Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Proof of Concept - Paper piecing

Practice, Ahoy! This weekend, I spent a fair amount of time just... trying to make my "Christmas Traditions" blocks with scrap fabric. I started out with some leftovers from my Batik Beauty project and the pattern,

and quickly developed the following iterative learning process:

1) Make a block
2) Discover problem with block
3) Watch videos on youtube that somehow all manage NOT to encounter the problem I am having with my block
4) Call my mom, try to describe problem I have. Fail miserably.
5) Skype Mom to SHOW problem I cannot coherently describe. With visuals, she gets it! Yay!
6) Mom explains solution over Skype with words and pictures, but I am still confused.
7) Mom sends Youtube videos that actually address my problem.
8) Light clicks on!
9) I make another block. A new problem is encountered. See (1).

Seriously. This is my pattern:

And these are my tries: 

I am amazed people ever learned to quilt before there was technology. Of course, moms were probably much more on hand then, I guess. Anyways, I think I made a total of 9 practice blocks, which got me from "Ok, I'll do what I think the instructions say and see how bad it is" to "and I'lll just double check that all the dimensions I've selected for cutting will actually land me a block." Not bad for an entirely new technique.

I will say, paper piecing DOES give some pretty impressively accurate, stunning blocks. My corners came out looking excellent, and not having all the fudging in there DOES make things look sharp.

A final block, cut and all. Check out those corners!

Here are my lessons learned:

1) Paper piecing is no sport for stingy people! Trying to do things without at least 3/4" of excess fabric just led to mistakes in my blocks.
2) Batiks are both a blessing and a curse: during the intial piecing, they were a blessing because I didn't have to worry about right/wrong sides of the fabric. But once I felt good having practiced with them, I was in for an unpleasant surprise when some of my outer triangles only worked "right side down."
3) Trimming as you go is SO WORTH IT. If I do this again, I am caving on an add-a-quarter ruler.
4) When cutting triangles, don't eyeball the angle - use one of your pre-printed blocks as a guide.
5) As long as it covers the whole of the block, it doesn't have to look pretty - pretty is for once you've cut it.
6) When cutting triangles, don't eyeball the angle - use one of your pre-printed blocks as a guide.
7) Normally I like marathon quilting sessions, but with something like this, pacing is key. Get tired and you're guaranteed to make a cut you didn't mean to. That said, I haven't thrown the magazine out yet.

Next up? I cut my fabric and transfer these lessons to the actual quilt!

1 comment:

  1. there are some things that just cannot be done any other way than by paper piecing!!