Friday, 2 March 2012

Foundations, fish and finishes

Well, we are on the home straight now with the Sew Happy QAL, the second last block and boy, was it a pain in the neck! Nothing to do with Jenna's brilliant video instructions, I hasten to add, but if this had come along earlier in the QAL, I think I would have been running for the hills. I have been struggling with this block for the last two days, and I am glad that it is now finished (and far from perfect, unfortunately!). I think this may prove to be my one and only foray into foundation piecing, in fact, I am sure of it.

Part of the problems I had were, I think, due to having to use up scraps of some of the fabrics to make up the block, as this was all that is left of the lovely turquoise fabrics that I started with. So some of the seam allowances were, I think the technical term is "scant", or in my case, "very scant". In some cases they were so scant as to be non-existent, so seam ripping was called for and another attempt made. When I measure this block against previously completed blocks it is about 1/2 inch bigger all round, now I know that is better than being smaller, but isn't this kind of piecing supposed to do away with that kind of problem??

Actually, I think that the fabric I used for the foundation might also have contributed to my problems as, although I starched it before using it, I suspect that there was a bit of stretching going on, which all the ripping and re-sewing probably didn't help! That probably accounts too for one square of the centre square being 1/8" too small. Aaargh!!!

I had dithered about whether to paper-piece this block (and am now wishing I had!) because I am enjoying Katy's FPPFTT so much, but decided that the whole point of this QAL was to learn new skills, so ought to try the foundation piecing. Well, all I can say is that I have now tried it and won't be trying it again any time soon!

This week hasn't been all bad though, I have finally finished a cross-stitch towel that I have been working on since the New Year. I only work on it in the evenings in front of the TV, which is why it has taken so long. The pattern, again, was from the book, Made in France, cross stitch and embroidery in red, white and blue by Agnes Delage-Calvet and is rapidly becoming my favourite source of cross stitch and embroidery inspiration.

 Stitching and watching, or more accurately listening to, the TV is definitely easier when you are only using one colour!

Speaking of fish, I thought you might like to see an example of the fish for sale in the Central Market here in Riga. The market is actually 5 buildings, which were used as aircraft hangers in a previous time, housing a fish market, meat market, vegetable market, bread market and dairy produce market. In the summer the market spills out onto the surrounding area, but only some hardy souls ply their wares outdoors in the winter.

The selection of fresh and smoked fish available in the market is extensive, but these fish have always intrigued me. I have never been brave enough to try them but every smoked fish stall has them so they must be popular!

It doesn't seem like a month since I linked up to Lily's Quilts Small Blog Meet for the first time, but I am delighted to be linking up again. It was lovely to see what other new, and nearly new bloggers were getting up to.


  1. I signed up for the Sew Happy QAL, but didn't end up participating. Sounds like it was a good decision for me, as I've never done any quilting and if you found this one difficult, for me it would have been impossible. LOVE the cross-stitching!!!

  2. Amazing fish! I bet they taste quite good being smoked. This is my first small blog meet and I am thoroughly enjoying it! Lovely to link up with all parts of the quilting world. Best wishes, Karen

  3. Well yes, the SHQ QAL was all about learning (but I think I'll still be using the paper piecing for this one ;o) ) Love your wee fishies too, they look so amazingly detailed

  4. Haven't got a clue what foundation piecing is (I'm just getting used to hand piecing!), but I love the block you've made. It looks great and you really won't notice any slight imperfections when it's together with the other blocks in the quilt. I love your embroidered fish - something else I haven't tried in a very long time. Not sure I'd be able to use the tea towel to dry up having invested so much time on it!!

    1. Thanks Fiona, I am keeping my fingers crossed that you are right about not noticing. The quilt is for my son and daughter-in-law so hopefully they won't notice either :)

  5. Oh I think your block looks lovely - despite the hassles involved! I'm not as keen on foundation piecing either - I prefer paper piecing if I can except for having to take the paper off at the end. That's no fun.

  6. I've popped over from 'Quiet Play' and 'Lily's Quilts' Small Blog link and enjoyed your comments. I had trouble with the Craftsy Feb.'Balkan Puzzle' block and found that I was oversized after sewing scant seams too! Fabric has it's own life and not all pieces move the same way when you sew, press and unpick. Now are you living in Riga as in Latvia?

  7. Your block looks perfect, I can't tell you had any problems! I also had been torn about doing foundation piecing or paper piecing. I am even more confused about what to do now, so I am going to put off the decision for a few more days lol. Your fish are great, perfect design for the towel!

  8. I think the fishies on the towel are cuter than the other ones.......

  9. I love your fish and I think your block has ended up looking great even if was annoying to make :)

  10. The block is amazing :-) A little Liebster blog love came into my life, and I'm happy to pass the Liebster Blog Award on to you!

  11. This is so detailed, Fiona! I love how each fish is different, yet from a distance, they look the same. Thanks for linking up...


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