Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Indian Star

This week's block in the series Austen Family Album is named Indian Star. It is to commemorate the family friend, Warren Hastings. His actual role in relation to the family is not well defined, but many situations brought them together. He was Governor General of India when Jane was born. For Barbara Brackman's account of his life please visit her blog here.

Even though this block design appeared in America and commemorated Native Americans it was chosen in this case for it's name. To relate it more to the country of India and thus to Mr. Hastings I went to the Flag of the Nation of India shown at right.

Using the colors of the flag, I constructed the block. It was fairly easy in comparison to some of the others presented more recently and contained some familiar elements. I'm learning to place the pieces a bit more accurately and was reminded by the writer of the blog, La Sewista! that different jobs are best done using specific pins. I remembered the Clover Quilting Pins I got in Japan.They are quite long and quite thin, making them ideal for pinning matching points.

I'm still searching for an appropriate sashing fabric. I haven't gotten all the boxes out of my "Sewing Vault" to see if I have something suitable. I'll keep searching as I'm now on the downhill side of the block piecing.

What's your challenge this week? I'd love to hear about it. Leave me a comment below! 

Friday, August 1, 2014

16 & 17

Blocks #16 and #17 were chosen in honor of Jane's Uncle James and his wife, the Leigh-Perrots.

Aunt Jane was at one time accused of shoplifting some lace from a shop in Bath and was imprisoned for 7 months without bail till her case was tried. She was ultimately acquitted, judged a victim of a scam by store employees to extract money through extortion. Aunt Jane could have been sentenced to death or to transportation - the term used for deportation to the penal colony at Botany Bay. The block called Lucky Pieces was chosen by Barbara Brackman to honor her. See the whole story here which includes a link to pictures of a quilt made by women in the penal colony.

I had some difficulty with this block. Although color choice, which slowed me down at the beginning of this project, has gotten easier, the blocks have become more complicated. This one is all triangles, 28 of them. With triangles you always have the possibility of stretching pieces out of shape on the diagonal edge, especially as the instructions for these blocks do not have you make Half-Square Triangles, rather triangles are cut and pieced individually. It could be worse, Ms. Brackman could have opted to present the block with the original parallelograms and Y-seams. We got the triangles instead. My first attempt at sewing the center pinwheel together ended up with the colors in the wrong orientation to the outside triangles so I didn't have the longer pinwheel blades. After consultation with my mentor, Carolyn I got them turned the right way around and spinning properly.

Uncle James was a man of means and as was the norm in that time indulged in what was considered "the Good Life." This included a diet high in alcohol consumption as well as indulgence in rich foods. He had the physical complaints to prove it and sought the healing properties of the "waters" at Bath on a regular basis. You can read a more complete synopsis of his life and the ravages of the Gout which afflicted many of the upper class of that era, here.

The block chosen for him is called Water Wheel. With only eight triangles and the rest squares, it was a relative piece of cake. It commemorates the time Uncle James spent seeking relief from his maladies in various baths and hot springs.

With this block I have reached the halfway point in piecing blocks for the Austen Family Album Quilt. I'm thankful I did not see, and have not seen the complete set of blocks. I certainly would not have attempted this project. As it is I have been able to complete each one, even though some are more difficult and present problems I am not acquainted with. I'm sure there's a good lesson in there for me.

Here's a photo of all of the blocks completed so far. I just recounted to make sure there are indeed 17.

I have placed the ones in the foreground on a fabric I'm considering for the sashing between blocks. It is a roll of kimono fabric; 95% wool and 5% nylon. I'm not sure how it will be with those blocks that are really light in color like the one on the far right. I'm open to opinions. As you might have noticed I have added a button to my blog that indicates that constructive suggestions are welcome, so please leave a comment below.

Here's a closer view of the fabric.

Are you working on something challenging? How do you cope with the difficult parts?