Sunday, September 27, 2015

Paper Pieced Pineapple Block #19: A Change of Shoes and Settings

Block #19 of 36
I tried doing a few things differently with block #19 of my Pineapple Log Cabin.  I'm continuing to starch my fabric strips before sewing them to my block, and that seems to have solved the issue I was having where longer strips were not staying completely open while adjacent strips were attached to them.  I didn't starch my fabric before cutting it because starch invites bugs and not all of the fabric is going to make it into this quilt.  Instead, I starch my strips after I cut them to length, just before sewing them to the block.

Starch Keeps Block Nice and Flat During Construction
I'm using Faultless Heavy Spray Starch.  I like Mary Ellen's Best Press for prepared applique, but for starching throughout block construction I prefer the very fine mist of a conventional spray starch product.

I have also devised a method of sorts for staying organized while constructing these blocks.  With the first few blocks, I selected fabrics one at a time, but now I am laying out combinations of two and three fabric rings at once, cutting them to the appropriate length, and then taking them all to the machine, stacked in the order to be sewn.  I still have to get up after sewing four corner strips or four side strips, to trim and press the seams open, but it feels like the sewing goes faster when I don't have to stop and make fabric decisions as frequently.

Fabric Strips Waiting to be Sewn
I like to pile my waiting fabric strips right on top of my sewing machine, where they are in easy reach.

Another change I made with this block was to try a different presser foot.  I had been using the open embroidery presser foot #20D because it gives great visibility. 

Paper Piecing with Open Embroidery Foot #20D
However, all I'm sewing is straight lines that are printed on my foundation paper.  I switched "shoes" on my sewing machine to foot #37D, Bernina's 1/4" patchwork foot (predecessor to the newer foot #97D) and I liked it better.

Paper Piecing with Patchwork Foot #37D
See how there is still plenty of visibility of the needle, but the narrower opening at the front of the presser foot "frames" the stitching line better?  That helps me to sew perfectly straight along the lines even when I get to sewing pretty briskly, because my eye can watch that the line is centered between the toes of the presser foot IN FRONT OF the needle.  With foot #20, the presser foot toes are just too far apart to gauge whether the line is perfectly centered, so I have to watch the needle instead.  I do love and prefer foot #97D for traditional patchwork, but for paper piecing I wanted a foot that was perfectly symmetrical to help me stay right on the lines. 

The other thing I did differently with this block is that instead of sewing beyond the seam lines so that adjacent seams interest, I'm only stitching my strips on the actual printed lines and securing each seam at beginning and end so they don't pull out.  My books on paper piecing say to do it the other way, starting and ending each seam just beyond the printed line, but with the thicker copy paper I used for my block foundations it just isn't as easy to tear those little seam extensions free from the paper so that I can fold it back along the next seam line.  When I try to tear the paper around those extra stitches, they usually get pulled out anyway -- so now I'm doing it the way I would do if I was hand piecing or if I was sewing a Y-Seam.  I was already using the auto thread trimmer on my Bernina 750 QE at the ends of my seams with this project, so I went into my machine settings and activated the feature that makes the machine automatically tie off when using the thread trimmer AND automatically secure at the beginning of the next seam after using the auto thread trimmer.  When I first got my machine it was set to do that by default and I thought it was the stupidest thing ever, but it's EXACTLY what I want my machine to do in this situation.  Now I can sew like I'm brain dead with no worries of forgetting to secure any of my seams and having them pull out later when I remove my paper foundations.  It is nice to have these options available, once you learn how to turn them off and on as needed!

Here's what the completed block looked like before I trimmed it:

Completed Block, Ready to Trim
I'm trimming these blocks upside-down, aligning the 1/4" line on my ruler with the STITCHING LINE on my block rather than aligning the straight edge of the ruler against the printed cutting line at the outside of the block. 

Trimming Up
Ruler Lines Matched on Horizontal and Vertical Seam Lines
If my 1/4" line is lined up with the stitching line along the vertical edge I'm trimming, as well as with the horizontal seamlines, I know I'm going to end up with square, identical blocks that fit together properly.  Or at least, that's the idea...  ;-)

On the Wall Today
So here's my design wall as of today.  I'm still working on the FrankenWhiggesh Rose applique in odd moments here and there.  Now that I've finished the 19th pineapple block, I think I'll go back to the Math Is Beautiful baby quilt on the right and get that finished up.  It was meant to be a "quick and easy" project so I could have the satisfaction of a finish in the midst of all of my long term projects, but then when I got the top sewn together I wasn't excited about it (because it was TOO quick and TOO easy).  However, I signed up for Amy Johnson's Craftsy class, Quilting With Rulers On a Home Machine, and I'm looking forward to learning and experimenting with my Westalee ruler foot and quilting rulers.  A quick and easy quilt top that doesn't really excite me is the perfect first project for testing out new techniques, don't you think?

I'm linking up with Design Wall Monday at Patchwork Times, Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt, Sew Cute Tuesday at Blossom Heart Quilts, Fabric Tuesday at Quilt Story, Let's Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts, and WIPs on Wednesday at Esther's Blog.  Have a great week, everyone!


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

just love that pineapple block!! really makes me feel like starting one when we get home - big blocks like what you are doing not the small ones I made a different time.

Raewyn said...

Interesting post - your pineapple block looks great and I enjoyed reading about your process - I've never made a pineapple block although I do enjoy having a play with foundation piecing. I spend far too much time choosing fabrics as well - even when I'm doing scrappy!!

Cheryl said...

This is an awesome pineapple block! I love the intricacy and its scrappiness. What size block is it?

Jenny K. Lyon said...

It's the little tweaks that make it go so well-thank you for sharing them all. If I do paper piece I'll be checking back for your tips!

Jo Ferguson said...

The block is gorgeous and thank you for all the tips along the way.

Jayne said...

Beautiful block! And great tips as well. I have always wanted to make one of these and I'm sure one day I will! Thank goodness for starch!!

Salmagundi said...

I loved your comments on my gradation experiment. Thanks. This was just an experiment to study fabrics a little closer. When it comes right down to it, I try not to over think the process too much. Your pineapple block is wonderful. Sally

Linda in Arkansas said...

Wow! What a block! I love it, and I love all the fabrics. Great job.

Cath said...

The pineapple block is a stunner! Great tips too...something to keep in mind...I didn't know about starch spray attracting bugs! Thanks for linking in with DBM at Bits'nBobs

beth s said...

Prettiest pineapple block I've seen!! Love it.

Pine Valley Quilts said...

Love your pineapple blocks, great idea about changing presser feet !

Lynette said...

Wow! That really is a very beautiful pineapple block. Thank you for sharing your methods, as I want to do a pineapple quilt in the future. You don't if I pin this post, do you?

Lynette said...

Hmmm - apologies if this becomes a double post - I wanted to say how beautiful I think this pineapple block is! Also, thank you for your tips - I'm pinning so I'll be able to find the reminder when I make one in my future plans. :)

the zen quilter said...

I've never done the pineapple but I'm always so drawn to it! I need to try it out. I love the fabrics and the way you arranged them in this. Very beautiful.

deb @ frugal little bungalow said...

These pineapple blocks are beautiful and happy stitching on the applique : )

Lara B. said...

It's so fascinating to look at your pineapple blocks up close. They are beautiful Rebecca!
Whenever I have to get up from the sewing machine so often, I rationalize that I'm preventing stiffness and giving my eyes a break.
I like to paper piece with a big, open toed foot too, but am going to give your change a try. Thanks for the tips!

Frances Meredith said...

Wow what an amazing block.