I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter. We had a great time hiding eggs with the granddarlings. Everyone was here and then we ordered pizza and had dinner together. It was terrific family time that will be cherished. I kind of felt sorry for my friend Janet who sent me a text saying that they would not be dying or hiding eggs this year – her two granddaughters decided they were too old. I figure if I tell the girls I have money in some of the eggs they will keep hunting eggs until they’re thirty. A Mimi has to do what a Mimi has to do…
I spent a good deal of time the last two weeks working on the Halo Medallion and Santa’s Loading Dock. We’ll talk Halo first. I finished all 32 scrappy stars. I put on another green floater and sewed the stars in strips and put them on as a border. They went on lickety-split with no issues. I’m working on the circling geese now – which are flying geese, paper pieced on a curve. Then these are inserted into a Drunkard’s Path block. So many, many curves!
Confession must be made at this point that Santa’s Loading Dock took most of my time. And in this year of Fearless Quilting, this challenge has finally taken hold of my imagination. I never thought I would literally face down another pattern that was more difficult than Dear Jane. And with Jane, it wasn’t so much the blocks that were difficult (but I’d be lying to you if I told you they were easy), it was the lack of directions that made the quilt contrary. If the book by Brenda Papadakis is the only tool used during construction, the quilter is faced with nothing but line drawings of 4 ½-inch blocks. That quilt’s saving grace is the wonderful bloggers that go into great detail on construction and the Dear Jane software that makes paper piecing a lot easier.
I wish I could say that Santa’s Loading Dock has the same set of resources, but it doesn’t. Lisa, Linda, and I are kind of muddling our way through it as best we can. And every time we think we have it figured out, we have to back up and think again. The pattern is little to no help, as even the time line for construction is not accurate.
However, I’ve always loved a challenge and this is definitely a challenge in every way, from figuring out when to make what section to how to applique the pieces on. We’re working on the big window right now. I’ve made the snow section and the icicles and have worked on the snowman and the tree.
Right now I’m pretty sure that as I finish each section (the floor, sleigh, window, toy store, and reindeer banner), I will have to applique the figures on each section. If I wait and put the entire background together, I will end up manipulating an 80”x80” quilt top through my machine while trying to applique a lot of tiny pieces. This leaves me attempting the following process:
- Each figure will need to be enlarged per the directions in the book. Fortunately, only the tree needed to be enlarged to 200% and my home copier/printer could handle this. Rudolph is a different story. I’ve tried enlarging the red-nosed reindeer both portrait and landscape on legal paper and he’s not cooperating. I see another trip to Office Depo in my future…
- SoftFuse is my web of choice for making sure everything sticks together. Since the drawings in the book are not reversed, I make sure that these enlarged copies are dark enough that when I put them on my light box, can see them clearly without having to go over them with a pigma pen or a fine-tip Sharpie.
- The challenge with the snowman was that he was a tiny guy, no larger than seven inches. Mary Buvia gave him a large personality with lots of tiny details. I used my stiletto a lot to hold down the pieces as I assembled him. I put him and the tree together on an Applique Sheet. If you’ve never used one of these wonderful notions, let me assure you they are a great thing to have on hand. The sheet is semi-transparent, so you can slide your pattern beneath the sheet and still see it. Then you can assemble your pattern on top and iron it together. Because the applique sheet is impregnated with Teflon, the fabric pieces will stick together, but they won’t stick to the Applique Sheet. When the piece cools, it can be peeled off the Applique Sheet and then ironed onto the background when you’re ready for it.
The tree was an entirely different story. Lisa, Linda, and I had many discussions about this tree. Like the snowman, this tree came small, but loaded with details.
The tree in Ms. Buvia’s pattern was white and I thought it blended in with the snow too much. Lisa agreed. So Lisa, being more artistically inclined than I am, painted her tree on fabric and then will applique it on the background. It. Is. Gorgeous. I will ask her if I can take a picture and share it on my blog.
However, I am not that ambitious.
I didn’t want my tree all white, so I spent a good portion of one morning searching for some kind of frosted green fabric. Fortunately Michael Miller has a line of Fairy Frost Fabrics and I found these greens:
They give the impression of a light snow or frost covering. They’re perfect for the tree.
The second challenge I faced with this tree was it had 42 individual parts. Forty.Two. That’s a lot of parts for a tree that’s about 10-inches tall. I drew each individual part, making sure I had some seam allowance for the parts that overlapped.
Since evergreens are darker on the bottom and lighter on the top, I varied my material as I went up the tree, to try to be a little more realistic. And even with the pattern beneath the Applique Sheet, this was a tough piece to put together. Since there were so many pieces, I made sure to number them in the same sequence Mary Buvia did on her pattern. And as soon as I got several pieces down and tried to add another, something would shift, or I would breathe too hard, and I had to re-adjust. So, as soon as I got to a point where I could iron several of the pieces together, I did.
After letting it cool and peeling it off the sheet, I took it over to my light box to see if I had left any gaps. Sure enough, there are a few, and the blue sky fabric in the window will show through, but it will make it even more realistic in my opinion. Mother Nature didn’t make any solid tree and there’s no way in hell or high water I’m making this tree over again.
I’m happy with my progress with the Dock this week. Rudolph will be a bigger challenge, but I’m kind of looking forward to figuring him out, too. As soon as he’s done, I need to find a huge light box and chalk in the window on my fabric. After that I can begin to applique everything.
Besides all of this, I did get two blocks completed for my Farmer’s Wife Quilt and two blocks completed for my Snowman Challenge. I still have to embroider faces on my snowman, but I will do that at Tuesday’s Sit and Sew.
Still Quilting Fearlessly….
Love and Stitches,
Sherri and Sam