What I still had to actually complete was the quilt block for the raffle quilt. It's the biggest deal going in the Home Arts building and I always like to put in a good entry. (Although my history has been rather mixed.)
This year the theme is "Down on the Farm" and these are the fabrics we were given to work with:
I shot around some ideas in my head, mostly working with log cabin blocks which can be arranged in a straight furrows pattern or rail fence blocks. (Because even if I'm going to applique, that doesn't mean I can't incorporate some piecing.) I finally settled on rail fence blocks with an appliqued rooster weather vein and barn. I grew up on an egg farm and my mom is crazy for chicken things, so I feel an affinity for chickens/roosters. Those are things I know.
First thing I did was buy a little more fabric. You're allowed to add two new fabrics to the mix. Since I had two almost identical greens, I went to look for a brown that would balance the one they gave. And I needed a black for the applique. I was overjoyed to find this tan at my LYS:
Then I cut a bunch of stripes
I was relieved to have enough fabric to finish the background and that it turned out the right size. (Not wanting to repeat mistakes from the past.) The project sat like this for a couple weeks as I put off dealing with the applique stage. I wasn't really looking forward to it.
So while we're waiting for me to get up the gumption to do it, I will show off the back of the square:
All the seams in the blocks were pressed open to reduce bulk, but the seams between blocks were pressed in one direction to make it easy to match seams and to iron flat. (Every seam is the meeting of a long strip of fabric on one side and the short ends of the strips on the other side. It's easiest to press to the first side.)
This leads to a problem, however, when you are pressing the final seams because part of the seam wants to be pressed in one direction and part wants to be pressed in the other. The thing to do is to pull apart the very end of the first seams caught in the seam allowance and then twist the seam allowances. This gives you a nice flat pinwheel where the two main seams meet:
I found some line drawings of roosters online and ended up mashing the tail of one onto the front of another. I did this all in Word on a page defined as 12x12" (the size of the final block). I drew in the arrow and barn roof and decided it was good enough to try.
I had decided with all those sharp corners that I was going to use an applique technique I had read about. You copy the design onto lightweight fusible double-sided adhesive
Only I didn't. I had a mess:
|Top L: Tail feathers that wouldn't "come out." Top R: The head with no|
discernible beak. Bottom L: Turning the leg and foot was impossible.
Bottom R: The whole mess from the back.
I watched some videos online to reinforce what I thought I knew, and told myself if people can do that crazy detailed Hawaiian applique, I can do a rooster. So I took out my black fabric again, and traced my rooster design in chalk:
I started with the rooster because if disaster was going to strike, it may as well come quickly. But it didn't. I started at an easier stretch to get warmed up, and made it all around that rooster in about two evenings. It was great! I had a sneaky suspicion that I would like it once I got it set up. I mean, I'm the one that would rather hand bind my quilts than find a way to do it on machine. Obviously I like hand sewing.
It also was interesting as I made my way around. In this method, you use your needle to turn under the fabric just ahead of where you're sewing. If you work too far ahead, you won't be able to make the correct curves and shapes. You can't worry about that until you get there. It occurred to me that there's a life lesson in there. Don't borrow trouble from tomorrow, I guess.
I told Troy the first evening when I was about half way done the rooster that I thought I was doing pretty well. Even better than "well" actually. He said he was not surprised. I was particularly proud of my rooster's beak:
Next up was the barn. I cut a triangle of red and a strip of white about 3/4" wide. I sewed the white to the edge of the red on my machine and then flipped it up and over itself to the back side again. (Sort of like a binding.)
This left the bottom of the barn free so I took tiny stitches along the bottom of the block to hold it in place. You can't see them from the front at all (just try and find them in the picture above) This is the same way you'd put in an invisible zipper on a fancy dress.
On the back you can see the red stitches holding the barn in place:
Then I ironed the arrow in place (since it was done with the adhesive) and sewed it into place. Taking one final look to admire the block, I finally saw what I hadn't noticed before:
Besides that rather subtle detail, I am happy with how it turned out and think I have a good entry for the raffle quilt. I'm not going to crow about the certainty of its winning, but I feel that I've put in the best square I could. We'll see how it stacks up, or how the judges like it. (We haven't always seen eye to eye.)
Tune in in just a couple weeks, and I'll let you know!
ETA: When I showed this block to a group on Ravelry, someone kindly commented that they liked how I had mimicked the sunrise with the background blocks. That made me feel better about the upside down block. I guess I'll just go with that!