Saturday, March 5, 2016

Block 11: Canning Season

This is actually next week's block, but when I saw my sister's comment on Facebook on Wednesday that she was starting the block, I felt some pressure to get started as well!

That evening, I pulled out the book and the baggie with all the parts (many little parts in this case) and got started.

Reading ahead, I saw that I was going to have to do this block with machine sewing. At one step, the designer has you sew some long strips together, like so:
(Although the pattern called for three 8" strips, it worked out
better for me to cut shorter strips of the white. So you can see
how I used the smaller strips to get the equivalent "raw
material" to cut out the pieces needed.)
and then cut them apart.
It's more efficient than cutting lots of little squares and rectangles and sewing them together. But of course this won't work with hand sewing because once you cut the strip apart, the sewing wouldn't hold.

While I was working on the machine, I sewed all the squares onto the larger rectangles.
Shown here are the four stages of finishing after they're sewn:
Top left: sewn and pressed to set the seam.
Top right: folded back so the point meets the point and pressed with my wooden iron. It's very helpful to do this before you cut away the waste fabric so that you can be sure the triangle is folded back square with the block.
Bottom left: pressed with a hot iron.
Bottom right: The excess has been cut away. It doesn't look very different from the previous step in the picture, but in person you can really tell the block is less bulky and it lies flatter.

Then I laid out all the pieces:
followed by sewing the "lids" to the "jars" and then the jars to each other. I decided I could do that part by hand. For me, it's much easier to match up all those seams and junctions and easier to fix if they're off. A couple of them I re-sewed a few times and they didn't come out perfect, but pretty good. (As I've said before, pulling out a few hand stitches is much easier than ripping a machine seam and it doesn't damage the fabric either.)

That evening, I had the block assembled except for the last two seams.

I tackled them Friday morning (I had the day off work) and finished the block. With the many seam intersections, I decided to follow the designer's advice and press the seams open.
It was tricky work. I started them in the right direction with the wooden iron and then worked on little pieces at a time with the hot iron. When it was all set, I hit it with some fabric starch and ironed it all again. (I finally gave in and bought fabric starch being convinced that the regular stuff made from corn or other edible products is too attractive to bugs.)

Here is the finished raw block:
Part of why it still looks a little wonky is that the 1/4" seam is still showing on the outside edges. It makes the jars look more than a little uneven!

Except for the lids, this block turned out to be lower contrast than I expected. The little blue dots on the background are "heftier" than I thought they would be.

The block is traditionally done with fabrics of things that would actually be in canning jars (think fruits and vegetables, or fireflies and other bugs.) I did include two cherry fabrics and some oranges, but the others are less literal. (Ducks and bunnies, maybe, but elephants, puppies and kitties? No way.)

Here is the virtual mock-up with all the blocks done so far:
And here is Kim's block:
Lovely, isn't it.

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