I've tried so many ways to make this block that aren't English paper pieced - I've sewn it by hand with a running stitch, I've tried using freezer paper to mark the shapes and then sewing it on the machine and I've tried foundation paper piecing. But all of them have lead me back to English paper piecing.
Although first they led me to the sewing machine repair shop having broken it during one of the machine-based attempts. Luckily, despite saying it wouldn't be until next week when I rang up to book it in, I think the repair shop sensed that they were dealing with an addict who may fall on the floor and weep if she didn't have a working sewing machine in her room and fixed it there and then (in my defense I said NOTHING to communicate that, so it must have been an aura of despair I was exuding). Amusingly, when my family came to meet me outside the sewing machine shop (having been on their own emergency trip to buy a Christmas stollen) they were laughing as they saw me holding the machine's case in the distance. They actually thought that I was so traumatised by the idea of leaving my machine there that I'd had to bring the empty case home with me like a large plastic comfort blanket. But no, I had a working machine inside it! However, during my brief time in the shop they introduced me to what might be my next machine. I adore my mechanical, which is so sturdy and reliable (the breakage was just some thread that had become trapped in an inaccessible place due to my doing something ridiculous while I was sewing), however, I often spend days on end working at my machine for several hours at a time and the idea of an automatic thread cutter and other conveniences is starting to have a great appeal! It feels slightly like I'm still using a typewriter when the rest of the world has discovered the wonder of the computer. There's an old-fashioned charm about it, but ultimately, it's tiring.
But anyway, these star-centred flowers are sewn entirely by hand and the decision to use English paper piecing now feels like the right one. Having made samples using virtually every different way that one might attempt to create the tiniest blocks (I've placed a £1 coin on the one above to show you the scale), the neatness and simplicity offered by English paper piecing feels refreshing, and my love for the method is renewed, even though those tiny whip stitches are so time consuming.
Now that I've found a method of construction that I'm happy with my mind is turning to a frame, which I'll need to have made before it's completed if it's to be ready in time to give to my parents for Christmas. I adore the walnut frame I had made for the rubies, but I'm pondering over mirrored glass for the blues, although I don't remember seeing anything like that at the frame shop. My memory of the silver-hued frame department was a range that looked more like they'd been spray-painted to that colour, which appeals less. I wonder if next time I ought to buy the frame and then work to that size, rather than the other way around.
Any thoughts on frame colour? Would the walnut work?