Busy with the farmer

I took three weeks off of the Farmer's Wife Quilt-a-long.  I needed a break to work on some other projects.   Then, in the last week I have caught up and then some.  I'm having a blast coming up with fabric combinations and using some of my favorite fabrics that I've been hoarding for a special occasion.  I'm also really enjoying making different blocks every time.  Oh!  And it turns out that I like figuring out the math in order to rotary cut the pieces.  Who knew? 

farmer's wife sampler, block 70

farmer's wife sampler, block 48

farmer's wife sampler, block 76

farmer's wife sampler, block 41

farmer's wife sampler, block 31

farmer's wife sampler, block 93

farmer's wife sampler, block 92

farmer's wife sampler, block 69

farmer's wife sampler, block 81

farmer's wife sampler, block 84

My very favorite block so far is the Swallow block. I love the fabrics, the contrast, the asymmetry. A close second is the Sawtooth block.

Have you fallen under the spell of any of your craft projects? I'd love to hear about it :)

More sketchbook

for Lauree, originally uploaded by quirky granola girl.
I recently started a new quilting bee with a friend. Lauree (locodowo) and I invited a bunch of sewists that we admire for their creativity, design sense, fabric stash, etc. The cocorico bee will focus on original block design, paper, improv, and curved piecing as well as applique and embroidery.

Anyway, the first month is Lauree's and she requested kitchen shelves and kitchen organization. My first idea was scooped up by another member of the bee, so i'm posting this sketch now. KitchenAid implements. I'm going to use thread sketching for the wire whip, paper piecing for the dough hook and I might try reverse applique for the mixer paddle. We'll see how it works out...

Block Design Process

I don't often do process posts that show my sketchbook because my drawings are very raw and it makes me uncomfortable to let people peek at that part of it all.  But, I'm going to be brave today.  :)

Here is a sketch of the strawberries.  I darkened the lines so you could see them.

The main purpose for redesigning this block was that I wanted two of the berries to touch.  I also wanted to consider putting the strawberries on a tablecloth or shelf or in a bowl, so I wanted a berry block without the outside border on it. 
rough drawing-#2

Now I start to draw my seam lines.  I draw the first four lines to enclose one little block.  
My berry block will be the odd shape on the inside of those lines.  Outside those lines will be the 
border/sashing/background that I'll worry about later.
lines 2

Then I continue drawing lines until I'm comfortable with the shape.  It still looks a little blocky, but that is going to be the charm of my berry block.  Can you see how the straight lines start to approximate the curves, but still leave a little something to the imagination?
lines 3

Okay, now I'll return to yesterday's drawing after it was cleaned up with a little 
eraser and colored pencil...
first drawing

and I'll cut out my first berry block.
strawberry not numbered

The hardest part I had to learn about paper piecing was putting the numbers on my own blocks.  

The trick that worked for me was NOT to look at the portions of paper being numbered 
Instead, I look at the seams or lines between those numbers.  

If you look below at my "L" block, and look only at the seams, you can probably figure out 
which order to do the seams in to minimize any complicated seams. 
"L" not numbered

Here is the same block with priority of seams.  I did this in my head before putting numbers on the block sections, but I thought that this might help you see it better. 
"L" seams numbered

Using that seam priority, these are the section numbers I came up with.  Yours may differ slightly. 
"L" numbered

Let's look at that strawberry again.
strawberry not numbered

Now choose which seams need to go first or which needs to go last.  
You can work forward or backward.  

This is a representation of how I see it in my head.
strawberry with priorities

And here is how I numbered it.  Your numbers, again, may differ slightly.
strawberry with numbers

For a more complicated example, here is the "e" block I did a few weeks ago.  
This one needs to be cut in sections as I number it.
"e" not numbered

These are the sections that I cut.
"e" cut

On my original drawing, I put hatch marks on the lines that need to be cut and then I numbered the drawing a little differently.  Since there are three sections, there are three #1 pieces.  Then I numbered ALL of the second priority pieces as #2's.  Then I did the same for the third priority pieces.  After the #3's are sewn on, then all of the block chunks have to be sewn together before the fourth priority pieces can be sewn on.  Lastly, after the #4's, the rest of the numbering continues with one piece at a time.  
"e", 1st drawing

Here are the cut sections with all of the numbers in place. 
"e", cut and numbered

Is that clear as mud?  I'd suggest you take some time to let this sink in.  
I threw three different numbering system options at you.  
We numbered the seams by priority.  
Then we numbered each piece, one at a time.
And, then we numbered the pieces by priority.  

I hope that giving you different options will let you choose the system that makes sense for you.  
Let me know how it works. 
I'd also be curious if you have a fourth or fifth way of thinking about how to 
number your blocks, so comment away.  :)

Lastly, If you try any of these blocks, remember that you have to reverse the image before you paper piece them. I design and number my blocks before flipping the image because it is easier for my brain to see how it will come together. I also keep one copy of the pattern (that is not flipped) on my sewing table so I can refer to it as I put the block together. Having the final image as a reference helps me a lot.

Happy sewing and designing and block dreaming to you!

Fancy Block Friday--block design edition

After seeing this block by Lauree (locodowo on flickr) I knew I wanted some strawberries of my own.

SUTK swap sneak peek...

But, I wanted a group of strawberries with a differing amounts of white space in between.  So I started with a rough sketch of Lauree's block.  (This is a *very* rough sketch that I never would have colored or darkened the lines with pen if I wasn't posting it here.  I just had to get the idea down on paper quickly.)


Then I did a rough drawing of three berries, (I don't have this intermediate step pictured because I drew over my first drawing.) and then I turned that into a block design.


I made two photocopies of this drawing.  One I left as is, but numbered the berries.


The second  copy I turned over and placed it on a window and traced the drawing on the wrong side of the paper.  When I paper piece, my image gets flipped, so I want to paper piece on the reverse image.  After tracing, I cut out the individual berry blocks.


So, I don't have a finished block to post, but I hope it was helpful to show how I turn a sketch into a pattern to work with.

(Sometime soon, I'll have to show you how I number my block for the order 
in which I sew the fabrics on.)

Amanda finished a block for her Fancy Friday.  You can see it here.


My fancy block is a day late, but, I had a good excuse.  Ruby came back from the repair shop yesterday, so we spent some time getting acquainted.  Details soon.

This week I made a block designed by Sonja of Artisania.  This is her free pattern called Lil Hedgehog.  The pdf file for it is here.

I debated (in my head) about the Joel Dewberry herringbone print a l-o-n-g time, but I absolutely love it.  I love the text print, too.  There, I admit it, I love this block.  I have no idea what I'll do with it, but I love it just the same.


Check out Amanda's circle of geese fancy block and Audrey's mushroom and gnome block. Wanna join us in the Fancy Block challenge on Fridays (or Saturdays)?? Do it! It does get a little easier every week.