Sunday, 28 April 2013

Curved Piecing and Machine Applique: Fan Block

 Well, it's official: I am now up-to-date with my 2013 Block of the month as this is the April block. (I have yet to complete the April blocks for the 2012 BOM). I really never had any desire to do curved piecing as I felt there was too much room for error, but it is part of this course and I was game for giving it a try, at least for this block. (There is also some curved piecing in the 2012 BOM that I haven't gotten to yet). It went surprisingly well, though if you look carefully at the above picture, you can see a little bit of rippling in the background fabric. This is the first block in which I have used my background fabric - the pale green. It's a coarser weave than most quilt fabrics and I suspect that has something to do with the distortions I ended up with. The block was wider at the centre seams. I had to trim to get rid of this unevenness and ended up with a block that is 18" square instead of 18-1/2", but I will remedy that with some extra sashing when I assemble the final quilt. From now on, when using the background fabric, I will give it a shot of spray starch, which will hopefully help to prevent the stretching and distortions. I was careful not to pull on the fabric as I sewed it, but obviously some stretching happened anyway. 
I was puzzled when I read the name of this block and looked at the final product, as it doesn't look anything like a fan. The final block, however, is actually composed of 4 fan blocks sewn together to make a circle. In the course materials, each of the 4 fan blocks is identical, with only 4 different fabrics in the fan. Since I had 40 plus green fat quarters, I opted instead to use 16 different fabrics, making something of a green colour wheel, with the various green shades progressing from one to another. While not a perfect blend, I don't think I could have done better even if I had chosen my fabrics individually, unless I was prepared to spend lots of time and money going from shop to shop. And maybe not even then. It was very challenging selecting the right 16 fabrics to get a blend that I liked. In the original course materials, the border of this quilt block is made from the background fabric, but in the video the instructor used two different fabrics. I considered using purples for this, but, after comparing, felt that the background fabric achieved the look I wanted. 
For the appliqued circle in the centre, I chose to use a fussy cut from the following fabric:
 Isn't this gorgeous fabric? Unfortunately, it's such a large print that it won't work well in a lot of pieced blocks. So, when I had the opportunity to use a larger piece for the applique - a 6 inch circle - I decided to use this fabric. This circle is first applied using a fusible web and then you have the option of using machine or hand applique. I, being the type of person who doesn't hand sew unless I absolutely have to, used my sewing machine, with a purple cotton thread. I was too lazy to wind a new bobbin with the purple thread and unfortunately the grey bobbin thread does show somewhat on the front of the quilt. Live and learn. 
Initially I was not thrilled with this block. I was happy with the greens, but that appliqued flower really annoyed me. I felt that it was too great a contrast from the rest of the block and almost "shouted" at me, and was actually considering appliqueing a green fabric over top of it. I have since gotten used to the appearance of this block, however, and have gotten compliments on it on Craftsy, so have decided to leave it as it is. 
A couple of my classmates had entered their real blocks into the colouring sheet, so I figured out how to do this in Windows Paint, and here's the project so far:
Obviously, I chose the wrong colour blend when I "painted" the background originally as it doesn't match the background fabric in the fan block. Blending colours on a computer and matching them to real fabric is not an exact science. But I'm not going to worry about that. It's just to give an idea of what the final product will look like and I'm not going to fuss any more with painting it. 
Next month, we'll be doing the spool blocks. 
Here's the link to the class if you're interested:
  Online Quilting Class