Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Lighthouse block

This week, I scaled way back on my piecing--way back to miniature. Years ago, I had a job quilting for a fiber artist who specialized in salvaging old fabric (from decrepit blocks) to make miniature quilts with traditional blocks. I fell in love with tiny quilts, and started making my own, using the edge of my featherweight foot to make perfect 1/8 inch seams. In fact, when I made blocks with 1/4 inch seams, they seemed enormous to me. After awhile, I started experimenting with making miniature blocks with buildings, and I still make them from time to time. Now instead of using 1/8 inch seams, I usually foundation paper piece them. This week I decided that I needed to make a lighthouse block. It's a birthday gift for someone who doesn't know I started this blog, so I sure hope she hasn't stumbled on it. 

First, I got out my Barbie and Skipper Fashion Designer Electric Drawing Set. I've had it since 1965; it's probably the only childhood toy I have that I still play with. But it makes a fun light table. (The box has seen better days.)


I traced the major lines of a photo of Big Red (the lighthouse in Holland, Michigan), paying careful attention to how it could be pieced and lettering sections to represent different elements (such as sky or water) and colors. 

Then, I turned the paper over and retraced it onto another sheet of paper so that I would have a reversed image (necessary for piecing, so that the final project is in the original orientation). 

I figured out where to break down sections so that I could paper piece them, and then retraced each section, adding seam allowance around the outside edge. When I was done, I had 12 sections  I numbered them for the order of piecing and made notes about how to stitch the sections together. They looked like this:

I sorted through my scraps to find the fabrics I wanted. I always do this on the bed in our guest room, where I store my stash. Kind of a mess on top of the busy quilt, but it works for me. (There were lots of rejects for sky and water, and I ended up using the back side of the fabric I picked for the sky so it looked sunny instead of stormy.) Oh, and that other pile of fabric on the bed? That's a potential maple leaf quilt. 


I got so into sewing, that I didn't take any pictures in process, but here's what the block looks like so far:

It will be about 4 1/4 by 3 3/4 inches when trimmed. I still need to add embroidery for windows, railings, a stairway and the flag pole. I can't decide if I'll do that by hand or machine. Do you see the little notch of sky on the right at the base of the tower? I forgot a teeny patch of red, so that will have to be filled in with some thread, too. Before I frame it, I'll make another small block of some sand and dune grass to place below the main block. Hopefully it won't be too long before I have a finished project to show you.  

I'm linking up with Freshly Pieced today for WIP Wednesday.

12 comments:

  1. Wow! that is some serious math. Now go take that to all the middle/high schoolers you know and show that that they WILL use their math! Nice job, beautiful colors. I especially like the checkered pathway in front.

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    1. Thank you! I'd like to say I used math, but if I did, it was intuitive. The whole thing was pieced on paper, so I didn't need to do any measurements. By the way, my dad was a math teacher, so maybe there's a little in my genes.

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  2. Your lighthouse block is FANTASTIC! I live on the Atlantic Ocean in Nova Scotia, and your block has me drooling! Incredible piecing, and such tiny bits of fabric - cannot wait to see the finished project...just beautiful!

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    1. Thank you! My brother-in-law and sister-in-law are vacationing on Cape Breton Island this very minute, and last night I was drooling over the pictures they posted online. I guess we both need a tissue. : )

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  3. I was wondering if there was a tutorial somewhere on how to figure this all out - you make it look so easy, but I'm sure it is not. Your finished lighthouse is fantastic!

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    1. I've been doing this kind of sewing for a long time, so I've probably been influenced by a lot of books and internet sites, but I'm thinking that Carol Doak might be a good resource to look up. I've also been influenced by Ruth B. McDowell in how I break down a picture and decide how to piece it, but her piecing technique is quite different from what I used here.

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  5. Wow. Just WOW. That is amazing piecing!

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    1. Thank you! I really enjoy doing it. Must be leftovers of my puzzle making days as a kid.

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