January 8, 2018

Lucy Boston Blocks In Progress

It has been more than 6 months since I started this hand sewing project, and I still love sitting down with it almost every night, so it's time to share. I know I'm not the only sewist out there who got hooked on the Lucy Boston blocks thanks to Alewives Fabrics, a shop in Maine. Their Instagram posts of the English paper piecing blocks and kits drew me in, and I had to try this design out for myself. And now I can't stop.

My first Lucy Boston block

This pattern is also referred to Patchwork of the Crosses. There's a book by Linda Franz called Lucy Boston: Patchwork of the Crosses that a lot of folks uses as a reference, but when I get an idea to try something, I want to start right away, so I didn't wait to get the book. I ordered 1" honeycomb paper templates and a coordinating acrylic honeycomb template from Paper Pieces and starting coming up with a loose plan for fabric. Oh -- the other part of this story is that I was flying to Dallas for a week visiting a good friend and her twin babies, and I wanted a hand sewing project to take with me. So while I had enough time to order the templates, I didn't have all that much time to audition fabrics and prep it for the trip.

Block #2, playing with a little fussy cutting for the pineapples

I decided to forego the intense fussy cutting that a lot of people do for their Lucy Bostons. I don't have the patience for that, and I didn't want to delay the gratification of finished blocks. So I grabbed a stack of Cotton + Steel fat quarters that I won in a swap with my guild (the Knoxville Modern Quilt Guild -- check us out), some low-volume neutrals, and a stack of Andover chambray fat quarters that have been waiting for just the right project.

Andover chambrays

Here's my approach to each block:
  • One low-volume fabric for the center
  • Two coordinating prints for the next round -- sometimes they're fussy cut, but sometimes they aren't. It just depends on the fabric design and how much I want to play with it vs. get started sewing already.
  • One Andover chambray in the corners, to coordinate with the prints

Block #3 started out with yellow corners before I switched to orange

Block #3, final

Block #4, when I decided to brighten things up a bit

I started with one package of 100 paper templates. When I finish a block, I remove and reuse the papers from the center but leave them in for the outside ring, since I'll need them in place to sew the blocks together later. But then I ran out of papers. So I ordered more, but this time -- 200. I'm still working through that batch. I don't know when I'll consider the blocks done and ready to be assembled into something bigger...I have started thinking about a final layout, and I think I've landed on a plan. But with plenty of paper templates left to use, I'm not itching to work on that next step just yet. Instead, I just keep choosing fabrics, making blocks, and loving the whole process.

Block #5

Here's a look at the backside of one block. I glue-baste the fabric to the papers and then use an old manicure tool to loosen the edges and pop the papers out after the block is finished. I only take the 8 papers out of the center section, leaving them in around the edges so that I can easily sew the blocks together later.

I started out using a whipstitch to sew the honeycomb pieces together, but I didn't like that my stitches were so visible, so I switched to a flat back stitch, and I like it a lot. I just found a different version of the whipstitch, though, where you stitch through each layer separately and alternately, and I may have to try it out.

Block #6

Block #7

Block #8 - things were getting dark again, so I brightened it up with the orange

Block #9 - my friend and fellow quilter Kelly helped pick out this combination

Block #10 - this is one of my favorites

Block #11

Block #12 - another favorite (the colors are hard to photograph on this one)

Block #13

So that's where my Lucy Boston project currently stands. I have to take a little break while I spend my evenings knitting a baby blanket for a friend, but I'll be back with more blocks soon!

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