Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Back to the Drawing Board

I've been working with hearts this week. I'm including three different versions on my current quilt project, and I decided to make what I thought were the most time-consuming ones first: three "slice-and-insert" blocks. I think I first heard of the technique from reading Jacquie Gering's blog. I'm not sure if she's the first to use/teach it, but she's the one I'm crediting. I have not taken a class to learn the technique, so there are probably tips and tricks I don't know, but I just did whatever worked (or didn't work so well) for me. I think she probably uses various widths of strips to insert, but I figured that if I used 1-inch wide strips my ending block would be the same size as the block I started with. 

The basic heart shape I'm using in the quilt is the large one from this tutorial at Cluck Cluck Sew, so I made the slice-and-insert blocks from two 10 1/2 inch by 5 1/2 inch rectangles. For the first block I made a small sketch to help me figure out approximately where I wanted to make the cuts. After completing the technique, I added the sew-and-flip corners to make the heart shapes and joined the two halves together. Here's how the first heart turned out:

Well, that was fun! (What you can't see is that when I first planned the quilt, I erroneously thought that the squares used to make the upper background corner triangles were 2 1/2 inches. During a quick check of the tutorial while I was sewing, I realized that they were actually 2 inches. (Much better proportion.) No problem. I made the change easily. Hold onto that little piece of info--it came back to bite me.) 

Emboldened by my success with the first block, I went on to the second one without making a rough sketch. Improv, you say? Sure. I can do that.

Or maybe not. Some of my design got cut off by the lower triangles. Looks kind of clunky to me, and I'm not sure I like the two more vertical inserts so close to each other on the left side. I have enough leftover material, so there might be a repeat of this block later.

I went back to using a little sketch and made this third block:

Ah, much better. Still improvish (no measuring), but at least I had an idea of where everything would end up. And I love how the back looks. The one-inch strips make the back look almost like the solid pieces of fabric I started with. :

I've pressed some of the outer seams toward the heart and some away to make it easy to nest and join them all later. 

The next section of the quilt is seven paper pieced broken heart blocks. I drafted the pattern for these before I started sewing the quilt. (I think you know where this is going.)
This block turned out to be more time consuming than the slice-and-insert blocks even though I'm a paper piecer from way back. Hmmm. So much for doing the most complex work first. I prepped my foundation papers and got down to business. As I was finishing up the first block, I suddenly realized that the 2-inch blocks that I had just cut for the corners weren't matching the lines on the pattern. Uh oh. I had forgotten to modify the paper pattern when I discovered my mistake. Oh well. I had enough fabric overlapping the lines that the 2-inch squares worked, and I finished the block up.

But something was wrong. See that part at the top of the crack? It's supposed to go into the background. Now I suppose I could be satisfied with this unexpected design variation. But it bothers me. I laid out some fabric pieces on top of it to show how it could look.

I like this much better, and by taking apart a few seams, I could fix it. But here's the kicker. I did not notice the problem until I was finishing a second broken heart block. So I will have two to fix. And then I have a decision to make. I can either fix the pattern so that the other 5 blocks go together as I intended. Or I could go back to the drawing board (you knew that post title had to make it in here somehow) and redraft the pattern because I realized something else. It would be MUCH easier to piece this block variation if I eliminated that tough-to-align center seam. I only included it to make it consistent with the other hearts in the basic pattern. 

And here's my question: If I change the pattern for the five remaining blocks, do I still include the first two "fixed" blocks in the quilt, or do I replace them with the new pattern (that would required finding some replacement fabric)? This all makes my head hurt. So I think for now I'm going to move on to the remaining 15 simple blocks. What could go wrong? (No, don't answer that.) 

If you have any thoughts on this, please share!

The temps are heating up here (supposed to be near 100 degrees F by the end of the week), and the humidity's rising, so it's time to put on the AC and sew something a little less challenging.

I'm linking up with Sew Fresh Quilts (button for the linky party is on the sidebar). I hope your quilting week is less challenging (unless you like that sort of thing). Stay cool if you're in a heat zone this week!


SandraC said...

I have to say, I like all of the hearts! I would use them all....but I understand if it bugs you too much, you just can't, lol !

Bernie Kringel said...

Well, this is way outside my wheelhouse but I think I would make the five updated/fixed versions and see if they all play nicely together. I think the heart blocks have so far are very pretty and they will probably all look fine. However we are each our own worst critic so you will have to decide. Either way Janine, hope y can enjoy some sewing and stay inside until the heat breaks.

Claire said...

My instinct would be to use what you have made; I agree with Bernie, above, to make them and lay them out and then decide. Design variation is a good thing.

Lara B. said...

Janine, you should use all the hearts. Each one is wonderful, even if they are not all what they were cracked up to be, LOL. I'm serious though and think they all look good.

Kaja said...

I would change the pattern, but would probably use the ones you've already done too. I like a bit of subtle variation (fancy name for having done the same thing different ways) and all of these are lovely. Sometimes I think people should make quilts with the back on the front, so that people could see all the beautiful seams.