Saturday, July 27, 2013

Building a Birdhouse...Quilt Block

Ok, so the deadline for the fair was only three days away and I still had not made my raffle quilt block! The theme this year was "The Birdhouse" and I had a few ideas rolling around, but nothing concrete enough to build on.

First step, then was to do a Google image search for "birdhouse quilt block." I picked out these ones as blocks with possibilities:
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1. Nice, simple, with possibilities. Includes simple piecing and applique.
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2. Love the detail of this one. It's actually an embroidery pattern, but I'm sure you can imagine it as an applique block, with some of the details simplified. (For one thing, I probably would have dropped all the flowers and just done branches with leaves. That would be enough.) But do you remember I only had three days (and had to maintain the rest of my life too)? This was going to be too much. Pretty though.
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3. This is an ingenious simple way to do it! Cute too.
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4. Similar to above with a few more details. This is the one I most closely followed.

The easiest way to do that center part was paper piecing so the next step was to draw out the pattern. I didn't have special paper piecing paper, so I used copy paper. Just used two pieces and cut and taped them together to get a 12" square. (I would have to remember to add the seam allowances.)
I was given fabric to work with. (That's the $5 kit you buy.) This year there was a drab blue grey "sky" fabric, which was obviously meant to be the background. (It was the largest piece.) To that they added small pieces of a very plain dull red, a darkish green with a floral pattern, a dark brown spotted fabric and some dark wood grain. I could add two coordinating fabrics of my own. Well, first thing, I needed a bird. For the second piece, I went with a nice cheery yellow that had a pattern in red and green to pick up on the colors I was given.

I centered the bird in the lower triangle area and started adding rows around it:
Ok, so the only bird I had was a chicken. I know, they
don't live in birdhouses. Did I tell you I only had three
days and nothing could get done until I had a bird?
"Make do" is what I say!
And adding...
and adding...
and building...
and building
until I had a birdhouse surrounded by "sky."
All that was left was to add the base and roof. I could have done with this with paper piecing too, but it made it quite a bit more complicated and I decided applique was the way to go. The pieces were rectangles and easy to work with. I cut them out and pinned them in place:
Then I sewed them down in my best tiny applique stitches. Here's a close up of the roof section:
I think I did a nice job folding the one piece over the other. (I did the roof in two pieces instead of trying to cut out one angle-shaped piece.) This was the trickiest part of the applique and it was not tricky. (Of course there are always a hundred ways something can go wrong, and usually only one way it can go right.)

I am not counting on any prizes with this block this year. If I had started earlier and had more time, I think an appliqued bird would have upped the difficulty enough to be in the running. Or I could have added some branches and leaves like #2 above.

My real dream was to do a scene inside the birdhouse with a view out the peephole, but I couldn't make myself sit down and design it. That wouldn't have won either, but I would have been happy about it.

But that's alright. It's a fairly good block, and at least it is well made. And finally I have a year where I'm not squeaking by on the 12.5" requirement--I made it big enough I could cut it down. And someone has to be in the outer row supporting the winners in the middle, right?

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