Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Sunset at Sea

Last, but not least, the final post about quilts I entered in this year's quilt show, Stitches in Time 2016. You can read about the show here: 

The pattern I used for my "Sunset at Sea" quilt came from a magazine article in Quilters Newsletter Magazine, June 2006. The pattern, "After the Storm at Sea", was designed by Barbara Wynne, but I altered the placement of the fabrics in an attempt to evoke the setting sun with streaks of color and light coming through the clouds at sunset. I saved the pattern for many years and started to collect batik fabrics that looked like the colors of a spectacular sunset over the ocean, evocative of the many sunsets my husband and I have seen while on vacation. The sunsets that we viewed from Chincoteague and Assateague Islands are more toward the mainland than over the ocean, but still spectacular.

This is my most recent quilt. I started piecing it in early April. The pattern is a paper-pieced pattern. For those who don't quilt, a paper-pieced pattern is sewn onto paper, along printed lines. It adds several extra steps to the process, but the result is usually accurate piecing. In a traditional "Storm at Sea" pattern, of which this is a derivative, there are some pieces that must be cut accurately and not on the bias of the fabric. Bias cuts can stretch and you will end up with wonky blocks. In the photo below, you can see my first few blocks on the design wall. The long diamond shapes have fabrics that could stretch, if not cut the right way. Using a paper foundation takes away some of the concern about biases. However, when making a quilt with paper on the back of each block, it gets cumbersome. More on that later!

My "Sunset at Sea" quilt in its infancy.
The small square blocks are 4" x 4", the larger square blocks are "8" x "8", and the diamond blocks are 4" x 8".
You can see one of the 8" x 8" paper patterns in the photo.

As I continued making the blocks, the sunset image emerged, with deep hues of red, orange, navy, and burgundy at the horizon and lighter pinks, blues and lavender in the sky. At least that is what I was going for! My design wall grew.

To audition fabrics, I placed swatches in the spaces where the 8" x 8" blocks would go.
I wanted to plan the color placement to achieve my sunset image.

When I purchased the fabrics to make this quilt, I bought either half yards or quarter yards. It proved to require some creativity on my part. I kept all of my scraps, even the smallest, and it was a good thing that I did. I ended up piecing some of the fabrics just to make one diamond or triangle here and there. I feel a deeper relationship with quilters of the past when I piece tiny bits of fabric to make it work.

I worked with my scraps to build some smaller pieces to use in the blocks.
This is what I had left to work with near the end of the block construction.

As the quilt grew, it got heavier and heavier because it had paper on the back of every piece. I have made many paper-pieced quilts over the years, but never with such large blocks. Everything I have ever read about making quilts with paper piecing says to leave the paper on while sewing the blocks to each other, and it is my typical practice, unless there are no biases to deal with. This pattern didn't mention anything about construction after making the blocks, so I went with what was the conventional practice and left the papers on. It was so heavy, that the papers kept tearing and I had to tape them. Ugh. But, I persevered and got it constructed. I kept my sewing room door closed so my husband wouldn't have to listen to me growling. He thinks its strange that I growl when I am frustrated. I think it is better than swearing, although I just might have uttered a few cuss words here and there along the way!

Close-up of an 8" x 8" block from the back of the quilt.
The fabric is sewn to the reverse side.
Note the tape holding the seams together.
Tape and a hot iron are not a good mix.
I used a pressing cloth to save my iron.

Think about how heavy a stack of copy paper is.
Add that to some fabric.
Add some tape.
This was a heavy thing to try to pin together and sew accurately.
At the show, a quilt guild member advised me to straight stitch all around each block and remove the paper before assembly.
I'll try that next time!
I do own lighter weight paper that is just for paper piecing, but I made these patterns at the copy shop and used their paper.
I believe it would have helped a bit with the weight to have used it, but it definitely would have torn more easily.

Did I mention that when you sew a paper-pieced block that you use tiny stitches? That is so it makes it easy to remove the papers from the back. Easy is a relative term. Tweezers in hand, I tackled the back and pulled off each little piece of paper and tape and dug out the little pieces that were stuck under the thread. My husband often asks me if I am having fun when I am sewing. My answer is usually yes, but some parts of the process are more fun than others! The best part, though, is having a result you are happy with.

I completed the quilt top by the end of May and took it to a local quilt shop to be quilted on a long-arm quilting machine. I wanted some stitching that would travel along the "waves" in the pattern. I think she hit the mark, and then some!

Below is the finished quilt. The image is a bit blurry because I was very excited when I took the photo. My quilt won an award at the show! I was so excited that I couldn't hold the camera steady as I took a photo to text to my husband. He had supported me through all the work I did to get my quilts finished and into the show, so I wanted to share the moment with him. It is my very first quilt show award. :-)

"Sunset at Sea"
47" x 57"
Pattern: "After the Storm at Sea"
Quilters Newsletter Magazine, June 2006/No. 383
Paper Pieced by Machine
Custom Machine Quilted by Chestnut Bay Quilting

Close up of the Show Co-Chairman's Award
The little blocks that are part of the award are paper pieced and were made by guild members.
The image is the Holland Land Office Museum, where our guild's meetings were held when the group first formed, which is now part of our guild's logo.

Knowing I would write a blog post one day about my "Sunset at Sea" quilt, I took photos during the construction journey, so I could tell a story. I couldn't have known at the time that the story would have a happier ending than I ever would have dreamed. Now that the show is over and I have blogged about this and the other five pieces I put in the show, its time to resume a normal pace. You can see my other quilts here in my previous posts:  

Our guild is currently making ornaments for the annual "Wonderland of Trees" exhibit at the Holland Land Office Museum. The guild puts a tree in the exhibit every year. I pulled a few of my small paper-pieced orphan blocks to finish as ornaments. It is a good task for now when I am in an after-the-quilt-show fog. It keeps me sewing and, of course, while searching for the orphan blocks, I discovered a few other projects that just might end up getting some attention now.

Two 4" x 4" orphan blocks from my stash of Christmas blocks.
These will be made into ornaments for the guild's tree at the museum.
I'll use the bindings that you see above the blocks to frame them.
They are left overs from previous projects.
That is why I never throw the ends and snippets away until they are all used up.
You are bound to find a use for them . . . if you can figure out where you put them!

Thanks for stopping by to read my blog. As always, your questions and comments are welcome. And until we meet again, may the Lord hold you in the hollow of His hand.


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