There’s been a marked absence of Sugarblock Club blocks around these parts since early July (that one that I was pretending was still June) and yet despite being three months adrift on the block a month idea, I promise I’ve not given up, although I may be rethinking my plans of trying to have the quilts themselves finished for Christmas; even my optimism only stretches so far.
This week I tackled July. Lady Liberty is a beautiful beautiful block, and of all the full quilts for each month, this is the one that calls to me irresistibly. What stops me from ransacking the stash and just going for it is that it’s foundation paper pieced, and I struggled a bit with the last attempt. It was all right in the end, and made some of my favourite blocks, but it was definitely sewing that required a thinking brain.
So I cut out the pieces for both my blocks, and set myself the challenge of making just one of them, taking my time and doing everything properly. I’ll admit I tried to cut a few corners on the last one; I didn’t precut the fabric, or perforate the folding edges, or starch the finished triangle, but this time I did it all. Cutting the fabric into appropriate sized squares does seem to waste rather a lot of it, but hopefully some of the offcuts can be put to use in a later block, and it does make it easier to get everything lined up. I didn’t notice the perforations making the paper much easier to fold while I was assembling the block, but it did help to get it to pull away gently so it’s worth doing, however much it sets your teeth on edge as the needles squeaks through the paper.
Spray starch was the other new weapon in my arsenal and I wish I’d used it before. It stopped the points of the very pointy triangles from wandering off out of shape as soon as I took the paper off the back and gave me at least a fighting chance of getting the points to line up.
And line up they did. Things were looking very good on points until I came to join the centre, and I can’t blame the paper piecing for that. This is my best effort, it’s still not perfect, but what wonkyness there is doesn’t jump out at you, and after four attempts with varying degrees of wonkyness, the seams weren’t going to hold up to any more abuse before there’d be nothing left to sew. When I come to make the companion block I’m thinking of hand basting the centre join before I sew it with the machine so I can get it exactly line up, but I don’t know whether that would work, or whether it would just pull out of position as it went through the machine; if you’ve done it, or have any top tips for making that centre point line up, please do tell!
The quilt so far; ten blocks, a nine patch quilt and a plus one. Making these blocks is teaching me so much, not just in construction techniques, but in how to make a scrappy quilt hold together. I know, when I come to lay out the blocks each time that there are a couple that I pass over and pick last because they’re difficult to place and don’t seem to sit easily with the rest. Initially I thought it was because they both have very strong blues that weren’t at the time represented anywhere else in the quilt, and it’s true that using more of my blue batick elephant fabric has helped to rehabilitate the one with the big blue cross, and I hope that my second Maritime Star, which uses the dark blue flowers for the centre star, will have a similar effect.
But the more that I look at it, the more I can see that it’s not the blue that’s the problem; it’s the green. My two problem blocks both contain some of my last snippets of a gorgeous green and yellow swirly Amy Butler Midwest Modern print. It’s a fabric I love and it goes beautifully with some of the colours in the rest of the quilt, but I think it’s too cool to play nicely with the very yellow based greens in the other blocks.
When I tuck the edges under of that blue orange peel block, suddenly it seems a much easier fit, and I think before too long I shall have to take its edges off and give it a little freshen up, probably just by substituting the green for one of the yellows. I’m quite tempted to change the corners on the blue cross block too but as it’s the less awkward of the blocks, and I have another five blocks to make before I’m up to date, it might be a while before I get to it.
I didn’t sort my scraps by warm or cool when I did a pick for this quilt, I pretty much just chose colours that I like and yes I suspect if I sorted what’s left in the bag I’d find that the things I’ve used the most of are all warms, and the ones I’ve skipped over are on the cool side.
Someday, when I sort my scraps into something more lovely than the various carrier bags in which they currently reside, I wonder whether it would make sense to sort them by warm/cool as well a by the colours themselves, but I think we all know that day might be a long time coming!