time to finish them. Also, I waited to show you these first finished bee blocks until my turn was almost up too – a little blog-continuity and whatnot.
So these were my blocks for Karen, aren’t they the cutest?! So so so sweet. (There’s close-ups of each block on Flickr.) And I totally learned something about English Paper Piecing that I’d never realized – that you could just cut up a piece of paper into any shapes you like and, voila!, you have the templates for paper piecing right there. How did I never get this before? It seems so obvious now, I hate to even admit I didn’t get it – I just always thought of paper piecing in terms of those most-used shapes: hexagons, diamonds, etc. I was so excited by this and now I’ve even started a little just-for-fun mini-project of my own with the same process. (More on that soon.)
Karen had us each make three tiny blocks, all paper pieced stars, and initial the corner of each of our blocks. So itty-bitty! Of course when we got to the pub and gave our finished blocks to Karen, we couldn’t help but lay them all out together and see what it will look like finished:
Lookit how charming it’s going to be! Those blocks are all with Karen now to be turned into her mini-quilt. Of course I’ll share it when it’s finished – either with my own photo or pointing you to her blog when she posts it herself – but in the meantime, my hand-sewing friends have been working on blocks for me and I’ll show you more about that tomorrow!