Cosmatesque # 4: the next ring

The central circle is now appliquéd onto its light background ring, ready for the next stage.

Outer ring segment

Lower left quarter coloursOuter ring piecesThis is the beginning of the second, outer ring. It feels as if it’s going to take forever… A small exaggeration, but there’s a lot of very small bits there. The large triangles alternate dark umber and slate, the small triangles alternate charcoal and golden amber, separated by a zigzag of limestone. Fiddly in the extreme, especially the zigzag, which has to be made up of two pieces. I considered making large limestone triangles and then appliquéing everything else to them, but it wasn’t successful; the fabric was too floppy to get nice straight lines, so I’ve persisted with the EPP method, which has the virtue of producing completely consistent shapes so long as you’re meticulous in how you sew the bits together.

There was some useful learning from the first circle:

•  When making the triangles, fold down and stitch the edge which will be on the outside last. This means that all the excess will be pointing away from the outside edge.
•  Press everything away from what will be the inner and outer edges.
•  Trim seam allowances down as much as possible before joining the shapes, especially on corners
•  Don’t stress if things don’t line up exactly. You can always unpick a bit of basting and ease out some of the seam allowance to make things line up.
•  Do not press pieces basted with polyester thread too hot. You will melt the thread onto the fabric. Don’t ask how I know this, it’s a sore subject 😦

Sore enough, in fact, that it has meant I had to replace my iron. It has seen a lot of action, spent hundreds of long, long hours switched on, and was now regularly overheating, leaking boiling hot water onto my feet, tripping the household power socket fuse (entailing tedious trips down two flights of stairs and outside to the power board) and showing clear signs of corrosion on the charging pins (it was a cordless version, and had to be returned to the stand to reheat after every use). However, since I bought it on special offer about three years ago when it was on sale at one third of the normal price, I had bought two. Out with the old, in with the new. I must admit it feels a bit safer now, and I’m not missing the smell of burning insulation or the scalded feet….

In a recent post, Esther over at ipatchandquilt used a fantastic craquelure print on a block she was making for one of the F2F members.  I saw it and immediately knew it would be perfect for this project, so she’s very kindly sending me half a metre when it’s my turn to receive my F2F blocks in May.  I’m just waiting to hear if there’s anything I can make or do for her in return…

Once this big ring is done, that’s the end of the most fiddly EPP part of this piece. There are other rings, but they’re much simpler.  Soon, I’ll be able to move on to FPP, and progress will be much faster.

But first, back to lots and lots of tiny stitches!


40 thoughts on “Cosmatesque # 4: the next ring

  1. knitnkwilt says:

    Wise of you to start with the most fiddly first. Everything will seem so much easier after that. Looking good so far. Sorry about the melted mess. and burnt feet. I keep saying I will never do EPP, and yet I know if I come up with a plan and it is the only way, I will.

    • katechiconi says:

      That was exactly my thought. EPP is, I have to say, a big favourite of mine, but it takes such a long time if you’re not churning out dozens of the same thing, like hexies. Here, I have two sizes of triangle and a parallelogram, and I’m finding it harder to develop a rhythm. Still, once this ring’s done, it’s all downhill!

  2. anne54 says:

    Oh, I am in awe of not only how much you do, but your attention to detail! This is going to be another beauty.

  3. It really is impossible to beat EPP for neat points like this, isn’t it.
    How forward-thinking of you to buy two irons when they were on sale.

    • katechiconi says:

      They were only $15 each! How could I resist? And you’re right, EPP is the only way to keep the shapes consistent enough that you actually end up with a ring or circle at the end.

  4. M. L. Kappa says:

    Looks as though it’s coming along well!

  5. Kate, you are one very brave and accomplished lady. Chapeau!

  6. tialys says:

    I love those earthy colours you are using for the outer ring – it looks so ‘authentic’.
    Thanks for the tip on melting polyester thread – I had never thought about that.

    • katechiconi says:

      I did a lot of research on genuine colours used in the floors made by the Cosmati family, and have tried to stick as closely to the real thing as I can. The blue’s a bit too bright and probably there’s a bit too much of it; they might have been using lapis lazuli, which was hugely expensive…

  7. norma says:

    It’s looking lovely. English paper piecing is wonderful for accuracy. I’m enjoying your project very much

    • katechiconi says:

      There’s no way I could have achieved such a clean result without EPP. At this point, I’m looking forward to finishing this section and getting to a part where I can make more progress!

  8. claire93 says:

    looks like fiddly fun ^^

  9. OMG was the first thing that came to my mind when I saw all the little pieces of fabric !!!! but I know it’ll be wonderful when it’s finished ! your mum should have called you Angel instead of Kate ! 😀

  10. Wow what a beauty this will be. Yes, good to replace your iron. It sounds like a real hazard in multiple ways. I have thought about the issue of melting thread. I press on cotton or linen settings, the hottest ones, and I almost always use polyester thread. Since I don’t leave the iron in one place for more than a moment, I’ve decided it’s okay. I hope…

    • katechiconi says:

      I’m OK using polyester thread now that I have an iron that doesn’t overheat! I had become so used to the old one that I sort of stopped noticing the escalating problems!

  11. lucyannluna says:

    Looking good, like the block, but it looks like a tricky one.

  12. rutigt says:

    You are amazing! I´m stunned. I do have a lot of patience, but you must have more. I think I would have given the whole project up by now. Melting threads……..yes, I have done that too. That´s why I almost always use cotton thread when I sew!

    • katechiconi says:

      I have dozens of reels of polyester thread from dressmaking projects, and I use them up for basting. I just didn’t realise how hot the iron was getting. It shouldn’t be a problem any more….

  13. Lynda says:

    Kate, your work is exemplary and you have very generous friends too!

  14. Emmely says:

    What a work, but I’m sure it’s going to be amazing when you’re done.

  15. Kate, would a lightweight stablizer have made the fabric less floppy and still allowed you to do what you’re doing with less stress? There are water soluble and tear away stablizers. I’ve used the lightweight ones and had great success with them. It may have saved you paper piecing so much.

    • katechiconi says:

      I use an excellent stabiliser when I’m doing appliqué, but this process gives you just a single layer of fabric because pieces are joined edge to edge and not one on top of the other, which produces a much flatter effect. It’s fiddly, but the finished effect is worth the effort

  16. […] included a piece of fabric printed with a craquelure pattern which she’s sent me to use in my Cosmatesque wall quilt, as it’s perfect for some of the ’tile’ areas. Also in the bag were a little […]

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