Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Making Some Good Progress on My Quilt

Most of the easy Dear Jane blocks for my quilt are already done. That's good and bad. On the one hand, by moving along with some of the easier blocks first, I was able to practice my skills working with teeny tiny pieces and become motivated to make a lot of blocks (112 blocks finished out of 225 blocks and triangles. Yay!). If I had started with all the difficult ones at first, I know I would have gotten stuck and the blocks would be sitting in a drawer today.  On the other hand, this means that I still have quite a few difficult blocks left to make.

But I'm a big girl and now that I've just about completed half of the quilt I find that I cannot quit at this stage. I've come too far. I have to keep going. And that means making some of the blocks that are not easy for me. Most of them involve foundation paper piecing - yuck.

I've never been a fan of paper piecing and avoided it for years because it involved too much fussing around with paper and not enough sewing. (Sewing along with abandon and either random thoughts or music in the background is the fun part of quilting, am I right?) Paper piecing, on the other hand,  requires your undivided attention, as well as patience. If my mind wandered I would end up with my fabric sewn to the wrong side of the papers or my edges and seams cut off because I was too impatient to correctly measure the pieces. And the waste! You waste so much darn fabric with paper piecing. Insane for someone who likes to savor her scraps.

I try to keep the book and my blocks accessible on or near my sewing table in case I have the urge to pick one up and work on it if I have a day. (I was going to say "moment" but the truth is it takes me a lot longer than a moment to sew these together. I'm not especially quick about it but it certainly has trained me to become a more patient sewer.)

What has helped me lately is buckling down and forcing myself to do better with the paper piecing and using this technique instead of hand piecing the blocks (a nice idea but just not practical for me. I'm clumsy at it. Something else I need to work on.). I've tried and have even hand pieced quite a few blocks but it takes me a long time and they often end up not looking great. Right now I am anxious to work harder to get the quilt done already, you know? These days, with half of the blocks done, I feel like I am at the top of the hill, finally looking down the other side.

 Messy before you trim

After trimming, nice and neat.

I could not even think of hand piecing this one . . . . God bless those of you who can and Jane, who did. 

Anyway, I decided upon this topic today because I suspect some of you are like me when it comes to paper piecing. And, if you're putting off beginning a Dear Jane quilt because of all those tiny pieces in those tiny blocks, here's what I want to tell you -  just do it. Make peace with paper piecing. It is not difficult, just tedious, but it will make your Dear Jane blocks go that much faster. 

To simplify the process, I found a couple of good books on paper piecing, watched some videos, bought a few new tools and I practiced, practiced, practiced. Even though very time I am away from it for awhile it feels like my brain has to relearn it again, I have stuck with it and progressed much just by forcing myself to keep doing it often. I still don't love it but I do love racking up the number of blocks I can finish quickly so that's something.

There are a couple of  videos I found to be helpful here and  here . Practice, practice, practice and it will eventually click.

Also, since Carol Doak is the paper piecing queen, I got her book and foundation paper. I really like the Add a Quarter ruler she recommends. Get an index card, a glue stick and fabric (and, of course, if you're me buy a new blue rotary cutter and baby blue cutting mat) and you're all set.

The pieces are so freaking small I can't believe these blocks turned out as well as they did. Couldn't have done it without paper piecing, that's for sure.

In case you missed this post, you can read more about my recent Dear Jane® progress here.

See my post about my trip to see the quilt last year. Wish I were going to Vermont again. 


Jennifer M said...

Kathy I love this post and I love your blocks. You should be so proud of yourself, look where your at on your Dear Jane journey!!! I sure hope I can make it on this journey. I know having you to inspire me is wonderful. Bless you for all the inspiration you give to so many of us in the quilting world<3. You know what... your blocks look AWESOME!!!

Ann in PA said...

This post really speaks to me....I'm stuck...in limbo...the instructions for the rest of my row of DJ blocks recommend paper piecing. Thank you for the encouragement to just do it. Your blocks are perfect; maybe I just need a new blue rotary cutter. : ))))

quiltgrannie said...

Kathy, I think you are doing great!! I find that I have to relearn the process too after being away from it for a while. Thanks for the links, I will be checking them out!!

cityquilter grace said...

oh yes, queen carol did guide me into the realm of perfect paper piecing....my project is the civil war diary quilt and like DJ, lots of intricate paper pieced blocks....a testament to carol's instruction indeed!

Karen said...

Your blocks are beautiful, Kathleen! You have come so far and are doing so well getting them done. You will be so proud when you hold up that DJ quilt someday and say I made this. I enjoy your postings and always look forward to the next one. Thank you!

Susan D said...

Very nicely done.

I've just picked up DJ again, after a year of finishing 5 projects one after the other. Paper piecing holds no charms for me, and it never occurred to me to try using it for DJ. For me, the easy blocks are anything with right angled pieces isoceles trangles. All other shapes = difficult. For example, Framed Fancy would count as "easy but requiring a lot of attention."

I've just completed my 69th block. 100 to go.

Susan D said...

"right-angled pieces and isosceles triangles"

Kathy H said...

I am so happy to see some dear Jane blocks made with paper piecing. I had started the quilt with hand piecing and finally put it away since I didn't like how it was looking. Your blocks look beautiful so maybe I will take the chance and try some paper piecing blocks.

Shelina (formerly known as Shasta) said...

You're so right, Kathy. That's exactly where I stalled on my Jane Stickle quilt, although you happened to have more blocks you called easy than I did. I need to suck it up and learn how to paper piece. I tried it on a small star earlier this year and did horribly, but I need to give it another chance.

Me and My Stitches said...

I started off making a lot of the easier blocks, and also the paper pieced blocks...leaving the applique - because that is not my thing at all. Then, like you, decided I better start working on some of those, so I started at the beginning of the book and worked on them in order. Unfortunately it was one of the applique blocks that put a big halt to my DJ journey!