23 February 2017

Orphan Gemtones

I tried my hand, or, more appropriately, my machine, at paper piecing back in January. I'll continue to paper piece by hand, but I don't think I'll be jumping in the machine paper piecing craze again any time soon.

My first quarter block turned out all right. But the process was so icky for me, I dreaded going back to that block. Granted, a head cold prevented motivation and enthusiasm for anything creative off and on for three consecutive weeks, but I realized during that time that I found the process of paper piecing so unpleasant, I really didn't want to finish what I'd started.

I've learned over the past couple of years during the quarterly Ravelry WIP challenges that if I am not in love with a project, I have great difficultly finishing it. The whole purpose of the challenge is to finish WIPs. I knew I would need to get back to the gemtone Penny Lane block soon, or I'd never finish it. I even considered putting it in another project as a quarter square instead of finishing the entire square.

One day on the commuter train while finishing a snowflake frame, I realized I didn't have to paper piece the other three sections of the gemtone block. I could cut all the individual pieces and just piece it like I would any block. That's when I finally started getting serious about finishing this project for once and for all.

I started my gemtone project back in the summer of 2014 after scoring a clearance fat quarter packet of Stonehenge Bejeweled. I was SO in love with the colors and texture of that gorgeous fabric!

I had many ideas to craft blocks with gemtone fabrics from different lines and then combine them all into one quilt.

Perhaps I will still follow that dream one day. (After all, most of the Ravelry WIP finish rewards I earned during the last two years are gemtone fat quarters I requested!) But for now, it was time to finish a WIP. I decided to combine all my bright, rainbow orphan blocks into one project to finish this baby, I needed a bright color fix.

Some of the blocks came from a Block a Day project I started last year but lost interest in when I got a little more serious about finishing WIPs and not creating any more new WIPs.

I think I also lost interest in this particular one after I accidentally put a couple of blocks together wrong and had to redo them.

I needed craft only one more block for each row after assembling all my rainbow and gemtone orphan blocks.

I decided to try paper piecing for the final block. I was disenchanted with the waste of time spent frogging, the waste of sewing machine needles, the waste of fabric, the waste of paper and the waste of time in pulling the paper away from the finished quarter block. Many of the stitches pulled loose as I tried as gently as I could to remove the paper. I was tempted to leave the paper in place.

I know paper piecing is supposed to get easier once you've done it a few times. I knew I could piece the block traditionally in less time and with far less frogging.

The first quarter block took me two nights using the paper piecing method. The three remaining quarters were pieced in about two hours after about an hour of cutting the pieces, which probably was the most difficult part because I had to remember to mirror three different pieces.

In retrospect, I wish I had used three yellows in the center instead of two, and the traditionally pieced points don't all match up perfectly, but I'm thrilled with the ones that do match up perfectly. Especially since I'm trying to finish two WIPs every month, and I'm running out of February. I'm also thrilled to be done with the dreaded block!

I hadn't initially planned to put a border around the blocks, but one block was just a tad off 12 inches square, and a border could clear that right up. Once I started sewing the border on, the quilt top began to take on a new life, in my opinion. I didn't have enough black or white for a border, and I wasn't even sure I had enough of the deep maroon. But I'm sure glad I picked it. It makes a unique statement, I think.

I completed all the inner borders first because I wasn't sure there would be enough fabric for the outer borders.

I debated for a couple of days whether I should put on an outer border or use what was left of the maroon as binding. I finally decided there wasn't quite enough fabric for a binding, and I took a chance I could finish the outer border. This is all that remains.

I just love the new quilt top. It's the first of 15 I plan to make this year before Christmas. I don't know the young recipients, all age ten and under, well enough yet to fit their quilts to their individual personalities, but I'm pretty sure whoever gets this one is going to like it.

Linking up with Busy Hands Quilts, Crazy Mom Quilts and Confessions of a Fabric Addict.


  1. All blocked in or blocked off or just blocked? haha Sure it will be a hit indeed.

    1. Probably just blocked, Pat. :) Too many blocks to keep track!

  2. I am glad you got back to it - those are gorgeous fabrics!

    1. Thanks, Alycia! They sure are fun to work with!


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