Saturday, May 16, 2015

Under the Sea Block Step 1: Planning the Seams

After sharing pictures of the under the sea block I embellished for Kathy S. in MD, I had someone ask me a, "How did you..." question. In school, we always encourage students to ask questions and let them know odds are pretty high someone else in class also has the same question but may be afraid to ask. So... instead of sharing only the completed work I do for the next block in this Crazy Quilting International Under the Sea Round Robin (CQI UTS RR), I decided to share it with a Step-by-Step rundown of my thought processes and how I go about each part. (I hope it does not bore you!)

I plan to break my work on this block down into a small series to limit the photos, but I fear they may still be photo heavy posts. (You may click on any photo for a larger image.)

1. Select a block

I am currently working on a block from the set Sandra T. created for our CQI UTS RR. (If you are not sure what a round robin is or how it works, this post may help.) Of the 4 blocks remaining to be embellished, I chose the one above.

2. Sketch the block

For a round robin block, occasionally I feel comfortable just winging things by embellishing seams and then adding motifs as the mood strikes me. However, I found I feel less stressed, I am able to finish a block sooner, and I am happier with the end results if I take a bit of time to plan things out first.

I believe some people make a photo copy of the actual block. I prefer to sketch the block on notebook or graph paper. I had a spiral notebook handy and used that and a mechanical pencil this time.

After sketching a 6" block (the actual block is larger with seam allowances, but I am only planning out the embroidery area), I sketched in each seam.

3. Plan the Seam Treatments

Personally, I like to embellish every seam. To avoid conflicts between my seams and motifs, my next step is to figure out how I want to embellish each seam. In a round robin, it is important to consider how the other blocks were embellished while making these decisions so all of the blocks go well together when they return to the owner.

Along the sandy shore, I opted to put one of my favorite (mostly) horizontal UTS seams. It is a buttonhole stitch where the stitches are not uniformly spaced and may be various heights and/or angles. When finished, small beads will be attached to the top of each stitch. This one reminds me of algae.

Next, I wanted to add some curves and swirls to match both the fabric in the lower-right-corner of this block AND because Kathy S. and Nicki Lee S. both added swirls and/or curves within their blocks, as seen above.

So, I thought I would use these curvy fly-stitches to embellish the short, somewhat vertical seam near the bottom.  It seams like a perfect seam , as it is emerging from the sandy ocean floor.

In my opinion, one of the easiest ways to dress up a vertical seam on a UTS block is with a feather stitch. The stitches do not need to be even, as they are imitating seaweed or algae, which would not look uniform. This felt perfect for the long, tall seam along the left side of the block.

All three of the seams above are along the sandy ocean floor on Sandra's block. One of the reasons I chose these particular seam treatments is because they look natural along the bottom of the ocean.

You may remember, on the last set of blocks, I used a seam treatment Nicki Lee had used on the block she embellished for Kathy S. My work is not nearly as encrusted as the work others are doing on these blocks, so I wanted to use similar colors and a version of this seam treatment to create something similar between the two blocks. I love the subtle way this seam treatment adds sparkle and interest to a UTS block. It is just perfect for a seam running through the ocean waters; so, I decided to use it again along the long slanted seam on the right side of this block.

And, when I am not sure what to do with a seam on a UTS block that runs through the ocean water, small chain-stitched fish are my go-to seam treatment. I chose them for the fifth and final seam.

My next post will share how I planned the motifs.

Thanks for stopping by!


Magpie's Mumblings said...

I really enjoyed reading this Renee - so interesting to see your thought process. I'm a 'fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants' person and generally dive in and just let it evolve as I go along. I think I could benefit from a little pre-planning!

Queeniepatch said...

You have really put a lot of hard work into planning the embellishment for this block. I hope you enjoyed it and will enjoy the actual stitching as much.

Pamela said...

So interesting to read how you plan. I'm afraid I am more of a willy nilly stitcher. I stitch with one piece of thread until it runs out, then pick up another, throwing in some beads here and there. I've never really thought about planning it ahead...

Annet said...

Thanks for sharing your planning. Sometimes I plan my seams, bit mostly I just decorate one seam at the time. If I plan, I use a photo of my block, which allows me to use the patterns in the fabric too. But I never planned all seams of a block before I started stitching, it's a great idea.

Carol- Beads and Birds said...

Hi Renee
It's amazing to me that you have progressed so far in the short time that you have been crazy quilting. I especially THANK YOU for continuing to blog, while being so active in the groups and Facebook! This post is exactly what I love about blogging. I like to see completed blocks, but I love to read about the thought process and /or after thoughts on the completed block.

I don't know why I can't think of processes myself! As a new seam embellisher, I spend a lot of time looking for inspiration. I'm going to follow your posts on your process. I have never been one to "practice" so to speak, but I am definitely going to try "PLANNING" my next block.
Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge.
xx, Carol said...

Thanks for sharing. I see people making crazy quilt blocks and always wonder how they decided to make the blocks or if it was kind of a random type of thing.

Katie said...

I love ocean stuff and this block theme is so beautiful. Thanks for explaining how you did it. I had no idea. I'm just a counted cross stitch person.