Friday, April 29, 2016

along the way to Lotus

On our way home from Ikea Charlotte in February, I made this sketch of a graphic on their street sign.  (Leave it to Ikea to ensure even their street signs are inspiring...)

Lotus block version 4.0

Of course, it struck me as a charming quilt block.  I could see drunkard's path curves put to good use to create something flowerlike with a Scandinavian flavor.  Pretty tempting, no?


I like sewing curves, but am not as fond of cutting them.  Fortunately, there's an Accuquilt cutting die that cuts the drunkard's path block.  I procured one from Sew Vac Direct, my sewing machine and supplies sponsor and figured that, combined with my Go! baby cutter, this would make quick work of the job.

Well, it didn't go quite that easily.  When I received the cutting die I realized that it wasn't an exact match to the block design.  If you examine the sketch you'll see that the circle in the center fills out the center, with "background" only showing in the arched corners.  Essentially, the curve goes right to the edge of the "blocks".  The cutting die, by contrast, surrounds the curve with a good 1" of background at the thinnest points.


Earlier this week I worked out two possible versions of the block.  The version on the left uses the Accuquilt cutting die with no modifications.  You can see that the circle in the center of the block is now cushioned by background.  Also the outer petals of the flower are spaced away from each other.  The version on the right uses hand cut drunkard's path shapes designed to have minimal background cushion beyond the curves.

I shared these sketches on Instagram to get some feedback (thanks for that!).  About 75% of responders preferred the block on the right.  That didn't surprise me, since it is far more similar to the Ikea sign which originally caught my eye.  But those who preferred the block on the left had a good point - the extra background allows the shape to breathe.  Hmm...

Lotus block version 4.0

Yesterday I made this test block.  I used the Accuquilt cutting die, which greatly speeds the process, but trimmed the drunkard's paths before assembling to create a hybrid of my left vs. right versions.

Lotus block version 3.0

In effect, this is version 3.0.  But when I was finished my block, I was so disappointed I truly considered scrapping the whole idea.  Just then my friend arrived for Thursday night yoga and gave me the push I needed to unpick and remake the block one more time.

Lotus block version 4.0

Lotus block version 4.0

I'm super excited about this final rendition!  A bit more drunkard's path trimming yields a block with a shape almost identical to the street sign, but with background surrounding the whole flower to give it room to breathe.  I think it brings together the best of my first two versions:  shape, negative space and using the die cutter!  The only minor drawback is that using the cutter creates some unnecessary fabric waste, but then again die cutters usually do.  It's the price we sometimes pay for speed.

What do you think?  I am hoping you like it because I plan to share this as a free pattern.  I'll write instruction options for using the Accuquilt cutting die as well as a downloadable hand-cutting template for those who prefer it.

Cool Melon fabrics for my Lotus quilt

I'm planning to make a 9-block baby quilt with these Cool Melon fabrics.  Short and sweet and finished in a jiffy.  Want to join me?


67 comments:

  1. Love the block. I am so afraid of curves, but might just give this a try to get over the fear. Debby

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    1. This is a reasonable block for someone still learning curves. It doesn't require much precision in the petals, moreso in the 4 curves that make the inner circle. The block I'll draft for hand-cutting will include instructions for trimming to improve precision. The die cut version has handy notches to help in accurately sewing the curve.

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    2. Google the "Curve Master Foot" and hopefully the excellent video on sewing these curved blocks will still be there. I did when I bought the Curve Master Foot at a show once, and I did it right the first time, and so curves have turned out to be EASIER FOR ME than points!!!!
      Kate

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    3. This is the shortest and best (slow!!) vid, though she's doing Apple Core pieces, but it's the same "Lift and Separate" the fabrics technique that makes it SOOOOOOO much faster and easier than PINNING!
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hIJQpYK1-zc

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  2. Love it! Can't wait to work on it. Baby quilts are my favorite size too.

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  3. Looks like a fun block! I love sewing curves!

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  4. I'm in. For at least one block anyway!

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    1. It's a 12" finished block, so it's a standard size that's easy to mix with other blocks too!

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  5. I don't usually respond; however, I love this block. Makes me almost want to add another WIP to my list.

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  6. You can count me in. Excited to make one!

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  7. I'm impressed and envious of your ability to interpret the sign into a design. Well done you. I like it a lot and think it would make a super project for my home group none of whom have ever done curved piecing. Bring it on!

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    1. Thank you, Mary! It is fun to think that your home group might learn to sew curves on this block =)

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  8. I like your block design. Don't know if I could deal with the waste, but then I don't use die cutters anyway.

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  9. Your new quilt block is really adorable! I don't have a die cutter nor do I see one in my future. But I think I could at least try the block. Using Denise Schmdyt's (sic) fabrics certainly shows off the best of your design. Is there anyone who doesn't love her?

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  10. What a cool block, Ikea is so wonderful. I have not been there in ages.
    I get completely overwhelmed in every department. Like, I just want to be 26 years old and building a household with kids..... I love Ikea.
    I have way too much furniture. :-P
    This block is great. I love the one on the right too.... and when I saw the first block, I thought "oh that looks great, now make the other one" heehee and there is was - BAM. I love the second one.
    I love the red orange. It just looks perky I like this block, Rachel, I am looking forward to learning how to make this block

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  11. Love it! Fresh and Fun. Glad you're making a pattern ... I'll give it a go.

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  12. It's a terrific block. I saw it earlier when I was on my Flickr account and it really grabbed my attention.

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  13. This is amazing! I really, really love it! Your hard work paid off!

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  14. What's not to love?? I find your fabric choices for the test block, perfection! (So funny, I made a test block today with pale yellow, too, sadly, no FMF, tho, Lol!) I think your block has a sweetness potential that is off the charts really!

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    1. Thanks so much, Sarah! It is a very sweet, girly kind of block, isn't it? That's probably why I'm thinking baby quilt.

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  15. I have to second Mary's comment above. Well done. I so appreciated reading about the process you went thru to get to the final block. I pop over to read your blog posts occasionally, but haven't commented until now. I really love your style, wit and life lessons. Thank you for sharing.

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  16. I love this! I just finished my first block using the Quick Curve Ruler. So much easier than I thought it would be! You are so generous to share with us.

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  17. Too, too cute! I was in the 25% group only because I'd just learned a circle in a block technique & wanted to try it. I like both though. I agree, you have such great color & design skills. Thank you so much for sharing with us!

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  18. Thanks for the generous impulse, Rachel. I would love to create a wall-hanging with this block, perhaps with some of my treasured AMH fabric that needs to come out of my stash and be appreciated by the rest of my family, too.

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  19. I definitely like the 3.0 version the best. It truly is the best of both worlds in your two designs. How sweet and generous of you to make us all a free pattern of it!!! I've been thinking about making a new table runner and I think this just might be the pattern I'll use. I think it will make a lovely baby quilt too. Love all your creation.

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  20. I was reading through your thought process with the block and thought to myself ... the drunkard block just need more background trimmed off it ... then I scrolled to the next picture and voila! You did it!

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  21. I love how version 3.0's little corner (red) squares now float in more white around them! How much fabric (colored and then how much white) would we need IF we joined in :)

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  22. I love it! 3.0 works for me. ;-)

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  23. Oh my, I really, really like this block. The plus is the Accuquilt die can cut all those curved pieces. I think I'll have to buy this die after all. Thanks for the beautiful inspiration! I would love the pattern instructions.

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  24. This is a delightful block! I look forward to the tutorial, I've never sewed curves, but I am ready to give it a go with such a lovely block. Also, what a blessing to have friends that help you move forward from disappointment! Such a treasure.

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  25. I love it, I'm so excited you're sharing it as a free pattern! I'm still teetering on the edge of jumping into sewing curves, this is definitely on my list of projects to try once I do soon! :)

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  26. interesting - initially, I thought I liked the sketched block on the left better, but by the end of the post, I definitely liked it the way you envisioned it! I like the fabrics you chose and maybe I will play with this. I have that cutter, but I haven't used it yet.

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  27. Super pretty! And I agree completely with the previous commenter, I liked the sketch on the left better, but it looked weird as an actual quilt block for some reason. The one at the end is much better. Wish I had time to make that quilt!

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  28. Rachel it's stunning! I can't wait. What a lovely quilt it'll be. Thank you!

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  29. Love your fabric choices!! The block is beautiful, fresh and fun. :)

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  30. Love your fabric choices!! The block is beautiful, fresh and fun. :)

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  31. Ooh, I have a bundle of Carkai itching to be released..

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  32. Love this block and that you could see a sign and turn it into that!

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  33. Hi Rachel! I love this - more your first idea but the other one is good, too. Your idea worked out beautifully and watermelon colours are delicious! x Teje

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  34. Yes yes yes! This will be the block that screams to be made, fear of curves released. So pleased to hear that you will be offering it free!

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  35. I like both versions of the block. Thank you for making it available for free.

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  36. Love this. Colours are beautiful. Though I have yet to 'do' curves, this may be the inspiration I need to try. Jean R

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  37. Can hardly wait!

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  38. Thanks for sharing your process of how this block came to be. I'm glad you stuck it out and tried again because I would love to make a quilt from this design!

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  39. Thank you so much for sharing, you are an inspiration. I'm glad you did a third, it is perfect! Isn't it great that inspiration can come from anywhere. I do hope I can fit in the sew along. Have a wonderful weekend :)

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  40. Lovely block! This will be such a pretty little quilt. I look forward to the pattern. Thank you for sharing it with us.

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  41. What a sweet block! I wonder if a variation could be made with the quick curve ruler...

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  42. What a wonderful block and I love the story of how it came about; I envy your creativity and skill at pattern drafting. You are very creative! Sure wish I was more confident with curves.

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  43. Love the block and look forward to the pattern. Would love to use it in a premie quilt for our local neonatal unit.

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  44. Your final version really speaks to me! I love it. XO

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  45. I haven't tried curves yet but this will certainly be one that I will try. I LOVE your block! Thanks in advance for the pattern, I can't wait.

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  46. Your blocks looks amazing! And I love the colors you#ve picked!

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  47. Very cool! Glad you stuck it out xx

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  48. I love it! I'll definitely be on the lookout for your tutorial. I adore those little floating red squares. Thank you for taking the time to design this pretty block!

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  49. I like it!
    It would be interesting to see the street signal you are talking about ;)

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    1. Yes! I was so thwarted from photographing it, so the best I could do was a sketch to remember!

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  50. I love this. I would really like to join a baby quilt quilt along. My cousin is expecting twins, so I need to get making. :-)

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  51. Yes! This will be a fun quilt along...I'm in.

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  52. I don't quilt but I love them and appreciate all the work that goes into them. I've chosen to follow your blog because of the design element. I like that you told us how you got an idea and from where, how you tweaked it, got feedback, and tweaked it again. I do this with paper, acrylic paints and inks. Cutting circles is difficult work no matter how you go about it. The thing I love about quilts is the pattern that is created after several squares have been put together. Inside each square are four points that become part of a pattern outside itself. Like people, needing input from those around us to become a well-rounded person.

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    1. What a lovely train of thought, Cheryl, about become part of something beyond ourselves.

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  53. I love your block and fabric choice. I'm getting an oriental vibe from it. My sister would love it! She finds all kinds of blocks and patterns for ME to sew and quilt. She can sew and quilt. She just likes it better when I do it for her!! Lol I have made things for her but she wraps them up in tissue paper and puts them in the closet. Ugh. She doesn't want to use them and mess them up. I told her the things I make, I make them to be used, enjoyed and loved.

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  54. Looking forward to seeing your finished quilt project.....
    The block is super cool, I'd love to try making the block...

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  55. Absolutely love this block and the fabrics you chose. Thanks for being so generous to share with us! Can't wait to see the pattern.

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  56. I absolutely love Cheryl's comment above about needing other people so we can be well-rounded. Has anyone mentioned Jen Carlton Bailey's quarter circle templates? They're not die cuts, but you can use a rotary cutter and multiple layers of fabric with them and they'd be perfect for this beautiful block.

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  57. A beautiful block!!! I also read your other posts about this. Fun to read about how you came up with the final block and your instructions are very clear. I have to finish other things but will remember this block.
    Groetjes
    Annemieke

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  58. Rachel I am VERY glad you chose not to scrap this whole idea, and that your friend inspired you to unpick and re-try the block to look like the sign that inspired you originally. I totally agree it's the right design! I've also been looking for something I like well enough to inspire me to try curved piecing, and you have done it. Can't wait for the whole project (although not sure when I'll start mine. LOTS of UFO's on the go). Thanks very much for your free pattern and quilt-along tutorial. ~Diana

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  59. Rachel I am VERY glad you chose not to scrap this whole idea, and that your friend inspired you to unpick and re-try the block to look like the sign that inspired you originally. I totally agree it's the right design! I've also been looking for something I like well enough to inspire me to try curved piecing, and you have done it. Can't wait for the whole project (although not sure when I'll start mine. LOTS of UFO's on the go). Thanks very much for your free pattern and quilt-along tutorial. ~Diana

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