Sunday, July 15, 2012

A little experiment -- in 2 parts

I've taken lots of classes, including on-line classes through Quilt University ( ). Sounds weird, I know. You might ask "How do you 'see' what to do? How do you get feedback? Do you use a virtual sewing machine?" Obviously, this doesn't work too well if the point of the class is to learn a manual skill that requires hands-on input, but for some things, the online thing works pretty well. One of my best experiences, so far, was a class with Jane Hall (Firm Foundations), in which she covers a very wide range of foundation piecing methods.

The first part of the little experiment was actually pretty big. A friend and I did the course together. We got together ahead of time and decided to use black and white fabrics, with a small number of jewel tone colors to spice things up. We knew we were going to end up with a bunch of individual blocks, and we decided to coordinate a bit, so that we could get some use out of what we made without a tremendous amount of extra work. We graded the B&W fabrics into a range of 'values' (virtually all white to virtually all black with about 5 intermediate values in between) and divvied up the fabrics so we would each have a set of distinct fabrics. Each week, for the class, we had a block or two that were strongly suggested as homework, and then a few more optional examples of the same technique. Somewhat miraculously, my friend and I ended up making the exact same set of 10 blocks (except for 1 extra, see below). I put them together with sashed blank blocks and an original paper pieced border to build a quilt top. The paper-foundation pieced border was a little like a 'senior thesis'  -- the capper for our Quilt University class.

The finished quilt was given to a colleague, but also get a nice honorable mention in the 2011 Greater San Antonio Quilt Guild Show (my second show and first ribbon of any color). The quilt also has a small black and white stripe (railroaded) binding, and a beautiful scarlet red pearl cotton couched in-the-ditch next to the binding.
"It's Not All Black and White" unquilted top,
upside down from final. (@SGH 2011)
Me and the quilt and our pink ribbon, GSAQG 2011

The second part is the little experiment. After making the quilt, there was one block left over. I made the miniature Mariner's Compass, and my friend didn't. I won't show the foundation, since that came from Jane's course materials and is copyrighted, but it was a fairly standard compass with 16 points, and an appliqued center. Amazingly (to me  --  this is only my 4th mariner's compass), the entire block finished 6 inches.
Sections partly paired up and ready for assembly

I sewed things in 8 sections, and used Judy Mathiesen's 'fold back and sew next to the fold' method for some of the pieces in order to control the direction of the seam allowances.
Back -- Sections assembled, ready to trim

Back -- Center and outer 'pie-crust' section added

The outer section was cut from a single 6.5 inch square, and the compass was sewn in using a freezer paper template method and a little glue stick. Note that the the background fabric was actually used with the 'wrong side' facing out (see below) in order to get a lighter, lower contrast background.
Front -- Finished Miniature Mariner's Compass

Front -- Finished Mini-Mariner

This poor, lovely but lonely little Mariner's Compass sat pinned up on my wall for quite a while. Although I had no desire to make any more, it seemed a shame to let it waste away -- hence the little experiment. The graduate students, where I work, hold a charity Art Show and Auction every year. Little, relatively inexpensive things sell better than big things. The show is a great opportunity to 'clean house' AND do some good, so there is some incentive to finish off little experiments and let them move onto another life.

Here are the experimental results. I used EQ7 to audition different ideas for the prairie points before picking this arrangement and colors. Finished, they are 3/4 inch tall and made using Susan Cleveland's ( prairie point tool. I really like the asymmetric look (note to self -- do more of this...) and I like the complementary colors (they look better 'in the fabric' than online).

Finished, this little guy is 9.5 inches -- perfect to warm up some one's 'cube' at work.

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