Sunday, February 14, 2016

Foundation Paper Piecing 1930s Farmer's Wife Block #2, Aimee

1930s Farmer's Wife Block #2, Aimee
NO, I have not finished my pineapple log cabin blocks.  NO, I have not done a single thing with the needle turned applique blocks since the last time I posted about them a few months ago.  NO, I have not cut out my skirt, NO I have not set the blocks for that Jingle quilt from a year or two ago, and NO I have not put the borders on the math quilt yet.  NO, I have not worked on the Butterflies and Bear Paws quilt anymore, either.  Instead, I started ANOTHER NEW PROJECT!!  Yippee! 

If you're a quilter and you've been online lately, you know that there's been a 1930s Farmer's Wife quilt along in progress since last September, based on the patterns from Laurie Aaron Hird's The Farmer's Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt book.  I bought the book and read it months ago, but I'd been holding off on starting anything because I had so many other WIPs (Works In Progress).  But then I decided that I don't have to be a goal-oriented quilter.  I cut up fabric and sew it back together again because it makes me happy, not because I have some quota to fulfil.  I do want to finish my pineapple log cabin and all those other things, but I need some variety mixed in with the monotony of making 36 giant pineapple blocks.  My other projects are made up of multiples of the same blocks, too.  Maybe I'll make all of the blocks in this book, and maybe I won't.  Maybe I'll make some of the blocks from this book and combine them with other interesting blocks from other sources.  That's the beauty of a sampler quilt, after all.  Many of the blocks in this book will be challenging for me, and they will allow me to explore new techniques.  They all finish at 6", so I plan to just make blocks whenever I feel like it and chuck them into a basket.  Someday, when there are enough blocks, maybe I'll put them together. 

I Like to Decorate My Books with Coffee Rings
Although this is the second block in the book, it's the first one that I attempted, and I chose to paper piece it.  Even though this is a 6" block with 28 pieces and my paper pieced pineapple log cabin blocks are 17 1/4" with 97 pieces, the log cabin is a much easier block for a beginner to start out with.  The Aimee block was more difficult because:
1. The block pattern has to be pieced in multiple foundation sections that get joined together at the end.
2. The fabric pieces for this block were not all just strips; there were a variety of shapes to contend with and it's not always easy to figure out how to align the pieces before you sew them together.

This book came with a CD that included templates as well as foundation paper piecing patterns, but there are no instructions for making any of the blocks.  So I referred to instructions from other paper piecing books I owned, as well as tutorials on the blogs of paper piecing divas like Charise of Charise Creates and Very Kerry Berry.  Seriously, what did we ever do before the Internet?! 

I used vellum to print my foundations because that's what one of my books recommended, but I HATED the vellum.  Maybe there are different kinds of vellum, different weights or something, but when I precreased the seam lines and then stitched them, my vellum cracked apart along some of the stitch lines and separated immediately after the seams were sewn!  It was also very stiff and bulky, and I found it difficult to work with.  When joining foundation sections together, I had trouble feeling where the seam allowances were through the stiff vellum, which made it harder to nest the seams properly for perfect seam intersections.  Also, the stiff vellum pulled the top thread away from the fabric quite a bit as the stitches were formed, so that the seams seemed a bit looser than I'm comfortable with once I pulled the paper away.  So, I'm using something else next time.  If anyone out there has a favorite foundation paper that they use, please let me know in the comments!

Heavy Vellum Made it Difficult to Feel Whether Seam Allowances Were Aligned
My books suggest that you can totally disregard fabric grain when paper piecing, since the paper foundations stabilize all the bias edges, as long as you leave your papers in the project until the very end.  However, I have seen and admired very precise pattern placement (also known as "fussy cutting") in Charise's and Kerry's paper piecing, and there's no way that can be accomplished by just slapping an enormous rectangle onto your project willy-nilly and just hoping for the best.  I also didn't want to have to leave all the foundation papers in my blocks because some blocks will be paper pieced and others won't.  I want the blocks to all be soft and manageable when the time comes to join them to each other or to sashing.

See That Loose Seam?  Vellum Held the Stitch Away From the Fabric
So in addition to printing the foundation patterns onto vellum, I also printed the templates for this block onto heavy card stock.  I precut all of the pieces for my Aimee block using the templates with a heavy 1/4" seam allowance, more like 3/8" (but in hindsight, wished I'd oversized them just a bit more than that).  That way I could carefully orient each piece so that I would have straight grain all around the edges of my block.  I was also able to ensure that the striated lines on my inner kite shaped pieces were all oriented the way I wanted them to be by using the templates.  I am sure there must be an easier way to accomplish fussy cutting for paper piecing, so again, if you know of a resource, please share in the comments!

Anyway, my finished block measures 6 1/2", just as it should, and although it is not 100% perfect, I think it's good enough for the first try.  I really like the fabric combination and it was nice to pull out that striated blue from my scraps.

Next I'm planning to piece Block #1, Addie, using templates to cut out the pieces.  This is new for me because I've only ever rotary cut my patches before.  I've never made templates, traced around them, and then cut out the pieces with scissors before, and it's a skill I want to learn because so many vintage patterns just don't lend themselves to rotary cutting, if the shapes don't work out to ruler-friendly numbers.  I haven't decided yet whether I'll piece that block by machine on one of my vintage Featherweights, or whether I'll attempt to piece it by hand.  Stay tuned!

Design Wall for Monday, February 15th, 2016
There's my design wall, by the way.  Neglected Frankenwhiggish Rose needleturned applique project, neglected Math is Beautiful baby quilt project, and Block 21 of 36 for the California King sized pineapple log cabin.  If only there were a hundred sewing hours in every day...

I'm linking up with Design Wall Monday at Patchwork Times.


colleen said...

Newsprint paper. For templates you can place them on your rotary ruler with tape (straight line cuts) and cut with your cutter.
I think you need to reward yourself for working on which ever project you want to get moving along ....such as your pineapple blocks when you finish a block you get to make a Farmers Wife Block or before you start sewing on anything you sew (? X number of logs)
Or when you sew 5 pineapple blocks or do the math border reward with a massage or a trip to the ice cream parlor with the boys....I like sharing rewards with others it can help them help you to get or stay moving.
But really after the singing costume and the dress form don't you think it's reasonable to just need to change and refresh a bit .
But that doesnt mean you can't issue your self a reward
Being Valentine's Day chocolate comes to mind.
Colleen in sunny warm California
We are scheduled for rain on Wednesday yipee

verykerryberry said...

I love how Aimee turned out for you, the floral is a lovely background! I would recommend ½" allowance around your fabric pieces if you are template cutting, especially for anything with a diagonal lines or angles other than 90 degrees - it just gives you more room to play

Podunk Pretties said...

You wish for more sewing hours, I wish for little elves to help with cutting and cleaning up the cutting mess. I wonder which will come true?

Rebecca said...

I use a very very lightweight and inexpensive interfacing for paper piecing and then do not have to worry about ripping it out!

Rebecca said...

hum did this double up?
I use lightweight interfacing

Camille Mendel said...

I love your approach to quilting. I have many WIPs too and don't feel a bit guilty when I choose to start a new project. I think you and I would be great friends. Love your writing and your approach to life. You go girl.

Cathy said...

Love new projects! And I love your start here!

ckrut said...

I'm following the 1930's Farm Wife blog by Gnome Angel. Different bloggers work on blocks and post tips. Some on paper piecing, some using Marti Michell templates. They are not taking the blocks in order. Jumping all over the place. I'm just getting started, but they've really helped me.

Barbara Sindlinger said...

I like your thinking about havings WIPS - I need to make myself think like that. I have been tempted with the 30's Farm Wife quilt - but I think I'll wait a bit more. Glad to hear the disk comes with paper/foundation piecing patterns though.

Tracy said...

I am using artist tracing paper, it comes in a pad of 50 sheets, 9 x 12 inches. Its inexpensive, especially with a coupon from a certain craft store. I cut them down to 8 ½ x 11 ½ to feed through my printer. Some of the blocks are directional and when you print them from the CD, they make up to turn the "wrong" way (pinwheel blocks). The tracing paper makes it easy to use the backside of the foundation paper. When a block is directional, use the paper foundations with the printed side against the wrong side of your fabric. Check out She is also hosting a QAL with weekly guest bloggers and tips on making the blocks.

Donna Driver said...

I got the book for Christmas and read through. I think I'll try some of the blocks in no particular order to practice a skill. I'm with you in not needed to know what it's going to be - or if it's going to be!