Cotton&Color BoM 2016: May

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This month’s block for the Cotton & Color‘s BoM was easier than the previous ones, even it was also paper-pieced. The pattern was indeed simpler, and taking into account all the recent paper-piecing in The Splendid Sampler, it came together smoothly. The main difficulty was to play with the directional print given for the background (Mirabelle, by Fig Tree for Moda), and not running out of it in the meanwhile (as happened in February’s block).

The little circle for the central screw was needle-turn appliquéd… another learnt skill from The Splendid Sampler! Three months ago I wouldn’t have even considered the idea! And, following the pattern request, there’s something personal to identify them from all the other pairs.

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The colours were chosen to match one of my pairs of scissors (evidently, I have several…). These little ones were part of a set to teach children to sew, hence the blunt tip, but they really do the job. I find them really helpful to cut threads while chain-piecing or right under the machine’s needle, knowing the tip of the scissors won’t damage anything in the meanwhile (the charm was a gift from one of the activities in the class with Me and My Sisters Designs… and although this particular pair doesn’t need a charm, well, I like to have it on it).

Looking forward to June’s block… we already have a sewing-machine, an iron, a pair of scissors… what next? Thread? My beloved seam-ripper? I’m really curious! Definitely a Mystery quilt is lots of fun!

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The Splendid Sampler™: Block 30

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Block n.30 for The Splendid Sampler is calledSimple Surprises, by Amy Ellis. After all the paper-piecing involved in the last two blocks (and in my case, the paper-piecing involved in Cotton&Color BoM pieced also this week, and not yet entirely finished), this simple, quick pieced block was to be thanked for. I really like it and it would make for a terrific quilt on its own.

This pattern also gives room for playing with fussy-cuts and embroidery; lots of variations and the pattern are here.

The Splendid Sampler™: Block 29

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Block n.29 for The Splendid Sampler is calledScrappy Happy Heart, by Christa Watson (Christa Quilts). After the (not so easy at all) piecing on block n.28, this was an easy and fun paper-pieced block, for which I used scraps from previous blocks. I’m not quite sure about the colour scheme of this one, but I must audit it with all the blocks, and perhaps it doesn’t disturb me at all… I just noticed, when I laid all the blocks together, that I was a little short on the use of black prints. Perhaps it’s just that, that suddenly so much black strikes me.

A couple things about paper-piecing this block:

– I set the stitch length to 1.5. I was able to remove the paper in a breeze.

– Backstitching at the beginning and at the end of every seam: this helped a lot removing the paper and folding paper to trim the next-to-be-sewn seam, see below:

– Once one strip was sewn into place, I trimmed the next-to-be-sewn seam with the ¼” seam allowance, so the next strip had a clear reference of where to go. It worked beautifully. Normally, I would sew, trim only the already sewn seam to ¼” to give a neat finish, add a larger strip of fabric eye-balling its position with the crease method, sew, trim already sewn seam… (does it make any sense?)

There is a wonderful tutorial from 3and3quarters here, just showing the method I used for this one. This is about to become my favourite method for paper-piecing so far.

The pattern and link party for this particular block are here.

The Splendid Sampler™: Block 28

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The 28th block of The Splendid Sampler is called “Stitching Fashion”, by Charise Randell (Charise Creates). It depicts a wonderful dress, which I would undoubtedly wear, if it wasn’t that it’s actually too short… I don’t know why, but the final block is 1/8″ shorter than it should be.

I had lots of struggle with this block. I tried to follow Charise Randell’s instructions about not using seam allowances on the paper… I think I had to re-do almost every seam that holds two blocks together. I tried basting, not basting, pinning a lot, pinning less… In any case, the seam ripper needed to come to my rescue. I really like this block, so I will try to arrange the dimensional issue with the sashing, when it comes to it. Otherwise, I shall re-do it from scratch.

The thread running outside the spool is stitched using a running stitch and Anchor embroidery floss n. 234.

(Besides the patchwork part of the history, this block has made me want to stitch some actual garment… If I can get hold of some really pretty, cheap fabric to work with, I don’t discard the idea…).

The pattern and link party with other fabulous dresses can be found here.

The Splendid Sampler™: Block 27

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The 27th block of The Splendid Sampleris called “Sewing machineand is the fourth block by Pat Sloan. And it’s also one of those blocks that one could have expected: the little tribute to our sewing companion. I’ve already done my homage to my own sewing machine in the Cotton&Color BOM this last month, so in this particular block I didn’t make any reference to my machine, which is characterised by the use of yellow, and just followed the pattern.

And by followed I meant followed in its stricted sense: the appliqué is made by using fusible web and then securing the fabrics with a button stitch all around. For this, I used just one strand of embroidery floss (DMC n. 310 and 844 and Anchor n. 234), and for the needle, two strands of DMC 310 and a stem-stitch.

Although this is how I was taught how to appliqué some years ago, it’s just not my cup of tea… But I also think that I should include this technique in the sampler, because it was what the pattern states, and just a reminder of my own beginnings (and how much I’ve learnt since then!).

The block’s info and link party are here.

The Splendid Sampler™: Blocks 1 to 27

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In The Splendid Sampler page there is an invitation to share all our blocks so far. So I took the chance for audit them altogether, assess if there’s one colour predominant, which are less used, etc. Normally I keep the blocks in plastic sleeves, in a ring-folder, which needed to be updated to a bigger one (I was too optimistic about the size of this project when I started it), so it’s a little difficult to grasp how the overall is going. And, of course, there are already some favourites, and some projects growing in my mind for future quilts… it’s only a matter of time.

(Block n.27 was ready for the photo shot, it will have its own blog post soon…)

As always, it’s incredible to see how our fabric choices give personality to and generate so many different quilts, even when the pattern is the same. All of them are here.

The Splendid Sampler™: Block 20

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Block 20 for The Splendid Sampler “Nature’s Walk”, by Vicky Tucek, had lots of embroidery, and I decided to enjoy the process of stitching it instead of rushing and make something simpler just to keep in pace with the sampler. And it was worth it! I tried two stitches that were new to me, the satin stitch, indicated in the pattern, and the raised stem-stitch, which I used in the lower part of the flowers. I just love the texture it adds to the work, and is so deceptively easy to stitch!

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One of my concerns was how to keep with the colour scheme. I finally decided to stick to my plan, and played with a general grey with some pop of colours. I added not one, but two colours in this block (block n. 4 has also more than one colour in it), and highlight the “animal life” on the block. I just love this ladybug! The main stitch is back-stitch accordingly with the pattern, with DMC embroidery floss n. 645, and satin stitch for the details and the flowers. The butterfly is stitched with DMC embroidery floss n. 3809, and the ladybugs use French knots and DMC embroidery floss n. 309.

The borders are made with scraps from previous blocks… It just feels so good to be able to use fabric from scraps, instead of cutting from the original fat-eights! I know I should have enough fabric to end the sampler, but some pieces have perceptibly decreased and keeping them intact just one more block is to play safety.

Although a little bit late, the link party with the block’s info is here.

The Splendid Sampler™: Block 26

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The 26th block of The Splendid Sampler features one of the patterns that was to be expected sooner or later, a Dresden Plate. This version is called “Dreaming of Dresdens”, by Jane Davidson (Quilt Jane – Want it, Need it, Quilt). The most challenging part of it was the appliqué of the little circles that add the new twist to the traditional base, but after block 25, it was almost a piece of cake.

I had some fun playing with the circles of one of the coloured prints, which turned out to be the perfect size. I used cardboard templates to baste the circles and starch to help stabilise them before appliquéing.

The pattern and link party can be found here.

The Splendid Sampler™: Block 25

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To be perfectly honest, block n.25 for The Splendid Sampler didn’t appeal really much to me the first time I saw it (Oh, no!! So much appliqué!!!). But it has grown on me, and now I’m thinking to leave it for some days as a “mini-quilt” on my design board (perhaps, because I managed to do it, in quite a satisfactory way?)

It is called “Sunday Best”, by Anne Sutton (Bunny Hill Designs). And it’s appliqué. Lots of. And I recall writing for block n.1:

“I’m not a fan of appliqué, and this was my first needle-turn appliqué ever.”

And for block n. 4:

“Having done block 1, I found myself rather comfortable sewing this one.”

And now, here it’s, a whole block with 13 pieces needle-turn appliquéd. So, if this is not a journey of learning, I don’t know what is it, then. I tried the starch-appliqué method (Anne Sutton has a tutorial on her website), but I didn’t like it at all. I don’t have freezer paper, so I used Stickvlies instead (the manufacturer says it can be used as a substitute for the paper, so…), but it’s not sturdy enough and didn’t allow for correct pressing of the seam allowances. So I decided to jump and face right-away needle-turn appliqué. And ta-dah! I’m really happy with the results.

I rather find my little bunny really elegant in its “Sunday best”, isn’t it? I still have to sew the little buttons, but I haven’t trimmed the block to its final size yet to avoid fraying (now its 7×7″), and I will add them afterwards, to make it more comfortable to cut. The stem for the flower is stitched with DMC embroidery floss n. 907 with a stem-stitch, and the face details with n. 844 and a satin-stitch.

And with this the 25% of the sampler has been reached. It seams it was yesterday it began, and it’s almost three months already. This is how all my blocks look so far (n. 20 is still in progress).

For the 25th block, the pattern and link party are here.

The Splendid Sampler™: Block 24

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The 24th block of The Splendid Sampler is called Inspector Sidekick, by Michele Foster, referring to those furry inspectors that are always keeping a closer look to our work. I do not have any, but I had the experience of working with them and I perfectly understand the feeling of being under constant scrutiny –and keeping and extra eye to spools, needles, pins and whatever that might be at their reach-.

Talking patchwork, this block was easier than it may have seemed. Almost no seam ripper… One of the things I learnt from the class with Me and My Sisters Designs was to correctly press. I was suspecting I had a pressing-ironing issue, and the last results seem to prove it: I’m amazed how flat the block turned out, and how easily seams nested, after a good press with my bigger, everyday-use steam-iron, instead of using the little travel-iron I have for patchwork. So: starch, and steam. The perfect duo.

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I played with one of the directional prints for the background, and I have to highlight this little person carrying such a big cake… he has a somewhat crooked look, hasn’t he? I’m sure he is up to no good…

The pattern and link party for this 24th block can be found here.