Sunday, July 02, 2006

I don't know why I want to do a Wheel of Fortune like Keryn's when I've already got 22 blocks like this made up. This was called an "Aster" in the book I got it from, but I'm not sure what the traditional name is.

Piecing the middle section (by hand) is an absolute doddle, very pleasant to do, even those little rounded triangles. And the ring of points is hypnotically simple too, I kept making more amd more. But joining the two together is a right royal pain in the ...neck. I don't like curved piecing at all, even though I usually manage to get it looking nice, and I've come to the conclusion that I don't like anything I have to concentrate on. I like mechanical, repetitive movements that I don't have to bother my brain about. Basically lazy I suppose.

Another thing I hate about these blocks is pressing them afterwards. I'm the teeniest bit obsessive about this stage in any project, and even more so when it's hand piecing. Sometimes seams just have to go a certain way when you're working on the machine, and I can live with that. But with hand piecing you can make those little allowances go anywhere you decide, and I was determined to make these beggars behave, or else!

I finally worked out a system which minimised bulk and didn't distort the intersections on the front of the block, but it involved a bit of cussing and heated manipulation. I like pressing seams to one side, but some of these worked out better if they were pressed open, so there's a mixture in this block. Which is another thing that annoys me...

And pressing this block takes about 15 minutes and results in singed fingers every time.

Did I say I was a bit obsessive? I trim each seam to a scant quarter inch as soon as I've sewn it (it's just a habit now, and makes for a pleasingly neat wrong side, and dark material won't peek out). I also finger press as I go, so that makes life easier too.

When Keryn and I were poring over the few magazines around in1978 we couldn't work out what stitch to use when hand piecing, so we decided on backstitch for durability. I still do all my seams backstitch, and I'm so used to it that it's just as quick as running stitch. In fact, contrary to popular belief, I think handpiecing is pretty quick and my usual complaint is that I've run out of cut pieces. I can't seem to keep up with how quickly the blocks go together if you sew every night.

So why do I want to piece a Wheel of Fortune, when this is pretty similar? I dunno, but I like making the same pattern in different colourways so repeating myself is not a big deal. I liked reading about Tallula Bottoms who sometimes made eight quilts of the same design for grand-daughters or other rellies. As I said, I like repetition.


quiltpixie July 02, 2006  

your blocks are simply gorgeous! They're so preceise. All the fiddling with seam pressing makes the fronts so much nicer I think, and when you go to quilt you can plan where they'll be...

Nic Bridges July 03, 2006  

Great blocks, Mereth! Nice to know that there's someone else who obsesses over which way to press those seam allowances - I've been called neurotic in the past, but it's sooooo important!

keryn July 03, 2006  

Having seen your work up close Nic, all I can say is that neurotic is a Good Thing....

And am I mad, but I want to do that block as well as my WOF blocks. I guess it would tie in with my idea of keeping the pieced triangle ring and changing the centres....

The Calico Cat July 06, 2006  

Those are nice blocks (As are the others)!

Laura July 06, 2006  

Your blocks look great! I love the colors you chose!

Tazzie July 08, 2006  

Hi there Mereth, while reading thru your blog a little, I've discovered that we live in the same state ... we probably live quite close actually. I just love your blocks. Were they hard to piece?

Finn July 09, 2006  

If the way you work is neurotic, I'll take seconds and doubles, please!! I think it's just attention to what makes it work for you. They tell me I'm anal about pressing...well, darn it all, I want that seam where I WANT it, not over there. Keep you the great work you your quilts!

Anonymous,  July 17, 2006  

Ooooh, I love Tallula Bottoms' quilts too! I keep getting the book out at the library so I really should buy my own copy if it ever comes up at eBay. Your Aster blocks are gorgeous and I love the little wholecloth quilt too. I'm a bit slap dash in my quiltmaking, but your beautiful handwork is worth all the effort you put into it!

Patti September 01, 2006  

Love this block Mereth. It looks so familiar - I'm sure I have it in one of my 900+ books. Would you mind telling me the name of the book you used for this "Aster" block? Thanks ahead of time!


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