En Provence Progresses Slowly

En Provence - October 8, 2017
En Provence – October 8, 2017

I am slowly making progress on En Provence. You can compare my progress to the previous post’s picture.

I was able to spend time working on it on Saturday night and some of the day on Sunday. I was able to add a short row vertically on the right and put together a row that I will be able to add to the top soon.

You might be wondering why this piece is taking me forever. I haven’t yet put together blocks, so I have to put the blocks together before I can put together the rows. I need to watch placement of the fabrics. While the piece is scrappy, it is not a charm quilt and I’d like to keep like fabrics away from each other as much as possible.

This quilt definitely has fewer colors than I like, but the controlled palette really enhances the curved look of the piecing. I am so pleased with how this piecing is looking that I can’t stop looking at it. That surprises me since it is just a pattern, not much original.

En Provence – Almost a Quarter

En Provence - almost a quarter
En Provence – almost a quarter

I made good progress on Saturday. I have nearly a quarter of En Provence sewn together. I probably need another row of the pink stars on the top and one the side to have a full quarter, but progress is being made.

I am pleased with the way it looks. I think it is turning out well. some of the light blues are a bit light and do blend with the text fabric background. I hope that will add interest. The larger squares I am adding in are working well. I am very pleased I decided to use a controlled scrappy palette. I think it gives the quilt a cohesion it wouldn’t otherwise have.

I am not sure when I will get to this quilt again, but I hope to finish it soon. I have to day that I kind of just want this piece done. I REALLY like, but I just want it done.

En Provence Clue 7

Clue 7 of the En Provence Mystery Quilt is a cheap date. It is 4 clues in one. Bonnie Hunter explains carefully why she wrote the last clue that way, so I understand. That doesn’t make me happy about it. I wish the additional QSTs/Peaky & Spikes had been clue 7, the squares/HSTs had been clue 8, the additional 4 patches had been clue 9 and the assembly had been Clue 10. I know she didn’t have 4 additional weeks, but still.

When I realized what was going on, I gathered the fabrics I wanted to use and took them over to SIL 2’s house for Craft Night. I pressed and cut the shapes I needed for HSTs and Peaky & Spikes. I only needed to pin and the HSTs were ready to be sewn.

Cutting Peaky & Spikes
Cutting Peaky & Spikes

The Peaky & Spikes required more work. I was planning on cutting the actual shapes using SIL’s Accuquilt die. I only got the rough shapes cut and then was too tired to continue. I borrowed the die and cut them out over the weekend.

Over the weekend, mostly Sunday since Saturday was the BAM meeting, I ran the Peaky & Spike rough cuts through the Accuquilt and sewed those together. I was short on some of the Peakies and will wait to cut more until I see how many I need.

I couldn’t really complain too much because I had the directions for putting the blocks together. I decided to put some pieces and parts up on the design wall to see what I had.

WOW!!!

I really like it. I actually couldn’t stop myself from starting to sew the top together. The images above, from bottom to top, show the bottom left hand corner. I have sewn the bottom pink, corner block and the blue star to its right. They look great and I was tempted to just put the whole thing together last night. Of course, it will take me awhile to put the whole top together, so I slowly backed away muttering soothing noises to my hands, which were itching to sew like a mad woman.

I thought about the quilt a LOT and wonder if I should change the pink stars for orange stars. Yes, it means re-cutting and sewing a bunch more Peaky & Spikes. I might try a couple and see what I think. I like the orange I used in the QSTs and wonder if it isn’t too little.

Background Chaos
Background Chaos

One of the sub clues for Clue 7 is to make more background 4 patches. Sigh. I wonder why she just didn’t have us make all of them in the beginning? This does give me the opportunity to change up the look of my quilt. I sewed one corner and the four patches are great, but I think they would look better with some larger squares interspersed. I think all of the four patches look a little chaotic with everything else that is going on in the quilt. It will also take me less time to cut them.

I have lost the prepped HSTs from Craft Night, which is frustrating. I went on a frenzy of tidying, which is never a good thing. I wanted to have them sewn together, so I could intersperse the previous HSTs I made with the new fabrics. As it stands, I will need to prep more to finish the quilt. Sigh.

I am really liking this quilt so far. I am glad as mystery quilts are always a crap shoot.

Clue 6: QST Finished

Finished QSTs
Finished QSTs

I finished Clue 6, which I described last week, and that is really all I got done today. I can’t decide if I am happy with the fabric choices or wish I had gone with the darker blues. I supposed I’ll have to see when I start putting the whole piece together.

That being said, I do like all of the fabrics individually so that has to count for something.

I did use the Marsha McCloskey Precision Trimmer. I bought this ruler a long time ago (see previous references to my love for rulers). I can’t remember ever using it, but it came in very handy for these QSTs. There is a dot that marks the center of different sizes of squares that helped me line up the ruler over each QST in a precise manner. Except for sliding all over the place, I was very pleased with the ruler. It worked like a charm I remedied the sliding with some True Grips.

I am also very pleased with the precision of the 6600. The quarter inch seam allowance is excellent, which makes for easy assembly of blocks. All in all a good day even though I didn’t accomplish much.

QST Success

You probably noticed that I was a little annoyed yesterday with the continuing En Provence saga. I am ready to put blocks together.

Monday morning, I got some tea and sat looking at the weird orange sun. I was very pleased to have another day off.

QST Doodle
QST Doodle

As I whined about the unfairness of mystery quilts 😉 to my journal, I started to sketch out colors and make little drawings. Then I looked at some En Provence photos I had saved and thought about what additional color I wanted to add in. I made some

QST Doodle
QST Doodle

Suddenly, I was happy. I decided on a color scheme or a potential color scheme. I had a plan and so everything fell into place.

Later that day, when my mom came over, I looked up some tutorials on quick piecing quarter square triangles. Some I couldn’t understand, but then I found one that is a great tutorial. It had the fabrics placed in the same places I wanted them, which meant I didn’t have to work that little piece out. It’s a small thing, but was important to me at that moment. Also, all the steps were laid out with photos, so I could see everything. I found another tutorial that I would like to try, but haven’t. The look of the second one is much more modern, but I can’t vouch for the quality of the instructions yet.

I used four fabrics to make some test blocks and they came out great. I was very pleased with the tutorial, my sewing, life in general.

Test QSTs and fabrics ready to sew
Test QSTs and fabrics ready to sew

That night was Craft Night, so I spent the time cutting all the fabrics I need. I used fabrics from my Aqua bin and I think I haven’t used fabrics from that bin in a long time. Some are old and don’t seem to have any FOTY parts cut from them. It seems odd, since I love Aqua and many of the fabrics are great. I have to press them, but they are cut, marked and pinned and ready to sew.

This step didn’t turn out to be as nightmarish as I though. I guess it is all about attitude

DONE: En Provence HSTs

En Provence HSTs - Clue 5
En Provence HSTs – Clue 5

One of the projects I prepped at Sew Day was Clue 5 for the En Provence quilt. I used my triangle technique, which made the hardest part of the process, pressing and trimming.

I have to admit that I thought I was done and could get to putting the blocks together.

Sigh.

No such luck. I checked out Clue 6 and found I have to make a bunch of Quarter Square Triangles AND I need to introduce a new color. This will require some thought.

At least I finished something, no matter how small.

DONE: En Provence Clue 4

En Provence, Clue 4 - Peaky & Spike
En Provence, Clue 4 – Peaky & Spike

Yep, I finally finished all of those Peaky and Spikes I talked about in July.

I thought I would never finish and while I was taking a piecing break last weekend I put all the rest of the undone pieces together and sewed.

I never thought I would finish this clue. I have to admit that I am getting sick of all of this prep and would like to sew some blocks together. I am fighting with myself about whether to sew a block or two together or to just follow the clues.

I just looked in the folder and I have two more clues, then I will be, presumably, finished.

The next thing I need to do is make a bunch of half square triangles. Now to figure out the colors.

En Provence Part 4

I went to Craft Night with dark blues and text fabrics in hand. The event was at SIL’s and she has the Peaky & Spike die. I planned to cut up the Peaky and Spikes I needed for the next step in the En Provence quilt.

Peaky & Spikes for En Provence
Peaky & Spikes for En Provence

I accomplished my goal. These are supposed to be purple, but I am not using purple in this quilt. I find purple to be a depressing color when I use a lot of it in a quilt, so I tend to shy away from it.I don’t hate it, I just have other favorites. Since I used blues in the recent 4patches, I am using a dark blue to go with those pieces

I had to dig through a lot of my fabric to find these dark blues. I used up most of the my dark blues on the Stars for San Bruno quilts. I don’t use dark blue that much, but I am finding that it comes in handy periodically. Not all of these blues are super dark. They are, however, different and darker than the blues used in the four patches.

I have started to sew the Peakys to the Spikes, but haven’t gotten very far. Small accomplishments.

En Provence Clue 3

DONE!

I know I am crowing about the tiniest of progress, but I have to take finishes, even semi-finishes, where I can get them.

En Provence Four Patches
En Provence Four Patches

I finished Clue 3, which was a surprise, because I thought I would have to cut more 2″ squares to finish more four patches. I thought I had about 40 more to make. They were done and I didn’t figure it out until Sunday when I counted all the 4 patches up and came up with 171. That means I have 3 extra.

I am pleased, but I know the joy will be short-lived since I have to make more Peaky and Spikes next similar to the ones I made before.

Sewing a Gazillion Squares

Carpenter's Wheel - Section 1 & 2 sewn together
Carpenter’s Wheel – Section 1 & 2 sewn together

I had such a nice weekend. I was able to, essentially, spend two days sewing after really missing it during all of my #politicalwifery over the past few weeks. As I mentioned, I had to cut a lot. I just didn’t have enough variety of text squares to make much progress on the Carpenter’s Wheel. I see to sew this piece in fits and starts.

After sewing the cut squares together into 4 patches, I began to assemble the blocks. It takes 64-2.5′ squares to make a block. As you have seen in other posts, I do put a larger square in to the blocks to add interest, so I don’t always have to sew 64 squares together. Still 60 squares or 56 squares, because I usually don’t sew more than 2 large squares into one block, is a lot.

Carpenter's Wheel -almost last row, section 2
Carpenter’s Wheel -almost last row, section 2
Carpenter's Wheel -almost last row, section 3 - in process
Carpenter’s Wheel -almost last row, section 3 – in process

The section above will fit on to the bottom of the two sections I already sewed together, shown above.

I was able to finish one whole section and make a good start on the last section, shown right. I really enjoy making progress on this quilt. I only have about 10 seams to have these four blocks sewn together. I do need to make two more text blocks (like the lower right) in order to finish the section.

Definitely progress.

Working Towards a Gazillion Squares

Squares
Squares

I had to bite the bullet over the weekend and just cut like crazy. I can’t finish any more of the Carpenter’s Wheel sections until I cut some more background patches. As I have said 3,000 times, I desperately want to finish a quilt top and so certain tasks must be accomplished.

I can’t finish the 4 patches for Step 3 of the En Provence Mystery Quilt until I cut more blues.

I have had some bits of times to cut and have made some progress, but I really went at it on Saturday and spent nearly the whole day cutting both blues and the text fabrics. It was kind of crazy, actually, because I really cut a lot of squares.

I should have used my Accuquilt for the 2.5″ squares, but the blades on my die have never worked quite right. The pieces I cut last time were more trouble than they were worth. I have to get a new die. In the meantime, I am going through rotary cutter blades.

92 Four Patches

En Provence 4 Patches
En Provence 4 Patches

I am back from Grand Parlor and finally had some time to sew yesterday. I started cutting out a new quilt. More on that later. I also made 92 four patches for the En Provence quilt. This is clue 3. I am using blues rather than purples.

I had some blues that could be mediums or darks. I had to make really make sure that I wasn’t using medium blues as darks and lights in the same block.

I have 74 left to make.

Blue Lemonade Cannibalism

Blue Lemonade Cannibalism
Blue Lemonade Cannibalism

I decided to use blue instead of purple on step 3 of En Provence. I have been hanging around not doing anything about step three for several weeks. Finally, needing something mindless to do for a few minutes, I cannibalized the blue squares from my stash of Blue Lemonade 2 inch squares. I planned to use them for En Provence and replace the Blue Lemonade blue squares before I started to sew that piece together.

Everything didn’t go as planned.

Blue Lemonade also has green and purple squares, so the entire box wasn’t blue. Also, there were duplicates, so I didn’t take all of the blue squares as I want both to be relatively scrappy. Not even the majority of the box was blue. I think the squares were evenly distributed between the three colors.

Cutting from Scraps
Cutting from Scraps

I ended up with about 380 squares. If my math is right (never a guarantee), I need 672 squares to make 168 four patches. Bonnie doesn’t exactly say, but I think I need 672 squares to make 168 four patches. My math isn’t so terrible that I can’t multiply. Still, it seems like a lot. I can use strips and make them less scrappy. We’ll see.

Blue Scrap Bin
Blue Scrap Bin

Then I started to cut from my scrap bin. I have a lot of blue scraps, so I was able to cut several out of the scraps. My scraps are either too small or too big. Still, I found some I could use. This put me up to 464 squares. Not shabby, but still 200+ short. I don’t relish the thought of cutting 200+ squares, but it has to be done or I have to use strips.

Then I have to replenish the Blue Lemonade squares as well. Sigh.

 

 

En Provence Update

En Provence with Peaky & Spike
En Provence with Peaky & Spike

I have a very tiny update for the En Provence Mystery quilt. I have enough of the Peaky & Spike blocks finished to make 9 patches.

In fact, I may be completely finished with the Peaky & Spike blocks. I don’t know what goes in the corners and haven’t taken the time to look it up.

This block, the only one I have laid out, is not sewn. Laying it out, however, gets it closer to being sewn. I hope you don’t think this is a poor showing!

I have to say that it occurred to me that I might want to use the blues from the Blue Lemonade Hunting & Gathering box for the colored 4 patches. If the clue asks for 2 inch squares, I’ll be golden or In like Flynn. I have to find the clue and look it up.

Accuquilt Die v Ruler Smackdown

OK, smackdown might be a bit of an exaggeration, but it sounds impressive, right?

I am working on the Bonnie Hunter En Provence Mystery Quilt, as you know. The second step, which I have partially finished, uses Peaky and Spike* blocks. Peaky and Spike sounds more fun than “weird triangle blocks”, right?

Peaky and Spike
Peaky and Spike

Peaky is the pink part and Spike is the black on white part. For En Provence, I needed to make 100 of these elements. Not rocket science, but not squares either. The bias could be problem. At Sew Day I cut all of the Spikes using the appropriate Tri Recs ruler. This piece has no notches except for the top, which is easy to deal with.

I bought the Peaky and Spike die with a gift card for Christmas, but by the time I was ready to start cutting, it was still on backorder and had not shown up. I began cutting the Peakies from the ruler at Craft Night. SIL told me that she had the Peaky and Spike die and I switched to that. I cut all of the 200 Peakies I needed in about an hour. Much easier than using a rotary cutter.

Die and Ruler
Die and Ruler

The interesting part of this is the sewing. The ruler has a notch at the bottom (photo right bottom) and the die (photo left top) has a notch at the top. In the directions for the quilt, Bonnie admonishes us to be sure and cut the notch at the bottom**. As a result, I placed the ruler on the die cut Peakies and also cut the bottom notch. This got old really fast and I stopped.

Peaky & Spike Annotated
Peaky & Spike Annotated

Once I started sewing, it didn’t matter. The bottom notch (from the ruler) was certainly helpful. You need either the top or bottom notch to sew the pieces together easily and in alignment, however either one will work.  I really didn’t need both.

Tri Recs Ruler
Tri Recs Ruler

The ruler has the advantage of enabling the user to cut multiple sizes. The Peaky ruler has the notch on the bottom because of the different sizes.

The die only cuts pieces for one block size, and, thus, can have the notch more prominently on the top.

This was a interesting learning experience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Peaky and Spike is the name given to these blocks by Doreen Speckmann. Doreen was a fantastic teacher, funny, fun loving and a master at helping students understand the structure of block elements. If you don’t have her book, Pattern Play, start haunting used book stores. It is a classic.

 

**The mystery quilt directions focus on the Tri Recs ruler and not on the die, though the die is mentioned as being available.