Thursday, August 4, 2016

VICTORY! FW1930s Block 88 "Prudence," Second-Try Success

FW1930s Block 88, Prudence
Second time's the charm!  I am SO glad to be finished with the Pernicious Prudence block.  I set my first awful attempt aside, the one I was trying to save with EPP, and started over on this block.  I found several tutorials online from other quilters who had simplified the block construction by adding seams in various places, but I really wanted to challenge myself to make the block exactly as it appears in he book. 

This time around, I precut ALL of my shapes using the templates printed off the CD, but with seam allowances enlarged to 3/8".  I was more careful with my FPP to be sure that my fabric pieces completely covered the foundation papers, and one thing that made a huge difference was that this time I did not sew through any of the seam allowances of any of the angled or Y-seams.  I marked my foundations with a little red "X" to remind myself where I had to start right on the seam intersection, and backstitched those seams.  That made it MUCH easier to precisely align the raw fabric edges on the wonky crooked seam lines, because each seam allowance became a little "hinge" where I could pivot the fabric. 

I also was more careful in trimming the seam allowances of each completed foundation paper segment this time.  I always trim the block segments with my ruler and rotary cutter, laying the 1/4" ruler line right on top of the seam line on the foundation pattern, and then slicing next to the ruler edge rather than trimming the segments to size by cutting along the dotted line with a scissor.  Well, this is not an easy feat when you have pieces with inside angles like with this Prudence block.  In my first attempt, I just cut those inside corners on the dotted line.  But on my second, more successful go, I opened the loose seam allowances up at those corners and cut the fabric straight at the overlaps so the raw edges at the crucial intersections would be straight and flush.  I should have taken a picture to explain this better, but my phone was playing music from the stereo in the other room...  So, no pictures from those stages.

Lots of Seams Pressed Open in Prudence Block
I pressed the center seams open on the center octagon as well as the side triangles to reduce bulk: 

Center Seam on Side Triangle Sections Pressed Open to Reduce Bulk Around Octagon
Everything comes along nicely in this block right up until this point, when you realize that you have to sew the big corner sections to the center thingy that is shaped like a vintage Christmas ornament: 

Prudence's Point of No Return
Yikes, right?!  But this time, it wasn't that bad.  Tedious and time-consuming, but actually POSSIBLE.  I stitched one side to the center completely by machine, one little straight edge at a time, pinning and backstitching and clipping, then pivoting, pinning, backstitching, and clipping again.  On the second side, I decided it would be faster AND more accurate to stitch the seams around the octagon by hand, so that's what I did. 

Hand Stitching Around Octagon for Greater Control
I just drew my 1/4" seamline in chalk from the start of one seam to the beginning of the next, and backstitched along the chalk line.  It's easier to keep your seam allowances out of the way when stitching by hand than when you have to flatten everything and fold the rest of the block out of the way so you can stitch these itty bitty angled seams by machine.  Once I had the seam around the octagon completely stitched all the way around, it wasn't a big deal to machine stitch the rest of that seam alongside the skinny red triangles and then closing the green corners of the block.

So Prudence is done.  She's not perfect, but she's pretty accurate considering what a pain the in the arse she was.  And best of all, she measures precisely 6 1/2".  I'm calling it a win.

Prudence Finished at 6 1/2" Square
I did the foundation paper piecing of this block on my Bernina 750QE with 9 mm Patchwork foot 97D, because I love the bright lights and auto knotting features for sewing right down those FPP lines and it's so easy to center the stitching line between the narrow open toe area on that foot.  Then, after trimming the completed FPP sections and removing the papers, I finished piecing the blocks on my 1934 Featherweight with my vintage Singer Cloth Guide screwed into the machine bed at 1/4" from the needle and the original multipurpose foot that came on that machine.  I really prefer my Featherweight for Y-seams because the computerized Bernina sometimes takes an unpredictable extra stitch in the wrong direction when I press the reverse button.  The all-mechanical Featherweight immediately changes direction when I flip the lever up or down, so every stitch is controlled as precisely as if I was stitching by hand.  I also love the narrow feed dogs of the Featherweight for piecing.  It took some measuring and fiddling to get that seam guide attached at exactly the right distance from the needle, so I just leave it on the machine.  That's the other reason I'm doing the FPP part on my Bernina, so I don't have to remove the seam guide from my Featherweight.

Here's my collection of 6" sampler blocks so far, from The Farmer's Wife, Farmer's Wife 1930s, and Charise's Vintage Block Quilt Along:

Completed 6" Sampler Blocks
I'm linking up with Needle and Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation and Can I Get A Whoop Whoop at Confessions of a Fabric Addict, and then I'm headed out for a belated birthday girls' night in celebration of my good friend and theatre sister (yes, that's a Thing).  Happy Thursday!


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

That block turned out pretty darn good!! Way to go

Bonnie said...

Amazing block. It sure looks like a challenge to me. Your finished block is wonderful. At least it didn't take three times.

Janice Holton said...

I am IMPRESSED!! I have purchased two paper piecing patterns that I just love but still haven't had the guts to try them yet. I do so enjoy watching your process!! (Not to mention, your blocks are gorgeous)

Pam said...

Very nice! i can't believe you used a sewing machine to stitch some of the seam. It is a beautiful block-I think my favorite so far but the competition is tough!

Lane said...

It looks FANTASTIC!!! great perseverance! I'm with you on the featherweight for piecing. It even feels more compact and precise on those small pieces. Congratulations.

Sarah Craig said...

Whoop whoop for a fabulous finish - that looks like it took a lot of perseverance and you powered through it!

Dawn said...

Beautiful block! Boy, what a challenge -- but you nailed it!