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Sewing Southpaw...

Is the place where I share my creativity, my hobbies, and other stuff!




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    “The most potent muse of all is our own inner child.”
    Stephen Nachmanovitch

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    Location: Colorado, United States

    I'm a wife, a mom, a dog lover, a complete lefty, a true scorpio, and I'm on a creative journey. I welcome you to join me.

    Sewing Southpaw...

    Is the place where I share my creativity, my hobbies, and other stuff!

    14 January 2013

    How Do You Piece?

    I decided to make this post after receiving a few emails and comments regarding my blocks. I would also like to preface this 'tutorial' information by noting that the following is MY preferred technique for piecing blocks, and therefore only my personal opinion. I have had the pleasure of working on many, many blocks pieced using any number of techniques which were just lovely, and equally pleasant to work on.

    I'm a bit of a fuss-budget when it comes to piecing blocks. I also realize that my chosen method probably seems (to most) very contrary to the entire concept of being 'crazy' and operating 'without rules' but I like a nice, sturdy, flat block. I discovered early on that if I pieced a flimsy block, I spent all of my time working on something with the consistency of Jell-O. My seam treatments puckered and pulled. The block shrank and skewed. It was not fun, it was not productive, and it did not produce a very nice finished product. Another hard lesson learned was making my naked blocks too close to the finished block size. You can always trim a block smaller - making it bigger - good luck with that!

    And let’s be honest, after you have spent hour upon hour, investing your time designing and planning your project. Then hour upon hour stitching your project, using your best threads, ribbons, beads, charms, etc., doesn’t it make sense that you would want your finished project to last? Especially if that project takes you an entire year to complete? Or when you're making a gift for someone special? Or something that will become a treasured keepsake? Well, with that in mind, here's my take on piecing crazy quilt blocks, and my mind set when beginning a project.

    I prefer to machine piece my blocks, although I do on rare occasions hand piece. And I always hand baste my blocks. But for me the process begins long before the first piece of fabric is attached to the muslin/backing. I prefer to work with a heavier weight, quality muslin, almost always in a 36" width. Although, I have used quality flannel, and even cotton sheets/pillow cases.

    My technique, is to begin by ironing/pressing my backing. Then I draw my shape, which will be my stitching area onto the muslin, then draw a secondary line 3/4" out side of the stitching area, using a fabric pen so that it doesn’t bleed through. I draw the outer lines on both sides of the muslin, then baste the sewing area shape. The final step is to attach a piece of light weight, fusible interfacing large enough to cover the very outer outline. This adds a bit of extra stability to the muslin without making it difficult to stitch through.

    Next, I choose the fabric that I will use. Usually 5-9 pieces depending on the size of the block. In this case, most of the blocks have 6 pieces of fabric. After choosing my fabrics, I iron each piece and apply light weight, fusible interfacing as necessary. The placement of fabrics is purely random, but I do try not to put like colors and/or textures next to each other. As you can see from this photo, that still sometimes happens.

    Typically, I will use either black or white top thread to piece blocks. And since I always seem to have a bunch of partial bobbins threaded, I try to use those up for the bottom thread. I begin by piecing the block, interfacing side up. After each fabric piece is attached, I clip the treads, iron the piece flat, trim that piece to approximately 3/4" outside of the outer drawn line, then choose the next fabric piece, trim it with a straight edge/line, run the seam, and keep repeating until the block is pieced.

    After piecing the entire block, I place it upside down, smooth it out, and rebaste at the sewing area line, baste at the 3/4" outer line, and finally, surge the entire block, which adds another, approximately 1/2" to the size of the block. Meaning that a 6" square block will be approximately 8 1/2" square by the time I’m ready to begin working it. And while this might seem like a waste of time and fabric, I find that not only does it provide me with a large enough block to work with, it also allows for adjustments later on in the event of shrinkage and/or skewing that might occur during stitching.

    Depending on the project, I will also add the borders in advance just to aviod having to sew around beads, trims, charms, etc., after the blocks have been worked. I use these two blocks as examples here. If I had not added the borders to the pages in my CQJP 2012 book, it would have been a nightmare to get the pages the same size and squared out afterward.

    If you have posted a piecing technique and/or tutorial, or know of one that might be helpful to someone starting out, I would love to hear from you.

    Until Next time...Happy Needling!!!




    Blogger Charlene ♥ SC said...

    It has been ages since I've picked up a piece of CQ, but I'm happy to see you are - and still sharing that great creative knowledge with others. Oh, and I'd go for the top blue for January - it says snow and ice tones to me!

    Great to see you posting again!

    January 15, 2013 at 1:45 PM  

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