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Remember that Carly Simon song, "Anticipation"? Maybe not. You'd have to be old. Some of you might even be saying, "Who's Carly Simon?" Shut up. Anyway...substitute the word "Intimidation" for "Anticipation", and you'll be singing my new theme song for the Wind in the Whiskers quilt. Oy. I'm already wishing I'd never started this. On the other hand, it's going to be fantastic if I can finish it. I have no doubt that I can finish it...if I live long enough. What I fear is that I'll be a raving lunatic by then.
That's a picture of me six months from now. I should probably ask Mike to remove all the sharp objects from the sewing room, but that might make sewing extremely difficult.
But before I go on, let me give you a brief rundown of my morning. I did my usual stuff...drinking gallons of coffee, doing some embroidery, coming up with excuses not to go swimming. I came up with some really good ones this morning--I thought--but in the end I went. I was glad too because I did a little more than I've been doing with less knee pain. Then I braved the pre-Thanksgiving madness at the grocery store. Then I came home and put things away. Then, I did everything possible to avoid going into the sewing room to the Wind in the Whiskers block that awaited me.
Allow me to repeat myself: Oy.
I decided I would just focus on getting the pressing sheet figured out so that I could show you how it works. That seemed a little less daunting than considering the whole block. Oh yes, the whole block looks like this:
Keep in mind that this is just the first block. The clothesline and the things hanging on it are all three dimensional...as if it weren't already complicated enough. For all the whining I'm doing about it, I'm also realizing that it is going to help me grow as a quilter. This will definitely be the most complicated applique I've ever attempted, but there are other new challenges as well. So, I tell myself, quit complaining and get going.
So when I worked on this last, I had cut the fabric for the background. That's probably the last bit I'll be able to do without great consternation. Feast your eyes on it.
Then I created the first of the flowers.
Then I created the pieces for the little chickadee, but it became apparent that I was going to need to invest in the recommended pressing sheet. I hate to even think how long ago it was when I stopped at this point, but it was at the end of August.
So, I ordered The Applique Pressing Sheet. I got mine at Amazon. It's the 13 x 17-inch size. "As Seen on TV!" the cover boasts. I must have missed that show.
So today, I took it out of its package. It looks like this.
It's made of silicon and while it appears opaque, it is somewhat transparent. So the way this works is that you place it over the top of your applique placement diagram...
So now I have a surface where, theoretically, I can fuse all the pieces of the chickadee together, but then peel them up off the pressing sheet for permanent placement onto the background fabric. We shall see. Here are all the individual pieces. I laid the tweezers down there so you could see how really tiny some of the pieces are.
Then I placed them on the pressing sheet in their designated spots according to the placement diagram. This was no small feat because, with the pieces overlapping, eventually I couldn't see the placement diagram any more and I was flying blind. (Get it? Flying? I'm so punny.)
Eventually, I was satisfied that they were right...or maybe I just got tired of messing with them...I forget. So then I used the iron to fuse them to one another by ironing directly on the pressing sheet.
This is the part where I held my breath a little, especially with those tiny little feet and beak pieces. I wasn't entirely sure I could peel the whole thing up without pulling it apart. It took a little bit of scratching and very careful tugging, but it all came up in one piece.
Will wonders never cease? There it is...the chickadee sitting on a tree branch.
Cool! So that's only the first of many of these. It took me so long to get my bearings again after leaving this for months. I had to read and re-read the pattern again and figure out which fabrics went with which pieces, and figure out the identification strategy for all the different pieces, and just basically figure out the whole freaking pattern again. Here's what the whole quilt will look like when its finished.
Beautiful, right? Well, if you've ever done a McKenna Ryan pattern before then you may know what I've had the misfortune of learning with this one. They are extremely difficult to work with.
For one thing, the templates and placement diagrams are printed on both sides of big newspaper-sized sheets of paper. That means that you can't use a lightbox or any other kind of light source to do the tracing. I can live with that. But the pieces are confusingly identified. For example, the flowers are identified as pieces E1 through E5, but the tree trunks are also identified using those same letters and numbers. Also, the dress. Also other pieces are identified using identical lettering. And the instructions are also printed on the same sheets with the templates. Also, the fabric key is printed on the same sheets. Oh yes, and don't forget that there is an errata for the instructions. So, as you're working with it, you're having to pick things up and flip them over and try to find what it is your looking for with each step. All in all, it is the most confusing mess I've ever seen. It's extremely annoying to be spending so much money on this block-of-the-month to have it be such a nightmare to work with.
I will get through it, but it will necessitate brushing up and practicing all the four letter words I know. Loudly. And did I mention it would be a good idea to remove all sharp objects from the sewing room?
Now that I've figured out my place again, I think I need to at least get the pieces fused down to the background before I can quit. It's a little like picking up a big juicy hamburger. You know how sometimes you start on the hamburger, but then can't put it down again? Because if you do, it will fall all apart, and you'll need a fork to eat it.
Yes, it's exactly like that. But, hey, the pressing sheet is great!
That is a lot of work but you are doing a nice job with the little pieces. I got the sheets and it is nice to have them to help with fusing.
I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.
All I can say is 'better you than me'! And if I hear a faint blur of profanity in the wind here on the East coast - I know where it came from.
I'm proud of your efforts! Your pressing sheet looks a bit better than mine. Yes, it still has its limitations as to what you can see once the layers get piled on. Keep calm and press on! You can do it! I have no doubt.
Looks wonderful, but so small....maybe a semi-raving maniac....giggle.
Sometimes I think growing as a quilter is highly over rated. I've spent the day getting reacquainted with paper piecing. Though not near as daunting as your project, my mind is mush after cutting out and assembling the parts for just one block. So you have my sympathy. It will get easier (won't it?).
I love using the pressing sheet, but I usually don't press the entire piece on the sheet. I use the tip of the iron to "tack" the pieces together. McKenna Ryan's quilts are intricate but so worth the effort in the end. Stick with it!
You crack me up! You know this is selfinduced horror, right? LOL!
I am so proud of you that you are not giving up!!!
I really like my pressing sheets! I use them a lot. I have been making cloth books for a grandson and using fusible batting on them. I have used the pressing sheets to keep the ironing board and iron clean!
After reading this post I am seriously laughing with you, not at you. I have the McKenna Ryan Aussie Christmas waiting to be started. I am so hesitant about it.It really scares me but i desperately want to do it. I will keep watching your progress to be inspired!
As someone alluded to above, you don't have to wait until you have all the pieces in place to fuse, you can tack each one with a touch of your iron. That way you don't have to say bad words when some of them move when covering them with an upper pressing sheet (Don't ask).
I have never done one of her patterns but have my eye on the about to be released Dog one. Will have to wait until I am in a calm state of mind to start it.
Good luck and just take your time with it. Her quilts are beautiful when done.
Great post, I hope you had a glass of wine at dinner. :)
My appliqué project is teaching me all about denial and avoidance, so I guess I'm growing, and mine isn't as tiny and complicated as yours. Just keep saying it will be #%##% worth it, it will be beautiful.
I have this pattern too and LOVE it but am not courageous enough to start it yet! I am determined to do it though! After reading your posts on the pattern I will be sure to have the pressing sheet and a clear table to leave it out instead of putting it away when not working on it. I too think I will be using language, of the 4 letter variety, that is rarely heard in my house. lol I am already saying in my head "what the #$%^ did I get myself into! ahaha Keep going with your progress because I will need the inspiration!! :)
Take comfort in the fact that only a raving lunatic would have started this project in the first place, so you need have no fear of becoming one. :) Feel better? I thought so.
Ooh, that pressing sheet is so going on my christmas list! I've wondered about them for a while so thanks for explaining them.
You're going to make a gorgeous quilt, don't fret.
(oh, and keep "helper cats" out of the sewing room along with the sharp items! they love making off with tiny bits and pieces like chickadee feet--but I'm sure you know that already).
thank you for telling us about the pressing sheet-that one sounds really nice.
I loved this pattern when I first saw it-but decided no way was I going to attempt it-so I applaud you for sticking with it-you'll love it when finished-hugs
Oh, I've got the floral one, with a zillion pieces in it. It's been in a box for a very long time! LOL. I found that using a lot of little snack size ziplocks helped in keeping this in an order I could understand. You will have a treasure when your done!
LOL! This is just how I have felt more than once while "challenging" myself with my paper pieced BoM this year.
That pressing sheet looks great... but any project that requires tweezers tells me to be happy to admire YOURS! And I will!!
You WILL be able to do this. You will, you will, you WILL!!!
I cracked up when I saw your tiny bits....those are part of the pattern? Wha??? In my sewing room those are in the trash! You did such a great job cutting the background fabric -- with no consternation as you note -- you should just cut some more. You know, get that sense of satisfied accomplishment right away. This WILL be beautiful when it's completed, but since this isn't a race you can take you time and try to enjoy the process.
OH....did I forget to say OY!
Bless you child, where shall I send the condolence card? The one for your family when you run away from home and join the circus when you need a little peace and relaxation after working on this nightmare project. Seriously, I know you can do it one teeny, tiny piece at a time!
Thank you for a very honest review of the pattern. She's clearly an incredibly talented designer, but that's not the only skill required for writing a pattern. Still, we can be confident that the finished quilt will be gorgeous. And no one will be comparing your composition to the picture on the pattern, so your placement will be perfect, no matter what.
OY!! You got that right! I can see why you wanted to make it though, it is adorable. Just take your time, I'm sure it will turn out beautiful.
It has lots of elements I like ...cats, quilts, daisies... But since I've only done very simple applique, I'll just enjoy yours at a distance. ;-)
I can also say 'better you than me!' I'm going to stick my pattern way back in my closet and only take it out after I have done a lot more applique. I will be enjoying watching you work on this one. I'm sure I will be looking back through your posts after I pull my out of the closet! Hope you have a great Thanksgiving Day!
Just wanted to tell you that all the suffering will be well worth it once you get this one underway. I have done a couple of Mckenna's designs and they always turnout beautiful. I am so glad you got the pressing sheet! It is one of my favorite quilting tools, you will love it. Keep on sewing ...
I have seen that pattern as well as all of her patterns made up in person at one of our stores here in St. Louis (Batiks Plus). They carry all of the Hoffman Batiks that are used in her patterns, so they have the full sized finished quilts on display. They are all beautiful,and I've been tempted, but I'm not THAT crazy!! ha ha only teasing. I have friends who are working on some and they express the same sentiments as you.! Keep the faith that you will get it done.
The pressing sheet sounds like a very smart idea, thanks for the review.
My mind boggles at the work involved in your quilt, but hopefully your mind remains clear, otherwise things could get messy :)
Thanks for linking up to New to Me too.
I love how the little bird came out and I think I might need to invest in a pressing sheet. This is going to be slow project but well worth it when done and you have said you like a challenge! Happy Thanksgiving Barbara to you and your family.
Well..... I have the first two patterns and thought I might actually make this one, but now I'm thinking it may sit and marinate in my sewing room a while LOL!!! Geez!!!! I had no idea her patterns were so confusing. They are so dang complicated, and everyone loves them so much, I just assumed she had found a way to organize them and make them at least doable, if not easy. But then again, sometimes I live in a rose-colored world and have to be rudely awakened :*)
You know what works even better than one pressing sheet? TWO! I know they are expensive but I use one under my fuse pieces and then I put the second one on top between the iron and the applique. Helps keep the fusible sticky stuff from getting on my iron. But it may be that I am just a messier sewist.
I love that pattern that you are working on. May have to go get one and make that a project for 2014.
I am NOT old! Yes, I remember Carly. You now also know why I won't even attempt to do one of those lovely applique masterpieces. I'm sure you'll get it done, and I'm sure it'll turn out lovely. I'm just glad that YOU are doing it, not me.
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