Thursday, July 28, 2011

Paper Piecing - my way (WIP)

I bring this project along with me everywhere I go. Which is why I get asked to describe it so often and I've given many impromptu tutorials on how people can make these themselves - so here's a little glimpse into how my paper piecing quilt is coming along.
I started with a square notepad. A castoff pad of post-it notes also works. This is the same process used for hexagon quilting, but I don't love the look of small hexagons - I've always been a square gal myself - so I adapted the process to squares. I cut scraps of fabric to be about 1/2" square larger than the paper. So the squares are 2.5" square and the fabric pieces are a little bigger than 3" square. (It's easier to err on the side of them being too big.)
Each fabric square gets basted directly TO a piece of paper with big stitches in a bright color which will be removed later. The point is that you're getting a really perfectly shaped square by folding the fabric to fit exactly and then you can sew without pressing. I made a collection of about 100+ of these before I started anything.
Then I had to figure out my layout. I didn't want this to be traditional in any way other than the process, so my design took a long time to figure out. In the end, I opted for some sporatic lines that are separated by sections of white. And not just white, but many whites, creams and off-whites.

The way that I am achieving this look was the only way that I could figure out how to do long stretches.... since I couldn't really imagine bringing along huge long pieces of paper to be the negative space, I am making the white strips out of many small brick shapes. I opted - for visual interest's sake - to make them not square. No particular reason.
The pieces are attached by putting them right sides together and doing a little hand looping stitch through the very top of both pieces. Sometimes I get the paper in there, but I try not to for the most part. Either way, it doesn't really matter.
 Here you can see the back of my quilt. I leave the paper pieces in until they are surrounded on all 4 sides by their neighbors. After that, I can pull the basting thread out and see a little better what it's going to look like.
Right now the quilt is about 50"x30" - I hope to make it 50x60" in the end so that it can be useful and not just decorative.

I've spent so much time working on this in the car, in meetings, and even camping that there are about 100 memories I have attached to it already.  The strongest ones are the ones that involve me waiting outside the office at DCFS for the baby while he has visitations. That's always an anxiety filled time for me, so this quilt has already brought me so much comfort, even before being snuggle worthy.

And of course - it is going to have to be made entirely by hand. I am really excited about that!
I'll keep you posted on it's progress.

Bee Happy Neighborhood Quilt - WIP

Just the binding is left!
I'm finished quilting this King sized Bee Happy treasure. I'm certainly winning NO awards for my stippling on this (sigh). I'm afraid my guild members may kick me out if they see how bad the free motion work is on this, but I have to be honest. I love the idea that I did it myself and I am a firm believer in the proverb "Do not despise the day of small beginnings".
How else will I learn without trying?
So it's not perfectly quilted, but this is going to be a treasure for our family, either way. And I'm not afraid of saying I am still a free motion quilting novice.
I won't always be one!
The binding and label (my kids call them "nabels") are all that's left... I promise I'll post pics when it's done. Like the backing fabric with the hand-drawn houses? It's from Ikea.



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