Friday, February 26, 2016

Mini Quilt - Major Challenges

When Judy, our Guild President, announced the President's Challenge - Log Cabin Revisited, I was definitely interested.  The rules - no  more than 24" square, must use either black or white, any variation of log cabin is acceptable.

Here is my completed top.  The story follows.
Challenge Accepted!!!
I saw a pattern for log cabin houses on Pinterest, and I was instantly hooked.
First step - I had to adapt the pattern to the Challenge Rules.

Original Pattern
I had to rework it to be under 24" square, while making sure that none of the houses were unceremoniously chopped off.  The internal dialogue continued.

May be I could only make a 24" potion if it.
No, that meant having 4-6 houses.  Did not look finished.  It appeared a smaller piece cut off from a larger quilt.
A doll's house is not just the living room and patio.  A doll's house has all the rooms  - just smaller.

The very first blocks

As soon as I realized this, I SHOULD have stopped and come up with another design.  But hindsight is 20/20. So moving along.

Bit by Bit

Instead of cutting the strips 2" thick, I chose to cut my strips 1" thick, resulting in the strip width of 1/2". Do you know what that means?  It means that the bulk of the fabric in the seams will exceed the fabric in the top.  I should have stopped now. But I did not.

White House next to the Red House

The piecing of little blocks was anything but fun...
So wonky and ugly :-(
When I started to piece the houses together, the bulk of the seams made it extremely difficult to sew a straight stitch.

Veered off Seams

My stitching is already wonky, made wonkier by very bulky seams.

Chimney Blocks - so cute

Needle change, in the hope that a sharper needle would pierce multiple layers better, was not very helpful.  Going slow (super slow) did help somewhat.

So many Decisions

It took me seven days of eight hours a day to complete just the quilt top. PHEW!!!

Yellow & Green or Red & White???

So many decisions.  Which color goes where? Not enough contrast?
There is no such thing as too much contrast.

Getting Close!!!

Paul: Oh neat. What is this one called?
Paul (incredulous): INDIA?
Me: Yes, I'll Never Do It Again.

I ended up spending my Winter Break (Christmas to New Years day) in the Log Cabin!!!

Should I go with this?

One of the houses had brown walls and red windows (on the left in the picture above) - not enough contrast.  I tried moving those brown/red blocks to the right. See picture below.

Hmmm...did not like that either. I wanted every house/window to be a good (if not great) contrast. It was a small quilt so everything will be seen, nothing can be overlooked.

I knew I had to repiece the blocks. And the very thought of repiecing tiny pieces with bulky seams was painfully exhausting.

So, I resorted to trickery.

Turning the tiny block over, I carefully removed the stitches around the center square (window) and removed the tiny 1" square.  Placed another square (bright green) in its place and glued it in place. Then I used a small square of interfacing, placed the sticky side on the wrong side of the block and ironed it to secure it. Voila!!! Done.

Completed Top!!!

Looks much better with green windows!!!  I think I cheated. But it worked.
And once it is quilted, no one will ever know.

Quilting - This was definitely something to consider carefully. Did not want to quilt in the ditch - too boring. Anything else might take away from the log cabin pattern.

How about diagonal lines - uniform allover lines running from one corner to the diagonally opposite corner.  That would be best.

Did not want to mark up the quilt.  Painter's tape would be best to ensure uniformly spaced lines.
Uniformly spaced diagonal lines?

Backing - Quilted on the White Lines
Wait, I have a fabric with diagonal lines. If I used that as a backing and quilt from the back. VOILA!!!

I found another simple solution and it worked.

Sun City!!!
I used faced binding (I know, it is not neat, but this is my first time) to make sure that nothing detracted from the itty bitty log cabin blocks.

See the finished mini.  Ok, it is not as pretty as the back. Seriously, this is the prettiest (neatest quilting) lines that you will ever see. Because, you can hardly see the quilting lines in the back.

Backing & Binding

It took me such a long time to name this quilt.  Is that a neighborhood or a community, homes on a hillside, valley view homes, a village? How about a Tuscan village? Postcard from Italy?

Paul: That is not a village, it is city. 
Me: Why do you say that?
Paul: Four storeyed houses densely packed - has to be a city.
He had a point.
Once the slanted quilting lines were added, the name came to me - Sun City.

There it is - bright, colorful, dense city. welcome to Sun City.
Finished at 22" square.

Detail View
 I put so much effort and time into this little quilt.  I do like it - it is bright and cheerful.

But, I am not sure if I love it.  I wish it was neater.  I wish it was less crooked.
I wish everything matched beautifully.  When I saw some of the other quilts in the challenge, the wonkiness hurt even more.

When I shared my very honest thoughts with my dear quilter friend Jennifer (from my Guild), here is what she said.

"Preeti, I think it is time to learn Paper Piecing."
 What do you think?

Linking up with all my favorite linky parties!!!


  1. Oh I love the Sun City--it reminds me of San Franciso houses--and I like the wonkiness--old house settle--doncha know? lol--just beautiful work--amazing and intricate calculations. Congratulations on a work beautifully done...hugs, Julierose

  2. P.S. the only thing I don't like about paper piecing is removing all those papers....I end up tearing some of the stitching out if I'm not careful....hugs, Julierose

  3. I think it is great! And I really like how you included sky. And I have no experience paper piecing, so I can't help you there.

  4. Paper piecing is great! For neatness, exactness and ease of piecing small intricate designs. Using old telephone books for the paper makes the paper removal easy, no ripped out stitches! And your are recycling.

  5. This is a very cool quilt. I love the colors. I did a lot of piecing with the My Small World quilt on inch and a half squares. I pressed all my seams open and that seemed to help with the seam bulk problem. If you decide to do paper piecing on really small pieces, go for a shorter stitch length and use tracing paper. It will still be a pain to pick out, but less painful than with regular paper. Hope these prove to be helpful suggestions.

  6. I think that your quilt is a fabulous work of art. I have been toying with making some house blocks and would never start something this ambitious - the first thing I would do would be to enlarge it. I love the colors, your choice of quilting and binding, and so what if it is wonky - check out pricy art pieces, the ones we are drawn to are the ones that stretch our imagination. Love what you have done, you should be proud.

  7. OH Preeti!! When I got to INDIA, I burst out laughing!! I think your quilt turned out perfectly. Yes, you struggled but you worked through it and it looks fabulous! Julirose has a great point - old houses settle! :)

    LOVE paper piecing in terms of the exactness and perfection that can be achieved. Not a fan of removing those papers but I think once you start, you are going to be hooked :) Short stitch length is key to getting those papers out more easily. It also means if you need to rip something out. . . it is NOT fun :)

  8. This turned out to be a beautiful quilt. Love the colours and houses, as they age, sag just like me lol. Good for you for sticking with this project. I do some paper piecing and love the sharp points you can achieve. As for ripping off the papers, just take them with you when you are watching TV and rip away.

  9. Preeti - this is possibly your greatest work to this date. I think it is wonderful. I really, really, really liked Homeful, but the work and planning that had to go into this! Wowza! As for paper piecing - we can do a lesson or two when I come to visit. I enjoy paper piecing a lot. - Sylvia H

  10. From Anne in Pennsylvania

    I absolutely love it a little wonky. It reminds me of a Mediterranean travel poster and too much precision would spoil the effect. I'm not a fan of paper piecing but sometimes it's worth the struggle. It's tricky to learn and takes practice, and removing the papers is an extra tedious step. But it can't be beat when you need to be super precise, and it's the only way to assemble those complicated blocks with unusual shapes or angles.

  11. Oh Preeti this is just stunning!!! I can't believe the detail and the number of house in a quilt of that size. I am so glad that you continued to the end. x

  12. Love the log cabin houses. THis has been on my list for along time. Diagonal quilting was just right too. Saving this to my memory!

  13. Ok. You asked for it! You are absolutely nuts and obviously talented, and stubborn. How's that? I adore this mini quilt. It is colorful and is exactly that-A CITY-wow. I am in awe of your perseverence. I love paper piecing. You should give it a try for sure. Join us at "Sit Down Free Motion Quilters" on FaceBook. We have just started a BOM of paper piecing with the talented Jeanne Harrison (who gives her knowledge for free including many FMQ lessons). We are doing some blocks right now that have 4 sections of 2 1/2" and all 4 put together will end up at 4" when put in the quilt. There are a total of 26 of these Bethettes. Come check it out.These small sections are putting us to the test but we are learning so much. Hope to see you there. P>S> I liked the name "INDIA" for this mini. LOL.

  14. This is another winner Preeti.... Love to see your journey thru your quilt life!!! i'm glad you kept at it... it is a very nice project..I think you will LOVE PP... for me it is a bit confining, as i am always all over the place with my projects...:)) GB

  15. INDIA? Oh my, I was laughing so hard, I could hardly continue reading. This quilt is awesome. I'm sorry it gave you so much trouble, but I'm glad you stuck with it. I'm amazed at what you went through to change those windows. They do look great, but I would probably have gone with the story that the shades were drawn at that house. I used to make tiny quilt blocks and at that time, I used a 1/8 inch seam allowance (the width of the right side of my presser foot). There was still some bulk to deal with, but the overall amount of fabric on the back was less. You need to use a sole plate (is that what it's called?) with a small needle hole, though. For some reason it did make working with tiny blocks easier. I have a feeling you will love paper piecing. It's great for making tiny things (or anything, really) with precision.

  16. WOW! What a great little quilt. I want one too ... but bigger. I think you did an excellent job and I don't see it that wonky. Congratulations on this gorgeous finish.
    I have tried paper piecing only once and found that I wasted a lot of fabric. But maybe that was just me. It doesn't hurt to give it a try. Enjoy! ;^)

  17. Sun City is definitely a wowser!! Beautiful! Truly a work of art. You were quite dedicated for a short time and long days to complete this beauty. Paper piecing is a great way to get sharp points and have lines to make great looking blocks - most of the time are perfectly square blocks. I have two quilts going that I am paper piecing. Your log cabin would have helped in getting those straight stitching lines but then again another layer of something would possibly have made it ever more difficult to sew through all the bulk. Great finishes! You should be quite proud!

  18. Lots of work for sure but worth it -- just charming!!

  19. I love your little city! Using log cabin blocks was a brilliant idea. Thanks for sharing with Oh Scrap!

  20. you are so funny. I do like it a lot. The diagonal quilting is terrific! LeeAnna

  21. I love this Preeti. (Also love the bit about INDIA!) I think the wonkiness lends charm to the quilt. Also I admire your tenaciousness - you have great talent - don't be so hard on yourself. This is a fantastic finish. PS - great trick with the windows!

  22. INDIA ! That was clever. Working with itty bitty pieces is indeed a challenge, but you rose to it, as always. I love log cabin quilts. Endless possibilities. The green windows make an eye-catching detail. Did you take a week off in order to do 7 days of 8 hours of sewing?

    I've done a little paper piecing and really enjoy it .Making several copies of your paper template takes much less time than measuring and cutting and hoping everything is precise in the end . Try it out with a string quilt first That's a great stash buster and there's little thinking needed if your brain is numb.

  23. Oh. My. GODDESS. Preeti!! So much here. First the name is perfect. (I thought you were going to call it INDIA-so witty!) Sun City is good though too, and the diagonal lines make me think of the sun's rays. My mouth fell open several times reading this post...laughter: you are too funny. Awe: you are SO ingenious! That diagonal backing fabric, perfect, the bright green window fix, incredibly smart. Shock: the finished size!! The pictures do not show how very tiny it really is even though you said you started with 1" strips.
    Now, PP. We already talked about it, so I'm not typing anything there! I hope hope you win something. :-)

  24. Great houses, and the name of the quilt is perfect: Sun City. It's a sunny, lovely, inviting place! Perfect quilting choice.

    As for paper piecing, I love it for particular projects where precise piecing is arduous. Don't like taking the paper off, but there's ways around that, like buying the kind that washes away. Do not under any circumstances use paper from your printer to make your PP blocks. (Ask me how I know ). Printer paper is stiff, hard to remove, and almost always pulls your stitches out. Yech!

  25. It looks like seattle with the rain coming down sideways. I like it!

  26. This is gorgeous! You shouldn't beat yourself up with the imperfections, because...I don't see them! It is hard to sew with 1" strips and make them perfect. I usually starch mine and it does make a difference. Preeti...your Sun City is wonderful!

    As for paper piecing, I love it! I get mildly obsessed with it! There are so many great patterns to work with too. I say give it a try, the perfection is hard to match!

    And darn it, I wouldn't allow myself to buy anything on Craftsy this past week!!

  27. It is so lovely, you must have lots of patience. I love your India comment, so funny.

  28. You're right, this house is way too wonky to be allowed to live at your house. Send it to me! I think it is gorgeous!

  29. I love the wonkiness...but paper piecing is fun too, once you get over the backwardness of it.

  30. I love your little quilt! It looks like the houses in Italy. As for the wonkiness, I can't see any, and if so, it adds to the charm. And you will love paper piecing! It makes everything very accurate and you can make all kinds of very fun blocks with it.

  31. Beautiful quilt. I love the fabrics and the quilting :)

  32. I can see you spent lots of time on this mini, but it is so darn cute!! At first glance the stitching looks like rain coming down!

  33. This is really nice! Clearly it took a lot of work, but it looks really great. Makes me want to make one -- but not a mini! :)

  34. This is an incredible piece, Preeti. And I don't think it's wonky at all, but beautifully done. And so is the blogpost! You are such an entertaining and talented writer. I love how you used your creative genius to come up with solutions to your challenges on this piece and I love it!

  35. I love your Sun City!!! So much planning in those blocks!! This is awesome!! Not wonky at all!!! I love the quilting too. Sooo nice!!!!

  36. This is a fabulous quilt and I loved how you problem solved the tricky parts! Really well done! I'd ask if it were for sale, but I probably couldn't afford it considering the amount of hours you put into it.