I have already posted about my inability to avoid jumping on any sort of quilting trend/ group activity/ challenge that pops up. So when it was announced that Angie (@gnomeangel), Lisa (@sweetlittlepretties) and Raylee (@sunflowerquilting) were hosting a quiltalong for Tula Pink’s City Sampler, I knew I was done for. I tried to resist, weakly, for a few weeks, but who was I kidding? Having seen the amazing Ms Pink speak at the recent Sydney Craft & Quilt show and seen her very own version (!!) it was always going to happen.
Here is a quick update on my progress to date and my “rules” for the quiltalong (note: these are my self imposed rules, you can do it however you like).
- All Alison Glass Fabric, all the time; I have quite a collection, fabric is meant to be used and I mean to use it. If I decide to sash the blocks then I might use a solid, but we’ll see when I get there. I am using Handcrafted I, Handcrafted II, Handcrafted Patchwork and Sunprints 2016 with some random bits and pieces thrown in.
- Matching colours to the ones in the book, as closely as possible. I am a realist – I know that if I had to think about colour choices I would be frozen in indecision. It is hard enough just choosing from the fabrics that I have. To be honest, some of the colour choices from the book are a bit out of my comfort zone, but when you combine all the blocks together they look quite good and it is fun to push myself to try new things.
- Do not peek! I only ever go ahead as far as the block that I am making. No peeking forward to see what the next block is (which is especially hard when you are hating the block you are sewing – Block 40, I am talking about you – or sick of sewing purple)
That’s it – actually not too many rules.
I have sewn ahead a bit. I have sewn up to block 66 so far. My work is very peaky and so I knew from the outset that there would be times when I wouldn’t get to sew for days (eek) so I sewed ahead at the start and then have been trying to squeeze in a block or two at every opportunity to keep me “safe”. I find that this works quite well for me, because it means if I want to take a break, if I get Tula Fatigue, I can sew something else and it keeps me going. It has also sparked my enthusiasm for some other WIPs on my list. Watch this space for some long time WIPs getting finished off.
I thought I’d share the things that I have learnt along the way for pain free blocks:
- Practice makes perfect. Really. I mean we all know that, but sewing all these blocks in a short space of time, I have seen my seams get straighter (am I the only one who struggles sewing in a straight line); closer to a perfect quarter inch; my finished blocks closer to a perfect 6.5 inch square; my cutting more accurate. I can only imagine how perfect block 100 is going to be :P
- I only cut and sew one block at a time. I hate cutting sessions with no sewing action and given that each block is different it isn’t hugely inefficient, especially if I am only sewing one or two blocks at a time. I know other people do other things, this is what works for me (and why I haven’t started my Aviatrix quilt yet).
- Where you are matching up across strips (for example the big plus sign in block 11) it is worth the small effort to mark where you want your pieces to join. I sew one side to the strip and then mark where the seams from the other side need to fall and position to that rather than the edge of the block. If I don’t do that sometimes you get misalignment and that makes my eyes start to twitch. Some people can live with that, I can’t. You should see when we hang pictures at our house, bless my dear husband for his patience. It takes a long time. On the flip side I can live with slightly cropped points on a HST if I have to (and it isn’t too major). We all have our own little quirks....
- Pressing seams open really increases the accuracy of the blocks and also makes them sit really nice and flat. This was a hard one for me to accept, I am a seams to the side kind of girl. I LOVE nesting seams for perfect matching. But on blocks this teeny, pressing the seams open really makes a difference. I’m not changing my general mode of operating, but for these blocks I am. I don’t use starch (I read somewhere it attracts cockroaches and I really do not want anything in my house that does that. If I finished my WIPs more quickly, it wouldn’t be an issue, but I don’t want something nibbling holes in my WIPs).
- Have fun with it!!! It is meant to be fun. If a particular block is making me grumpy then I just stop and do something else (but don’t jump ahead because Rule 3).
- Don’t succumb to block envy. There are some seriously AMAZING blocks out there, that having been photographed amazingly (not mine, got no time for that, too busy sewing – you can see my Ugg boots in all my photos) and there are going to be awesome quilts, but what is that saying about comparison being the thief of joy? So true.
That’s it – you can check out #100days100blocks to see all the awesome progress people are making and if you want to follow along with me check out #peachesbigsmokequilt – you can see my other projects on Instagram at @peaches1003