Thursday, August 09, 2007

I love piecing!

There are so many aspects of making a quilt, but the part that really grabs me is the piecing. I love it! There are so many types of piecing, and so many possibilities within each type. I'm doing two kinds of piecing now, and hope to begin a third and then a fourth soon.

First, I'm doing some traditional piecing. I just finished the top (minus borders) of my third I Spy! It went together very quickly, guess I've learned something after making my first two.
I have read several books on stars and hexagons, and none of them has adequately addressed the most basic techniques of joining the pieces together so the points match. A quilt like this needs the points to match, or you lose the flow of the design and piecing becomes a more dreadful nightmare with each succeeding row (don't ask me how I know). On my second I Spy I figured out how useful the little bunny ears can be in matching. But when you press your seams for minimum bulk, those bunny ears lie right along the seam line on every other intersection of every other row. What to do then? I had been putting a pin through the intersection and pinning on either side, and had reasonable success. But it was time consuming and difficult. Suddenly a simpler way occurred to me. Maybe everyone else has figured this out already, but just in case there's a quilter out there who hasn't, this is what I started doing and it works like a charm.

You can see how the alternate intersection on this row seems to be missing its bunny ears. That's because they are lying on the seam line.
But you can use your fingers to flip the seam to the other side to expose the bunny ears. I pin the two intersections on either side first, so that the weight of the fabric doesn't become a factor, and then flip those bunny ears up and place them right on top of each other. In an ideal world the bunny ears would match perfectly when you expose them, but in real life you often have to finesse them just a little. When you get them lying right on top of each other, stick a pin off to the side a bit to hold everything in place. (I can't believe I took a close-up photo with one hand and it actually came out!)
Then let the seams flop back down and stitch away. It works great!
As satisfying as I find this piecing, I've also been playing around with Tonya's tutorials on free pieced letters. I am enchanted by the look of them -- so fun, so whimsical! It's another kind of skill altogether, and for me, it's harder. When my points match, I know things are right. When I do free piecing, I have to rely on my own artistic sensibilities to decide whether it's ok. But it is fun, and I rather enjoy disengaging my perfect-point self and seeing what happens. Now that the I Spy is done (well, the hard part is done), I'm planning to finish up my wonky Stroop quilt.

In in the not-too-distant future, I want to try a small piece using Ruth McDowell's piecing techniques. Her quilts are amazing! I got her book on pieced vegetables even before I started quilting. Her piecing techniques are unique and I think will require a good bit of practice. She is truly an artist -- she can draw, and her fabric choices are unbelievable. If you haven't looked through her books, do. She just came out with a book on piecing, and I'm going to work my way through that.


JoAnna said...

I love traditional piecing too! It's the fun of the geometry and logic, I think. Unfortunately, I suspect this is why I have lots of UFOs waiting to be quilted. The vegetables are neat - they don't really look pieced at all...interesting! I think I'll check it out.

Lazy Gal Tonya said...

Ruth McD's work IS amazing. You'd swear it had to be appliqued. I took a half day class with her. She passed around samples of her piecing. Totally incredible. Got to see some of the quilts too. Fabulous. I love seeing it, tho not tempted to be that precise myself.

Libby said...

Lots of lucky kids in your family getting all these great I Spy quilts.

If you have not read Ruth's "process" books about her own artistic development - they are so great! :::Walks over to book shelf::: "Art and Inspirations" is the one I'm thinking of. That book seriously got me thinking...

floribunda said...

one of the first classes I took was on Ruth McD's vegetables, and then I taught my mini-group how to do them. we were just talking last Saturday about the little collection of veggie blocks we each have! Now I'll have to dig them out of the closet and show them off. She does fabulous work!