Love, love, love this quilt design. When we received Denyse Schmidt’s latest patterns, Cog + Wheel jumped out of the box and onto my design table. I had already fallen in love with Hope Valley, the patterns showcasing the prints were icing on the cake.
Yes, I made it EXACTLY like the picture on the cover (the baby size quilt). This is a bit funny. I do a lot of original composition in my own work but when I go to make someone else’s pattern I rather enjoy making it exactly as the designer. Sort of walking in their shoes and seeing what they saw. It’s also an escape from making decisions. Enjoying the process of tactile construction and knowing the end product will be worth the effort put into it.
The color formula leaped out when I stacked the template cut fabric pieces on the table. The Center square for all four blocks was the same color (a yellow green from Piney Woods). The inner circle square shapes were all orange, the inner circle curved corners all pink, the outer shapes were all blue/gray and each block pair coordinated. I would enjoy making this quilt again using that formula to select from a scrappy set of fabrics.
The most difficult part of piecing this block was attaching the middle arc to the inner arc. It’s just like a Grandmother’s Fan or Drunkard’s Path block construction. The scale of the blocks is big which makes it much easier.
My one bit of advice when doing this seam is to begin by securing the ends. Not only do I put a pin there first, I like to weave the pin in like a stitch, it goes down a bit further and keeps that angle absolutely straight.
Secondly, I go back to the center. Matching intersecting seams and middle points that have been marked. When sewing the seam, I find it easier to pull my pins when the heads are on the outside and I’ve tried to train myself to pin my seams this way. I spent 20 years pinning my seams the opposite way (as shown in the photograph above on the two outer pins). It just feels more anchored to me to go that direction. The result: I do a bit of both and sew the seam slowly. I also sewed over my pins for many, many years. I’ve weaned myself from that habit convinced of the damage it does to the timing on my machine and all the damaged needles by hitting that pin head on.
After pinning the center, I went to the side cogs and pinned those center seams.
This is a photo of the seam completely pinned. Notice how those ends are anchored and not going anywhere!
As I sew a curved seam, I only worry about the 1/2″ that’s right in front of me. I do a lot of manipulation of the fabric so that 1/2″ is always laying flat, I pull the pin out and stitch forward. Repeat, repeat, repeat, until the end.
A trick I learned from Margaret Jones to remember how two curved pieces go together: you have two arcs. One is convex (the curve arcs outward) and the other concave (the curve arcs inward). The concave piece is smiling, brilliant way to remember this! When pinning one arc to the other, always place the ‘smiling’ piece (concave) on top (wrong side up). The fabric on top is always smiling at me before I start pinning. Sort of a weird, twisted memory technique given how difficult these seams can be, just smile and it’ll all be easier!
Now for the good news, the curved seam piecing is all downhill from that inner arc. The outer arc looks a bit scary but it’s way easier because it’s so much BIGGER. The tighter the arc the more difficult it will be to piece the seam.
Some random construction tips:
1. Don’t iron the heck out of your seams as you construct the block. There are a lot of bias edges that are easy to distort and stretch. Let them be until the block is completely finished.
2. Cut out the template pieces as precisely as you can. Use a scant 1/4″ seam. Scant means that you’re being very conservative on the seam width, I describe it as always sewing a bit more narrow than you might otherwise. Be as consistent as possible. Template based patterns require accuracy. No way around it. By the time you get to that outer arc the accuracy of all the seams that came before come to light.
3. Sew the first block start to finish. I started by cutting out one block and sewed it to completion before cutting and sewing the remaining blocks. This gives you feedback on your own style and can identify any quirks with the pattern. I found this pattern to be right on target in terms template accuracy. I did note that a scant 1/4″ seam made a big difference when sewing the final outer arc. Yay for quality pattern writing and testing!
4. The templates. I have a a fun little technique I tried out and I thinks it’s F A B U L O U S! This will be a post all by itself.
5. The pattern guides you on which direction to press the seams. Follow those guidelines. It is totally right on target and makes each step of the construction easier.
6. Fall in love with your seam ripper all over again.
7. When piecing the components of the middle arc: I found stitching the seam from the outside of the arc to the inside to be more accurate. I think this is due to the bias edge. Everything stays put better when stitching in that particular direction (at least on my machine which tends to push the fabric a bit).
A note on the background fabric: the pattern specifies using Kona Cotton Bone as the background and I used that in my quilt. LOVE being introduced to this color. I’ve always been partial to either White or Snow depending on the vibe of the quilt. Bone is a new one for my arsenal. It has a very matte feel to it and likes to sit in the background. It lets the fabrics around it be the center of attention. It also has a very vintage, grandmother’s fabric stash feel to it. I’m a convert. It’s also a precise match to the ‘ivory’ in the Hope Valley collection.
I’d really like to quilt this one myself on my home sewing machine. Still debating if I have the time or not. We’ll see!