A Splendid Journey

A year ago I was new to the online quilting community and was really happy to find all the fabulous people to follow and groups to join.  I have been quilting for a long time and can usually look at  photo of any quilt and figure out how to make it, so I didn’t really see the point in taking classes.  However, after following a few people and groups, I began to see that different people had very different takes on the same quilts and blocks.  Finding that interesting, I joined 3 groups – the longest project being the Splendid Sampler.

I first talked about this project here – it started about a year ago and was hosted by Pat Sloan and Jane Davidson.  There were a total of 100 blocks, plus another 20 or so bonus blocks, with the 100th block posted on February 12, 2017. The blocks have been posted on a website, but the book for the project is about to be published and the patterns on the website will go away (I think the bonus blocks will stay).

All of these blocks were 6″.  6″ are small blocks – really small when you consider how much detail was packed into these small little patterns.  I found the process pretty frustrating at first, but I learned a lot through the year, and I thought I’d share my learnings now that I’ve finished all the blocks.

Ann’s Splendid Learnings

  1. By doing this project, my piecing got a lot more accurate.  It’s one thing to fudge things fitting together in larger blocks (10″-12″), but with 6″ blocks, sometimes with 1″ pieces, you have to get it right.  All of it – the cutting, 1/4″ seam allowance, piecing, pinning, and pressing.  It was interesting – I found myself really struggling and fighting the blocks at first, but by the end they were really going together quickly and accurately.  Believe me, realizing this at the end was really rewarding!

Here are a few of the small detailed blocks:

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. I rediscovered my interest in embroidery.  At first these blocks were intimidating, but I loved picking out the colors and doing some slow stitching.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.  Speaking of embroidery, I did try Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy a few times, but I really didn’t like it.  Instead I finally bought a blue water soluble pen and I love it.  While it was nice to just print the pattern on to the Fabri-Solvy and not have to trace it, I found the solvy made the fabric sticky and stiff.  Tracing the pattern didn’t take too long, and the ink just came right off.  I’m now using the soluble marker for all sorts of marking – it is a great tool.

4.  I also found I really like paper piecing.  I had done some in the past, but on much larger blocks.  I will say there was no way I could have done these paper pieced blocks without first watching the tutorials that Alyssa Thomas of Penguin and Fish published.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The key is using a card to fold the paper as you sew the pieces on.  First you glue down the fabric to the paper under the number 1 to hold it in place (right side out, wrong side of fabric against the paper).  Then you put a stiff piece of paper – like a postcard – along the line between the #1 and #2.  (I use my Burano, Italy postcard!)

Fold the paper back over the postcard along that line:

Cut the fabric 1/4″ beyond the edge of the postcard.

You then line up the next piece of fabric along that cut edge, flip the piece over, and sew along the line.  Press it open, and continue working through the numbers.  Lots of steps, but so much easier and more precise than just holding up the paper to the light and trying to line up the next piece by looking through it!

These are my bonus block butterflies:

5.  The Sewline glue pen is my new best friend.  I had been collecting selvages because I really liked some of the selvage projects I had seen online.  Because of this, I was really happy when block #33 – Selvage Saver – was released.  Pat also did a written tutorial on working with selvages, which included the Sewline glue pen.  I bought one, used it on that block, and used it on a bunch of other blocks as well – both paper piecing (see above!) and English Paper Piecing.

 

6.  I had seen a bunch of people doing hexies online, but didn’t really have any interest in trying them out.   Therefore I was really happy to see block #36 – Inchy Hexagon Club – show up, but man were those hexies small!  I found I really liked making hexies and will likely make more (enjoyed #41 with bigger hexies), but I also found through other blocks that EPP in general is not my favorite thing.  Too many really small pieces, and I’m not very good at joining the pieces in a clean way.  If given the chance, I paper pieced what I could of these blocks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7.  Finally, I confirmed that I really don’t like appliqué.  I can do fusible appliqué, and can secure the edges with a button hole or satin stitch, but it is not my favorite.  I did like the flip flop bonus block, and #56 – At Home Anywhere, which I made to look like our place in Pagosa.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All in all it was a great project.  I completed all 100 blocks, and and additional 20 bonus blocks.  Here’s a stack of them all.

I’m now working on a layout so I can get them all sewn together.  I did all of the blocks using my stash, but amazingly I still have a ton of the fabrics left to do the setting.  It’s going to be a big quilt.

Thanks to Pat and Jane for coordinating this awesome project.  It was a great experience and I’m looking forward to the finished product!

Splendid Sampler – June Progress

Another month, time for more blocks!  I’m a little late in posting the Splendid blocks I finished in June.  I have this problem that I keep thinking “I’ll just finish one more block and add it to the post!”  But as it is mid-July, I think the time has come to post the June blocks.

As a reminder, the Splendid Sampler is a project hosted by Pat Sloan and Jane Davidson.  They are working with many designers, and release two 6″ blocks a week (plus a few bonus blocks).  At the end of the year we’ll have over 100 6″ blocks to make the quilt.  My first post about this QAL, including my fabric selection, is here.

Here are the new blocks:

Block 28 – the Infamous Paper Pieced Dress.  I really loved this one, but was intimidated by all the little pieces.  I’ve done quite a bit of paper piecing, but nothing like this.  I took the time to look up the video Alyssa Thomas of Penguin & Fish did for this block, and it was really helpful.  I learned a few new techniques that made construction a lot easier.

dress

Block 29 – Scrappy Heart.  It is no secret I’m a big Christa Watson fan.  This one was fun – sort of controlled/planned improv.  I like my slash of red in the otherwise blue heart.

strip heart

Block 30 – Simple Surprises.  Nice easy block to do, while I was working out the dress and working on Block 31….

block 30

Block 31 – Blossoming.  WOW THIS TOOK A VERY LONG TIME TO DO!  But I really did love doing it.  I wound up having 2 issues with this one.  First, I’ve been cutting the background fabric too small to use a hoop, and the area under ‘giving’ at the bottom got a bit bunchy.  Second, one of my darker red threads bled while I was removing the Sticky-Solvy.  I was so bummed!  I’ve never had this happen before.  You can’t really tell in the photo, but after all that work I was kind of sad about it.

blossoming - 31

Block 32 – Constant Needle.  Easy appliqué.  I’ve been doing all my non-hexie appliqué using the fusible method.

flower

Block 33 – Selvage Saver.  I really liked this one too – I got to use some University of Wisconsin Bucky selvages, so that was awesome.  I’d been saving selvages because I really liked some of the projects I saw using them.  This was a cool opportunity to try the technique out.

selvages

Block 34 – Lemonade.  I’m not really that afraid of curved piecing, but pieces this small were tough!

lemonade

 

Block 35 – The Wishful Garden.  Another fun embroidery block.  This one used only 1 strand of floss, and utilized several stitches I had never done before.  Came together pretty quickly, and no puckering or bleeding this time.

block 35

Block 36 – Inchy Hexagon Club.  I really loved doing this block.  I’ve seen all these people doing hexies and I really didn’t get it, but was willing to try.  It seems that the EPP hexies you commonly see people do are 1″ (length of one side of the hexie), but these were only 3/8″.  They were small, which was kind of a hard way to learn, but I enjoyed them and they got easier.  I also used several videos to learn techniques and see how people get these together.  I did mine using paper patterns, a fabric glue stick, and thread basting around the side of the hexie.  I hand appliquéd the whole thing down to the background fabric.  After this block I kind of caught the hexie bug and have been making a few more 1″ hexies for other projects.  They are kind of addicting!

Sometimes I like to add my little Angry Bird to my photos because I think he is so funny.  My dog Leo (Mr. Brown Paws) has a pack of five large stuffed Angry Birds that he loves, and he often carries around the red one.  He doesn’t chew on him, just carries him around.  It’s funny to have Leo stand there holding his bird, wagging his tail and staring at you with a big yellow beak coming out of his mouth.  He’s a pretty happy dog.  But I digress….

hexies - 36

Block 37 – Dashing by Chocolate.  I think block got it’s name from being built from a Churn Dash block, with a brown square in the middle.  I have a ton of this Sock Monkey fabric left from a quilt I did awhile ago, and I thought this guy fit nicely in the center.

sock monkey - 37

Here’s all the June blocks together:

group inside

 

And finally, all my Sampler Blocks so far…including several Bonus blocks.  I took the opportunity to get a photo of them all together when I had my temp design wall up.  I think it is looking good!  I’m still liking the red, white and blue theme, am loving using up all these things from my stash, and like the effect of pulling in a few other colors when the blocks seem to need it.

all blocks - June

 

Now on to July.  I’m a bit behind at this point due to some travel early in the month, but I’m not too far off and have some time to work on it over the next few days.

 

Splendid Sampler – Through May

Have you all heard about The Splendid Sampler?  Pat Sloan and Jane Davidson pulled together a group of designers to create a bunch of 6″ blocks that they are releasing throughout the year.  A new block is released every Thursday and Sunday, and often there is a bonus block thrown in to boot.  It looked like fun, and a neat challenged, so I joined in.

Selecting fabrics was my first challenge.  I was starting to feel like a fabric hoarder, so I decided to partner this sew-a-long with a reason to clean out my stash and focus on using up what I already had.  After going through my bins, I wound up with one big bin of stuff that is going into my Modern Quilt Guild’s Destash Sale later this summer.  I found that the remaining fabrics that I liked the best were mainly blue and red, and I had a big chunk of solid white fabric.  Thus my patriotic red, white and blue Splendid Sampler was born!

By April I fell pretty far behind due to busy times at work and a bunch of travel, so in the past few weeks I focused on doing some catch-up.

may group

Group of 15 blocks completed during my catch-up cram sessions

I really had a good time working on all of these at once, and it helped challenge me to really use up different fabrics from the stash.

favority group

These are my favorites from the group

Some close-ups of the favorites –

sewing machine measuring tape

 

derby hat dresden

It has been so much fun watching people complete and publish their versions of the blocks and I have gotten so much inspiration from them all.  I’ve been quilting for a long time, but through this project have found that some of my skills were pretty rusty, there were a bunch of new techniques that I needed to learn, and generally I was just trying to sew too fast.  I have also rediscovered a love for embroidery.  Alyssa Thomas at Penguin & Fish has been an amazing resource throughout the project – her Periscope/YouTube videos are very helpful.

Finally, I’m participating in a New Bloggers Group, and one of my the fine ladies in my group (Jen from Faith and Fabric) is hosting a link-up called Creative Community.  I think The Splendid Sampler is a great example of what a Creative Community can produce, so I’m linking up with Jen’s group.

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