It was sized to finish at 8" but my pattern needed blocks that pieced to the very odd size of 5-3/4" unfinished. So now I had to figure out how to reduce them. Fortunately a long time ago I had heard about and purchased the C-Thru Proportional Scale.
You turn the dial to line up the mark for original size with the mark for the desired size and the scale tells you by what percentage to change it. I tried it, reduced the pattern, and pieced it. It was great -- except -- to set the star squares into the block center, they need to be set on-point! Yikes! At this point, appliqueing 50 some odd stars is starting to look better and better! But no, I still didn't really want to do this much applique right now. So now what? Well, when you don't have a pattern, you make your own!
I looked at both patterns, noted their piecing similarities and then decided to copy the applique star from the 1904 pattern, draw a square of the desired size around it, then break it up for paper piecing.
After I got it done, I had to test it. After piecing it together it was still a little oversized so I had to carefully trim it down to the needed unfinished size, making sure to leave the seam allowance around those star points. When done, I finally had my pieced block!
I'm also getting to put to a full test a technique that I've only sampled in the past -- Freezer Paper-Paper Piecing. While I've done a few blocks with it before (on the Crumb Houses I started piecing a few years ago and the big Candle block on this runner last December), this will be the first time I'll get to make a lot of blocks using this method. What I like about this method is that rather than needing to copy a pattern for each block, I can re-use the same pattern multiple times until the FP doesn't stick any more. There's also no tearing off the paper afterwards because you sew along the folded template lines not on them. Something new I realized this time around: it's even easy to know if the piece of fabric you are adding is big enough because if your fabric piece is as big as the pattern part while it's folded back, you're good!
I learned about this method years ago on Madam Sam's Sew We Stitch blog (formerly Sew We Quilt) from one of her blog hops (which she unfortunately is no longer doing). The original post is still there but the pictures aren't loading so if you are interested in this technique, I found some other sources demonstrating it here and (on video) here.
So this should have done it right? Well, no. The problem? Yes, piecing is fairly fast and yes, I don't have to tear the paper or spend time making a bunch of templates (I did make a second one but only so I could sew two stars at a time) but I just wasn't getting into "flow" on this. It still felt very slow going although it was a little better when I made two at a time. Unfortunately, mentally I was prepared for zooming on this project. When I was not doing so, I quickly lost the motivation to bust these out. By the time I entered the week of Halloween, I only had this much done:
Nope. Not. Going. To. Make. It. Sigh!! I was bummed until I realized that:
1) Like every other project before this, this will get done eventually.
2) I hadn't really prepared myself for "problems" and therein lie the problem.
3) Prior to starting, I had not realistically thought about how much I needed to get done each day and week to finish this by the Halloween deadline. Maybe if I had, I would have realized going in that it wasn't possible to do.
So it's time to reframe my expectations. I do still like the quilt and as each block goes up, I do get excited to see the next one even though I'm not equally as excited to sew them. I decided to cut myself some slack and just keep this one up on the wall and work on them little by little. At this point I now have a(nother) year and if I can make a good (and realistic) estimate of how long it will take, maybe going forward I'll feel more successful about whatever I do get accomplished.
Fortunately I've also got a bunch of other projects I want to finish by year-end and none of them require the design wall so I can leave this up and just work on a couple of blocks each week until this gets done. I thought this quote summed it up perfectly: