Piecing with Patty

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Here’s the thing.  There really are rules to follow.  And there really are rules to be broken.

To me, one of the wonderful aspects of any art or craft is taking the wildness of creativity and mixing it with the rules of skill.  Notice I did not say taming it with the rules of skill.

Understanding the medium, the tools used, and the variety of desired outcomes means knowing how to bend all of those to the will of creativity.  One may begin by bending inspiration to skill in the process of learning, but eventually, the goal can be the other way around.

Enter Patty Murphy, author of recently released Piecing Makeover: Simple Tricks to Fine-Tune Your Patchwork from C&T Publishing.  This book is an excellent source for everyone from less experienced quilters to those who have been around the block a few times.  It addresses basic construction as well as how to deal with precision issues.  In other words, it gives all the rules, which in the end, gives all the freedom.

Speaking of freedom, how about a bit of improvisational quilting with Patty?  No, I am not confused.  Yes, I did just talk all about rules and block construction and avoiding issues, and yes, it does lead to improv.

I am really excited to host Patty at The Green Apricot Studio on December 3, 2016 for a workshop on her quilt, “Yes Ma’am!”  We’ll be exploring both improv and precision piecing, and talking about how to have quilt tops that extend into boarders.  We’ll discuss some of the pitfalls and how to avoid them.  And best of all, we’ll bust some of our stash while we are at it.

And we’ll find out the story behind the name of this quilt.  Because I really want to know.

Click here to register for “Yes Ma’am” with Patty Murphy, 12/3/16, 9am- 4pm.

From Piecing Makeover:  “Patty Murphy has been sewing since she was six years old.  The first thing she recalls making is a pink-and-white seersucker pillow with the word Dad crudely embroidered on it as a gift for her father on Father’s Day.  Fortunately for everyone, her sewing and quilting have greatly improved since then, and so has her gift giving.

Patty loves to share her craft with anyone that will listen, and she teaches regularly at Intown Quilters in Decatur, Georgia, so she can share her knowledge and support her fabric obsession.  Her work has been featured in several books, on the websites of major fabric manufacturers, on blogs, and in magazines, including an original quilt design for Intown Quilters that was featured on the cover of the Spring 2007 Quilt Sampler magazine.”

Being a little Frank about things.

I love Frank Lloyd Wright’s work.  I don’t like to pick favorites because when I like something or someone, it is usually because of the unique aspects of that thing or person, and claiming favorites to me is like comparing apples to oranges.  Which do you like better?  Well, I don’t like one more than another because I like them for totally different reasons.

So, I don’t know that I would say he is my favorite, in part because I don’t have favorites, but also because I don’t know enough about art and architecture to make such a claim.  However, I would say that I love his work.  Everything I have ever seen by him I have loved.  Clean lines.  Simple design with bold impact.  Neat and tidy.  Exploding with beauty.  I just love it.

So, you could say his work inspires me.  I’ve wanted to do some quilting in his style for quite some time, but have never had a good excuse to try it.  Until I needed a birthday gift.  What better excuse than that?

It needed to be relatively small- 5″x7″ to be exact, so I knew this would present some challenges, but I was really excited about trying.

IMG_7115I thought the easiest way to do it would be foundation piecing, so I sketched out the idea I had on a piece of 8 1/2″ x 11″ piece of paper using the 1/4″ and 1/8″ markings on my Creative Grids rulers.  It took some planning to include seam allowances, and I wasn’t sure how it was going to work.  I’ve done improv foundation piecing before, but never one that I wanted to actually be precise.

IMG_7116Next I dug into my scrap bins.  I chose batiks for this project because I wanted the translucent look of stained glass.  Again, I had no idea how this was going to turn out but I just went for it.

I went about my work in the usual foundation piecing way- I cut my design into five sections that I would later sew together.  I started in the center of the larger piece, working my way to the outer edges and making sure I had at least 1/4″ hanging off of each side for piecing the two sections together and for putting into a frame.  Then on the four smaller pieces I started at one corner and worked to the other corner, alternating which directions my seams were going in for easier “nesting” when I sewed the sections together.

IMG_7125In the process of doing this, I learned something that I hadn’t known before regarding foundation piecing.  Because these lines were SO tiny, it was really important to try to get the seams as straight and correct as possible.  I didn’t accomplish this perfectly, but I think I will get better over time.  Anyway, I discovered that it was much easier to stay on the drawn lines of my pattern if I used an open toe foot instead of my usual quarter inch foot.  It allowed me to be able to see needle placement much better and I was able to stitch on the line much easier.  That open toe foot sure gets used a lot in my studio.  (Think of that last sentence as if you don’t know any sewing terms.  Oh boy.)

IMG_7120Overall I was pleased with the finished product, but I have to admit there were a few things I would do differently next time.  And there will be a next time.

IMG_7126Remember that neat little stack of batik scraps that I showed you earlier?  Yeah, if you are familiar with foundation piecing, you know how that pile looks after the fact…

IMG_7128Creative carnage.