Circles Block #2, English Paper Piecing

EPP Circles #2 Block_finished

Circles Block #2

Here we go again, with the second block in our slow sewing, English Paper Piecing, series of circles.  This one is called Kansas Sunflower and Barbara Brackman’s book shows its origin around 1928.  I have created a PDF pattern (roughly drawn, as I am no graphic artist); click to download: EPP Circles #2

This one has a large center circle, which measures a bit under 5 1/2″  but I would cut it 6″ because I think having the extra bit of cloth is better.  To get a smooth template to gather it up over, iron two pieces of freezer paper together, then trace the circle.  It should give you enough stability.  Or do as I did: head to your iron, and using the tip, iron it in small bites around your paper circle, then sew it to the paper.

EPP2 Circles block #1

Here’s the sketch of the block.  On the lower right you’ll notice that I colored in one half-arc green and one half-arc blue.  If you want to split yours up like that, I included just one tracing of that as an option, but you could also just cut the other arcs in half and go at it that way.  I prefer the larger outer arc. As before, in Circles Block #1, there is an assumption that you know a bit about English Paper Piecing, where you take the pattern, lay it out, then fold the seam allowances back over the paper pattern, then baste.  Others have used freezer paper, or glue.  Do a Google search if you are curious about these other ways of securing the paper.

EPP2 Cutting out EPP pieces

I wanted to use a chevron for the “petal” piece, so I fussy cut them so the chevron stripes would meet along the sides.  I pin down my pieces (with the writing up), then just freehand rotary cut around them.

EPP2 Pieces Laid Out

Auditioning everything.

EPP2 Arcs Basted and Stitched

After basting the seam allowances down to every pattern piece, I stitched the petals together in two groups of six.  Then I sewed the arcs in between those, as shown below:

EPP2 Setting in Outer Arc

EPP2 Stitched and Center Circle Pinned

I stitched those two flower halves together, then the last two arcs, then laid on the center.  I don’t know why I chose this orangey-red; it just spoke to me.  I had already basted the seam allowances down so I just arranged it on the petals and pinned it down.  I appliquéd it onto the petals, and that’s when I discovered that maybe a 6″ diameter circle might make you happier as it’s a scant 1/4″ overlap in some places.  Then the fun part: taking out some of the papers.  I released the center circle basting threads and the petal basting threads and took out those papers, but left the papers in the deep blue outer arcs.

EPP Circles #2 Block_finished

I’m putting the photo in again, because now you have a decision to make: do you want those four seams in the outer pieces to line up with a point?  Or to be offset (like mine)?  I went back and forth and decided I didn’t want it so busy–I liked the slightly off-kilter look of not having points dead center at Noon, Three, Six and Nine O’Clock.

EPP2 Sewing Diagram

I don’t think there is any easy way to get those four outside pieces on.  This is how I do it: I stitch the seams between parts #1 and #2 to get two pieces hooked together, then pin it about four places around that the #1 arc of the outside circle.  I begin at the lower center  (XX) and stitch around that 1/4-arc, stopping one inch short of the next seam allowance.  Part #2 is just flapping in the breeze.

Then I go back to where I started stitching (XX), and stitch the other side (#2), using a few pins where needed (not too many, or it’s ouch-ouch-ouch).  I then seam together pieces #3 and #4, and repeat the process.  As I draw near to the #2 piece, I thread a different thread, do the seam between #2 and #3, then tie it off.  I go back to the thread I was stitching with before and then finish it off.  Repeat for 1/4-arc #4.

I just reread this, and if you are confused, I don’t blame you.  It’s just hard to navigate those pieces when they are backed with paper, and I get tired of fighting with them.  I suppose you could just seam all four outside corners together, then pin and appliqué it down like you did the center circle.  I don’t think there is a wrong way or a right way to do this.  Have fun and let me know what works for you.

EPP Circles Block 1 and 2

 

Are you worried about the fact that my circles aren’t matchy-matchy?  Sometimes I was worried about that too, but then in the previous post I noticed that there was such a variety of circles and colors in a couple of those quilts, and calmed right down.  Keep going.  Keep stitching.  Have fun.  Next circle block comes up around the first of August, right after our Four-in-Art Reveal of Contrasts.

I’ve started a tab, above, with all the blocks and their posts, for easier reference.  By the way, there is no big deadline for any of this; I think I’d have a heart attack if I had one more deadline.  I just wanted a project to put in a little box and carry with me on car travels, on vacations, and while I collapse in the heat at night on the sofa to watch a good movie. (And given that it will take me several months, I may be curling up under a quilt in the cold, still hand-sewing.) Just know that it’s here if you want to make some circles, or a pillow, or need a hand project that is an alternative to 5,000 hexagon papers or umpteen finished hexies.  If you do decide to make one, or several, send me a photo and I’ll put it up here on the blog.  Have fun sloooow sewing!

Circles EPP Button

Some Interesting Circle Quilts

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While looking through this blog, I found some examples of interesting circle quilts.  This one, made by Kathleen H. McCrady and titled  Sawtooth X, is patterned after an old one from 1875, using reproduction fabrics in brighter colorways.

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This is kind of “circle-y,” but has added oak leaf appliqués in the corners.

American Folk Art Museum Circle Quilt(from *here*)

Known as the Georgetown Circle Quilt, its maker is unknown, but it was made in the era between 1900-1920.

Georgetown circles variation(from *here*)

Here’s a modern variation of that Georgetown Circles quilt.

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I found this one on my computer, with a date of 2005.  It’s from Freddy Moran and I believe she calls it Airship Propeller. But I could be wrong about that title.  Jenn Kingwell did a similar design, but turned her blocks on point:

Steampunk1(from *here*)

Circle Block from Smithsonian

Lastly, when I lived in Washington DC, the Smithsonian Institution’s American History Museum had this sort of secret quilt tour, but if you knew about it, you’d call them up and a docent would take you in the back and open lots of archival drawers, showing you positively ancient quilts (some 250+ years old).  It was amazing.  In one drawer was this quilt with circles.  This one looks challenging to piece, but I think easier if is English Paper Pieced.  I’ll save this one for later in the series, once we’ve gotten our skill set up and going.

All this proves that our slow sewing, of making English paper  pieced circle blocks is an idea that has come around again.

Circles Block #1, English Paper Piecing

Circles Block EPP #1

Worn out from two back-to-back trips, I spent the day quietly hand-sewing my Circles Block #1, using the English Paper-Piecing Method.  A couple of weeks ago, I had decided I wanted to make a series of circular blocks, but I wanted to do them slowly, with hand-sewing.  So I’ve turned to English Paper-Piecing.  (Note: I assume if you are going to try this, that you have some experience with English Paper Piecing, which involves using paper shapes sewn inside your fabric.  For a pretty good video, watch *this one,* which uses hexagon shapes.  The only difference between this video and how I do it, is that I sew from the back to the front with my whipstitch.  Do whichever one you like.)

Here’s the downloadable pattern, which makes a 12″ circle block: EPP Circles#1  I’m no pattern designer, nor do I own Illustrator, so you’re getting my hand-drawn pieces, with notations.  I have included a gauge so when you print it out, you can adjust your printer settings to equal the 12″ circle.  Or you can download the quarter-circle radiant block from the last post, and proceed as it describes.  Feel free to leave a comment if you have questions, and I’ll try to answer them.

Laying Out Pieces EPP

A word about laying out the pieces.  The straight grain (threads parallel to the selvage) and the cross grain (threads running across the fabric) have less stretch that does the bias, which is what we call the diagonal line across the fabric.  So when you know you have to ease that 1/4″ seam allowance over a curved edge, lay it out so that diagonal bias will align with that edge, as shown above.  I didn’t lay out the swirl pieces with regard to grain (paying attention instead to the fabric’s design), but certainly any time you need a little more ease, or want the fabric to fold easily over a pattern piece, put that bias to work for you.

Stitching

First, cut out the shapes, then cut out the fabric, leaving 1/4″ seam allowance around most of the pieces.  Baste the pieces onto the paper (good time to use up old icky thread that you don’t want to use in your quilts).  Some people like to use freezer paper, others like to use glue.  If you do a search on English Paper Piecing, everyone has a favorite method.  Mine is folding the seam allowances over the paper edges and sewing them to the paper.

When I started sewing the inner swirling pieces together, it was easier if I placed the piece with the outward (or convex) curve on the top (like Spun Sugar does *here*, but I never clipped any of my seam allowances, nor used glue–just pins).  I lined up the outer corner and sewed a couple of stitches to anchor it.  Then I moved on down the seam, using an overcast whipstitch.  I was happy that it went quickly.

Circle Block Circles

Here’s my Instagram photo of the first few swirls sewn together.  I was sewing these as my husband drove us home across the Arizona desert, where I’d been visiting my son and daughter and seeing seven of my eleven grandchildren.  I have a rigid plastic box that hinges in the middle, folding out like a portable desk, and I keep everything in there.

Stitching Circle BlocksAfter I sewed together most of the inner circle, I went back to joining the last three together independently, then added them to make the circle. Next up were the little triangle points and the outer arcs.

Concave Piece in Front

I tried sewing these on two different ways: first the little triangle points, then the arcs in between them.  Fail.

Better to sew a few triangle points to their outer arcs, then attach that to the existing circle.  Then repeat.  Trust me on this one.  I would do about five points and arcs, then attach it to what I’d sewn on before, attach that new section to the circle, and then start again with a few new arcs and circles.  Above you see me finishing off the last of the sewing the arcs/triangles to the circle.

Backside of Outer Arc

Things can get a little skitty-wampus, but this is the back, showing it sewing with all their papers.  I was trying out some designs with my colored pencils, so you see some different colors on the paper. (See sketch below.)

Sketch of EPP Circle

 

I’m sure you noticed that the swirls move a different direction in the fabric, than from the drawing.  Everything is reversed when you lay out the printed pieces with the text facing UP.  In one of our blocks, we’ll lay them facing down, and have it swirl the other direction.

Inner Circle Pieced

Everything is sewn together, and pressed.

Circle #1 EPP Paper Still In

The outside corners have been seamed together, then sewn on.  Again, it’s a little wonky-looking because the papers are still inside.

Perfect Circles

I used Karen Buckley’s Perfect Circles to make my center circle, sewing a running stitch around the outside edge, then drawing it up around the plastic circle, then pressing it into place.  You can iron two pieces of freezer paper together and trace off the circle on the pattern to use as your template, if you don’t have the Perfect Circles.

I was having a hard time figuring out how to get that circle on.  I took out all the papers, gave it a good steamy press, pinned on the circle and just appliquéd it on.

Circles Block EPP #1

And that’s the first circle block!  I am still learning about which colors and shapes and directions will go where with these circle blocks; feel free to experiment as well.  I have learned that I can be overly critical with a particular block, but when worked into a quilt, my concerns and criticisms often disappear, so I just keep going.

I’ll post one of these about every month, somewhere near the beginning of the month.  I hope to get twelve different circle patterns by the time I’m through.  I hope you join me on the journey!

Circles EPP Button

 

First WIP Post of Summer 2013

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It’s the first post of summer–the first Works In Progress post, thanks to Lee, of Freshly Pieced.

Trimming Up Ruler

I put together the sections for the Schnibbles block, trimming it up as the pattern recommended (we’re doing Dulcina this month–see Sherri’s blog for more info).

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Whoa!  Big Shrinkage.  (The trimmed up squares are on the right.)  If I make this quilt in the future, I’ll try to figure out the dimensions so that the trimmed up block doesn’t lose an inch in each direction.

Dulcinea Center

Final center section, all sewn together.  Now the borders.  Because I have so much going on in the quilt, I’m looking to build some quieter borders than are shown in the design.  But I’m putting this aside for now, to tackle my Big Project: Quilting the English Paper Pieced Quilt:

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Click back over to Lee’s blog to see other quilts that are in progress.  And happy summer!

This and That for a WIP Wednesday

WIP new button

Many thanks to Lee of Freshly Pieced Fabrics for hosting all of us quilters on WIP Wednesday.

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Picked up this pattern at the Glendale Quilt Show and slid in one more project before my Spring Break ended.  I love the vinyl see-through fronts, so I can find those scissors. . . or spool of thread.  I’ve already packed up one with a hand-sewing project.

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The project is a little bird pincushion made of felted wool fabrics.  Now to find some movie-watching time to work on it.

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What else am I working on?  Our next Four-in-Art reveal is about a month away, and we had to move the deadline because some of us were panicking.  I resolve to not panic anymore.  (Which involves getting stuff done early.)

California Christmas Tree

I’m teaching a class for a local quilt shop (if peeps sign up. . .) and while it’s based on the idea of large globular shapes in a roughly floral design, I didn’t want to copy Kim McLean’s fine work.

originalLolly

So I pulled up the original quilt from the 1880′s, and tried to combine elements that had that funky vibe.  I just finished it, and after I order some kind of Kona red (do you know how many reds there are in the Kona fabric rainbow?), I’ll start constructing a vaguely Christmasy-Hollandish wall hanging for my sample in blues and greens on a red background.

Bit of EPP

I’m also working on this one — in my mind.  The quilt top is pinned to its backing and laying over the chair in our living room while my subconscious mind figures out a way to quilt it.

I’m trying to be patient.  Lollypop Trees isn’t even pinned to a backing yet as my subconscious can only handle one quilt at a time.  There are many other ideas working their way forward, but that’s enough for today, I think.  Click *here* to head back over to Freshly Pieced and see other fabulous Works-in-Progress.

More Projects?? Must Be Spring

What is it about spring that makes us open up our windows, welcome the sun and add more projects to our already stacked lists?  I played hooky from my stacks of grading by heading down to Sewing Party in Orange County and breathing in the delicious fragrance of a new quilt shop.  Well, new-to-me.  (Bet you thought I was going to say wildflowers, or something.)

Screen Shot 2013-03-13 at 10.32.58 PMIt’s in a business park, so look for the sign.

One of my Instagram pals had mentioned the Sewing Party quilt shop in her comments, then followed up with an email; I was interested in a class they were offering: The Bostonian Bag, which is really a small satchel with some flair.  Sewing Party is a modern-oriented store, with lots of favorites, plus some Kaffe, Kokka, Moda, and others.

SewingParty Purchases

I indulged in a couple of pieces, plus a few bits from the Comma line of fabric–all good basics.

Bostonian Bag Kit

Cecile (the owner) really knows the way to a sewer’s heart: this is the kit for the Bostonian Bag all in its little bag.  Very slick.

Daisy Chain canvas

She made an exception for me and let me choose the fabric I wanted for my satchel.  This Prints Charming canvas print (see selvage below) caught my eye, and she coordinated the stripe for me for other bits and pieces of this bag.  She has the vision.

diasychain selvage

Love the spelling.  (Kind of reminds me of the stack of Fiction Tests I just graded.)

EPP quilt angle shot

What else am I working on?  Well, I finished sewing all the moving pieces of my English Paper Pieced quilt together, and have one more border to add before I’ll show it off here.

Moon

I do believe this is the latest I’ve ever posted on WIP Wednesday over a Lee’s Freshly Pieced blog.  Here’s a shot of our spring Daylight-Saving-Time moon to prove how late it is.

WIP new button

WIP and FAL are real motivation!

WIP new button

I’ve been doing Lee’s Work In Progress Wednesdays for a long time now, and I love participating and reading her blog.  Head back there to see more of what others are working on.

FinishALong Button

And Leanne’s Finish-A-Long has certainly focused what I’m working on.  I’ll get back to posting up Road to California pictures next post, but here’s what I’m working on today.

EPP outer pieces

I’ve finally figured out the outer pieces of my EPP quilt.  And the border after this, too.  Now just to sit and watch something interesting on television, so I can finish it up.  What to watch now that Downton Abbey’s all finished, and the Oscar broadcast is over?  I do have some interesting Netflix coming.  By the way, if you like quirky movies, I can recommend Moonrise Kingdom.

Lollypop Tree Border Blocks2

And I finished appliqueing all the pieces on my Lollypop Tree Border Blocks.  Now I have to cut away the backs of those that have freezer paper in them, pull out the paper, then press them.  When that happens, it means that all the components of the Lollypop Tree quilt will be ready to be put together.  I first saw Kim McLean’s pattern on the blog for Material Obsession–a blog you should defininitely have in your Reader.

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A few of my favorites.  Happy Quilting!

Quilting Along

This is a picture of my latest start of my hexie blocks series, taken in my super-duper photo studio: a piece of batting laid down on the kitchen counter, making sure that I don’t put it near the dishes, or onto any stray bits of gravy.  Other times my photo studio is a bigger piece of batting, laid down on the guest bed upstairs, or if it’s medium-late in the afternoon, I can smooth it out on my pinwall, drag in the torchiere from my husband’s den, prop the other light up on the small stereo speaker on my desk, and make sure I turn on the camera’s flash.

Actually, considering my week, this is a stupendous output.  You know, some weeks are GetMoreDone and some weeks are BarelyQuilting.

Now you know way more than you want to about how things are at my house, but I do want to thank Lee of Freshly Pieced for hosting us on WIP Wednesday, where we all scramble to get something done–or partially done–so we can post it up here and say Yes!  I’m still quilting along!  (I love WIP Wednesdays.)  Click on her name to head back to her blog to read about others who got way more done.

But don’t forget to enter the Almost to 100 Followers Giveaway, on the post just below.  I’m giving away two sets of fat quarters–in black and white–perfect to rustle up some Halloweeny quilting!

EPP, the Sixth

Finished up tonight, while watching Doc Martin on Netflix (recommended).  The first date I have on this project is February 21, 2012, so obviously I started sewing these at the beginning of the year sometime.

Here’s all six of them together.  I think they look like slices of a kaleidoscope.

Don’t know what I’ll do with them, really.  Just following this journey wherever it goes.

Long Beach, Part 3

Let’s see if I can roll these out for you.  I’m watching the Closing Ceremonies of the Olympics and all this music has me typing quickly.

Karen Eckmeier’s quilt, Aegean Memories, was a masterpiece of tiny pieces, yet it really evoked the Greek Isles, fresh in her memory from a recent visit.  She used collage, paint, machine quilting and couching to make this.

She used the applique-under-tulle netting approach that she did in her other quilt (Black, White, READ).  I think this would be a really good way to control all all those tiny pieces.

Detail.  Maybe this is where she used the paint?  But no, all those little squares look like scraps of cloth.

Harumi Asada had her first granddaughter (her son’s daughter) and she made Happy Birthday to commemorate that first year.  There are growth records, pictures of the baby throughout this first year and flowers flowers flowers!  I was happy to get a nine-patch quilt made when my grandchildren were born.  This was really a stunner.

Here you can see a couple of the baby’s photos at different stages of that first year.

All those circles!  My Karen Buckley circle templates would have gotten a workout. I turned off the flash to show the hand quilting, but it does produce a slightly soft focus.

Here’s some of aforementioned flowers.  All hand appliqued.

But this wasn’t the only Asada quilt.

In this quilt, Harmony in Nature, she wanted to express that all living things are linked.  She made it for a conference on biodiversity in Nagoya, Japan.

I could have taken billions of photos, but mostly I just stood with my jaw dropped and sighing at her exquisite details.  This is the central medallion of a large quilt — close to a queen size.

Since I spent a year in Washington, DC, I fell in love with this depiction of when cherry trees bloom. The title is Spring Blossoms by Terry Aske.  If you look in the background, you can see a row of trees, as well as the soft carpet of pink blossoms under the tree–so very typical of what the blossoming trees are like.  Aske, however, is from the West Coast of Canada.  I guess cherry blossoms are a universal.

An excellent use of floral fabrics to suggest the individual blossoms.

Here’s another quilt from Terry Aske, titled Spring Beauties.  It’s those stripes that pull me in, as well as the plaid leaves.  Such inventive use of fabric to depict a “local patch of tulips.”

And look at this “border”– outlined, subtly, with the use of the striped fabric again, and the background flowing over into that border area.

Cricket on the Radio, by Elizabeth Bren.

Sometimes simple quilts can be very effective.

NASA Wind Tunnel, by Linda T. Cooper.  Highly graphic use of shape and color.

Another Whimsical Garden, by Tina Curran

Fused flowers, but they are all different and wonderful.

Bodil Gardner must be a favorite of those who put on the show, because I’ve seen her quilts multiple times.  Always interesting, though, with her free-form shapes and almost troll-like faces and bodies. This one’s titled Nine girls a dancing.

Spiral Fever, by Jane Lloyd

Spiral Fever, detail.  She says she likes to work in a series, and the ideas for the next quilt come to her while working on her current project.

In the center of one of the areas, they had this display of a little village of houses, organized by Kathy York.

I’m convinced some of these quilt artists never sleep.

And now it’s time for the Ugly Quilt Award.  Again, this is only my very subjective opinion (and certainly some of mine could qualify.)  To protect the innocent, no names are revealed.

It’s not necessarily the head-on shot that reveals its place as the winner this time.

It’s the side view (and I realize it’s a pretty ugly photo, but again–the lights here are challenging), that shows the 3-D effect of purple pipe cleaners.  I know nothing about the quilt artist and I do have to applaud her inventiveness, but maybe some things just shouldn’t be tried.

YoYo2: Trip Around the World, by Helen Remick

Native Market, by Phyllis Cullen and Annie’s Star Art quilt group members. This is one of those quilts where they take a photograph and cut it into pieces (in this case, twelve) and each member interprets the section s/he has.  I like how they sliced this one into irregular pieces, rather than the usual strips.

Native Market, detail.

Watt & Shand # 6 is by Sue Reno, who was documenting the conversion of an old department store into a convention center and hotel in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  These images  are from her own photographs of the reconstruction.

Reflections, Glass Walls, La Defense, Paris, France var. 3 by Barbara Schneider.

This quilt was in the quilt show booklet, as it is such an interesting quilt.  It is dyed, overdyed, painted, collaged, fused and machine stitched in order to show “the contrast between the patterns in the glass and the structural gridwork” (artist’s statement).  The quilt below is another variation in her series, but I couldn’t find the title in my notes.

This one’s for all the hexie fans out there.  This is the popular rose block that is being constructed by many quilters, using hexagons (or parts of hexagons) in the English Paper Piecing method of construction.  The title of this is Rose Garden and it is made by Ardie Skjod and quilted by Dorothy Burnett.  She used a pattern from an Australian magazine, designed by Dale Ritson.

Here’s another one by the same quilter, Ardie Skjod, but this one is quilted by Debbie Blair.  Star Garden is inspired by a photograph she saw in an old magazine, but designed it herself.

I had to zoom in on that one block, as the use of the stripe really skewed it visually for me, but I think it makes the quilt more interesting.  Some blocks look like Tumbling Blocks and some have those diamond stars, but all of them are a large hexagon.  It didn’t say if this was hand-pieced.

Springtime in the City, by Cynthia St. Charles.  Her city of inspiration? New York City.  This quilt is hand-painted, block printed and machine quilted.  It’s really quite full of beautiful springtime colors.

Detail.

Portraits of Flora, by Timna Tarr originally started out to be done in taupes and neutrals, but then her “love of color took over.”  The circles are hand appliqued onto a square, and these squares were pieced together to make the quilt.

I hope you don’t find these detail shots tedious.  Used to be in the OLD days of blogging, you could click on a photo and it would enlarge, but now I find that lots of blogs limit the size, so a detail shot is needed in order to see what’s going on in the quilt.

Her tight quilting made the circles pop into a bas relief.

Baskets Made With Love, by Connie J. Watkins.

I haven’t figured out yet how these quilts come to be displayed — is there some entry form I don’t know about?  Are these quilts from another show merely transported into the Long Beach festival?  It might be interesting to know as we Southern Californians don’t see a lot of coloration like the browns palette in the quilt above, which speaks to the idea of “importation.”

One more post and then I’m done.  School begins today so I really need to get going on that, but to close, here’s what I finished during the Olympics: