Week in Review 2021 – 09/24

Overblown cumulus clouds set against a vibrant blue sky
This captivating cloud formation, captured in a photograph taken by my husband, is the catalyst for my next artwork.

… And She’s Off

The question is am I launching myself from the starting gate or totally off my rocker? It feels like a combination of the two. After a change of focus in the studio from working on artwork I hope to exhibit, to creating “product” for the upcoming Cohasset Open Studio event, I’m back working on an exhibition piece.

The first step, after choosing to use the above portion of a photograph, is how do I want to interpret it. My typical style is to create an homage to, rather than a realistic portrayal of, an image. I do this by selecting several traditional blocks that blend well with each other. I’ve used a variety of blocks, but they all involve straight line piecing with no Y seams. However, looking at the gorgeous curves and flow in those rolling cumulus clouds, I knew I needed to get over my reluctance to do curved piecing.

Designing the Blueprint

EQ 8 to the rescue. Two hours of playing with a variety of traditional straight seam blocks, then playing with the traditional curved Drunkard’s Path block, I knew the curved one won. Depending on how the block is positioned I could create all sorts of undulating curves, puffs and movement. If you download the .pdf blueprint, available above, you can see the general direction I am heading. Each block will finish 3″ square. What can I say? I am a gluten for punishment.

Curved piecing is NOT my forte. I decided to give the block a trial run. Despite very careful positioning, small stitches and a heavy hand with the iron – disaster!

Working Out the Kinks

Curved piecing is not at all as forgiving, especially if you are extremely fussy as me, as precision straight seam piecing is. Why? It’s simple really. Curves are cut on the bias. This allows the fabric to stretch the way cuts on the straight of the grain don’t. I know how to clip seams, pin baste and iron curves into submission. Nevertheless, the end result is likely to undulate, shrink, pucker and pleat in ways that give me conniptions. This is very clear in my first attempt using scraps from my stash.

Instead of the recommended piecing method for this block, I opted to go with machine appliqué. I use a blind hem stitch. It looks like this ____^____^___.

I could have tried hand appliqué. No way. Definitely not my thing. I could fuse the arc, but that leaves a raw edge. Too messy for my tastes. Then I recalled how nice machine appliqué using a blind hem stitch can look. Perhaps I will write a tutorial on how do this method. I have a couple of tricks for turning the seam prior to appliquéing the piece in place. Now I’m looking forward to selecting my fabric palette and starting piecing in earnest.

I am linking up with Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Fridays.

By Gwyned Trefethen

I am an artist who uses fabric, thread and miscellany to create designs gifted to me by my imagination.


    1. Of course, Rebecca, I zipped over to your tutorial link. I also have Harriet’s book on machine appliqué and quilting. Took a class with her back in the early ’90’s. Just as you used foundation piecing on a EQ 8 template for you geese and to create inner and outer curved pieces for each block, that is how I am creating the “fans” I don’t use starch or glue, but I won’t ding you on that. I prefer not wash my art quilts unless absolutely necessary. Starch and glue mandate washing. What I hadn’t thought of, but love, that I will steal from your tutorial is lining my two sections up on a cutting mat to fit the unfinished size of the block. The one thing I do, you might like to try, is setting my needle to the far right position. This allows me to line up the left side section along the inner side of the “toe”. There is a mini notch, like a half moon, cut just where the needle will fall.

  1. A 3″ pieced, curved block from a precision piecer? Yep, you might be working on going nuts! Makes me tense up just reading about it. I love my imprecise improv curves so much more now! This looks like another amazing project for you. Good luck!

    1. What, Kathy, you don’t won’t torture yourself with tiny blocks and precision curved seams? Shocker! What can I say, I find such insanity soothing. I know I am very rare. I appreciate your encouragement. Wherever this quilt takes me, I think it will be a fun experiment at least. If it turns out, perhaps a series.

    1. Nancy, I am very fortunate to have a husband who takes stunning photos and graciously shares them for me to interpret. Fingers crossed those tight curves will function as planned.

  2. I’m looking forward to seeing this evolve. Like you, I don’t like to use starch or glue, so will be interested in you methods.

    1. Terry, good to know I am not the only one who eschews starch and glue. I do paper piece for precision. Curves can’t be paper pieced, BUT I can use a paper piecing template and stitch along the seam line. Next I clip the curve, turn the seam and press it into submission. The turned seam piece is aligned with the piece that I will attach it to with a blind hem stitch. A little extra work, but the result is a flat accurate seam.

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