Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Scrappy Baskets

I’m what I consider to be a traditional quilter with a hidden desire to add some spark to my designs. Of course I haven’t given way to this desire… Not yet, anyway. I tend to carry this theme in other areas of my life as well.

For instance, baking. I’ve made everything from scratch since I was a young girl. I could bake bread, roll out a pie crust, and bake a cake on my own since I was about eleven years old. However, just let me attempt to use a box shortcut and everything falls apart. Not so much with boxed cake mixes, but I’ve tried bread mixes and have never been very successful with them. Usually I get a very heavy, flat as a pancake loaf of bread. Not very appealing to the eye or stomach, huh? Perhaps it’s my love of creating and personalizing that stumps my success. Even when I bake from scratch I tend to modify the recipes. If it’s a newly tried recipe, I generally follow the recipe step-by-step. But after the first go around, the gloves are off and I modifying the recipe to make it mine. So, perhaps this is why I’ve never been able to conquer paper piecing.

I’ve tried to teach myself how to paper piece several times. In fact, a couple of years ago one of the quilting groups I participate in has a Washington State Block Swap (the blocks are our interpretation of the state of Washington) each year and I had the bright idea to use a paper pieced pattern for my block. It was a friendship star and I had purchased several prints of tulips, daffodils, apples, strawberries, corn, and other flowers or produce grown locally. The pattern was one I had found on the internet and it didn’t come with any instructions. This didn’t deter me because I had watched several demonstrations on paper piecing and it looked simple enough. I thought if I could hand piece an eight pointed star or complete a stack-n-whack block, I could surely stitch together a ‘stitch-by-number’ block. HAH!

Being the organizer that I am, I cut my fabrics into smaller pieces and laid them out according to their number corresponding with my pattern. I printed out several copies of my pattern, inserted a new needle in my machine, wound a couple of extra bobbins, and placed my ruler, small cutting mat, and rotary cutter next to my machine on my sewing table. I started my first block. I carefully lined up the first two pieces, shortened my stitch length, and began stitching. Simple enough. At least it was until I went to finger press my pieces. Because the shapes were angular, the pieces didn’t completely cover the shape. Ripping out 1.5mm stitches is not an easy task, especially when you are doing it with every piece. Within 5 minutes the paper began to fall apart and I was having some very wicked thoughts. Oh, did I mention my husband was sitting in my sewing studio with me? Well, he was until I began to verbalize my wicked thoughts. He promptly got up and went out to his shop until the smoke cleared.

Let’s fast forward to Saturday, September 5, 2009:

It’s a sew-in day with several of my quilting friends and I’ve been prepping all week on projects I want to work on. My friend, Diane, does beautiful work using the paper piecing method and she has offered several times to teach me how to paper piece. I always thought I was a lost cause because I’ve failed so many times. So I selected two different blocks to start with, both of them designed by
Carol Doak. I found her patterns to be very user-friendly. She provides cutting information for each piece needed to complete the block which is a huge timesaver.

I arrived at the sew-in and got all of my things organized. After reviewing the blocks I selected, Diane felt the scrappy baskets would be a good one to start with. She sat with me for about 15 minutes and went over the basics and had me stitch a couple of the pieces on my pattern. Diane was so helpful in making sure I had the basics. She is a great teacher. She has a knack for identifying and organizing each step so you can easily understand the process.

I was so successful on Saturday that I stitched two blocks at the sew-in and have stitched four more at home. What do you think of them?

I'm no longer intimidated with paper piecing and am having lots of fun stitching these. I highly recommend Carol Doak's patterns. For the beginner, having the dimensions for cutting the individual pieces is a huge timesaver, not to mention keeping your frustration level down to a minimum. She even has a Yahoo! Group for added support and monthly challenges. Lastly, havinga friend who so generously takes the time to teach this method of quilting is invaluable. Thank you Diane. Without your help this method would not have had such an easy learning curve.


luv2quilt2 said...

Beautiful blocks! I love basket blocks, but I still haven't tried paper piecing. Maybe this will be the pattern I try.

clare's craftroom said...

Those blocks are beautiful , lovely colours !

jennyh said...

Glad you successfully did this and gave it one more shot!

c said...

they are beautiful, i wouldnt have even tried baskets for the first time, and I been doing some intriquite paper piecing in the past. wonderful blocks GOOD FO RYOU

Marty said...


I just read your blog. I, too, am a member of Carol's on-line group, but I have never formally acknowledged it. I read all the emails, and my "file" for the group's comments is huge!

I also live in Skagit County in South Mount Vernon. I don't belong to any groups and am basically a newbie in quilting. I buy fabric because I love it, but I don't want to cut into it! I know I'll get over that (I hope).

Its nice to see someone on the group from our part of the country.


Mary in H. Va said...

I am a memeber of Carols group and so very proud of you! You did beautifully!!! And see it wasn't so hard to get ut of the box! I was going to say out of the lines but we need those!! I am doing several projects of hers right now for quilts of valor and wounded soldier quilts and they work up so nicely! She does such a wonderful job for us!!

Anonymous said...

great new start to your pp experience, I understand you fear, if I had not bought Carol DVD I do not think that I would ever have got going. I do not have a quilting group nearby so really have to do everything on a trial and error basis and fortunately for the yahoo-group and carol's book have been able to make some nice tops. FMQ is my next adventure. well done