Sunday, November 14, 2010

New York Beauty Quilt

Since I am new to the quilting process I am easily impressed with all the possibilities of making something stunning. I have been collecting fabric, rulers, books, and etc. for years and finally am committed to actually doing something with all this stuff.

Last month when Claudia showed us how to make the New York Beauty block I immediately fell in love with it. Little did I know that it dates back to the 1800’s. I have only done paper piecing once before but this also rang the bells in my creative belfry. I suspect that much of the precision work I have admired over the years just might be paper pieced – not that one can’t do fine work otherwise. Once I started playing with the blocks I realized I have seen them in some spectacular art quilts. Now I will be looking for them everywhere.

Whenever I learn something new I make it a policy to follow the instructions exactly the first time around in order to be clear on what I am doing. Once I gain confidence in the process and proceed to work my mind automatically starts thinking of ways to improve on the process. I decided to make 20 Beauties from assorted fabrics and play with the arrangement as I go along. This is giving me lots of opportunities to explore color and value. More importantly my mind started drifting to easier piecing strategies. At first I abandoned the individual rectangles and started using strips of fabric that I cut just before pressing each piece. I discovered that my add a quarter ruler didn’t really need the extra cardboard attached. It hugged the fold line just as it is. Next I played around with the quarter circle and outside trim and made new templates from oak tag. By gluing two sheets of oak tag together with rubber cement I found I could make a nice template. Because I am making 20 blocks my mind had lots of time to work on improving the process. As I worked along I started thinking that I was throwing away a lot of fabric. Then it dawned on me that if I cut the striped a bit wider I could trim them and have enough to make another section just by flipping the cut piece. After all, the pieces are triangles not rectangles. My scraps were now an acceptable size to throw away.

I still have a ways to go before all the blocks are finished but my design board is a delight to see as I add new blocks. And yes, I have ripped a few out. But it wasn’t as bad as I thought.