Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Rosemary's Baby: Farmer's Wife 1930s, Block No. 88

FW 1930s Block No. 88, "Rosemary's Baby"
I spent a whole hour in my studio a few days ago, just cleaning up the mess from Mission Impossible and last-minute travel wardrobe mending.  I was surprised by how far out of control my workspace had gotten in such a short time from being "too busy and too rushed" to clean up after myself as I went along, but it had gotten to the point where I couldn't even work in there anymore.  All better now -- and so, as a reward to myself, I pulled out the project box with my 6" sampler blocks and decided to make a couple more random, self-indulgent blocks before getting into one of those important quilts that I keep telling everyone I'm prioritizing...  Yes, I know this is why I rarely COMPLETE anything.

The Evil That Is Rosemary's Baby, Back View
Also, can someone please remind me next time that a 6" block containing 53 patches is probably NOT going to be a quick and easy diversion?!  There were some hairy moments, some seam ripping, and a little bit of swearing involved -- and although my block miraculously finished at a pretty precise and square 6 1/2", I am displeased by a couple of seams that did not line up precisely when I sewed the final seams.  This is why MY block is named "Rosemary's Baby," after the 1968 horror movie.  

Prep Work for FW 1930s Block 88 "Rosemary," Foundation Paper Piecing
So this was my beginning prep work for Block #88 "Rosemary" from the book The Farmer's Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt by Laurie Aaron Hird.   

The author pieced her Rosemary block using 4 different fabrics, so step one was to rummage through my stash and select 4 fabrics that played nicely together.  I went with a smallish scale focus print, coordinating olive green and navy blue in dark values, and a light value chartreuse green for the accent fabric.    Next, I colored in the block diagram and scribbled the colors onto my foundation paper piecing templates as well, because when there are this many pieces in a block it is all too easy to get confused about which fabric goes where at the sewing machine.

Then I precut all of my fabric patches, with the correct shape (square, rectangle or HST or QST) as well as the correct grain line (unless I'm fussy cutting, in which case I'm just positioning the print the way I want it to go).

The paper piecing went fine and, thanks to coloring the foundation papers ahead of time, there was no seam ripping due to sewing the wrong fabric in the wrong spot.  The difficulties reared their ugly heads and showed their claws once I got to the part where the various foundation pieced sections needed to be sewn together with traditional piecing.

One of the Tricky Seams
Yes, I was pinning, but still struggled with this one stupid place where I needed a perpendicular seam to align with a seam at a 45 degree angle.  I finally left it be, against the violent objections of every fiber of my being, because there are only so many times you can rip a block apart and sew it back together before it's irreparably frayed and stretched out of shape.  Also, with my particular fabrics, I don't think that the extra time and effort that it would take to get it REALLY perfect would really give me a huge payoff -- your eye just doesn't go there when you look at the block, in my opinion.

The Disappointing Mismatched Seams
Sometimes I get comments from readers who think I'm being hard on myself when I write about these kinds of issues, but it's not about being a hard judge on myself as much as taking a scientific approach -- I want to figure out WHY if something didn't turn out like I expected it to.  That's part of the fun for me, in the strange way that the New York Times crossword puzzles are fun for other people!  In this case, I think I was overly worried because the pieces seemed so small as I was working on the block, and I was afraid that surely I was shrinking them with steam or from bulk building up in all of those seam allowances.  I suspect that I stretched those larger print rectangles (on the diagonal) when I was pressing and starching them.  That would explain why the two seams shifted away from one another.  And I do have a smidge of excess fabric on the yellowish corner squares to trim away, which also supports my stretched rectangle theory.  

So, what's m takeaway?  It would have been handy to have an actual size block diagram to use as a reference while piecing a block this complex, so that as I finished and pressed each subunit I could compare it to the diagram and ensure that each unit was finishing the correct size and shape before joining it to the next piece.  If I remember, I'll try that next time I tackle one of these little monsters.  But I won't be attempting to fix or redo this particular block -- I don't love it that much, and I don't think anyone looking at the finished block would realize that those two seams were necessarily intended to match -- not without my handy little close-up picture with the arrows showing you where the oopses are, anyway!  

The blocks in this Farmer's Wife book get more complex the farther you go through the book.  I'm starting to think that some of the ones like this one that have a ton of pieces are not really worth what a pain in the keyster they are -- I'm not really feeling the payoff, you know what I mean?  Maybe I could have done better with the fabric mix or something.  Perhaps, if I decide to do any of these other really elaborate blocks from her book, I'll resize those blocks to 9" or 12" to make them easier to work with, open up my options with larger scale prints and fussy cutting, and get that mix of block sizes that will let me use the 12" applique block...

In This Case, Done IS Better Than Perfect!
And so, moving on...  Who knows if this motley assortment of blocks will ever amount to anything, anyway!  Except that I just now came up with a good name for these blocks, if they ever do become a quilt.  Behold, my Motley Fools Sampler!

My Motley Fools Sampler Blocks

Although today's Rosemary block and several of the others came from the Farmer's Wife 1930s book, I'm not necessarily committed to making ALL of the blocks in that book.  I've just been making random 6" blocks off and on from fabrics that appeal to me and I'll figure out what to do with them later. I've made some of the blocks from The Farmer's Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt book, some of the blocks from the original Farmer's Wife Sampler Quilt book, a couple random 6" blocks from the EQ8 Block Library, and some interesting/challenging vintage blocks that I resized to 6" so I could mix them in with the others.  Then I made that 12" appliqué block in a workshop back in January and decided I might want to mix in some larger blocks with the small ones...  I like the idea of mixing up different block sizes, I enjoyed doing that zany colored appliqué block and I would like to mix in some more like that.    Maybe some sashing and maybe some borders; I'll figure that out later.  For now, I'm just having fun treating each 6" block like its own special creation and then tossing it up on the wall to see what it looks like with the others once it's finished!  

I have another sampler block picked out from the Farmer's Wife 1930s book on my agenda but it has far fewer pieces and should go together in a snap for me tomorrow.  

SO...  My To-Do for Tuesday is to finish that other 6" sampler block, pack this project away again, and then get busy with at least ONE of the following WIPs:

  • The obscenely overdue Modern Baby Clam Shell quilt, which needs all of the turquoise patches out and then to be pieced
  • Spend some time with the longarm machine, trouble-shooting and finishing up some of the class samples from the Paducah workshops I took back in April
  • Prep some more applique for hand stitching at my bee meeting next Monday

Meanwhile, I'm linking up with:

·      Colour and Inspiration Tuesday at http://www.cleverchameleon.com.au
·       To-Do Tuesday at Stitch ALL the Things: http://stitchallthethings.com
·      Midweek Makers at www.quiltfabrication.com/
·      WOW WIP on Wednesday at www.estheraliu.blogspot.com
·      Needle and Thread Thursday at http://www.myquiltinfatuation.blogspot.com/  
·      Whoop Whoop Fridays at www.confessionsofafabricaddict.blogspot.com
·      Finished Or Not Friday at http://busyhandsquilts.blogspot.com/

To all of my American readers, enjoy a happy and safe Independence Day holiday!


SJSM said...

I hear you on the sewing room clean up. I rearranged my sewing room to get my sewing machine out of the afternoon sun as I could not read the screen. Before I put everything in its new place I had a few projects I needed done to take on a trip. After that the real bridal veil HAD to get done before cleaning up. My agenda now is to finishe the shirt, finish prep on the tote bag, clean up and start the dress for the wedding.

I do understand the diversion into something different between a big project and starting another must do project. It’s like taking a cleansing breath before tackling another head down to the grindstone work. Over 50 pieces in a block as a cleansing breath? Having the colors and mixed in with the other blocks no one will see the little alignment issues. If they do and comment who hired them as the quilt police? It is back in its box awaiting the next foray into the queue.

A little garden work, housework then finish the shirt and clean that room. Will it all get done? I won’t know until I start.

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

you are so hard on yourself to be perfect!! You need to let yourself relax with your quilting and get a little more laid back :) I see no mistakes in your block and I really looked it over after you said it wasn't perfect as it looked perfect to me. My 6.5 inch blocks are rarely ever perfect I have to make a block a little larger usually so I can trim it down to size
Hope now that you got your sewing space cleaned up you can feel more productive

Jenny K. Lyon said...

Oh girl, let it be and go watch the Beatles movie (Yesterday) instead!

MissPat said...

I sympathize completely with your need to make a block perfect. I suffer from the same malady and it can be very aggravating. Like Karen, I like to oversize my blocks and trim them down, but that certainly doesn't work with a complex block like this one. Some days I have to remind myself that this is supposed to be fun!

KathiC10 said...

Hi! I'm pretty picky about my seams too so I feel your pain. Just wanted to let you know though that my sister made the whole quilt from the '30's book and found many errors in the patterns. But really, the block looks great!

Frédérique - Quilting Patchwork Appliqué said...

Your block is just beautiful the way it is, and this busy print is perfect!

Glenda said...

Loved the commentary and the tutorial, I had a smile on my face most of the time and some times laughed out loud. Thanks for a great visit. Love the fabrics you choose for the block it sure is striking, radical and out there. All your prepping paid off, you have more patience than I do LOL Cheers Glenda

CathieJ said...

I am impressed that you even attempted a 6" block with so many pieces. I think it came out beautifully. I do understand your seam matching frustration though. I like the name you have come up with for all those blocks together.

dq said...

Hello Rabecca. It is kind of funny because I was thinking "Wow, Perfection" when I scanned the pictures. Then I went and read your post and discovered your struggles. I like that you want to know "why" something is not fitting. I also cannot believe this is a 6" block! I understand the challenge because I made a Dear Jane quilt with 4 1/2" blocks. They are crazy but so satisfying. I am so sorry to hear that you are not feeling that satisfaction after so much intricate, beautiful work. I recommend putting the project aside for awhile and working on something else. With a little time, I always fall back in love with my projects.

dq said...

Hello Rabecca. It is kind of funny because I was thinking "Wow, Perfection" when I scanned the pictures. Then I went and read your post and discovered your struggles. I like that you want to know "why" something is not fitting. I also cannot believe this is a 6" block! I understand the challenge because I made a Dear Jane quilt with 4 1/2" blocks. They are crazy but so satisfying. I am so sorry to hear that you are not feeling that satisfaction after so much intricate, beautiful work. I recommend putting the project aside for awhile and working on something else. With a little time, I always fall back in love with my projects.

Christine Slaughter said...

Just reading the title of your post had me bursting into laughter. Boy, some projects do deserve that name sometimes...LOL! I'm glad it turned out at the size it was supposed to, but I'm sorry for the struggles while making it.

Dione Gardner-Stephen said...

Clever apt name, and with the imperfections showing a perfect symmetry no one will know except all of us. :D It is crazy to try to jam 50 something pieces into 6 inches though, you do know that, don't you?