Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Saturday Surprise Blocks

At the shop we offer a block by block program called the Saturday Surprise Sampler.  This is the eighth year we've done this!!
Yesterday was the day for me to write the pattern and sew the blocks. There is only one block pattern, but two color-ways. 

 The red and taupe fabrics are from moda, designed by "French General".  I Love them!  We added in a nice brown to really set them off.  The other set of fabrics are pastels, designed by Robyn Pandolph.

 To design a block, I usually sit down with my EQ6 computer quilting program and play around with some ideas.  I'm always on the lookout for new ideas for the blocks because I like to try as many new ones as possible.  However, with 20 blocks a year, this week is block #151 , so I've had to repeat some designs.  In all, I would guess that we've done about 120 different blocks over the years.

 I probably spend about 1 or 2 hours trying different things, like moving the shading of light and dark, or adding in more or fewer fabrics.  I like to have from 4 to 6 fabrics in each block.  Also, there can't be too few or too many pieces!  Some people get tired of sewing triangles, so I try to make some patterns that are just squares and rectangles. And there is no applique or paper piecing. 

After I've got a design, I start to write the pattern in my word processing program.  Over time, I've found it most effective to do the cutting chart first, then sew the block, making notes of what might need to be changed.  I start to plan out in my mind how to write down the sequence of steps and decide what diagrams might be useful. 

Sometimes when I sew a block I don't like the way the colors look on it, so I play around a bit more and might change things, which means I probably have to sew another block.  But sometimes, I cheat on this and cut out the new color and just glue the pieces onto the sewn block with some water soluble glue!!!
Then, I go back to the computer and write out any changes to measurements and colors, and then write the instructions.  A lot of times a technique will be repeated so I can cut and paste from previously written instructions. 
Then, I take a copy in to the shop and we gather the fabrics for the kits.  Jenn and Nancy usually cut the blocks, and they double check the cutting chart before they start!!  It is so easy to make a mistake with the dimensions.  They let me know of any changes.  Then, they start to cut.  I think that they have a pretty good system going.  I'll have to get some photos of this part of the process to post here as well!
After the pieces are cut, they assemble and fold the stack of fabrics for each kit.  Usually I get the patterns printed on Thursday and bring them in to the shop so that they can be put into the bags with the fabrics by closing time on Friday.  Then, they are all ready for Saturday morning when people start to drop in and pick up the new block!!!  This is usually a pretty busy day -  it is often a good opportunity to see familiar faces and have a bit of socialising. 
It's not over yet!  On Monday, Debbie packages up about 80 kits to mail out to people from all over Saskatchewan, and even some in Alberta, B.C. and Ontario!

So far, these are the blocks that we've had so far:

 Oops, there's a bit of a gap here.  I will post 8, 9 and 10 very soon!

 Plus, in the other colorway I have to get caught up on my sewing, so maybe I'll just go do that now.  \In the meantime, this is an update on how my postage stamp quilt is progressing:  I think it will be pretty. 


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