Catching up – message in a bottle

Quite some time ago, I started block four of Quilt Art Designs’ Oceans block of the month.  It was the April 2015 block, so catching up is a bit of an understatement.

I was at least organized when I put it away, plastic baggies and labels and all the needed fabric, so it wasn’t hard to start in where I’d left off.

Paper pieced sewing is all about very precise sewing lines – I swear I stick exactly to those lines, so why do I still end up with joins that are sometimes just slightly off?  It remains a mystery to me.

Lots and lots of little angles in this block.  My seams became very dense in the center, making the back rather a mess of seams and threads and bits of paper.  Removing the paper is my least favorite part of this type of quilting. So tedious getting out the little bits under the seams.  But the interesting blocks it makes possible are worth the effort.

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And so many little slivers of scrap!

The final result, a hopeful message sent out to roam the sea:

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It joins its three siblings, awaiting more arrivals.

I’m not doing all nine of the available blocks – just two more from this series really appeal to me.  Next up is a blue fin tuna.

The fabric is chosen and the pattern is prepared, so I’m hopeful this block won’t wait more than a year.

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Update 6/18 – the blue fin tuna is done and you can see it here.

Night sky

A while back my attention was caught by a project on the Wombat Quilts blog.  I was exploring paper pieced blocks and she has great patterns for lots of different stars.  She was making orange and blue star blocks at the time. I followed along with some of them, making pretty similar stars, though mine were gray and yellow rather than orange because I love gray and yellow. I kept the dark blue background idea because what other color would a night sky be?

Night sky stars fabric

I used the blocks as foundation sewing practice and also as an excuse to buy lots of different fabrics. (Didn’t really NEED an excuse, but it is handy when rationalizing buying yet more stuff to squeeze into the craft room.)Night sky stars quilt in progress image

And then, as is typical, some other shiny project caught my eye and I moved on.  The stack of stars sat on my UFO shelf and waited, gradually moving towards the bottom of the pile.

Then I came across this Starry Night quilt on Pinterest, which reminded me of those neglected stars and also solved the problem of not having made enough of them for a full quilt.  I just needed hills!  And a moon!

The moon was a bit of a trial and error process, emphasis on the error part.  First, with my limited curve skills and a patchwork of printer paper I drew a crescent moon outline to use as a piecing pattern, I made this moon.

Night Sky stars - moon image

Night Sky Stars - moon in progress image

Then I stared at it for a couple days, pretty much hating it more and more.  The center circle was too small, the points curved in too much, and then there were the puckered seams.  Some slicing was definitely called for.

Night Sky Stars quilt - fixing the moon image image

Not perfect, but much improved!

Now I’m at the fun stage where I’m just filling in the gaps.  Lots of slashing and random switching of directions.  If you look at the original inspiration quilt, she did a lot of paper pieced blocks and has a huge variety of squares.  That was never going to happen with mine.  So much precision!  I never would have finished.  I’m taking a more improv, crazy quilt approach, which is fun, messy, and leads to the occasional weirdly skinny bits of fabric, but it fits the picture in my mind, and I am liking the results.

image imageI cut a bunch of strips that vary between 1 1/2 and 3 inches wide, dumped them in a pile to rummage through. and now I just sit at the machine, sewing and trimming and turning and ironing, and gradually the night sky is turning dark blue.  As are my floor, sewing and cutting tables, but hey, creativity can be messy!

Night Sky Stars quilt - strips

The hills are going to take a bit of shopping.  I don’t have a lot of dark greens.  Luckily, I know a few fabric stores in the neighborhood.

Manta ray

The third block in the Oceans QAL from Quilt Arts Design is a manta ray gliding along the ocean floor.

Oceans QAL - numbered fabric

I started yesterday and finished up today.  It went together with only my usual paper piecing issues – putting fabric on upside down is the most common mistake that requires the seam ripper.  I had to hunt for the K piece for a while as well – it turned up under the dining room table.

Oceans QAL - clue 3 in progress

Oceans QAL - clue 3 - trimming

Oceans QAL - clue 3 - assemby

The only dissatisfaction I have with my final results is the dark blue section.  It makes too large a jump  between the blues – the change is too drastic.  A lighter blue would have been less jarring.  I was limited by my stash, but next time I’d hop to the store to get more choices.  I do like the lighter patterned batiks I used in the top blues, which I was unsure about at the time.  I don’t know how the dark blue escaped me.

The finished 14″ block:

Oceans QAL - Manta ray - finished block

Oceans BOM – February block

The Quilt Art Designs pattern is out for the February paper-pieced ocean theme quilt. This one is a sea lion pup floating in the sea. A great use of perspective. I really liked January’s sea turtle, but I like this one even more.

The pattern comes with layout pics for both colors and piece order.
The pattern comes with layout pics for both colors and piece order.

Lots of tiny little pieces with this one. Also a lot of browns, which I didn’t have enough of so it was off to the fabric store to get three more marbled fabrics is various browns to add to the little I had. For the water I had a great remnant from the bag that my friend gave me of all her marbled and batik quilting scraps.

As an example of how many little bits there are (running A – S, so 19 segments) in the paper pieces, here is one of the eyes in progress:

The start of the eye
More pieces added to the eye – seam ripper added for scale
The rather chewed up paper backing

All told, I think this block took me about seven hours to create. Definitely a good thing that there is only one a month! Of course, if I was more careful, and didn’t need the seam ripper so often, I’d have shaved at least an hour off that time.

Assembly in progress
Assembly in progress
She still needs whiskers, but she's a cutey!
She still needs whiskers, but she’s a cutey!

I’m very enthusiastic about the finished block. Though I plan to do some really simple sewing to give my brain a break!

The finished block!
The finished block!