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Making Elizabeth Hartman's Angelica - the angel fish that fought back

Making Elizabeth Hartman's Angelica - the angel fish that fought back

When he was a teenager, my brother kept a beautiful tropical aquarium.  Mysteriously his school of neons began to disappear.  Every day a couple more had gone missing.

tropcal fish

One morning I caught the culprit in the act.

angel fish

Thats right - the angel fish.  They were quickly banished to another tank.

Despite her beauty, Elizabeth Hartman's Angelica turned out to be just as fiesty as those aquarium fish and this month I had a number of hiccoughs when making my blocks. 

Don't freak out.  There's nothing that hard about Angelica; you just need to focus.

I think part of my problem was that I was tired; distracted ; and coming down with a cold. 

Angelica certainly let me know that she's one lady-fish who won't be rushed

Cutting and preparation

There are a lot of small pieces to Angelica.  I've mentioned this last time when we were making Puffy, but being organised and cutting a few layers at a time will make a huge difference and speed things up. 

Be careful though, some of these pieces are only 1'" square, so its important to be as accurate as you can

Making the bubbles

So we get stuck into those tiny pieces straight away with the bubble section and the eye units.  As well as being as accurate as you can cutting those 1" squares, you will need to make sure that you have an accurate seam allowance for these teensy tiny pieces.

My machine has a habit of chewing up small pieces so I used a leader, which is basically just an offcut of fabric that I start my stitching on.  This helps me get those seams nice and straight and any wobbles or tangles in the feed dogs at the start.


As you can see, I used the same scrap of yellow over and over (I'm up to piecing the eye units here).

As for all of the other blocks to date, chain piecing will speed things up and if your are methodical, will help you avoid flipping the pieces and stitching the wrong way.

angelica bubbles unit

Be careful here. The top of the bubble section can be easy to twist around the wrong way when constructing your block.  

I like to place the pieces I am sewing in two stacks at the front of my machine table.  As I pick them up I place them right sides together, sort of like I am closing a book along the edge I intend to sew.

I didn't do this and certainly wish I had as  I needed to double check each one.  Even then I ended up with an oddball one.  Oh well. 

Making the tail unit

I recommend you skip through and make the tail unit next.  It has fewer pieces than the and is a good chance to practice those angel fish angles before getting to the larger, more intricate body unit.

First of all chain piece all of your E and H strips together and give them a good press. Lay your background piece over  the top so that it looks like the diagram in the pattern, and making sure the white kona is on the left.

Move it to your machine and stich across that diagonal.  Its a fairly small seam and I was confident I would nail it so I didn't bother to rule a line.  If unsure though that extra step is probably a good idea. Chain piece all 8 units and then flip it around and repeat for on the other side.

It might seem a little awkward to chain piece these. To help keep things nice and straight, flick the bulk on the right up so that it sits on top of the previous unit.

Stop here and check your angles

Before you trim the corner triangles, check that your angles are going the right way.  Your units should look like mini harbour bridges with the pilons on each side and the seam line forming the lower part of the arch.

Make the body unit

Piece the body strips like before and join them to the head unit.  Make sure that you have the eyes positioned correctly.  My tip above for the bubble section and layering everything the same way in stacks will should help here.

Then stitch  and the background K units  to the body in the same way we did when making the tail. Check your angles then trim and press.

My fiesty fish

Remember that story I told you about the fiesty angel fish?  Well my little school of angel fish are definitely unique.  I pushed on when I should have just walked away from the machine and after sweing my blocks together I discovered a couple of boo boos, in particular with the placement of the eyes like in the block below.

It should look like this one:

I could have pulled the culprits apart, but have decided to live with it and  just chalk it up to experience.  As Sherri Lynn Wood said to me in a workshop late last year in Brisbane

 Whoopee!  There are no mistakes just discoveries.

Perhaps my angel fish come from somewhere much deeper in the ocean than Elizabeth Hartman's - you know - where all the weird stuff hide :-)

I think the take home message here is to just take your time.  Angelica really isn't that complicated to make. 

She just has a lot of small elements and needs your undivided attention.

Next up in our Awesome Ocean journey will be Chuckles.  If you want to sew along with me and have beautiful reef fabrics and coordinates arrrive in the mail, there are still spots available in our Block of the Month program - just $55 per month for 9 months.  Check it out here.

Are you just starting out on your Awesome Ocean Quilt?  Check out my tips for the other blocks we've made so far:

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