Friday, August 28, 2015

Sparkle, Sparkle Sparkle! Of Asscher Cut Diamonds and Pineapple Log Cabins

Block 17 of 36
Seventeen down, nineteen to go!  I'm starting to get in the groove of these paper pieced pineapple blocks.  The only real issue I'm having is controlling some of the longer strips as I get to about the outer third of the block construction.  What's happening is that, despite pressing the previously added strips as flat and as crisp as I possibly can, when I add the subsequent corner strips that previously pieced side strip is shifting slightly once I flip the block upside down and start sewing.  Then I open up the strip I just added to press it open, and end up with a bubble or a crease in the longer side strip.

I haven't been using pins for most of these blocks, but I started experimenting with them in the outer portion of this block to see if it would prevent my issue.

Experimenting With Flathead Pins
No dice.  I don't know if the pins created additional distortion or what, but I tried pinning several times and found that I was just as likely to have to unpick the seam even if I had pinned it.  So then I tried starching some of my flimsier fabric strips to see if that would help, because the problem is not occurring every single time.  Maybe it's just certain fabrics that don't want to cooperate?

Now that I'm thinking about it and looking at my photo, maybe I went about pinning things entirely the wrong way.  I pinned the new green corner strip that I was adding, but that's not where the problem was originating.  Maybe I need to pin the neutral side strip, parallel to its own seamline, to keep that seam completely flat and all the way open while I attach the unpinned corner piece?  I'll try that on my next block.

Blocks 16 and 17
Meanwhile, my kids started back to school on Monday.  Hooray!!  Ninth grade and seventh grade, can you believe it?  High school starts at 7:15 AM and the bus comes at 6:40, which means that Kiddo the Elder has to wake up at 5:30 AM every day.  Kiddo the Elder does not WANT to wake up at 5:30 AM every day, and claims that he cannot even hear his alarm clock blasting throughout the house.  This means that Mom and Dad have been getting up at 5 AM so we can have our coffee and feed the dogs, steeling ourselves in the quiet of the predawn darkness before we head into the daily battle of getting the high school boy out of his bed and into the shower.  No sooner does this kid saunter out to the bus stop than it is time to wage a second battle with Son the Younger.  By the time he leaves the house at 8:30 AM, we're both exhausted!

So, here are the last two blocks that I've finished (at left), #16 and #17.  They most likely won't be adjacent to one another in the finished quilt, but I like to put a few blocks up on the design wall from time to time to see how the secondary pattern is coming together. 

I'm not sure whether I've mentioned this before, but I may have some trouble in store for me once all of the blocks are completed and I try to sew them together.  The free paper piecing pattern that I downloaded from Fons and Porter prints out on normal 8 1/2" x 11" paper in four quadrants that need to be trimmed and taped together for each block.  After painstakingly assembling just one block, I realized how difficult and time consuming it would be to try to do it that way, and I didn't want to deal with the hassle of stitching and ironing over the taped seams.  So I took my one assembled block to the FedEx Office store and printed out 36 full block patterns on their large format printer (the post explaining how I did that can be found here).  Unfortunately, either my original taping and assembly was not 100% accurate or I got some distortion when I scanned in my taped block, because my blocks are not 100% square.  I discovered this with the very first block I completed.  When I had it on my cutting mat upside down and overlaid my clear plastic ruler, matching up grid lines on my ruler with the outer seam lines printed on the paper block pattern, I am just a little smidge off square on one of the corners.  When I pin my blocks together on the design wall, I can see that this is causing some of the seam lines to not want to line up precisely when it comes time to sew the blocks together.

I haven't decided what to do about this yet.  On the one hand, I DO have bias edges where the blue and green fabrics are on the outer edges of the blocks.  Maybe I can impose my iron will on the bias (pun intended, since I'll impose my will with a steam iron!) and MAKE them fit!  On the other hand, the antique quilt that inspired my pineapple log cabin quilt does not have every seam lining up perfectly from one block to another; in fact, the original quilt is so severely off at some of the block seams that it's almost as if the quiltmaker didn't even TRY to match them up: 

See?  Mine Won't Be THAT Bad!  :-)

#2008.040.0085, 76" x 74", circa 1890-1910, International Quilt Study Center and Museum
Asscher Cut Diamond
And yet that original quilt still looks fantastic from a distance, imperfections and all.  Naturally, as I'm looking at the original antique quilt again, I'm noticing that it only has 16 blocks.  If I was making mine the same size, I'd be done by now!  The other thing I'm noticing is that the original quiltmaker (anonymous, but thought to be American) did not limit the side strips to neutral or "low volume" fabrics, as we sometimes call them today.  She (or he) threw in some reds, pinks, and golds, and I do kind of like how those rings of unexpected color pop out -- they make the blocks sparkle like the facets of an Asscher cut diamond.  And that's an interesting aesthetic connection to me, since the original quilt dates to between 1890-1910 and the Asscher cut for diamonds was designed in 1902.  I wonder whether the original quiltmaker had ever seen an Asscher cut diamond, perhaps even a picture of one in the newspaper, and whether it influenced the design of this quilt?  Conversely, I wonder whether Joseph Asscher, the Dutch designer of the iconic diamond cut that bears his name, ever saw and was inspired by a pineapple log cabin quilt?

In any case, I think I'm going to start mixing in a few more surprises amongst my neutral fabric strips as I proceed with my remaining blocks (all nineteen of them!) and see if I can't get more of an Asscher/Art Deco effect for my own quilt. 

I'm linking up with:
Needle and Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation
Can I Get a Whoop Whoop? at Confessions of a Fabric Addict

Have a great weekend, everyone!


Mary Huey said...

I love the blue and green color combo you are using. Have you tried a dab of washout glue stick to hold the pieces in place? Not a paper piecer so don't know if that would work.

Rebecca Grace said...

Thanks, Mary. I am using fabric glue stick to secure the center square of each block before it’s sewn down with the adjacent strips, and I thought about trying it to keep my longer side strips in place. The only worry I have is what if I have trouble removing the glued on paper at the end of all of this? I suppose I should be able to just moisten the fabric a little if it’s stuck, but it still makes me nervous to be gluing my quilt block to the paper foundation. I might just try it anyway. You know, desperate times...

Thanks for stopping by!

Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

love those large pineapple blocks - each time I see them I am tempted to start one of my own. I feel for you and those teenage years. When I visited my daughter for 2 weeks in March I was woken almost daily by two alarm clocks going off one after another in my grandson's room in the attempt to wake him up - I think almost every day he would sleep through them and I would hear either my daughter or granddaughter run into his room to shut off the clocks and remind him that he was probably waking up grandma :) he was lucky if it was his mother doing this because when it was his little sister (2 years younger but same size) I could hear him being pulled out of bed and falling to the floor! She didn't appreciate the noise and neither did I!!

Cathy said...

Just wow! That is going to be one amazing quilt. When I've had those types of issues with paper piecing, I add a bit of fabric glue to the difficult strips and it tends to help. I can't wait to see this one finished. Just gorgeous!

Colleen said...

Your blocks look great! Happy school-day sewing! My 10th and 8th grader went back to school last Wednesday. I look forward to reading about how to solve the wiggle in your piecing.

Linda said...

Your blocks look beautiful. Tempted to try this pattern myself, but worried about not being able to motivate myself to finish it! You have done great. I remember high school early mornings. It is really odd that primary school starts at 9:15 and those younger kids don't have to shower, put on makeup etc so they could just jump out of bed and head to school for much earlier in the morning. It is high school kids that should start later in the morning as they need the extra sleep and extra time in the morning. I am not a morning person, so 5 am is really early! Good luck, and hopefully your son will get into the trend soon.

LA Paylor said...

I visited the antique quilts at the Smithsonian, and have seen antique quilts at the Textile Museum and they are not "perfect" and are beautiful and worth so much. These days of judging have made us too perfection driven and it takes some of the humanity out of the quilt. In my humble opinion. Perfection is overrated. LeeAnna at not afraid of color

Lani said...

I love these pineapple blocks. Your finished quilt is going to be gorgeous!

I see that you mentioned using a fabric glue stick. I was going to suggest that. I use one with paper piecing and it works great. I use it instead of any pins. In fact in any piecing if I want to make sure my seam stays right where I want it to, I'll dab a bit of glue stick there and then stitch.

Happy Quilting!

Jenny K. Lyon said...

Once Son the Elder can drive this will no longer be a problem! Oh I remember those years and they are very, very busy, full, exhausting, rewarding, discouraging, encouraging. Your blocks are beautiful. Not a fan of paper piecing and I thought it made it fool-proof-I guess not. I do like the zingers in the antique quilt-that could add even more interest to your fabulous color plan.

PS-The Captcha is very difficult-have flunked 4 times so far-tiny photos that are very blurry-not a complaint, just information for you.

SJSM said...

Beautiful work! Glad to see this coming along. I do like the idea of adding flashes in the side strips.

Regarding school. at an early age it was impressed on her that everyone has a job to do, her dad, me and her. Her job was to be prepared for school. This some how stuck even to today. She did get to school late a couple of times and had to serve detention. Since we couldn't hear her alarm clock she knew she had to get herself up. We wouldn't go into her room to wake her or encourage her to get moving. We did make morning noises in the kitchen and through conversation. It wasn't easy to ignore the fact she wasn't stirring on those occasional days she didn't rise on time. Only once or twice did we go in and that was when it was too late for her to be on time. I do think it motivated her to get ready even if she skated on the edges of time. The only thing I would do was make sure her book bag was by the door ready to go the evening before. The rule was the homework etc had to be packed and supplies and calendar checked before she went to bed. She also had to know what she was wearing the next day and have it prepped so she could slip into the clothes and not have any decisions to make in the morning. That included socks, shoes and underclothes.

This may not work with your children and I know you didn't ask for advice, however you never know if something might strike a cord as being the key and help make a problem more manageable.

Good luck on the kiddos and happy sewing!