Friday, April 24, 2009

I love paper (foundation) piecing

After sending in two, count'em TWO, entries to shows this week, I was able to spend all day in my studio today. I feel so accomplished! I was putting some time in on 2 works in progress. Both have been in the works for quite some time--I am too coy to say how long, exactly. The first is a watery background that I am paper piecing in long strips. That means I am actually sewing down fabric (strips in this case) to the back of tracing paper that I have marked with a pattern. It sounds like a silly thing to do but its the easy and foolproof way to get perfect points, especially for triangles. Its a technique that can be very finicky and precise as can be seen in here in my "Stars (too many triangles)"

Whew! When you are done sewing all of the fabric bits and attaching the blocks to each other, you then get to pick out the paper. Usually, that takes an hour or so, but in this quilt, it took me a week. I decided to try to count the number of triangles after I was done and gave up after my calculations exceeded a thousand. Gack! Too many!

Of course, paper piecing doesn't have to be ridiculously tedious and tight and controlled. You can also play around with paper piecing and play it loose. Here is a quilt I made a while back that only has tightly controlled squares, the strips inside the squares are willy-nilly. The paper foundation keeps the squares uniform. Without that backing, the fabric strips would stretch every which way (many are on a bias) and it would be a nightmare to try and hitch them up.

Today, I worked on a blue strip for another underwater piece. It will be a rather long vertical format to really suggest the deepest depths of the ocean. I want the background to have subtle sparkle of the deep blue fabrics I love. Here's my first strip hanging on the door of one of my storage cabinets. Next to the finished strip are the remaining foundations I need to sew! Whew! I've got a ways to go!

I've started on my strip here. Several pieces of fabric have been sewn down and ironed flat. It looks pretty random at this level but when all of the strip (8 or 9 total) are attached it should look pretty cool.

Here I am actually sewing down a piece of fabric onto the previous fabric all attached to the paper foundation.

This is what it looks like from the paper side. The seam line perforates the tracing paper so that it is relatively easy to just zip it off when you are done.

Now, I'm trimming the strips down to 1/4 inch of my marked lines. Later, when I attach the strips to each other I will use those pencil lines as a seam guide and just sew right down them (after aligning the edges).
A neat technique, yes?

No comments: