Monday, April 11, 2011

Sunbeam in Fabric

I continue to work on my latest project, the Diary Quilt. I jumped ahead several blocks because I was cutting this color fabric (the turquoise) and wanted to try this, the hardest block in the whole plan. It is the only block where the individual units don't finish out to squares or rectangles, I think.

Oh, that's not correct. There's one more, but it will not be as hard as this one.

So, I tried this block -- a Sunbeam, adapted from a 1929 pattern originally published in the Kansas City Star newspaper.  My grandma has been scanning these into her computer (she has roughly 150, originally saved by my grandpa's mother) and then emailing the scans out to the family.

The pattern is for a 12 inch block; my Diary Quilt is made up of six inch blocks. Add in the fact I don't have the original, and no way to know if the file I have printed at full size or not, and then that I tweaked the changed measurements some, and, well, my first attempt was epic fail. I could not get the beige pieces to line up square.  At all.

The fans, sewn to the beige wedges and laid out how they'd eventually be sewn together.
At this point, the turquoise and yellow were partly reversed, too.  Oops.

I emailed the pros who help me out from time to time, and got back a few different suggestions. I begged my Mentor to use her fancy computer program to re-draw the block for me and give me the correct measurements. She did!

So I re-cut and tried again, and after one more false start finally figured out the human error bit of the problem -- I was lining up the point of the beige wedge with the corner where the turquoise and yellow met. I should have been lining up the intersection of the drawn lines, the seam allowances, instead. The place where the corner or point would be once the pieces were sewn together, not the place where the point was when I started. Oops.

I figured that out and got all the fan pieces attached to the framing wedges. Then I was stumped -- what order to connect all my units?? And connect them to the center square????  Once again, I asked for help.

I sewed two pieces of frame together. I sewed those to the inner square. I sewed two more pieces of frame together. I sewed those to the inner square. Then I connected the two sides of the frame to each other.

See, the points line up pretty well....
Every step of the way, I laid my block-in-progress on my sewing mat, to see if it was square. And every step of the way, it was. Or, if it wasn't, I took out the stitches, fixed it, pinned a little better and tried again. And then it was fine.

...but my beige frame pieces are back to being crooked, mostly at that top right corner.

All the way up to the end, when one side went really, really crooked. At that point, I stopped anyway. I'm setting this block aside for now, and will come back to it once I reach this point in the quilt. From this point forward, I'll proceed in chronological order. Once I've got some easier blocks behind me, I'll try again at my sunbeam.

I do think it will be quite nice when I get it finished, but for now, I need something I can do well. Squares and triangles, thank you very much.

What about you? When you try something and it doesn't go well, do you tackle it again right away? Leave it as "good enough?"  Keep trying until it's just right? How do you handle project frustrations??


  1. I'm a "good enough" type. Not a perfectionist at all. I'll fix glaring errors, but I tend to think, "Will this blanket be less cozy because there is a stitch out of place?" I'm happiest when things I make are worn out with use, anyway.

  2. I used to be a raging perfectionist until I actually ruined a few projects from all the ripping out and redoing. I am now a good enough girl unless it looks really ugly. Even my quilting mentor just shrugged her shoulders at the corners not lining up on a quilt for my 2 year old nephew and said, "He's 2! He's not on a panel at a quilt show!"

  3. So I'm curious for both of you to weigh in on this -- is the crookedness up there a glaring error (to me it is) and if this were meant to be a pass-down-to-the-family, tells my life story quilt would you fix it??

    I'm really thinking yes (but note I am not redoing the airplane block though the nose is off center) for this one, but curious what you guys think. Would you fix this particular error, or count it good enough?

    If it matters, it will have sashing around it and be set on point. (yes, I am crazy, why do you ask??).

    thanks!!! (and love both your justifications for not fixing every tiny little thing....)

  4. I'm a good enough type of person really. :) But when a project has kick my behind, I let it simmer and come back to it another day. Or another month!

  5. Right now is probably not a good time for me to answer on 'what do you do when you are frustrated with a project' :sigh:

    However, for a problem like the corners aren't meeting etc. I fix it best I can and go with the flow. Unless it is going to bug me every time I look at it - then I redo ;)

    Taught myself to do this so I could model it for Princess...

  6. I am mostly a perfectionist, but when it comes to quilting, if it is close enough, I leave it. I think it shows the person receiving the quilt that you have character and that no one is perfect. Also, I leave the harder blocks to my mom and I work on the squares and triangles... only... I am not much of a seamtress, so it does not bug me that it isn't perfect. I think getting it done is enough of a battle.