Feb 28, 2015

Intersections make the piecing!

February has come and gone and now says good-bye with a beautiful snowy day; I was able to finally wrap up my February quilting homework. Well, I gave myself until the last day of February to post the second February block for the 2015 Craftsy BOM, Ash Basket.

Everything started as usual, in my crazy and year-long attempt to learn new techniques and widen my quilting knowledge - and hopefully, some skills as well!  :)

After cutting and double checking fabric and templates, ...

... I saw that some units didn't seem to match. Instead of tackling the issue, I jumped ahead and whipped these little guys:

Well, I indeed jumped... And far... And not very well... I did not understand a part of the instructions and, instead of verifying information, I went happily to the sewing machine and iron.

But when I started putting it all together, I realized I needed something like the pieced triangles on the bottom of the following picture, not a half-square triangle... (To myself: "Really? It's just a simple instruction, follow it, for once!")

Rip, rip, rip... Cut *right on a second pass, sew, iron, and... They don't fit!

Double check... They don't fit! And nothing else does!

Yes, that was my experience with Ash Basket, and I thought hard trying to figure out what went wrong.  Did I trace the template well? Did I check the printer settings were not changing the printing ratio? Did I cut the fabric well? Man! I even remembered having the same feeling when making the last block!

I was not about to cut more of that -limited- fabric I have, so I decided to research. I went to the class and did not feel that bad when I realized that a lot of people were frustrated because they were having the same problem. However, I also saw that some had been able to finish, and there were some brave ladies that even said that the templates were... perfect! Perfect? Really?

This was a major frustration issue - I had no idea what I was doing wrong and I was not finding useful information in the class. I tried to find information in the internet, blogs, and even library books, but every attempt to figure this block out seemed fruitless. 

I watched the class video again and again, and I couldn't find anything that would shed any light... at all!!  (Big sigh.) (It is actually a good sigh.)

There was only one thing that kept fluttering in my head, and coming back when I was trying to write an e-mail, during a client meeting, at lunch, and even when making dinner one day... The points in the templates... The templates have points... I went to a craft store and look at templates; blouses, skirts, points, points, points...

And then, it happened... Eureka! I was able to see what matters:

The templates clearly show it! None (or practically none) of the pieces of fabric has matching edges with another one; what matches is the seam! 

Up to now, I had always matched intersecting seams and cut units, starting generally by matching the middle of two cuts. Well, when I realized that I had to go deeper this time... To the 1/4" seam intersection - the actual seam! It also dawned on me why so many commercial templates have holes in them - to mark the intersections! I finally got it!

At this point, I even got Mr. Fuzz and told him all about the points, the templates, the seams, the edges that would not match, all the while I'm moving the templates and remaking what you see in the picture above. It was awesome! 

OK, if you have been quilting for a while, you may find yourself rolling your eyes, but it took me a while to actually "see" the complexity of quilting. That's what makes an art quilt - precisely pieced units and matching intersections. WOW! It took me a major roadblock and a simple basket to advance a leap when it comes to the understanding and appreciation of the beauty and art of quilting.

But to finish this block, I was not about to buy a set of marking templates, but I did go ahead and marked all the 1/4" seams in each piece, like so:

... and instead of trying to match edges, I made sure to pin the exact places where the 1/4" seams intersect, and little by little, precise shapes started to emerge.

I almost started happy dancing when I saw that triangle tip touching the horizontal fabric... I knew I finally was on the right track! 

Ah! That second of satisfaction when seeing precise points and piecing well done!

And (drum roll, please) here is: Ash Basket!

Oh man! I have so much more to learn!

After so long figuring out each piece and intricacy, I feel accomplished. It's almost as if I had advanced to the next quilting level, whatever that is...

Once more, an opportunity to learn and grow in so many ways. Yes, there is the aspect of the piecing technique, but just stop and think for a second - how many opportunities like this one come along our way.  It's up to us to make the most out of them!

Stay blessed,


Feb 21, 2015

You write, You doodle, You fidget... I sew!!

Yup! I sew!  

When 2015 started and I turned back and realized that I was not very productive in the crafty sort of way, I decided to look for even the smallest of opportunities to get my hands busy...

Well, I found a perfect moment to do so... Meetings! Well, conference calls and webinars, and any other job gathering when the door to my office is closed and I get a bit of privacy. 

Meetings? Yes, meetings! Those conversations that could go on and on and on... If you look around, you may get a glimpse of someone fidgeting with their pen, doodling, counting tiles and even yawning. But not in my office! In my corner of the woods, where most meetings are conference calls, the results are a bit different...

Well, remember me starting these hexagon paper pieced units without giving too much thought to them?  It was, once more, a project born out of the curiosity of trying a new technique and experimenting that exciting and powerful moment of creating something new and different, seeing for the first time how a shape comes together and enjoying a second of satisfaction after seeing the results...

Well, little by little, over several weeks and months, I ended up covering all of the 200 paper hexies in scraps. Meetings went by, with the usual notes, ideas and commitments, but now, there is another witness to productivity:

Man! And just think of all the past meetings I could have done this... lol  Yes, to all of those you wondering out there, my boss knows I do this and she finds it fascinating that I even remember more details of the meetings I was working on those. It is actually kind of weird; I see some of the stitches, seams and turns, and I can remember what people were saying, and even the tone of their voices...

Well, I must say that if we are talking figures or any other details requiring my whole attention, the needle and thread sometimes don't even come out of the little tin box where they patiently await for the next conference call. For those, it's the color markers and mind maps that start showing up!

Hey, you can't deny that meetings have now taking a fascinating route!  :)

Stay blessed,


Feb 8, 2015

Reservations, reservations, reservations and a Fruit Basket.

For some weird reason, I don't read instructions. My head believes that manuals and even recipes are there to find out stuff when there is an extra nut, or if the whatever I'm working with is not doing what I was expecting it to do.

Well... Remember the beautiful fabric kit I got last month?

It turns out that the instructions included guidelines for reservations... Yes, RESERVATIONS and I had already cut fabric and finished a block!!

In a frenesi, I set up to cut fabric, and after a deep, deep, DEEP breath, I go ahead and slash...

Scary moment and scary sight - the beautiful border print in different pieces and even scraps, after the rotary cutter visited it last month... I guess this will be another lesson learned... READ THE INSTRUCTIONS!! 

Well, here are my reserved cuts; well, the ones that would fit on the table... And just in case, I decided to label them for future reference, in case I get cutter-happy.

And, just because I was in the cutting train, I ended up cutting fabric for the first February BOM, A Fruit Basket.

I was a bit concerned to be working with the units and bias edges, so I tried to be extra careful with placement and sewing order.

A happy sight! Matching seams!

Here lies the secret... Pins everywhere! I used to hate pinning, but when it comes to matching seams, they are like my best friends.  I even pin away from the seam line, to make sure that fabric won't shift (see the pin to the left, securing the tip of the triangle?).

Looks good!

I pressed all seams open to reduce bulk, and when I flipped the piece, I was really excited that even the seams in the back showed the matches! Woohoo!!

I went ahead and continued with the rest of the patches...

And here (next picture) WERE all the pieces ready to be put together... 

Yes... WERE...  See the basket rim? Man! I swear that templates and I don't understand each other. I checked the printing settings, the needle, the ruler, the template, and everything seemed to be OK. Even after checking the other patches, it was evident that they would fit, were it not for a funky, shorter basket rim... 

At this point, I'm better at cutting fabric directly, so with a little voice in my head reminding me that I've got a kit, that the fabric in front of me is not endless, that I just reserved, reserved, reserved... (Big bravery displayed) I went ahead and cut a second rim.

Oh, and by the way... Did you notice that I sewed all the HST wrong? Major disappointment - I was not smart enough to sew the patches in the right direction... 

Soooo... after ripping, sewing, more ripping, more sewing and figuring out a way of squaring this little basket, I reserve it's right to be pictured on the carpet!

Ha! I feel like I threw a huge tantrum, but the low battery in the camera helped me decide... I guess it was just a life moment. I'm not completely happy with the results, particularly because of the top rim.  I like the points. At least, I got those down... 

Alas! This was supposed to be a learning experience, right? So, I'd better remember this and get an extra dose of patience for the second February block, an Ash Basket. I must confess I'm dreading a bit all of those bias edges, but I won't run away from a good challenge. Pins and starch are good friends, and something tells me I'm getting too attached to those.

The best thing though is that I've learned that my face wears my quilting experience... My husband just used the last three minutes or so and went on and on about what I was typing. He nailed it, lol  

"And yes, quilting makes me grumpy! Ripping makes me grumpy! And now I want to blog all about it because I'm grumpy!" He is pacing up and down the playroom and using a funny voice to say the above... I love him to pieces! He is able to make me smile - always on time, always unexpectedly, and always when needed.

Well, a new block, a new lesson and a smile! And smiles have no reservations!