Nov 16, 2013

A Charm-hap (a.k.a. Happy Happening)

One of my first discoveries after getting my sewing machine for Christmas two years ago, was pre-cuts.  I had always worked with yardage back home, or with the big scrap fabric that the fabric store would sell because the left over fabric was under a yard.

I came across an internet sale offering a beautiful charm pack for under $4.00 dollars; sounded great!  When I got the charm pack, I realized it did not have enough fabric for what I had in mind, so I ordered a second one... It was still the same price, which was good, but I did not like the effect, which was not good.

I kept hearing in my head a little voice encouraging me to go on because every single pattern and color in a charm pack would go well together, as long as all the patterns and colors stayed together.

(By the way, in case you are not familiar with the terminology, a charm pack is a set of 5" X 5" squares of different fabric belonging to a collection - kind of a sampler.) 

I could see the pattern/color deal, but I was not satisfied with the result, and started to experiment with placing, sashing, borders, and just could not find anything that would make it look good in my head... It seemed that everything else that I put together - that did not come in a charm pack - worked way better for me.

Today, however, I am in need of finding unique gifts, so I decided to dig this UFO from the corner and see if I could put something together; after all, there is something so special about a hand-made gift! 

Somehow, it all started to make sense... lol  The poor little charm converted into improv pieced stripes - bless its little heart, hehe - waited just under two years to get some attention.  

When I saw it together today, I was still not happy with the look of it.  But you know me, if I have scraps, I'll put them to good use!

I have (yes, there are still scraps left) an array of different scraps, and was not sure of the effect I wanted.  In the next picture, you can see, from top to bottom, pieced stripes, 4x4 patches, improv pieced stars and pieced pieces of irregular shapes.

With that first experience two years ago, when I realized how much fabric is used in the seams, I decided I was going to use the scraps, and put all of the pieces together in as many ways as I could- now I'm not sure it was the best call, but I'll just deal with it!

After trying several combinations of the shapes I had, I decided to use the 4x4.  Like that, I'd be able to create a middle stripe that would be a good "bridge" between the outer stripes, without making the overall design way too complex.

Here is the middle stripe pieced together.  I liked that it sort of blends with the straight pieces of the sides without taking away from the improv stars.

And here it is with the sashing, made with a fabric I picked up at a craft store when it was on sale. I was not completely certain it would go with this collection, and was a bit concerned of adding yet one more pattern, but the final look is not that bad...

The more I worked with it, the more I liked it...

And you can see the quilt right after I finished stitching in the ditch to secure the pieced top to the quilt layers.

Once I set a quilt in the machine, it is so hard to just leave it there and not start quilting - this time was not the exception.

I decided to go with a pointy feather for the middle piece.  I went for a combination of textures for the sides: stippling for the improv stars because of the heavy piecing, and lines with sharp turns (think of a triangle loop chain) for the rectangle/square mini block.  I thought the open stipple would allow me to FMQ without much difficulty around the heavy seams and that the sharp turns will mimic the shape of the stars.

I finished only one side and the middle; here is where I'm at right now:

The results are quite pleasing!  Not bad for a recycled piecing experiment that hadn't seen the light for at least something like a year and a half, huh?  Great score!

Now it is my Wheels that will be kept in that little tote for a while.  It's OK...  Sometimes finishing a quick quilt brings some kind of refreshment that just encourages me to go on and make one more!

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