CHQuilts: foundation paper piecing
Showing posts with label foundation paper piecing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label foundation paper piecing. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

I completed my first Judy Niemeyer project

Star Baby quilt

Thanks to the generosity of a quilter friend, I just finished the piece to the left, a challenge that could potentially take my quilting to the next level.

This quilt -- Star Baby – was designed by Judy Niemeyer, a well-known and loved quilt designer who has taken foundation paper piecing to almost impossible heights. This technique is where fabric is sewn onto a foundation paper which is later removed. At the very least, it encourages perfect points and matching seams. And it is all about precision.  

I have tried a few paper pieced projects and did alright with them, but I can’t say I am really comfortable with it – yet!

Niemeyer is arguably, one of the best quilt designer/paper piecers I’ve ever seen. Her work is exquisite. Her designs are often best of show winners.

I knew a Niemeyer quilt project was way beyond my skill level, so, I’ve been content to challenge myself in other ways, always learning new skills and practicing those I still need to perfect.

Bali Wedding Star block

But a few weeks ago I ran across the photo of a quilt I just fell in love with. I don’t remember where I saw it, but I knew that one day, I would have to make it.

It is a Niemeyer creation called Bali Wedding Star and was designed several years ago. There are lots of examples of this design on Pinterest. It is a variation of the Double Wedding Ring quilt pattern. An example is at right. This is just four blocks. Imagine the beauty of an entire quilt made of these blocks.

Inspired, I did a little research, scouring the Internet and You Tube for all I could find on Niemeyer, her website Quiltworx, and this quilt pattern in particular. One day, I will make this quilt.

What I learned with all my internet sleuthing was that I was correct to believe that a Judy Niemeyer quilt really is out of my league. I still see myself as a newbie, despite quilting now for nearly 30 years. I take it slow though, learning as I go, making perhaps one quilt every year and always one at a time. But each new skill just makes me want to go further. From what I can tell, quilting is an endless endeavor. There is always something new.

My path has taken a turn

One day not too long ago, I commented on a post by a quilting friend on Facebook who I actually went to high school with, Jane Schwab Coons.

Jane and I may have shared some classes but we weren’t close friends in school; so I’m not even sure we knew each other beyond passing in the hallway between classes. Who can remember; it was a very long time ago? But for several years I’ve enjoyed being her Facebook friend. She has been quilting for 44 years, has worked in the quilting field, and has does beautiful work. She teaches, and has guided students for most of her quilting years.

“I love all things quilty,” she says, adding that she especially loves gathering and sharing all quilt-related things. She taught herself to work on a computer early on as well, and uses it for designing. She is also a long arm quilting pro.

I told Jane that I was smitten with Bali Wedding Star, but knew it was way beyond me. She responded by saying she had an easier Judy Niemeyer quilt kit that she wanted to send me, as a gift. She said it had been lying around her studio for a long time and it would be beneficial to her to do some purging. She messaged me to say that she had mailed a box to me, and to let her know when it arrived.

When it came a few days later, I was flabbergasted. Not only did she send the quilt kit she described, the one I just finished that is pictured above, but she sent another one as well, along with some other Niemeyer patterns. I felt like it was Christmas and my birthday all rolled into one. I messaged her right away to thank her and tell her I couldn’t wait to dive into it.

And dive in, I did. I watched You Tube videos on how to read Judy’s patterns. They are like little booklets, even for this relatively simple beginner pattern. It is called Star Baby and is basically a mini Lone Star pattern. I’ve always admired the Lone Star because of its significance to Native Americans.

The Lone Star stands for honor and generosity, important virtues among the beliefs and traditions of the Lakota (Sioux) people. The image of a star quilt serves as a reminder of the significance and honor that comes from giving to others. It is often given to honor individuals at birth and other milestones throughout life. It is so fitting that Jane sent me the mini version of this pattern. I see it as a testament to her own generosity. I am grateful.

As I began looking at the directions, I was pretty intimidated. Not only is Niemeyer a fantastic designer, but the way she designs the instructions to make her quilts, she has to be an organizational genius. She covers every aspect of making the quilt, breaking down each pattern into sections, taking one step at a time, and including tips that she has perfected on her own quilting journey.

So after just one small project, I have joined countless other “Judy Junkies,” who are enamored with the work Niemeyer produces.

As for my journey, I did OK with my project. I botched the color placement. I should have used more contrasting colors next to each other. But frankly, I wasn’t at all sure what I was doing. I was just thrilled that it worked out. I was so worried about following the directions that I didn’t even think about how it would look. So, now that I got my feet wet, I’m sure I will do better next time.

I see more foundation paper piecing in my future. And, I can’t wait to get started.


Saturday, November 21, 2015

Love the learning, expanding horizons

The latest tool in my quilting arsenal is foundation paper piecing. 

I'm taking a Craftsy class by Peggy Martin using her technique which really does streamline the paper piecing process. I've dabbled in paper piecing in the past and wasn't completely enamored with it. I do like the results though. Who doesn't want sharp angles and points that aren't cut off? 

Peggy's Quick Strip Paper Piecing method eliminates one of my biggest problems--working with triangles of fabric. I've listened to the entire class, which began months ago. I'm going over it a second time now, and actually making the blocks. 

There are several blocks in the various lessons in the class. They may or may not end up as entire quilts--but I want to at least try making them. They seem to get more complex as we go through the lessons. I'm anxious to do more, now that I've gotten my feet wet.

So far I made a table runner, out of Peggy's Dreamweaver quilt block, which consisted of three blocks and a woven sashing, which she also demonstrated. It was fun to do and much easier than traditional paper piecing as I had learned it.

pink and teal Dreamweaver table runner

Initially I thought this star would make a great Christmas star with red and green points. But, then I decided I'd really like to have a table runner to match my most recent quilt--my pink flamingo quilt, which is draped across the back of the couch in our Florida room.

Florida Room

I had just enough turquoise batiks left to make sashing strips.

Once I finished the three-block piece, I couldn't wait to start quilting it. This is a work in progress, but I'm pleased with it so far.

pink star table runner
First I printed out a sketch of the three-block piece. I let the quilt "talk to me" so I could decide what kind of quilting patterns I wanted to use.

pink star table runner - backThis is the result. I'm glad I decided to use two different colors of thread. The first is a pink variegated that I had from another project. Of course the teal color is from all those pink flamingos.

One of the three blocks is complete. Forgive the blue lines on the checkerboard design. I haven't washed them out yet. By the way, I absolutely love checkerboards in quilts--they just seem to go together.

This is what the back looks like. It reveals the dense quilting in the star that isn't very visible on the front.

All these colors in a project really is a new thing for me. I'm enjoying this expansion beyond the boundaries of my former monochromatic comfort zone. I really love color and the older I get, the bolder I want it to be. I'm anxious to finish this project and see what it looks like on the table. Have I mentioned lately that I absolutely love quilting?

Monday, October 5, 2015

Happy Halloween!

I've finally finished my Halloween project--three table runners for my daughter. This is the third and final one. I think I like this one the best.

Halloween table runner 3

There is no denying, this is for Halloween! I rather like scrappy string quilt blocks. They are so versatile, easy and fun to do, and the results can be stunning.

While this pattern is just fine the way it is, serving the purpose of resembling spider webs, it is also quite dramatic when these blocks are duplicated into an entire quilt.

spider web quilt mock up
For quilt makers, you already are aware of the kind of magic that happens when individual blocks come together to form another shape. But for those who aren't quilters, check out the photo to the right. These same blocks are just copied and pasted into a three-by-three grid to reveal just what happens when the blocks are put together. Note the four-pointed stars that seemingly appear between the spider web blocks. Quilting is just so much fun!

If the orange sashing were removed, the stars would likely be even more apparent. So try to imagine a quilt, using different colored strips on a white background. Or on a colored background with contrasting strips. I may one day decide to make one of these, since I seem to be accumulating leftover pink and purple strips from other projects.

These blocks were constructed using foundation paper piecing. Varying strips of fabric are sewn onto pieces of (foundation) paper, in two different wedge designs. There are four of them for each block. The eight wedges are then sewn together to form the block. The paper is then removed. Because sewing is done on the printed line of the pattern, foundation piecing aids in creating sharp points and well aligned seams. In this 'scrappy' project, the seams were meant to be askew, so that wasn't important.

The only place the points mattered was in the middle where all eight seams came together. That is almost always a problem. On one of these blocks, I sewed the pieces together with the paper still attached. Never having done that before, it was a disaster. The points didn't come close to matching in the center.

So, once I removed all the (foundation) paper backing, which is sometimes more time consuming that crafting the entire block, I took all the seams apart. I had real second thoughts about that because what I was left with was a giant gaping hole in the center. The more I messed with it, the more the fabric began to fray. I was thinking there wouldn't be enough fabric left to make it work. I assumed I'd have to just toss that block and make another one. Much to my surprise though, I was able to sew all the seams together again. The points looked pretty good. I like to call that a quilting success. It doesn't happen often in cases like that, but I was pleased with how it turned out.

This was an easy block to construct. There are a variety of ways to do this, but I used a pattern I found online. There are oodles of them.

I just hope Jenny likes it. Now, off to the post office.