Finished: Flowering Snowball

Flowering Snowball Finished
Flowering Snowball Finished

Yes, after YEARS this quilt is finally finished. I love finishing quilts. I love working on them, too, in case you hadn’t noticed, but finishing a quilt is awesome as well. I am pleased with how this one came out.

It is a great pattern and I would encourage you to try it out.

Flowering Snowball Top & Back

Sunday was a nice day. It was Mother’s Day and, though nobody in my house said anything specifically, I did whatever I wanted and didn’t have to do too many chores. I received a depressing, if very true card and an iTunes gift card from the Young Man and then spent the rest of the day finishing the Flowering Snowball. Not finishing as in quilted and bound, but finishing the top and the back.

Flowering Snowball top
Flowering Snowball top

So, the top, back and binding for the Flowering Snowball are all done and will be sent off to the quilter soon.

I am pretty pleased with the top. Since the project spanned several years, some of the fabrics are fabrics that I would not choose to work with now. Also, since I wanted this to be a scrap quilt, I should have stuck to using each foreground fabric only once.

Still, none of the fabrics jump out and demand attention and the variety of fabrics is significant, so there is a lot to look at.

Of course, I can think of things I would do differently if I did the quilt again and the VIMH#1 is musing about making one on the machine and color schemes while VIMH#2 is getting ready to slap her. I have plenty of projects on the design wall that need attention before I can circle back and make another one of these.

I have to admit that after I started chunking the top, I thought that I could have made more blocks so that the center would be wider. I was thinking that two more rows of blocks down the center would be great. I am not doing it. What I have is enough and I will think about this as a lesson and carry it forward.

Flowering Snowball back
Flowering Snowball back

I am doing backs in a little different way now. I decided that the large Philip Jacobs and Martha Negley prints I love so much would be great backs. I am taking some of the giant pieces I bought recently and putting them on the backs. I am still committed to piecing my backs, but am taking a break from tiny pieces. I am trying to use larger pieces. This makes making the backs much faster to piece. It also means that those large prints are shown off to their best advantage.

In this case, I tried to pick fabrics that went with the Martha Negley print and, further, with each other. I ended up with a very pink back.

the librarian in me has to tell you that I called the pattern “Cross Blocks” until I found that Barbara Brackman had cataloged it. In EQ7, the notecard lists it as “Barbara Brackman’s Encyclopedia of Quilt Patterns  #3081 – Aunt Kate 7/65.” It is from the Classic Pieced, Orange Peel family.

The Sunday Stash Report (a la Pam at Hip to be a Square podcast) is 8 yards. More on that later.

I can’t believe that this approximately 6 year project is finally done. this means that I am down to 20 projects which need serious work. Some of the 6 are still at the quilter or need to be bound, but I consider this to be good progress.

I don’t know what project is next. I’ll have to work on the Flower Sugar Hexagons again just to get some more of them sewn and added. I also have some blocks to make for the A-B-C Challenge.

Nota bene: the WordPress media uploader has not cooperating. I have been having trouble with it for the past few days so I added the photo of the top, but it is large. If I can make it smaller, I will.


Florets - March 2012
Florets - March 2012

Yes, I am working on the Flowering Snowball. It is a hand project (as I designed it to be) and I work on it when I watch TV.

I did a lot of cutting a few weeks ago, as I mentioned and the result is that I am putting segments together until there are none left and then putting other segments together until I can start sewing blocks together. At the moment I am working on sewing a foreground piece (the printed, colored fabric), which has been joined with a black on white piece to a different foreground piece that has been attached to a  small black square.

So far, I have done three. When I looked at them the word ‘florets’ came to mind. Yes, like broccoli, but not broccoli. Nicer than broccoli-not that there is any thing wrong with broccoli, but fabric is much better. So I am calling these joined segments florets.

One of the things about this method is that I put all the squares together at once. I sew the same segments to each other until all of the blocks are done and then I move to the next segment. When I start finishing the blocks, they will be done quickly.

Last Flowering Snowball

Last Flowering Snowball, August 2009
Last Flowering Snowball, August 2009

Last Sunday night, I went over and watched a movie with my SIL. We often craft together and this night was no exception. We watched Alfred Hitchcock’s Lifeboat and stitched. I was able to finish the last middle block of the Flowering Snowball/Cross Block project.

Now I need to worry about the border blocks. I haven’t taken the time to make the pattern for those. I will soon.

Flowering Snowball Work

Flowering Snowball, May 31, 2009
Flowering Snowball, May 31, 2009

As promised, here is an up to date picture of the Flowering Snowball (Cross Blocks). I found myself short of backgrounds the other day when I had the perfect opportunity to hand stitch.

I laid it out in order to see what background fabrics I should cut. I don’t want to have too many of the same fabrics. I want it to look scrappy.

As you can see I have 3 more blocks for the middle section before I start on the outside. I need to make the pattern pieces for the outside, too. I thought of combining the pieces that will become background, but I may just leave them as individuals, so that I can use a variety of fabrics. The former method means the rest of the project will progress much more quickly. The latter means that I won’t have to figure out a new piecing order.

Newest Cross Block (Flowering Snowball)

I sat and watched Wall-E the other night, which provided a good opportunity to spend some time finishing this block. I am only a few away from needing to start the border.

It is one of the blocks influenced by The Child’s comment that the blocks were pretty chaotic. I think the tone-on-tones look good with the prints. I will lay them out and take a photo soon.

The Snowballs are Flowering

I am still working on the Flowering Snowballs (Cross Blocks). As you can see, I have taken the Child’s advice and added in some visual resting places for the last 10 blocks.

As I have mentioned on numerous occasions, these are hand pieced. I intend to sew them together by machine. However, in the cutting process, they do not all turn out to have uniform edges. I have been wondering if they would come apart if I trimmed them with a square ruler and then sewed them all together?

The knots I have made to hold the pieces securely would be trimmed off. Would it matter how quickly I sewed after trimming? The machine piecing would definitely hold all of the blocks together. More pondering….

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Here is the latest update to the Flowering Snowball (Cross Blocks).

As I have mentioned, I am nearing the end of the project. I am not sure what the end actually is, but am thinking that it is 10 more of the middle blocks and then a round of border blocks. I haven’t designed the border blocks, but will design them to complete the colored areas with the rest being white. I was also thinking of a black border. I need to play around with what I am thinking because it is much easier to show a photo/image than explain.
Here is a detail.

The Child came in and joined me while I was looking at the blocks. He said that it looks too chaotic and I need to put some solids in it. HUH???

I do think he is right. I don’t know if I will use tone-on-tones or something like low contrast batiks, but I think I need to add some resting spots for the viewers eyes. I will try it out and see what I come up with.

Cross Block Back From Vacation

While driving around Virginia checking out quilt shops, I worked on some Flowering Snowball blocks in the car. I was amazed at how much I was able to get done. I know two blocks doesn’t seem like a lot, but since these are handpieced, this represents quite a bit of work.

I also began thinking about the border blocks. Nothing definite yet, but I think I am nearing the end of this project. Stay tuned.

And a Flowering Snowball

As an added bonus, I finished one Flowering Snowball (Cross Block) last week. I particularly like this one, because it has the coffee print. I think I am close to the end of piecing these blocks. I want to do a self border so I have to make those blocks. It is just a feeling, so we’ll see how it progresses.

I Didn’t Realize I Did Do Something!

Normally, I like to give my posts their day in the sun – the one time in their life when you will see them and only them first.

Today isn’t one of those kind of days.

A few days ago, I was lamenting the fact that I hadn’t been doing anything sewing related lately except thinking. When I realized that I had been working on the Cross Blocks (Flowering Snowballs) on and off, but pretty regularly for about three weeks or so, I was thrilled and had to show you. I have some work done! Hooray!

Some time ago, I spent a couple of hours cutting a bunch of patches to have handy when I had time to make blocks. The above five blocks are the result of that exercise as well as the actual sewing that I have done during the past few weeks. It pays to plan ahead, I think.

Some of the fabrics I wouldn’t use again, because they are too dark or too blah, but I think they will mix in well in the end.

Since 5 blocks is an odd shape, I took a close up of these four so you could see the circle (of which I am very proud). I also wanted you to have the opportunity to enjoy some of the fun and fabulous fabrics: the kitchen fabric in the middle (upper right block, yellow) as well as the lamp fabric (upper right block, blue). Normally, I don’t use these in the types of quilts I make, but this project is perfect for some of those conversationals that I like and never use.

I have a total of 33 blocks. I could stop at 36 and make a 6 block by 6 block quilt. I would like to have this piecing see me through my summer travels.

I also want to do the self bordering technique on this project so that the quilt looks finished. I will have to make a round of blocks for the outside. That idea worked so well with the Pineapples, I will have to really think about how I can do it successfully. If I make the center too big, the border will be too daunting.

Flowering Snowball Inspiration

Clevelandgirlie asked me about the Cross Block/Flowering Snowball and I looked through the blog to see if I could point her to the original quilt that inspired this project. The original post was on October 20, 2006. I guess that is the official project start date?

Definitely different coloration than mine. Definitely different. I don’t remember where I saw this quilt, so I don’t remember anything about it (hand pieced vs. machine pieced, hand quilted vs. machine quilted), but I still like it and am thrilled with the inspiration as well as the interest that people are taking in the project.

Cross Blocks Chugging Along

Here is the latest installation of the Flowering Snowballs project. I think that the green (upper left) is a feedsack fabric. I have only a small piece of it and the weave doesn’t seem to be a modern weave. Not that I know anything about feedsacks or the weave of fabric and whether it can be tied to an era!

Snowballs Really Flowering

I spent the weekend in LA. No machine. I brought my handwork with me and was able to sew four Cross blocks (Flowering Snowballs)! I have said that each one takes me an hour and a half, but these, except perhaps the first, did not take me an hour and half each. I really blew through them.

One has two pinks, but I tried hard on the others to make all the corner pieces different colors. I started to run out of greens and really need to add some violet or purple to the mix. I’ll work on cutting some different colors this weekend.

Now that I have a good amount of blocks, I decided to lay them out. They are really looking good! I just love the design that is made when the blocks are set together.

Making Cross Blocks (Flowering Snowballs) Tutorial

Judith asked about making the Flowering Snowball blocks, so here is a visual tutorial. Please note that this is the “Jaye-Way” and may not get you an prizes at Houston.

I would suggest that you read the book by Jinny Beyer on handpiecing, as she has a lot of good tips, though she doesn’t recommend using a felt tip. You can use a mechanical pencil to mark, if you want.

I am using templates and handpiecing them. I use a black or red Pilot (formerly SCUF) ultrafine point felt tip pen to mark around the templates. I use grey Aurifil thread and a thimble. Sometimes I put wax on the thread to keep it from tangling. Use whatever needles you like. I use betweens for piecing.

Practice with the felt tip on fabric. You want a thin line with no blobs at the end. I usually run over the end of the template a little and start lessening pressure on the tip right at the end of the template. If you leave it in one place too long, you get a blob. Blobs are bad for precise handpiecing and they look ugly, too.

Trace around the templates on a hard surface. In this case, I am using the book as hard surface. Trace on the back/wrong side of the fabric.

That tiny print says to flip the template 180 in order to get the most pieces out of your fabric. I was cutting 4 pieces from each fabric, but found that to be too many. I will use the ones I have, but am now only cutting one or two. I am trying to keep this quilt to a reasonable size (HA!) and to have as much variety in the fabrics as possible. If I like the fabric, I can always go back and cut more of it, right?

I trim around the templates by eye. I don’t measure the seam allowance. I try to keep it to arounda quarter of an inch and not to get too close.

Detail of trimming.

Here are the pieces cut out.

Here is the pinning. First, I pin right in the corner just inside the drawn line. I poke it through the foreground (colored) fabric first.
This is the back of the pinning. Same deal goes here. I come up through the back. Get the pin right in the corner where the drawn lines intersect and just inside. Remember you have drawn around the template, so the drawn line is a little larger than the template. This is why I try to pin AND sew just inside the drawn line.

Here (above), the pinning is done. Note that I put two pins close together at the beginning, but I take the first one out right when I am ready to sew, so I can start. The second one holds the pieces together while I get started. I try to make small, even stitches that are evenly spaced. Remember to look at the back as you sew so that you are poking through the back right inside the drawn line.

It is ok that the piece is wrinkly, because you want to match up two curves that are going in opposite directions. Use the bias to make them match.

How the Pieces Go Together

My whole philosophy, which I am pretty sure is a general quiltmaking philosophy, is to go from smaller to larger. This means to build the blocks by making the smallest patches into larger units and then putting the larger units together to make a whole block.

First, take one corner piece and one background piece and sew them together. Sew/pin with right sides together. Curves require, at least for me, a lot of pinning. For pinning, start at each corner and put pins in by lining up the corners of each piece with each other.

When you sew the corner and background together you will have a unit that looks like the above unit. You can see how the felt tip lines show through, which is another reason to sew just inside the drawn lines. They won’t show on the front of the quilt if you keep them in the seam allowance.

Seeing the felt tips lines here also allows you to see how they line up, if you do the piecing correctly.

Add another background unit. Note: I am trying to use all different fabrics in each position in the block, but you don’t have to do that.

Now you have quite a large unit. You will need two of these units per block.

Sew the center patch to one of the corner (foreground) units.

Here is how he unit looks once the middle patch is attached to a corner.

Sew a second corner to the center patch.

With this unit complete, you are ready to attach the side unit to the center.

So, just do it. Attach a side unit to the center.

Once you add that unit to the middle piece you are nearly there. The above piecing is the hardest part (but not like you are taking the SATs without a prep course), because the seam is long and the middle section is quite floopy. It also takes a LOT of pins. Make sure you sew through where the seams match several times to keep it strong and make sure the seams line up. I care about that stuff, but you don’t have to match your seams.

I don’t always press the patches after I sew them, because I am sitting on the couch watching TV while I sew (why do you think I have a hand project?) and am too lazy to trudge upstairs to press. It makes the piecing a lot nicer if you press as you go.

Add the last unit and you are done!

Completed square. I usually trim the block after I am done with the hand piecing. Make sure you don’t cut over any of your seam lines, because your piecing will unravel if you do. This is not machine piecing.