Writing Career… in Quilts?

It’s a pretty winning day when you’re asked to join a blog hop to celebrate an artist’s hard work and amazing results of long hours and months of genius mixed with something so near and dear to your own heart–words. Throw in the added bonus of learning another new skill to boot, and there was no chance that I was going to let my invitation to Whole Circle Studio’s Typecast party get lost in the cyber mail!

Much glee ensued when I found out that I was going to be stitching up the letter “W” as my stop along the blog trail. As someone who initially started their career by stringing together letters in the form of words, mostly for a profession in journalism, but with a lot of poetry and fiction writing mixed in as well for good measure, there was no other way to go with a “W” than with a “writer” meaning for me. Luckily, I had the perfect fabric waiting in my stash for just an occasion such as this and there was plenty to make a full mini quilt of “WRITER” for a nice wall hanging or center block for a larger project (writers deliberate for ages on what to do with characters/snippets of writing, the same as quilters do with projects–it’s a trait I carried over from one endeavor to the other).

There are few people I can think of in the quilting and crafting realm who could make a full English Paper Piecing alphabet that is as incredible as the one Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill has created with her Typecast pattern. If this here EPP newbie could pick up Sheri’s exemplary crafted templates and guide, and start gluing down fabric and then stitching things together in a matter of minutes, then anyone can do it. It helped to leave a lot of extra seam allowance for gluing in place (about 3/8″ to 1/2″) around the shapes, allowing my fingers some real estate to work on while smoothing out around the edges, but also so my Tulip applique needle would have something to grab to pass my Aurifil 80wt (White 2024) and 50wt (Light Turquoise 5006) threads through.

Just like there is often a “right choice in words” when writing, there is often a “right choice in stitches” when sewing, but with EPP, there are quite a few options. Some are more visible in the end result (whip stitch) while others are more hidden (ladder stitch) and others are more suited for curves (flat stitch), but in the end, it really comes down to a matter of preference–and sometimes words are often the same way to a writer. You could say the sky is blue, but writers like to say it’s cerulean.

These are the stitches I was making when I started my “W” block–and they are not pretty (or at least, not to my Type A personality):

But towards the end of the process of assembling my “W” block, I had found the stitch length and width frequency I desired (I basically was making 25-30 stitches per inch with my Aurifil 80wt, and they were about 1/16″-1/32″ in length, which barely showed on the front of the block):

However, along the way to finding my perfect stitch, I did fall into a few ditches. Mainly, there were a few alignment issues from some of my more poorly glued template pieces (be careful of edge slack and make sure you iron your fabrics well before you start cutting!). These alignment issues caused a little bit of overage in some areas (not a horrible correction issue), and some shortages in others–thankfully my overly generous seam allowances allowed me to “cheat the system” for the shortage issue situations by unfolding the seams in the short-changed areas to match them up to meet their mates:

This was also about the time when my writing days made another appearance in the form of an adult beverage to help keep me company as I stitched in the evenings–and also helped to keep me from becoming too discouraged by what I perceived as major “failures” in my EPP technique when things weren’t lining up nicely–not everyone like plot twists.

However, I was reassured by many seasoned EPPers that my experiences were not uncommon and are avoidable by using positioning clips on the ends of long pieces and start sewing from the middle outward. I also discovered on my own that for places where clips weren’t practical, a few well placed applique pins helped keep things from shifting where they shouldn’t when a clip would get in the way of my hands or the thread:

Yet, like most riveting stories, you simply can’t just put a pin in it and come back to it later–you need to keep going to find out how all the loose threads end up tying together by the final word on the last page (and hope you aren’t too disappointed or forgot to close a gap somewhere). The final results:

I think it’s safe to say that I’m not the least bit disappointed with how my story of journeying into EPP has begun, and my letter “R” is coming along nicely (curves are always something I can’t resist in sewing–or driving!), even if it isn’t quite a gentle step up from the fairly straight-forward “W” block. I’m already looking forward to stitching up the “CAPTAIN AMERICA” I need next for my daughter’s quilt, and the proverbial ink isn’t even dry yet on my “WRITER” mini/center quilt start. Oh, what a tangled wordy web we weave, when first we practice to EPP.

Be sure to check out the other fantastic artists and makers who have joined the Typecast party!
• Wednesday, March 27: Tour Introduction by Whole Circle Studio
• Monday, April 1 — A: Kate Brennan of Aurifil
• Tuesday, April 2 — B: Mathew Boudreaux of Mister Domestic
• Wednesday, April 3 — C: Tara Curtis of Wefty Needle
• Thursday, April 4— D: Leah Day of Free Motion Quilting Project
• Friday, April 5 — Week 1 Wrap Up featuring A-D and GIVEAWAY at Whole Circle Studio
• Monday, April 8 — E: Erin Bay of Paper Pieces
• Tuesday, April 9 — F: Sylvia Schaefer of Flying Parrot Quilts
• Wednesday, April 10 — G: Giuseppe Ribaudo of Giucy Giuce
• Thursday, April 11— H: Hilary Jordan of By Hilary Jordan
• Friday, April 12 — Week 2 Wrap Up featuring E-H and GIVEAWAY at Whole Circle Studio
• Monday, April 15 — I: Kim Soper of Leland Ave Studios
• Tuesday, April 16 — J: Yvonne Fuchs of Quilting Jetgirl
• Wednesday, April 17 — K: Karen O’Connor of Lady K Quilts
• Thursday, April 18 — L: Kristy Daum of St. Louis Folk Victorian
• Friday, April 19 — Week 3 Wrap Up featuring I-L and GIVEAWAY at Whole Circle Studio
• Monday, April 22 — M: Molli Sparkles of Molli Sparkles
• Tuesday, April 23 — N: Nicole Daksiewicz of Modern Handcraft
• Wednesday, April 24 — O: Scott Hansen of Blue Nickel Studios
• Thursday, April 25 — P: Pat Sloan of Pat Sloan
• Friday, April 26 — Week 4 Wrap Up featuring M-P and GIVEAWAY at Whole Circle Studio
• Monday, April 29 — Q: Joanna Marsh of Kustom Kwilts
• Monday, April 29 — Q: Lindsay Széchényi of Lindsay Széchényi (and Patchwork Threads)
• Tuesday, April 30 — R: Andrea Tsang Jackson of 3rd Story Workshop
• Wednesday, May 1 — S: Sarah Thomas of Sariditty
• Thursday, May 2 — T: Rachel Rossi of Rachel Rossi
• Friday, May 3— Week 5 Wrap Up featuring Q-T and GIVEAWAY at Whole Circle Studio
• Monday, May 6 — U: Kitty Wilkin of Night Quilter
• Tuesday, May 7 — V: Jenn McMillan of Fabric, Ink
• Wednesday, May 8 — W: Jenny Meeker of Bobbin Roulette Studio
• Thursday, May 9 — X: Stephanie Kendron of Modern Sewciety
• Friday, May 10 — Week 6 Wrap Up featuring U-X and GIVEAWAY at Whole Circle Studio
• Monday, May 13 — Y: Debby Brown of Debby Brown Quilts
• Tuesday, May 14 — Z: Nisha Bouri and Kim Martucci of Brimfield Awakening
• Wednesday, May 15 — Week 7 Wrap Up featuring Y-Z, Tour closeout and GIVEAWAY at Whole Circle Studio

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