Friday, August 28, 2015

Sparkle, Sparkle Sparkle! Of Asscher Cut Diamonds and Pineapple Log Cabins

Block 17 of 36
Seventeen down, nineteen to go!  I'm starting to get in the groove of these paper pieced pineapple blocks.  The only real issue I'm having is controlling some of the longer strips as I get to about the outer third of the block construction.  What's happening is that, despite pressing the previously added strips as flat and as crisp as I possibly can, when I add the subsequent corner strips that previously pieced side strip is shifting slightly once I flip the block upside down and start sewing.  Then I open up the strip I just added to press it open, and end up with a bubble or a crease in the longer side strip.

I haven't been using pins for most of these blocks, but I started experimenting with them in the outer portion of this block to see if it would prevent my issue.

Experimenting With Flathead Pins
No dice.  I don't know if the pins created additional distortion or what, but I tried pinning several times and found that I was just as likely to have to unpick the seam even if I had pinned it.  So then I tried starching some of my flimsier fabric strips to see if that would help, because the problem is not occurring every single time.  Maybe it's just certain fabrics that don't want to cooperate?

Now that I'm thinking about it and looking at my photo, maybe I went about pinning things entirely the wrong way.  I pinned the new green corner strip that I was adding, but that's not where the problem was originating.  Maybe I need to pin the neutral side strip, parallel to its own seamline, to keep that seam completely flat and all the way open while I attach the unpinned corner piece?  I'll try that on my next block.

Blocks 16 and 17
Meanwhile, my kids started back to school on Monday.  Hooray!!  Ninth grade and seventh grade, can you believe it?  High school starts at 7:15 AM and the bus comes at 6:40, which means that Kiddo the Elder has to wake up at 5:30 AM every day.  Kiddo the Elder does not WANT to wake up at 5:30 AM every day, and claims that he cannot even hear his alarm clock blasting throughout the house.  This means that Mom and Dad have been getting up at 5 AM so we can have our coffee and feed the dogs, steeling ourselves in the quiet of the predawn darkness before we head into the daily battle of getting the high school boy out of his bed and into the shower.  No sooner does this kid saunter out to the bus stop than it is time to wage a second battle with Son the Younger.  By the time he leaves the house at 8:30 AM, we're both exhausted!

So, here are the last two blocks that I've finished (at left), #16 and #17.  They most likely won't be adjacent to one another in the finished quilt, but I like to put a few blocks up on the design wall from time to time to see how the secondary pattern is coming together. 

I'm not sure whether I've mentioned this before, but I may have some trouble in store for me once all of the blocks are completed and I try to sew them together.  The free paper piecing pattern that I downloaded from Fons and Porter prints out on normal 8 1/2" x 11" paper in four quadrants that need to be trimmed and taped together for each block.  After painstakingly assembling just one block, I realized how difficult and time consuming it would be to try to do it that way, and I didn't want to deal with the hassle of stitching and ironing over the taped seams.  So I took my one assembled block to the FedEx Office store and printed out 36 full block patterns on their large format printer (the post explaining how I did that can be found here).  Unfortunately, either my original taping and assembly was not 100% accurate or I got some distortion when I scanned in my taped block, because my blocks are not 100% square.  I discovered this with the very first block I completed.  When I had it on my cutting mat upside down and overlaid my clear plastic ruler, matching up grid lines on my ruler with the outer seam lines printed on the paper block pattern, I am just a little smidge off square on one of the corners.  When I pin my blocks together on the design wall, I can see that this is causing some of the seam lines to not want to line up precisely when it comes time to sew the blocks together.

I haven't decided what to do about this yet.  On the one hand, I DO have bias edges where the blue and green fabrics are on the outer edges of the blocks.  Maybe I can impose my iron will on the bias (pun intended, since I'll impose my will with a steam iron!) and MAKE them fit!  On the other hand, the antique quilt that inspired my pineapple log cabin quilt does not have every seam lining up perfectly from one block to another; in fact, the original quilt is so severely off at some of the block seams that it's almost as if the quiltmaker didn't even TRY to match them up: 

See?  Mine Won't Be THAT Bad!  :-)

#2008.040.0085, 76" x 74", circa 1890-1910, International Quilt Study Center and Museum
Asscher Cut Diamond
And yet that original quilt still looks fantastic from a distance, imperfections and all.  Naturally, as I'm looking at the original antique quilt again, I'm noticing that it only has 16 blocks.  If I was making mine the same size, I'd be done by now!  The other thing I'm noticing is that the original quiltmaker (anonymous, but thought to be American) did not limit the side strips to neutral or "low volume" fabrics, as we sometimes call them today.  She (or he) threw in some reds, pinks, and golds, and I do kind of like how those rings of unexpected color pop out -- they make the blocks sparkle like the facets of an Asscher cut diamond.  And that's an interesting aesthetic connection to me, since the original quilt dates to between 1890-1910 and the Asscher cut for diamonds was designed in 1902.  I wonder whether the original quiltmaker had ever seen an Asscher cut diamond, perhaps even a picture of one in the newspaper, and whether it influenced the design of this quilt?  Conversely, I wonder whether Joseph Asscher, the Dutch designer of the iconic diamond cut that bears his name, ever saw and was inspired by a pineapple log cabin quilt?

In any case, I think I'm going to start mixing in a few more surprises amongst my neutral fabric strips as I proceed with my remaining blocks (all nineteen of them!) and see if I can't get more of an Asscher/Art Deco effect for my own quilt. 

I'm linking up with:
Needle and Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation
Can I Get a Whoop Whoop? at Confessions of a Fabric Addict

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Friday, August 21, 2015

UNFinished On a Busy Friday

Pineapple Log Cabin, Block #16 of 36
I feel like I'm not accomplishing anything, but I really am making progress on some of my projects.  It's just really SLOW progress.  I finished another paper pieced pineapple log cabin block, finishing at 17 3/4" with 97 pieces per block. 

Goal Visualization, Courtesy of EQ7
Procrastinating on my skirt project has reinvigorated my zeal for paper piecing these pineapples!  Seriously, though -- I need a quiet house and my full concentration before I dig into the skirt again, so it might have to wait until the kids start back to school on Monday.  Which is three days away.  Not that I'm counting or anything...

I've also been working on my Frankenwhiggish Rose needle turned applique blocks.  Rather I have been working on appliqueing the layered petals off the blocks, I should say:

28 Petals Finished, 4 More To Go
It FEELS like I have been sewing the same little petal over and over again, like I'm Bill Murray starring in a quilt-themed remake of the film Groundhog Day, but actually I have finished all of the petals for seven blocks and I just have four more to go.  So it's almost time to get those remaining eight block backgrounds pieced together and get all of the stems made and stitched down.  Then I can start appliqueing the petals onto the blocks and I think it will feel more like progress is being made once the blocks start coming together. 

Block 1 of 9 Completed
The silk thread felt weird and slippery to me at first, but I've gotten used to it now and it does behave better for me -- way less trouble with thread kinking, knotting and breaking on me.

We had Open House for high school with Lars on Wednesday morning, and we will have Anders' middle school open house this afternoon.  That's when we meet the teachers and get the supply lists.  So tomorrow we'll be shopping for school supplies in a mobbed office supply store.  Meanwhile, in addition to the open house today, I have a doctor's appointment, the piano tuner is coming, and Anders has a birthday party to attend this evening. Busy, busy day! 

I'm linking up with Can I Get a Whoop Whoop at Confessions of a Fabric Addict, because I need all the whoop whoops I can get.  Happy stitching and have a great weekend, everyone!
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