En Provence Top: Finished

En Provence Top Finished
En Provence Top Finished

Nobody died.

I have just been really busy and haven’t taken the time to post. It is that time of year and my evenings have been spent writing Christmas cards.

The En Provence Mystery Quilt top is finished. I finished it last weekend, I think, and I am pleased with the way it turned out.

You can only see part of it as I only had one quilt holder available. I hope to get a better shot before I send it off to its new home.

En Provence Almost the end

I made a lot of progress on the En Provence quilt and it is nearing the conclusion.

En Provence -December 2017
En Provence -December 2017

I started out Saturday afternoon sewing the two halves of the top together. Then I laid out the quilt to see where I was. It was really great to see almost the whole quilt laid out. I think it looks really great.

After seeing the quilt so close to completion, I was on fire to sew the last 4 rows. I took everything back upstairs and laid on that bottom corner on my design wall.  I didn’t have much more time to do that on Saturday and no time to sew.

En Provence Beginning - Dec. 3, 2017
En Provence Beginning – Dec. 3, 2017

Laying out the last corner was huge, though. I found I was missing a couple of Peaky & Spike blocks, so I had to cut some fabric to finish those. It was good, though, because I could switch out some of the Peaky & Spike blocks that I hadn’t yet sewn.

After we came back from a NSGW event on Sunday afternoon, I put the pedal to the metal on my sewing machine and sewed 3 rows. I know there are only 3 blocks left in each row, but there is still a lot of piecing. I also have to add the border and that makes some of the blocks larger, thus more time consuming to sew.

En Provence - 3 good rows
En Provence – 3 good rows

I ended up with what I thought was 3 good rows.

Standing back really helps and I found a mistake. I stopped after the mistake block. It was really too late for me to be sewing anyway and I’d already had to rip out two sections of that block.

En Provence Ooops
En Provence Ooops

Except for the two pieces, I am pleased with how this quilt came out. It is not insane like Grand Illusion, but it was complex enough to keep me interested and interesting enough to want to continue to look at it.

I’ll fix it next time….whenever that is.

Final Weekend En Provence Progress

En Provence upper right hand quarter - November 26, 2017
En Provence upper right hand quarter – November 26, 2017

I added “Piecing” to the hashtags for this post. Immediately my mind revised that as ‘interminable piecing’. I don’t really feel tired of this project, but there are a LOT of seams and I am ready for this top to be finished. Good thing I made significant progress over the weekend.

The upper right hand corner is finished and this means that I have 4 rows of 3 blocks to finish. If I had 4 days free, I could finish the top by the weekend.

I have been sewing the border on as I go along. Using the ‘self-bordering’ technique makes the border much more precise in terms of matching seams. You also don’t have long seams to sew (and match) or borders to add once the center is done. I use this technique as much as possible. It makes my life so much better.

Thanksgiving Weekend En Provence Progress

We had 24 people over for Thanksgiving, so there was no sewing Monday through Thursday while Thanksgiving prep was taking place. I was also working.  I did, however, make some good progress over the weekend.

En Provence, November 24, 2017
En Provence, November 24, 2017

I spent most of the day on Friday sewing. I even declined to watch a movie with the boys in order to sew. They needed some alone time anyway. More than half of En Provence is pieced and I am working on the upper right corner.

I got up and set about sewing pretty soon after that. I usually go for a walk before I sew to get it out of the way, but needed more resting time before I did that. The first thing I worked on was finishing the last/top row of the left hand side.

After coming back from my walk, I laid out the upper right hand side and started piecing. I was able to finish sewing a row and a half of that quarter. I would love to finish this weekend, but doubt that will happen. Bonnie Hunter’s Mystery Quilts require a lot of piecing, which is what makes them such great scrap quilts. Still, I have to sew a lot of short seams and there are a lot more to sew.

More En Provence

En Provence, November 19, 2017
En Provence, November 19, 2017

I started out late on Sunday with the piece above. I had finished chopping about a million ingredients for various Thanksgiving dishes and was delighted to find that I had some time to sew.

I had sewn most of the last row together, but had a few more seams, so I put those together and found, suddenly that I was able to layout the last row on the left half of this top. Shocking! I thought I had miles together.

I really don’t know why I keep being surprised by this quilt – how much I have sewn, how much I have left, how well it looks. Perhaps I should call it En Provence Surprise?

En Provence, November 21, 2017
En Provence, November 21, 2017

I had to fold down the piece before I could layout the top row. I could have reached, but why? It would have been a stretch every time I sewed two pieces together or checked the pressing. I wasn’t up for it.

It is extremely gratifying to see the top row even if it is just laid out and not sewn yet.

Triple Star is at a stopping point until I lay it out and decide on a final design, so I used donation blocks as leaders and enders. I finished 2.5, which isn’t shabby.

I know it is all En Provence All the Time on the blog these days. It is what I am working on except for gifts, which I am not working on enough and can’t show at the moment any way. You’ll have to bear with me for the time being.

Sticking It All Together

I counted up blocks and rows and units again and found that I am farther along than I thought. It all started when I noticed that I was getting very short of the quarter triangle units. I carefully counted and found that I only have to piece two more rows on the top to finish one whole half of the quilt.

Or so I thought.

Really, I have to piece two blocks top to bottom for the right side. I was shocked that I had so little left to do. I had been sure that I had an equal number of blocks to piece for the right side as I had on the left. I don’t know how I got so turned around, but this is great news! I thought I would never finish piecing this quilt. Yet, I had already done so much.

As a treat, I decided to see how the piece would look once it was stuck together. Sort of.

Merged En Provence Left Half
Merged En Provence Left Half

I put two images together. There are slight differences in lighting, and the bottom is folded up, but you still get the idea. I am thrilled.

I saw another version of the pattern on Instagram. It is by Sylvia, Sommerschiebe. I love how round this circles ended up.

En Provence – More Progress

En Provence - Start of upper left quarter
En Provence – Start of upper left quarter

I made a little progress over last weekend, after fixing my Oops. I was able to take down the bottom quarter of the quilt top and put up the pieces for the top left quarter. In addition to the three rows you see in the image, I have two more rows to sew to complete half the quilt.

I know I am getting ahead of myself, but I am excited to see the progress of this quilt. It is really a lot of piecing. The result is fantastic, from what I can see so far, but it is taking a long time to piece.

The half rows I am piecing have 75 units to sew together to get the 6 block half row. I say units because I have already pieced the units together. Each blue star has 32 pieces and each pink star (not the border blocks) has 24 pieces. I am glad the units are all pieced, I have to say.

En Provence Oops

As if I didn’t have enough piecing to do on En Provence, I had to spend some time un-piecing and re-piecing. It happens, I know, but I was pretty annoyed with myself when I realized my error.

En Provence Oops
En Provence Oops

The alternate blocks that are on the interior of the quilt have a half square triangle at each corner to keep the chain that zigzags across the quilt whole.

Does that block look like it has four HSTs? One at each corner?

No.

The question, then, became could I live with the error or did I need to unpick?

One consideration was that I had already sewed that block into the quilt. If I could live with it, I could save a lot time. However, the block was only sewn on two sides, so I wouldn’t have to rip apart much of the quilt.

En Provence Broken Chain :(
En Provence Broken Chain 🙁

However, I noticed it because the chain was broken, so clearly the error was noticeable.

Also, I would be short of four patches.

Fixed En Provence Oops
Fixed En Provence Oops

I decided I couldn’t live with it and fixed it. I am happier now.

En Provence – Tiny Progress

En Provence - late October 2017
En Provence – late October 2017

I made an effort to make some progress before I went off on my 5 days away from my sewing machine. I was able to get an En Provence column done. In case you can’t tell by comparing my last update photo with this one, it is the column on the right.

I have decided that adding rows and columns isn’t going to work, so now, while I still have the quilt on the design wall, I am laying out a row and sewing it together, but I won’t sew it to the whole piece. I will use it as the first row of the upper quarter. Once the whole quarter is made, then I will sew it to the piece shown above. This will prevent me from having to sew too many long seams.

After the top left quarter is sewn, I will work on the two right quarters and do the same. At the most, I should have 3 long seams.

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.