Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Fighting Feathers

I've been fighting with making a few feather blocks using Anna Maria Horner's fantastic free pattern for a couple of my bee mates recently. It is such a great bee block - mostly because you'd have to be either incredibly dedicated or slightly insane to attempt a whole quilt of these blocks. A few is fun - a lot would be a major headache ;o)

Last year, Jeannette of Gone Aussie Quilting asked if I'd be interested in joining an Aussie quilting bee (obviously I said yes - she is amazingly talented and I was quite chuffed to be asked :o) ). It started up in January, and our queen bee chose feather blocks for her month. Being the awesome person she is, Lorena also organised to get templates made for those of us who were interested - which I was. Pretty much every piece of these blocks have bias edges, so my thinking was that templates would make it a whole lot easier. I think it was a good decision - I'd like to make a few more for a cushion at some stage.



I did encounter a few swear-inducing moments with these (not due to the pattern - it's really well written. Due to me not reading it properly...) For the other bees I'm in, we work from stash which has it's pros and cons. Picking fabrics each month takes quite a while, but if you stuff up, at least it's your own fabric you're wasting. For AusMod bee, we are sending fabric out for our month's blocks - which makes it a whole lot easier on the brain (not having to pick stuff out) but also a whole lot more stressful when you stuff it up royally. As I did. Of course. 

I happily pieced my strips together and cut my feather pieces. It wasn't until I went to start piecing them that I realised I'd cut all eight the same orientation, instead of flipping the template over for half of them. And I didn't have enough fabric left to cut more - so I shamefully had to ask Lorena for more fabric (which she was wonderful about thankfully!!!) It all went together fine after that :o) 


Feathers for Lorena


Most of the reason these worked out was that I'd already stuffed up while making the other lot of feathers - this time for Lucy in Scrappy? Sew Bee It. These were meant to be made last October (yeah, I'm really on top of things as usual!), so thanks for being so patient Lu!! No cutting mistakes this time - but I did have to re-sew the side parts four a few times. 


Feathers for Lu

My biggest tip with these would be use copious amounts of starch - all those bias edges are pretty scary, but starch really helps. Also, take them slow and take the time to check which edge of the background pieces you're meant to sew. It'll save a lot of unpicking (I know this from experience, trust me!!) I think next time I will paper piece the strippy parts too - I'm not a fan of piecing long strips of fabric, mostly because I find it really challenging to keep them from warping (even when they're starched). Any tips on avoiding that would be greatly appreciated :o)

So I'm nearly up to date with my bee blocks - just need to make January's block for Scrappy Sew Bee It (and Feb's for all three bees obviously - I'm not that organised ;o) )

xx Jess

22 comments:

Di said...

Mmm those feathers were chosen for block of the month for the bee I am in. They are trickier than they look! Di x

Charlotte said...

gorgeousness!!! The first time I made feathers I used the pattern for all the bits, but the second time I only used the pattern pieces for the feather part itself. Everything else I cut way bigger than necessary and cut it down afterwards. It was much less stressful!

CitricSugar said...

Templates - clever! The first time I saw this pattern I thought it was paper-pieced so I was surprised by the strip piecing and cutting. I'm still tempted to try PPing it… Someday. :-)

Your feathers look lovely!

Lucy @ Charm About You said...

They all look great!! Sorry I contributed to the headache but clearly it was worth waiting for those templates. I adore my bright ones :) and I think I will be waiting awhile until I can put them all together ;) xx

Sharon said...

These look great! Those bright ones are fun. Don't you hate it when you cut them backward? I did that with a whole set of pieces on one of my compass blocks

Jessica said...

In love with your feathers! I completely agree with everything you said (I ended up wasting fabric too) - and some of my edges were a little warped but luckily I was able to fix them!

Deborah said...

This is one of the more "challenging" blocks I've made. It doesn't seem like it would be that tricky but it was for me. The end product is certainly worth the effort!

moira said...

great feathers. love the colours and those templates look really useful

Anita said...

Love your feathers! Where did you find the templates?

Katy Cameron said...

Cunning plan with the templates, and they looks so innocently good now, who knew they were so evil at heart...

Patchwork and Play said...

Ah you're in the bee with Kirsten! A Feathers quilt is on my list for 2013! But I'm going to paper piece my feathers. I made a sample block and found there was a far amount of wastage of fabric ( or was I doing something wrong?). Yours are really, really pretty and they will be loved by the recipients!

Kirsten said...

Well they turned out beautifully in the end! I had a lot of trouble with the side "F" pieces too as I also sewed them the wrong way around a few times - I think they are very aptly named!!

Janine said...

These are all looking great but I agree a whole quilt would be too much! And I don't think I could bear the stress of cutting up someone else's fabric. I think when I made Lucy's I pieced the feather sides onto baking parchment and sewed on the background before taking the paper off and that avoided the bias issues. But I was using the parchment as a patten traced from the pdf anyway and I only made one! - I couldn't have borne with a whole quilt like that!

Rosa said...

Wow.They look fabulous!!

Kristy @ Quiet Play said...

Your feathers turned out well!

I had this one for a Bee group recently too. I paper pieced the feather strips, then joined the rest. That was easier for me though it's still not the easiest block in the world - but it does make for a fantastic finished product!!

Jessica said...

I love your feathers! I would love to make AMH's feather quilt one day!

cat and vee xoxo said...

they look really great Jess. The only reason I didn't go ahead and cut 8 feather-pieces all oriented the same way is that I managed to sew up a test block before cutting into Lorena's fabric.

My biggest problem was having to unpick the B-piece several times ... for pretty much every feather piece. I kept mucking up its placement - didn't overlap the ends enough - several times - just couldn't get it in the right place.

I really love the feathers, and would SO love a whole quilt from them, but would just never have the patience to make them all myself! Lorena's quilt will be beautiful - I love her AMH fabrics.

This is my first bee, and I'm so nervous about mucking up with other peoples' fabric! I'm hoping to sew a test block for Jane's February block - even just a quarter of a block - as I'm very new to paper piecing.

see you, Catherine

Nat at Made in Home said...

Clever templates! Love the blocks!

Benta AtSLIKstitches said...

Sorry to hear that they were hard work, but they look awesome!

Oops-Lah said...

Looking at your blocks made me wonder if you couldn't do them with paper piecing. And then you write exactly that. I think you could make these blocks in two parts (each side being a part and then use the middle to put them together). But in any case, they are truly stunning!

Julie said...

You did well. I made the same mistake on my first feather but luckily had enough fabrics to still make four. Phew.

Nicky said...

I've made these twice now - both times for Lucy! I like the look but not so keen on the making except when it goes perfectly!

Yours are beautiful!