Saturday, March 19, 2016

Crossroads and Crops

I finished the next block in my Farm Girl Vintage quilt at least a week ago. I think I even started it early because it was one I was looking forward to. Why? I'm not sure, but I like the block.
The designer calls it Country Crossroads. I think the crossroads is pretty obvious. I don't know if the four octagons are fields, but they remind me of fields watered with circle irrigation.

Now when I hand sew the seams, I don't stitch through the seam allowances, meaning when I have to stitch across a previous seam, I hold the seam allowance out of the way and stitch only through the two layers of fabric that are being sewn together.

This has a couple of advantages. First, it means I'm only ever sewing through two thicknesses of fabric. This is physically easier than sewing through four at a time and it makes it easier to keep the stitches small and even. The second advantage is that I can iron the seam allowances either way when I'm done the block.
How does this help? Well in the block above, I would have pressed the seam allowances toward the long thin crossroads pieces. They have no internal seams and it is easier to press the seam allowances of the octagon pieces toward the plain rectangle than the other way. But, when I got to the end of the block, I realized that in order to furl the seams (see the four intersections in the centre), I would have to press some of the seams the other way. (The vertical ones in the picture above.)

You may think I'm particularly obsessed or pre-occupied with seams and the backs of my blocks, but it makes a difference. When you press to one side, the piece on that side sticks up a little bit. So when you have a choice, you need to think about what you want to emphasize. In the block above, if I had pressed all the seams towards the crossroad pieces, those grey stripes would stand up a little more than the rest of the block.

I think you can see in the first picture that the vertical grey stripes look like they're sunken a little and the horizontal ones don't. Ok, it's subtle, but it does make a difference.

Of course, each block requires you to balance all those things to decide which way to go: furling seams, what pieces are going to "stand out", whether the seam allowance will show to the front side through a light fabric and even more things. It doesn't make you dizzy only because you start to recognize the patterns and have favourite ways of dealing with them. And you have to remember there's rarely (never?) one right and perfect way. It's all about choices that you want to make. (Or don't make and leave it to chance, if that's what you want to do.)

Well, I'm sure that's enough quilting "theory" for you. Here is a collage of all the blocks so far:
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And I waited so long to post this that I have pictures of Kim's block to post as well:
Oh wait! What's this? Yes, Kim did two blocks this week!
She told me she knew she already chose and cut fabric for this block but without taking it out, she decided she didn't like the combination. So she chose and cut a new set. Then when she brought out the original set, she liked it. So she sewed both. We know we'll need a few more blocks that the 44 we're making from the book so the extra will not go to waste!

Oh, but wait again! I have a second block as well. Being convinced Kim was going to get ahead of me (and not knowing yet that she was doing two crossroads blocks), I started the block for the next week (which is now this week).

It is the Crops block:
My choices for leaf colours were somewhat limited because I needed a light(er) and dark(er) of whatever colour I chose that would work well together. When I was laying out the pieces of the block to see where each should go I noticed that I ended up with the same colours that the designer had (yellow, green, blue and orange). Once I saw that, I just put them in the same place that the designer did and called it good.

Here is the back:
Since the squares were made with "flippy corners", the seams were pressed toward the outside. But you can see that the outer seams were pressed toward the plain border strips. And the green stem up the middle has the two seam allowances pressed toward it and meeting together nicely in the center. This causes it to stand out and emphasizes the strong vertical line in the block.

And here are all of the blocks done so far:
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And here is Kim's Crops block:
I love all of her fabrics! (But especially the orange dragonflies!)

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