Monday, January 14, 2019

SQUIRREL!! Needle-Turn Applique Tangent Delays Completion of Jingle BOM Quilt Top

Good morning!  Yes, I'm aware that it's afternoon, but I'm running sluggish this morning even after my second high-test espresso beverage, so it's still Monday Morning Mode for me.

I've been having so much fun working on this needle-turn applique block from the workshop I took two weekends ago, taught by Christa Smith of Cottonberry Quilts.  I deliberately chose wild and wacky fabrics for my block to give myself a break from the monotony of the soft, traditional color palette of my Frankenwhiggish Rose needle-turn applique WIPFAE (Work In Progress Forever And Ever), and I fussy-cut my leaves and berry-circle-thingys, out of Tula Pink's snail print and Kaffe Fassett's feather print fabrics.  There have been some unanticipated benefits to all of this reckless abandon!

My Workshop Block In Progress, Which I Have No Business Working on Right Now
First of all, the FUN FACTOR.  I am enjoying these bright, playful colors!  Second, since I cut each leaf out of a different section of the feather print, each one is different.  Each one is a delightful surprise as I finish stitching it and see what it's going to look like!  And, with these wacky fabrics and each leaf having a different part of the print anyway, it takes some of the pressure off that comes from trying to sew a block that is 100% symmetrical with every block 100% identical.  I think that the prepared edge applique method is probably better for when I want identical shapes that need to be placed precisely symmetrically on the block.  The drawn turning line for needle-turn smudges as I'm handling the piece during stitching and it's just more difficult to get each leaf to turn out exactly the same as the last one when I'm turning the edge under as I'm stitching it down.  

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy...
I started this piece using the Aurifil 80 weight cotton thread that Christa had on her supply list, but I quickly switched back to my YLI 100 weight silk thread as the Aurifil was constantly -- CONSTANTLY breaking on me.  Everyone hand stitches differently, and I'm not aware that any of the other students were having trouble with their Aurifil thread breaking, but I gotta do what works for me.  My suspicion is that my tiny stitches have something to do with it.  The more stitches per inch on your project, the more times each section of your length of thread is getting abraded by being dragged through your fabrics before it gets made into a stitch.  But hand stitching is incredibly personal, and everyone does it a little differently -- definitely a situation where "your mileage may vary."  Thread that works great for others snarls or breaks for me, and needles that work for others immediately bend on me, too.  

Jingle BOM, My First Applique Stitches in 2013 (Still a WIP)
See?  I'm sure a psychiatrist could diagnose me with half a dozen personality disorders based on the size of those stitches.  I've tried to make my stitches bigger because I know they are way smaller than necessary (small enough to cause distortion, IMPOSSIBLE to remove, like weaving the two fabrics together instead of stitching them) and most importantly -- those neurotic microscopic stitches make a slow stitching process even slower so nothing ever gets finished, but I'm on autopilot when I get into a stitching groove and this is what comes out.  I think I'm doing better now, but when I look at the back side of other quilters' applique -- GORGEOUS applique, skillfully made by quilters who know what they are doing -- I can still see that my stitches are closer together than they need to be:

My Applique Stitches Today
It would be easier to compare the stitch length if I'd included a penny in the photo from today, but if you click on the photos to enlarge them you can see that in 2013 there were places where I had more than one applique stitch on a single thread of the background fabric.  In the photo from today, most of my applique stitches span SEVERAL threads of background fabric.  I'm calling that PROGRESS, in my applique skills as well as in my mental health!  ;-)

Backside View, So You Can See What's Stitched Down and What's Just Pin Basted
Silk thread is just as fine as the 80 weight cotton, and it disappears just as well as I stitch it into the applique, but it is much, MUCH stronger.  Also slippery so it doesn't need any Thread Heaven or beeswax, and it shimmers in my sewing kit like jewels.  

So, speaking of that Jingle BOM (and speaking of WASTED EFFORT that no one will notice or appreciate in a finished quilt)...

Jingle BOM in Progress, On My Design Wall.
I spent some time in the studio over the weekend and finished cutting the stripes I wanted from my border print fabric.  In the photo above, I decided that I didn't like the small scale of the yellow/gold poinsettias in the outer border.  I like them in the INNER border near the applique medallion, but I'm cutting the flowered stripe out of the outer borders and seaming the adjacent stripes together to make it look like the flowers were never there.  

Delicate Border Print Stripe Surgery In Progress
I didn't think about how long it would take to cut these pieces in a single layer, carefully lining the stripe up with the quarter inch mark on my ruler all the way down both sides of each stripe for all four border lengths.

Sewing the Border Back Together Without the Poinsettias
Anyway, I've got all these border stripes cut now, and all but one of them is sewn back together, and then I'll have the outer borders ready to attach.  Meanwhile, I determined that I might not be able to live with my most recent plan for the inner border stripes.  I was going to "fill in" between the border stripe and the medallion with a green fabric, but when I measured and did the math it just seems like the green fabric would be too wide next to the skinnier stripes of the border print and the proportions might be off.  That would mean I need to do divide that space between more than one fabric border rather than just the green...  Delays, delays, delays!  UGH!  I want this project FINISHED already!!

And meanwhile that baby to whom I've promised a quilt is already over four weeks old with her quilt not started yet, and my church is sending me threatening letters about Quillow Sunday deadlines for June.

My EQ8 Design for the Baby Clam Shells Quilt That Isn't Started Yet
Okay, they are not intended to be threatening letters.  I PERCEIVE them to be threatening letters because my son's graduation quilt is a HIGH PRESSURE project with a hard deadline, and I haven't started that yet, either.  Aaargh!!!!!

My EQ8 Design for Lars's Graduation Quilt, Not Yet Started
Hey, I did another thing, though.  I got the binding made for the guild outreach cuddle quilt and hand stitched the label onto the back of the quilt yesterday:

Label Attached!  Bottom Edge Will Be Secured By Binding
This outreach quilt was pieced by another quilter and when I picked it up at the October(!) guild meeting, it was packaged into a little kit with batting, backing, label, and binding strips for me to finish.  But the binding fabric was a stripe, and now that we have seen my obsessive-compulsive applique stitches no one should be surprised that I was unable to join those binding strips without carefully aligning the stripes and glue basting each seam like a crazy person...  Binding is done now, ready to be sewn to the quilt.

Binding Made, Ready to Attach (After Quilt Label)
Sorry those two photos ended up out of order -- I took the picture of the binding before I attached the quilt label.  I was supposed to finish this quilt and bring it back to the NOVEMBER meeting, by the way, but it wasn't finished in time for the November meeting.  Or in time for the December meeting, or the January meeting...  We're rooting for the February meeting, and I don't think I should sign out any outreach quilt kits anymore.  If I'd made the whole thing out of fabrics in my own stash I wouldn't feel like I was "late" turning it in.

Whatever.  I'm headed upstairs to either work on the Jingle borders OR bind the outreach quilt, depending on my mood when I get to the top of the stairs.  Have a great week, everyone!  I'm linking up with:


Ramona said...

I cannot wait for you to start your son's quilt. I love, love, love that design. I hope you enjoyed your time working in your studio on whatever you decided to do.

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

all such lovely quilts you show today!

Sue said...

What a great idea. I have a needleturn project I want to make but am already making one using green & red, and didn't want another one the same. I have a large collection of Kaffe fabrics. Think I will do the same. Thank you for the inspiration.

MissPat said...

Remember, quilting is supposed to be fun and relaxing. (Says the woman who has been known to unstitch blocks that are a bit off, more than once.) Can't wait to see your son's quilt. I loved the pattern when you first showed it and picked the purple color as my favorite.

Joyce said...

Oh how I love your bright block - lively and fun!

Brenda @ Songbird Designs said...

Love it! Gotta love those squirrels!! They need some special time too!

Katie said...

#1 You've worn me out just reading!
#2 I won't use Aurifil thread either. It just snaps too easily.
#3 Love your choice of fabrics in that block.
#4 My eyes and fingers hurt just looking at those tiny stitches! lol
#5 I'm still worn out. :-D

Suz J said...

Love your fabric choices for your new FUN applique... brave choice of background but it all works beautifully!

Susan said...

Certainly a pretty squirrel!

Preeti said...

A church can threaten??? Aurifil thread breaks???
Those stitches are really microscopic. Speaking of personality disorders, do you chop your potatoes or grate them? How small? How fine?
I know that you are meticulous but are we talking Obsessive Compulsive?
I am no doctor. I am a fan and I love your colors and your devotion to fussy cutting. There is a reason it is called "fussy" cutting. There is no pussyfooting around the issue.
I may not (won't even try to) emulate you but I love everything you do so keep on...