Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Pre-Cut Curved Piecing

My goal for quilting in 2018 is to "maximize happiness and minimize guilt". In keeping with this mantra, a new year deserves a new project! I bought this Carnival pre-cut kit at the Houston Quilt Festival in November (that trip was a real happiness maximizer) and have been itching to try it. It was a rainy, dreary day here, plus I have been nursing a cold so I opted to start a new project to lift my mood. I did not even have to think to cut it out, since the precision laser-cut pieces were all ready and waiting for me to assemble.


There were four main pieces to the block. A, B, and D were symmetrical and C had a left/right handedness to it. D also had somewhat of a handedness D subunit assembly since the position of the light D and dark D relative to each other had to be consistent.


They were sorted by light and dark color and stacked in the product container by shape. In other  words I had a stack of light A's, dark A's, light B's dark Bs, etc. Originally I laid them out in alphabetical order with light on the left. Then I went to my well-organized, well-defined specific storage place on my open shelving and directly placed my hand on my container of Alphabitties to label the pieces.


I was stumped when I opened the container, dumped out all the tags and discovered that the plastic tabs for A, B, C, and D were missing from my storage container for them. Aaargh! I have no idea what project they were put away with! Letters E through Z were there. Numbers 0 through 9 were there. Letters A through D – not there. Go figure. So much for "a place for everything and everything in its place". No problem. They will turn up eventually. Or I will buy more.


The absence of the AWOL Alphabitties was not a major stumbling block. It made much more sense to orient and lay out the precision laser cut pieces as they would be assembled and surely I could remember three letters. I positioned the stacks so that lights and darks were alternated as they would be in the assembly. The next photo shows light and dark stacks in the upper left and a set of two assembled B/C sub unit and one D sub unit in the lower right in the corresponding positions.


Sewing the curves was not as hard as I imagined and there are several YouTube instructional videos available online. The one I found best was presented by Sherri McConnell for the Fat Quarter Shop YouTube series. I knew one tip was to pin a lot, but I was unsure whether to put the convex or concave side against the feed dogs when stitching. Someone had told me once to "sew with a saggy bottom" so the feed dogs would ease in the excess fabric. I struggled with that advice since if large piece was underneath, then I would be unable to see if the excess was pleated. I actually had a revelation in the Sherri McConnell video.



OK. Maybe I did go overboard with the number of pins. But putting them in was kind of relaxing and almost a therapeutic opportunity to let my thoughts wander while I quasi-meditated. I pinned with the convex side up, capturing all those fabric poofs before they could turn into tiny tucks or puny pleats and allowing the pin heads to protrude beyond the edge. Then... the revelation! I sewed with the pin side DOWN, flipped from the way I had pinned it. Sounds simple but it had never previously occurred to me that sewing from the side opposite from which I had pinned was allowed! My pins had large, flat heads so I was able to use the tip of my forefinger to slide them out toward the right as each pin neared the toe of the pressure foot. I sewed slowly but I was able to sew continuously along that curved edge without interruption. I never sewed over any pins. 


I could also chain piece any pairings I had pre-pinned. I did a set of three subunits at a time.


Then I used my magnetic pin cushion inverted to whisk all those pins out from under the throat of the machine. Worked like a charm.


I pressed each seam in the direction recommended in the instructions. They lay flat beautifully with no nip or tucks. I am placing the sub units on my design wall as I complete them. I will arrange, rearrange, and re-rearrange until I like the color distribution. Here are twelve partially completed blocks so far. The kit calls for twenty. The small corner A components are not placed yet. I love how a segmented spoked wheel and a segmented smooth edged color-wheel type wheel emerge as secondary patterns. The designer mentioned that inspiration for this pattern came from a tile floor laid in three shades of gray.
  

So how am I doing on my 2018 goal to maximize happiness and minimize guilt? I am happy with how nicely this is coming together. I am happy to be in the excitement phase of a new project.  I am happy that I am learning to do curved piecing and am progressing toward kit reduction – both goals I felt guilty about failing at in 2017. I live in sunny California and this was the atypical rainy, cloudy, dreary view out my sewing room window at 2:00 pm in the afternoon; but I am happy to be ensconced and pleasantly occupied indoors within the walls of my sewing room. 


The skies may be gray but the blues of this quilt are an excellent diversion. I can also be happy socializing with others at Let's Bee Social #211.

14 comments:

  1. Oh Diane how I love that quilt! Those are my favourite colours together. I think your goals for 2018 are very wise. Smart of you for recognizing all the ways that you are happy right now, many of which cost nothing right?

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    1. Happiness is indeed better if it is recognized in the moment it occurs. Thanks for visiting and commenting. That too makes my happy!

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  2. I lovee Batiks and they are perfect in your curved quilt pattern.

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    1. Thank you for the visit and comment. I have a love/hate relationship with batiks. For this particular pattern they are great since their stiffness pairs well with a laser cut edge. I once bound a quilt with a batik. The weave was so dense, I bought special extra sharp needles and still poked many, many holes in my fingertips. No more batik binding for me. If I do waver in this resolve they are going to be sewn on by machine , not by hand! More info on my batik binding is at
      http://dianeloves2quilt.blogspot.com/2013/07/wip-lessons-learned-for-better-binding.html

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  3. This is pretty! How nice to open a kit and have all the pieces already cut for you. I fell in love with the method for curved piecing that I learned at a Judy Niemeyer workshop, and have used it ever since with wonderful, reliable results. If you want to try another way, here's how that goes: You lay the mountain curve down right side up. Put the valley curve on top of it right side down. Pin in only three places: each end and the center. Now take a glue stick and gently swipe along the edge (staying in the seam allowance) little bits at a time, and when you have one half swiped, just coax that part of the valley curve right up along the mountain curve, edge to edge. It lays down quite nicely, and then do the other half. I sit in front of the TV and prep a whole set, then just whoosh them through the machine (Mountain side stays on the bottom, and you can watch to make sure you don't accidentally let a pleat sneak in). With the glue in the seam allowance, you don't have to remove it before the quilt is finished and going to be blocked or washed anyway. The skinny quilter's glue sticks are ideal, but honestly I just do it with super-cheap School Glue sticks I pick up on sale. Those are fat, so you end up skiing around the ridge you get, which can get a little messy on your working surface. I usually lay a piece of waxed paper on my lap board to do this task.

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    1. How generous of you to spend your time explaining this glue stick technique to me. I will definitely need to give it a try. And I also like the mountain/valley description better than concave/convex. Thanks for visiting and sharing hints.

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  4. Wow, you have made great progress on these complicated looking blocks. Thanks for sharing how you conquered the curves...interesting. Happy Stitching

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    1. That is the kind of piecing Iike - it looks complicated but really isn't. Thanks for the visit and comment.

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  5. I am right there with you -- the more pins, the merrier when it comes to sewing curved seams! Your Carnival quilt is going to be gorgeous. I think a precut kit is a great way to start out with curves, because you know the pieces are accurately cut when they are die cut or laser cut. May your new year be full of much happiness and much LESS guilt for sure!

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    1. Yes, I kind of lucked out that a pre-cut kit was my first attempt at curved piecing. I have sewn clothes and so setting in sleeves was a bit of an introduction. But sleeves are more forgiving since they do not need to lie flat when you are done. A happy guilt free new year to you too. Thanks for visiting. I now have less guilt since I have replied to your gracious comment!

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  6. Kudos to you for trying curved seams. I am chicken and have never taken the plunge. This quilt is going to be gorgeous!

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    1. Do not be chicken. This is my first attempt and it is not that bad. I bought this at the Houston Quilt Festival but was able to find others on line. Here is the source if you would like to try a pre-cut kit for yourself.
      http://www.flynnquilt.com/shop/Pre-Cut-Kits.htm
      The storm at sea ones are gorgeous but they are all straight line, believe it or not. Thanks for the comment.

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  7. I have heard the siren song of this kit by John Flynn, engineer! many times. I resisted and now say I should have gotten it! Look how lovely! Of course I can't sew with, or press unwashed fabric because of allergies... but man you make me want to!
    Will the magnet mess with your machine?

    I also liked how the last picture repeated the arc and curves of your piecing! Nice!
    LeeAnna at not afraid of color

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    1. What a shame about your allergies but perhaps batik would be different for you. It is made with a wax or rice paste base. I am only guessing her but I suspect you are reacting to the ingredients in the sizing, which is different for batiks.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batik
      You can check out a source for these kits here.
      http://www.flynnquilt.com/shop/Pre-Cut-Kits.htm
      The least expensive is less than $30 so you might give it a whirl.
      The magnetic pin holders do not mess with my machine at all. I have used them for years. My machine is a German made Pfaff and it does have computerized stitch choices and touch tone controls but I cannot guarantee that the more modern, pricey techy Berninas are not more sensitive. I liked your noticing the tree and curved piecing similarity in form. It was not intentional, but now that you pointed it out, perhaps I can claim that I was clever in picking the photo for artistic echoing!

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