Thursday, February 11, 2016

"Kitty Craft" Block for February: Challenges and Do-Overs

I've boxed myself into an even tighter corner than usual with this year's B.O.M. As always, I started with a pleasing layout plan. Because I'd had so many requests for cats,  I'd already decided to use them for the theme. Fitting the cats and other items into specific sizes and shapes of blocks is the foremost design challenge.

This month I chose to let two kittens loose in the craft room.  With one kitten up and one down, I was able to fit them into the tall, narrow block that I needed to fill. One of the kittens has crawled into the pencil pot and the other is playing with scattered pencils. A shoofly block and a set of flying geese are the companion blocks.

The Do-Over

Sometimes it takes another person to point out a flaw, and sometimes that flaw becomes so distracting that there's no choice but to start all over. The block was completely finished when a friend pointed out that my pencils were too fat or my kittens too tiny. Or both.   Here you can see the first attempt and the do-over side by side. The pencils are thinner and the kittens just a tad larger in the final block, and I can sleep better.

The Construction Challenge

Pencils. Pencils have points. Colored pencils have colored points. I didn't realize that those colored points would be a bit of a challenge until I tried to hand embroider one of them. It was awful! The embroidery floss was way too thick, and the point looked like a big colored bump on the end of the pencil. As I've said before, my hand stitching leaves a bit to be desired. 

I moved to the sewing machine, and those points came out very nicely with only four or five stitches forward and back. With either method, I definitely recommend that you practice first.

I started at the very tip of the pencil point, inserted my needle, drew up the bobbin thread, and stitched two stitches in place to secure the thread. With a long stitch (stitch length 4) I stitched forward one stitch right down the left side of the pencil.

Now comes the tricky part. You have to back stitch one stitch and finish in the very same spot where you began your stitch. I messed up several times because I had moved the fabric ever so slightly before beginning the back stitch.

After the back stitch, with the needle still in the same location, angle the needle just a bit and forward stitch one stitch. This stitch will be very close to the first, but not on top of it. Continue as with the first stitch, angling each stitch a bit more to the right and always back stitching into that very same beginning point. Four or five stitches will do it.

Not bad at all. :)

I'm thinking ahead to March. 
What should the cats be getting into next? 

Oh, my gosh! Sunday is Valentine's Day!
Have a lovely one!