Quilt Class: Setting the Blocks Together

I am using a different quilt for this tutorial, but I have faith that that won’t make a difference to all of you intelligent readers and students who have been following along with my various sampler class tutorials.

Supply List:

  • blocks
  • fabric for sashing
  • fabric cornerstones (I used scraps, but my cornerstones were only 1.5 inches square)
  • calculator
  • sewing machine
  • thread
  • measuring tools
  • basic rotary cutting kit
  • scissors or snips
  • seam ripper (I use a Clover ergonomic seam ripper)
  • pins
  • iron
  • ironing board
  • Mary Ellen’s Best Press (optional)
  • stiletto (optional)
  • design wall (optional, but super helpful)

Please note that we are only talking about sashing in this tutorial. We are not talking about borders. I will do a separate tutorial for borders in the future.

Red Strip Donation Blocks
Red Strip Donation Blocks

I started out with the above group of donation blocks. I have been setting these with plain blocks of the same size. I decided that I wanted to do something different with these blocks. Sashing is the answer. Having something between these blocks prevents the seams from getting too thick and hard to sew. Also, it allows each block to shine a little bit rather than being part of a mass. Adding sashing or plain borders or nothing is a design choice. For any quilt, it is important to decide on the look and feel you want.

Even if you put the same sized plain blocks between these blocks, the method I will show you works the same way.

Blocks with Sashing & Cornerstones
Blocks with Sashing & Cornerstones

The first step is to cut sashing and cornerstones. The photo above shows all the sashing and cornerstones cut and laid out on my design wall.

If you don’t want cornerstones, cut your top sashing the same size as your block + side sashing –  1/2 inch seam allowance (1/4 inch + 1/4 inch = half inch). The formula is:

Block size + vertical sashing – 1/2 inch seam allowance = finished size of top sashing without cornerstones

I can’t tell you the exact size, because I don’t have your blocks in front of me. Use a calculator. I do.

Also, notice that my top and side rows are different. I plan to put a straight strip of fabric across the top and sides as a border, which means I don’t need sashing for the top or sides.

Once you have all of your sashing and cornerstones cut, it is time to sew. I like to start in the bottom left hand corner. I start there because it is closer to my sewing machine when all the blocks are on my design wall. As I sew, the blocks shrink (because of the taken up seam allowance) and get closer to where I am sitting.

Sew vertical sashing to right side of block
Sew vertical sashing to right side of block

First, sew one vertical sashing piece to the right side of your block.

Press to the red.

Sew top sashing to cornerstone
Sew top sashing to cornerstone

Next, sew one piece of the top sashing to a cornerstone. In the above photo the sashing is white and the cornerstone is a red flower fabric.

Take your new little sashing + cornerstone piece to the ironing board and press to the red.

Now, nest the seams and pin the top sashing/cornerstone piece to the block with vertical sashing.

The top sashing should be on the top of the block  as it moves through the sewing machine. Sew the top sashing to the block. 

Top sashing sewn to block with vertical sashing
Top sashing sewn to block with vertical sashing

Sew the side sashing and the top sashing/cornerstone to all the blocks as described above.

IMPORTANT: The top row, as mentioned above, in my quilt, is different, so just sew the vertical sashing to the blocks in the top row and the top sashing to the blocks on the right edge.

All of the blocks have sashing/cornerstones sewn to their correct side
All of the blocks have sashing/cornerstones sewn to their correct side

Once you have sewn all the sashing on to the blocks, you will begin to sew the blocks together. This is chunking. I have talked about it before. I ‘chunk’ because 1) I don’t like sewing long rows together and 2) it keeps my piecing more precise.

Take two blocks with sashing & sew them together
Take two blocks with sashing & sew them together
Pin blocks together, matching seams and sew
Pin blocks together, matching seams and sew

First take the two blocks in the bottom left hand corner, pin them with matched points and nested seams. You will pin them together so that the top white sashing is sewn to the red cornerstone. The white vertical sashing will be sewn to the red block.

Sew them together. I pin in the seam allowance so that i have a better chance at the seams matching up. When I take the pins out as I am sewing, chances increase that the seams won’t match.  In general, to increase my chances of perfectly matching seams, I try to sew towards the seam allowance, but that didn’t work on this quilt, because I pressed towards the red. Use a stiletto to keep the seams in place for as long as possible.

Two blocks with sashing sewn together
Two blocks with sashing sewn together

Now you have a block with sashing on two sides.

 

 

Once you have sewn all of the sashing and cornerstones to the blocks, you will have completed the first step in putting your quilt top together.

Sew sashing to top of blocks on the right edge only
Sew sashing to top of blocks on the right edge only

On the right edge of the quilt, you will only sew the top sashing to the blocks. As mentioned before, there will be a border without cornerstones in my quilt, so I don’t need vertical sashing or cornerstones on the edges. If you want cornerstones in your border, follow the directions above for all blocks.

One long seam left
One long seam left

After you have sewn the various blocks together, you will have one long seam left.

Finished Center with sashing
Finished Center with sashing

Once you sew that seam, the center of your quilt top is done.

I know that the common way of sewing a quilt together is sewing it together in rows then sewing all the rows together. Using the row method is easier to explain than ‘chunking’, but, as I said above, my method is more precise.

 

 

 

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Cutting Small Hexagons

Finished Hexagon Block
Finished Hexagon Block

Today we are cutting hexagons from strips to make the hexagon block for our sampler quilt. This tutorial is a follow-up to the Large Hexagon tutorial. The principles are the same; the sizes are different.

Supplies

Cut strip to make rotary cut hexagons
Cut strip to make rotary cut hexagons

Cut your strip the unfinished size of your hexagon. In the example, I cut mine 2 3/8 inches. This is 1/8″ larger than I need, but I have a little wiggle room in this block. If you don’t have wiggle room, cut the strip the size of the unfinished hexagon

Strip cut to size
Strip cut to size
Fold your strip in half lengthwise
Fold your strip in half lengthwise

Fold your strip in half lengthwise

Position strip with fold near you
Position strip with fold near you

Position the strip so the fold is closest to you.

Line up Clearview ruler
Line up Clearview ruler

Line up your Clearview ruler with the tip on the raw edge

Place post-it note on ruler
Place post-it note on ruler

Place a post-it note on the ruler. Line up a post-it note with the fold of the strip

Move ruler up even with the raw edge
Move ruler up even with the raw edge

Move ruler up until the post-it note is lined up with the raw edge of the strip. N.B. I rotated the post it note, because I couldn’t cut with the edges hanging over.

N.B.2- Be very careful if you cut towards you on the left side. It is never a good idea to cut towards you, so I recommend getting a rotating mat. Place your strip on the rotating mat, make your first cut the rotate the mat and make your second cut.

Cut on both sides of the ruler
Cut on both sides of the ruler

Cut on both sides of the ruler

Perfect hexagon
Perfect hexagon
Compare size with your template
Compare size with your template

Your hexagon should be perfect. N.B. As I said above, I have a little wiggle room with this patch, so I cut it slightly larger, which is why the template looks a little smaller.

 

Move ruler so post-it is lined up with raw edge
Move ruler so post-it is lined up with raw edge

Move the ruler along the strip and cut the next one

Note: you will not be able to cut every single bit of fabric. You will have small triangles leftover from in between the hexagons. You can use these leftover scraps to stuff pet beds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

**I use affiliate links and may be paid for your purchase of an item when you click on an item link in my post. There is no additional cost to you for clicking or purchasing items I recommend. I appreciate your clicks and purchases as it helps support this blog.

Quilt Class: Cathedral Window Block

Finished Cathedral Window block
Finished Cathedral Window block

I decided to make this block after finding I needed one more block to complete my Aqua-Red Sampler. I have never made one of these, so I thought “what the heck?”. I had seen some directions for it and it caught my attention. As mentioned, I had to cobble together instructions from at least three different tutorials to be able to make the block. Below is my version. The tutorials I referenced are noted below.

Finished Block Size: 12 inches (12.5 unfinished)

Supplies

  • Fabric
    • In this tutorial, the background is turquoise and the foreground is red.
  • Thread – you might want to use your regular piecing thread for the first part of the directions, then switch to a thread that matches the background fabric for sewing the curves shut
  • Seam ripper (I use a Clover ergonomic seam ripper)
  • Sewing machine
  • 1/4 inch foot
  • applique’ foot (foot with a center mark)
  • square ruler at least 12.5 inches square
  • long ruler at least 12 inches long (I use a 3.5 x 12.5 Creative Grids)
  • snips or scissors
  • Pins
  • Iron
  • Ironing surface
  • Tool to poke out corners
  • A pen or pencil you can use to draw on fabric (I like Sewline pencils)
  • Stiletto or dental pick type instrument (something thin and pointy)
  • hand sewing needle

Instructions for making a 12″ (finished) Cathedral Windows block

1. Cut 4 squares of background fabric 12.5 inches by 12.5 inches

4- 4 x 4 inch foreground squares
4- 4 x 4 inch foreground squares

2. Cut 4 squares for inset pieces 4 inches by 4 inches.

Fold 12.5x12.5 inch squares in half
Fold 12.5×12.5 inch squares in half

3. Fold each of the 4 background squares in half. This will make your 12.5 x 12.5 inch squares into rectangles (e.g. do not fold NOT along the diagonal).

  • Hint: I sew all four one after another, but you can sew one at a time, if you prefer.

3A. Sew along the short side, backstitching at the beginning and the end.

Open up rectangles & match edges
Open up rectangles & match edges

4. Open your rectangles and match up the raw edges.

Match edges and nest seams
Match edges and nest seams
  • Hint: I nest the center seams and pin, starting in the middle
Leave opening
Leave opening
Pin edges closed, leaving an opening for turning
Pin edges closed, leaving an opening for turning
  • Hint: leave an opening 2-3 fingers wide for later turning.  I mark this with two pins right next to each other.
Sew seam shut
Sew seam shut

5. Sew your pinned seam shut except for the opening you have left.

Backstitch at beginning and end
Backstitch at beginning and end
Backstitch at beginning and end
Backstitch at beginning and end
  • Hint: I backstitch at the beginning and end of the seams including next to the opening. Yes, it is a hassle to start and stop, but I don’t want the edges of the seams to come apart when I turn.
Smooth out blocks
Smooth out blocks

6. Place recently sewn squares on the ironing board and smooth out wrong side out (above). They should make nice squares.

7. Press nested seams in opposite directions from the center out.

Press seam open to minimize bulk
Press seam open to minimize bulk

8. Press long seams in one direction, being careful to line up edge of opening as best you can.  You can press this seam open if you want.

You should now have 4 nice flat squares with wrong sides out.

9. Turn squares right sides out.

10 Poke out corners carefully. I use a knitting needle whose mate broke.

Your squares are now on the bias, so be careful when you handle them.

Press right side
Press right side

10A. Press

Press
Press

 

Corners folded in
Corners folded in

11. Fold corners into the center. Do this with all four corners and make a new square. The square should be 6 inches.

4 blocks laid out in a 2x2 grid
4 blocks laid out in a 2×2 grid

12. Lay out the blocks in a 2 x 2 grid, so you can see what you have

Pin triangles together
Pin triangles together

13. Pin the center triangles of the two top triangles together. Do the same for the bottom triangles. Now your 2×2 grid will be pinned together in two rectangular sections

Draw a line in the crease
Draw a line in the crease

14. Using a ruler (I use a 3.5 x 12.5 Creative Grids), and your marking implement (I like Sewline pencils), draw a line in the crease under the triangles you are about to pin

Line up squares
Line up squares

15. Line up squares with backs together and triangles pointing to the right.

16. Put your applique’ foot on your sewing machine.

17. Sew along the crease on both sets.

18. Lay out the 2×2 grid again. Now you will have two ‘rows’. You are going to sew the rows together.

Pin them together
Pin them together

19. Fold up the top triangles from the bottom row and the bottom triangle from the top row.

Draw another line between the two 'rows' in the crease
Draw another line between the two ‘rows’ in the crease

20. Draw a line along the crease at the bottom of the two triangles.

 

21. Sew along the line. After, you will have your 2×2 grid of squares sewn together and the triangles will be flapping around.

Start laying out your foreground squares
Start laying out your foreground squares
Foreground squares laid out
Foreground squares laid out

22. Take your foreground triangles and lay them on top of your background

Tuck flaps over foreground
Tuck flaps over foreground

23. Tuck the flaps in towards the center and pin in place. Watch out that the edges of your foreground squares don’t show. Make the edges curve slightly

  • Note: this was confusing to figure out and it turned out that I did not have all the sewn triangles in the right place. After you sew the triangles together, make sure you flatten them back in their original places, e.g. one layer of background on top
You may need to use a stiletto
You may need to use a stiletto
  • Note: I had to use a thin sharp tool, like a stiletto or dental instrument to tuck in some of the foreground edges. I sometimes use a seam ripper, which is a very bad habit, because if you aren’t careful, you can rip your fabric. You can definitely trim the foreground fabric, but trim a little at a time very, very carefully
Pinned and ready for sewing
Pinned and ready for sewing

24. Pin each edge in three places with the heads of the pins facing the center of the foreground fabric. This is not micro management; this technique will allow you to sew as long as possible with the pins in place

Sew close to the edge of the background fabric
Sew close to the edge of the background fabric

25. Sew very close to the edge of the background. I sewed slowly and carefully. I used the above mentioned sharp tools when I needed a little help. Leave LONG tails so you can knot off and hide the threads

26. Handstitch the other triangle flaps closed with a few stitches. The other tutorials said to use the machine, but 2 stitches is a pain and an irritant on the machine, so I hand sewed the flaps closed when I was sinking threads.

Cathedral Window Block in process
Cathedral Window Block in process

I never thought of making it before, but this block did kind of take my fancy. This is kind of a strange block, partially because of all of the layers. It is lumpier than I expected. Warn your longarmer about it.

 

 

Resources:

  • Fons & Porter Cathedral Window block– I originally found the instructions in one of their magazines as part of their ‘learning to quilt* series’. I had to go looking for other instructions when I found the directions had no sizes or actual cutting instructions. Directions are brief.
  • Lovely Little Handmades Cathedral Window block – uses a printed background, so you can see how that works. Most people use white, so it was a little confusing for me when I wanted to use the blue.
  • Sometimes Crafter Cathedral Window block – some missing detail, but has the instructions for cutting the right sized patches. I also don’t like it that the viewer cannot enlarge the photos to see the details.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Nota bene: not sure if this is the correct name, but it describes the basic idea of the series.

Setting Blocks on Point

Spiky 16 Patch n.2 Top
Spiky 16 Patch n.2 Top

After seeing my Spiky 16 Patch quilt, Mrs. K asked that i give the math on putting blocks on point. This post is an addition or adjunct to the Sampler Class tutorials. Different quilt, but you can use this information to put your sampler blocks on point as well.

Setting blocks on point tutorial
Setting blocks on point tutorial

There are two aspects to putting blocks on point: the setting triangles and the corner triangles. The setting triangles are on the inside of the quilt. The corner triangles are on, shockingly, on the corners.

In the photo, right, the corner triangles are indicated by the orange half circle. The setting triangles are shown with a purple circle.

Setting Triangles

Setting Triangles, also called side triangles, are giant quarter square triangles. You want to use this method, because the bias will end up on the outside of the block.

1. Measure the block.

Spiky 16 Patch n.7
Spiky 16 Patch n.7

In the quilt above you want it to end up looking like it is shown. The Spiky 16 patches.

The Spiky 16 patch measures 16.5 inches.

2. Take the finished block size and divide by 1.414.

Note: the finished block size is different than what we measured. You need to remove .5 inches for seam allowance, which gives you a finished block size of 16 inches.

16 x 1.414 = 22.624

3.  Round up

I rounded up to 22.75, but you can round up to an eighth of an inch, if you want.

4. Add 1-1/4″ to the resulting number for the correct size to cut squares for side triangles.

22.75 + 1.25 = 24

5. Cut this square in half diagonally twice in the shape of an X to produce four side triangles.

Nota bene: Cut one square for every four side triangles needed for the quilt setting.

6. Lay setting triangles next to your blocks to make the quilt square.

YAY! You did it!

Corner Triangles

1. Measure the block.

Spiky 16 Patch n.7
Spiky 16 Patch n.7

In the quilt above you want it to end up looking like it is shown. The Spiky 16 patches.

The Spiky 16 patch measures 16.5 inches.

2. Take the finished block size and divide by 1.414.

Note: the finished block size is different than what we measured. You need to remove .5 inches for seam allowance, which gives you a finished block size of 16 inches.

16 / 1.414 = 11.315417256

3. Round the size up

Take the number you got and round it to the nearest quarter or eighth of an inch. I rounded up to 11.5.

4. Add 7/8 inch

11.5 + 7/8 = 12 3/8

5. Cut two squares the size determined above.

6. Cut both squares in half diagonally.

Now you have four triangles.

7. Place on each corner.

YAY! You did it! You cut corner square triangles. Sew them on. You may need a quick trim and you are done with corners.

Lay all of the setting triangles and corner triangles out with the blocks on your design wall. When you are ready to sew, sew. I fold the blocks and the setting and corner triangles in half so I can line them up properly.

Trim once the whole piece is complete, if necessary.

 

If you don’t believe me, you can find Bonnie Hunter’s tutorial on Quiltville.

Handbag Sampler

Handbag Sampler
Handbag Sampler

In going through old photos, I found photos of the Handbag Sampler I have been talking about recently.

I haven’t actually found the blocks, but, at least, I have a photo and sort of know what I have.

Handbag Sampler Nosegay
Handbag Sampler Nosegay

I found a photo of a Nosegay block that I made (or am in the process of making as well. The 9th block is good, because that means, if I find the blocks, I can just put the quilt together. I don’t have to search out fabric, which is all very distinctive. Of course,in terms of learning, it isn’t quite as comprehensive a Sampler as the Aqua-Red Sampler. There is no applique completed.

I have to find the blocks before I decide what other blocks to make.

Thoughts on Aqua-Red Sampler

Aqua-Red Sampler
Aqua-Red Sampler

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I have the Aqua-Red Sampler on my design wall and I am trying to figure out what block to make as my last block.

Tea Basket block
Tea Basket block

I was thinking of the Nosegay. I have a great version for the Handbag Sampler, so it isn’t pressing that I make another one. Still, it’s a good block. Then I remembered the Tea Basket block. It isn’t very popular. In fact I don’t know if I have ever seen a quilt that included that block. It is in Jinny Beyer’s The Quilter’s Album of Patchwork Patterns, so I was able to find it. I also found it in BlockBase and made some adjustments so the BlockBase version looked more like Jinny Beyer’s version. I also added some color to get an idea of how it would look. Looking at it now, I think it is more of a contender than I thought.

Self-Bordering Technique

Self-Bordering is a technique that I use pretty frequently, though I don’t always know what I am doing. Basically, self-bordering means that you treat the border blocks the same as the blocks in the main part of the quilt. You piece them in as you would regular blocks rather than as a long row.

I don’t know if I made this technique up. I am sure others have done it. If they have, I am not sure what else it would be called.

There are several advantages to using a self-bordering technique for adding borders:

  • Precision is improved, because you are adding a block or so at a time
  • It makes it easier to get the border lined up correctly
  • Eliminates long lines of stitching
  • Makes adding pieced borders much easier

This technique works with Chunking. If you are sewing all your blocks, for the whole quilt, together in rows, then don’t bother with Self-Bordering.

En Provence - late October 2017
En Provence – late October 2017

As you have seen recently, I am working on the En Provence quilt by Bonnie Hunter. The border is optional, but I am putting a pieced border on the quilt using self-bordering technique. In the photo, left, you can see the border on the bottom. It is made up of one row of four patches (or 3.5″ squares) all the way around the quilt.

All the blocks in this quilt are, essentially, nine patches. As I sew the blocks together, I work in threes – I sew three blocks in a horizontal row together. Once I have three rows made up of three patches, I sew two rows together, then I sew remaining row to the set of two I have just sewn together.

On the border, there is an extra 3.5″ piece. It is either a 4 patch or a 3.5″ patch. Instead of sewing 3 rows of three blocks together, I sew 3 rows of 4 blocks together and then sew three rows of four patches together.

En Provence Corner Block
En Provence Corner Block

The corner block ends up looking fatter, because of the extra patches. Once the corner and border blocks are integrated into the quilt, they look like blocks and a pieced border.

You cannot tell which way a border was made, if it was well done.

I like this method because I don’t like putting on borders. I also really like pieced borders. Depending on the design, of course, they really add additional interest to a quilt.

En Provence corner block annotated
En Provence corner block annotated

Once I finish a quilt, there is really no way to tell where the blocks end and the border begins from a quick glance.

The top arrow, left, shows the very edge of the border – the seam line between block and border.

The bottom arrow shows the border.

As I have said, they integrate so well that a casual viewer can’t tell where the border is. I really like that.

Quilt Class: Rose Wreath pt.3

We are making the Flower Wreath block. To find out how to make templates, including the ring, see Part 1 for making templates and Part 2 for making the ring and positioning the ring on the background.

Flower Wreath
Flower Wreath

Now we are going to stitch the ring. If you haven’t started, check the Supply List in part 1 and grab your 3″x5″ tearaway backed fabric. Your ring should be applied to the background and ready to stitch. If your ring is not fused and ready to stitch, go back to part 1.

I stitch in layers, so that the stitching is easier, there are fewer starts and stops and the piece looks more finished. Now that you are ready to stitch, it is time to choose your thread.

Choose thread
Choose thread

Whenever you choose thread, you must consider the stitch. If the stitch will be dense like a satin stitch, you should choose the color by looking at the thread wrapped around the whole spool. That will give you a better sense of the color the satin stitch will end up.

It you will be using a straight stitch, you should unreel a bit of the thread and look at one strand on your fabric. You may need to pool a little of the thread together – less dense than the whole spool and more dense than one strand.

Now set up your machine for zig zag stitching. You will need to choose a stitch density. I like a semi-open zig zag that is not too wide. Dense satin stitching, however, can really highlight and outline each piece. I use the following settings on my machine:

  • Ring: width: 3.0, density: 0.45
  • Flowers: width: 3.0, density: 0.45
  • Leaves: width: 2.0, density: 0.5
  • Flower centers: width: 2.0, density: 0.5

YMMV: Your machine will vary so use the test piece and try out your settings.

Even if I haven’t chosen all the fabric, I like to get the ring stitched down first, so I can audition the other fabric without worrying about the ring. Yes, it is fused and shouldn’t go anywhere, but I still like it to be stitched down.

In order to choose the stitch density, you will need to test. Get the tearaway backed sample piece you have prepared and start testing with the width and densities I have provided above. Stitch lines of zig zag stitching 2-3″ long using a contrasting thread similar to the thread you will be using to stitch the ring. Adjust the width and density on your machine until you are pleased with the look.

Stitch ring
Stitch ring

Put the ring on the machine and start stitching. I always leave a long tail that I can pull to the back and tie shut later. My zig zag does not automatically tie the ends. If your machine is more advanced you may not have to tie a knot on the back. I don’t want my zig zag to come out if it gets snagged while the quilt is being used, which is why I tie the ends.

I use my applique’ foot, which has a red arrow in the center to stitch out the zig zag. I place the tip of the red arrow on the raw edge of the ring and follow it around. You want a smooth curve, so you should stitch with needle down or use the hand wheel to put the needle down when you stop. If the center point on your foot gets off the raw edge of your ring, stop and readjust. Stop with the needle down on the outside of the ring’s curve whenever you need to readjust the needle to accommodate the curve. Turn the fabric to the left to get the center point of the foot back on the raw edge of your ring. The stitching will be slightly closer together on the inside of the shape, when the needle punches the fabric to the left, and more open on the outside of the shape or when the needle hits the background.

Tail of thread
Tail of thread

When you have done about half – 3/4s of the stitching on the ring, stop and pull the beginning thread to the back and tie it off.

I tie the beginning off before I get to the end, because the beginning and ending threads can get tangled up and make it impossible to make small, neat knots. I have tied all four ends together in a pinch, but prefer to make the knots as small as possible.

Fold work back to tie
Fold work back to tie

I also use this technique also if I have to stop and pull the work out of the machine because of thread breakage or necessary bobbin refill.

I fold the work back (I only used my pincushion so I could photograph what I was doing. Normally, I just hold it with my wrist as pull the front through to the back and tie the ends together.) I don’t take the work out of the machine unless there is a good reason – like a big knot, or thread breakage, etc.

Completely stitched ring
Completely stitched ring

Once your knot is tied, continue stitching to where you started. I don’t overlap much once I get to the beginning, perhaps only a stitch or two, because I don’t want the look of the stitching to be too different.

I pull the work out of the machine and tie off the ending threads. Again, you may not need to do this if your machine does it for you.

Now follow the same steps, but on the inside, to finish stitching down the ring. Once you have stitched both the inside and outside of the rings, your ring will be complete and you will be ready to place the leaves and flowers on the ring.

Choose fabrics by putting scraps on background
Choose fabrics by putting scraps on background

If you have not already done so, choose the rest of your fabrics. You will need fabric for the flowers (1-4 fabrics) and leaves (1-20 fabrics). If you have not cut out and fused the wreath to the background, please go back to part 2. The leaves can be the traditional green or you can use something else. If you use one color, you might want to mix up prints to increase interest. You can also use different colors. Make the block your own.

Make visual decisions visually
Make visual decisions visually

I thought about making the leaves green to make them more realistic, but decided I still wanted to use a variety of turquoises and aquas and to stay with my quilt’s color scheme. I found more fabrics to use in my scrap basket.

It is important, with my limited color scheme, to make sure the viewer can see the individual leaves. For that, I need to have enough contrast between the various aquas and turquoises. Remember, when choosing your fabrics, to make visual decisions visually. Put your potential fabrics on the background and step back to look at them. From my test piece (right) you can see that there are a variety of tones of aqua and turquoise. Some of them blend a bit into the background. I want movement and interest.

Cover fusible with fabric
Cover fusible with fabric

Once you have chosen all of your fabrics press the fabric. Add fusible to the wrong sides.

Use the pressing cloth or applique’ pressing sheet to keep the fusible from sticking to your iron.

Follow the directions on your fusible’s packaging.

 

Trace leaves & Flowers
Trace leaves & Flowers

Mark all of your leaves and flowers. Flip the fusible so that paper side is up. You will be able to see your different fabrics through the paper. Place a template face DOWN on the appropriate fabric and trace with a writing implement. I use a Sewline pencil, but you can also use a pen, regular pencil or anything. I wouldn’t use a Sharpie even though I don’t think the paper will allow the marking to bleed through to the fabric.

Once you have traced all pieces**, cut them out right inside the drawn line. You should have 20 leaves, 4 flowers and 4 flower centers.

  1. Take all of your pieces and arrange them the pleasing way. Arrange them into the final position. You are using this try-out to look at the overall effect of the whole block. Once you are pleased with the arrangement, take a photo or sketch out placement.
  2. Fuse & Stitch Flowers
    Fuse & Stitch Flowers

    You will need to stitch the flowers first, then the leaves and finally the flower centers. The flowers and leaves are on the same layer, so you can stitch them in any order. Anything that will be covered by another piece will need to be stitched before you fuse the covering piece.

  3. Place the flowers on the ring using the press marks you used to place the ring on the background (or fold the background in quarters and finger press again). Place them symmetrically along the ring, or in a pleasing way to your eye.
  4. Fuse them into place and get ready to stitch. You can also reference the machine applique’ tutorial for more information. Again, pay attention to where the layers of the design are placed. If there are leaves that you want to place under the wreath, you will need to satin stitch them before you fuse the wreath down entirely. For the flowers, you will need to satin stitch down any parts of the design that will be covered by another piece of fused fabric, such as the centers. The design will look better if you satin stitch a layer and then fuse the next piece down.
  5. Flower Wreath Layers

    Place the interfacing under the background. You could use a machine basting stitch to stitch the interfacing (Pellon Stitch & Tear or similar) temporarily to the background, but pinning works fine, too. You will need to zig zag with the interfacing under the background.

  6. Stitching flowers
    Stitching flowers

    Satin stitch all the other pieces down using the thread you chose. When you stitch, the middle of the stitch will cover the outside raw edge of each piece. I line up the red arrow on my foot (see photo) with the sharp edge of that raw edge. The pieces you will satin stitch have curves, thus you will need to manipulate the stitch so it is smooth. Stitch with needle down.

    Stop stitching to create smooth curves
    Stop stitching to create smooth curves

    Stop with the needle down on the outside of the curve for the leaves and flower petals. For the inside point between the flower petals stop above that point on the inside. If you do not have a machine that automatically stops with the needle down, again, you can use the hand wheel to move the needle into the downward position when you stop. Do thisMove the handwheel carefully without moving the fabric. Once the needle is down you will need to assess the way to turn the fabric. Always turn the fabric very slightly to ensure a smooth curve. You may only need to take one stitch before adjusting the fabric again in order to get around the curve smoothly. For the outside curves, generally, you need to turn the fabric to the left to make a smooth curve. (Updated 10/30/2012: My engineer SIL says: You turn it clockwise for outside curves and counter clockwise for inside curves. YMMV) The stitching will be closer together on the inside of the shape and more open on the outside of the shape when you move in this direction. For the inside point of the flower, between the petals, you will need to take a slight adjustment of the background to the right. For the pointy ends of the leaves, stop the needle on the outside of the leaf near the point and adjust the fabric to the right very, very slightly. Take one stitch, stop on the outside of the point again. Adjust very slightly to the right. Your goal should be to get the needle into the same hole on the inside of the leaf until the arrow or line on your machine’s foot is in line with the raw edge of the other side of the leaf. When you move the fabric always keep the needle down. Before starting, take a few of the templates, e.g. a leaf and a flower, make some test pieces and do a test with junk fabric so you get the feel of the procedure. This is not skill you should work on when you are pressed for time.

  7. Arrange leaves
    Arrange leaves
  8. Once you are finished with the flowers, change your thread and adjust the width and density of your stitch, if desired.
  9. Arrange the leaves in a pleasing manner. I placed 5 at a time on the background and stitched them down.
  10. Stitch leaves
    Stitch leaves

    Arrange and stitch all of the leaves. My photo shows only 10 sewn leaves, but I did eventually stitch all of them.

  11. Place the centers on the flowers and stitch them down. Follow all the directions above for tying off and moving the needle to create a smooth curve.
  12. Back of block
    Back of block

    Once you have stitched all the pieces, rip off the tearaway. I use a seam ripper to get the ripping started on pieces that are surrounded by stitching. Try not to distort the block while you are tearing out the stabilizer.

  13. Once you are finished with the entire stitching and ripping out the tearaway, trim the background down to 12.5″
Fusible Machine Applique' Block
Fusible Machine Applique’ Block

Finished block! Hooray! You did it!

**Nota bene: These pieces have no right direction. You can trace them any way and apply them anyway and they will look fine. Pay attention if you are cutting out letters or another motif that has a special direction. Put the right side down on the paper backed fusible and trace the motif backwards.

Quilt Class: Rose Wreath pt.2

We are making the Flower Wreath block. To find out how to make templates, including the ring see Part 1.

Flower Wreath
Flower Wreath

Supply List:

  • Notebook for notes
  • Pen to take notes ????
  • Mechanical Pencil
  • Fabric (at least 4 different, preferably more greens to create variety in the leaves; scraps work well)
  • Fabric Scissors
  • Paper scissors
  • Fusible web, such as Misty Fuse or Steam-a-Seam 2 or Steam-a-Seam Lite. My favorite is Soft Fuse.
  • Applique’ pressing sheet
  • Tear away stabilizer (the size of your background)
  • Iron
  • Ironing surface
  • Flower Wreath pattern sheets

Choose your fabrics. You will need fabric for the flowers (1-4 fabrics), leaves (1-20 fabrics) and the wreath (1 fabric). The leaves can be the traditional green or you can use something else. If you use one color, you might want to mix up the prints to increase interest. You can also use different colors. Make the block your own.

I used a variety of turquoises and aquas to keep my color scheme in the aqua/turquoise with red range. I have a few of the leaf fabrics picked out from my scrap basket, but need to find more. It is important, with my limited color scheme, to make sure the viewer can see the individual leaves.

Cut piece large enough for ring
Cut piece large enough for ring

The ring is the biggest pain to deal with so I worked on it first before I even really began thinking much about fabrics for the other parts. I decided to use one of the Pat Bravo Pure Elements solids in the turquoise range, but more on the green side. I haven’t used it in this quilt before, but it will complement the other colors. I picked it to highlight the leaves a little more.

Cover fabric with fusible
Cover fabric with fusible

Now you need to make sure that your fusible will cover your fabric.

I used a package of Steam-a-Seam 2 Lite, but there are many fusibles that will work just fine for this project. As I have said before, my new favorite is Soft Fuse. Use a product with which you are familiar or know how to use. Using what you have on hand is also a good idea.

Tear the paper carefully off of one side of the Steam-a-Seam 2 Lite (or follow directions for your fusible) and stick it to the fabric, smoothing it carefully so there are no puckers or bubbles. The fusible is sticky so you can stick to the fabric and re-position it until you are happy before you fuse it to the fabric.

Back of fusible backed fabric
Back of fusible backed fabric

Since the fusible pieces I had were 8.5″x11″, I needed to cover an extra piece (bottom of the photo above) that was wider than the 8.5″ width of the fusible. I cut a piece from the fusible (white part in photo above) and re-positioned it to cover the part of the fabric I need for the size of the template.

Once you are happy, fuse the 2 sided fusible (should have the paper left on one side) to your ring fabric. Follow the directions on the package or website. You may want to cover your ironing board and the piece with an applique’ pressing sheet to keep your iron and ironing surface clean.

Turn your fusible backed fabric so that the paper left on the fabric is face up, as in the photo above. Place your ring template face down on the paper and trace around it with a pencil.

Ring cut out
Ring cut out

Cut out the ring carefully on the line. I used an X-acto knife to start the center. I did use a pair of fabric scissors, but not my Gingher scissors. It is kind of hard to know what to do, because you are cutting both fabric and paper and you need a nice sharp edge. I use a pair of my mid-range scissors and hoped for the best. They still seem sharp even after this type of cutting.

Fold the ring into quarters and finger press lightly. Again you will be lining up the folds to center the ring.

Retrieve your background. Fold the background into quarters and finger press, so you can see the folds.

Line up ring on background
Line up ring on background

 

Remove the fusible paper from the ring.

Line up the folds of the ring with the folds of the background. If they are all in alignment, there should be a ring fold snuggled with a background fold evenly. If you want to check, measure from the edge to the ring. You do need an absolutely square block for this to work.

Press the ring with your iron, according to the fusible directions, onto the background so it sticks.

Carefully bring background with the ring stuck to it to the iron. Check to see that your ring is still in place. According to your fusible directions, press the ring into place.

Your ring should now be firmly ironed on to the center of the background.

Leave this piece on the ironing board temporarily.

Retreive the tearaway stabilizer and cut two pieces of tearaway stabilizer a little bit larger than your background fabric. Place your background on top of both pieces of tearaway and pin the background to the tearaway. This will provide stability and prevent the piece from puckering when you zig zag stitch the pieces.

You are now ready to machine applique’ your first part of the block. See part 3 for machine stitching the block.

Quilt Class: Rose Wreath pt.1

The next class is about fusible machine applique’. You had a lesson on the basics a few days ago. There are about 3 more tutorials I created to enable you to learn this technique well.

Flower Wreath
Flower Wreath

Supply List:

  • Notebook for notes
  • Pen to take notes 😉
  • Mechanical Pencil
  • Fabric (at least 4 different, preferably more greens to create variety in the leaves; scraps work well)
  • Fabric Scissors
  • Paper scissors
  • Small ruler
  • Glue stick
  • Template plastic
  • Dinner plate or compass
  • Fusible web, such as Misty Fuse or Steam-a-Seam 2 or Steam-a-Seam Lite. My favorite is Soft Fuse.
  • Applique’ pressing sheet
  • Tear away stabilizer (the size of your background)
  • Iron
  • Ironing surface
  • 3″x5″ piece of fabric backed with 2 layers of tearaway stabilizer
  • Flower Wreath pattern sheets
    1. Aqua-Red Sampler Blocks
      Aqua-Red Sampler Blocks

      Cut a piece of fabric for the background .5″ to 1″ bigger than the finished size of the block. If you have a regular background fabric, use that, if not use a coordinating fabric. I took a look at my current blocks to help me decide what background I wanted to choose. This is a coordinated scrappy quilt, but I also wanted to find a background that would work well with the applique pieces that I was planning to put on top of it.

    2. After cutting out a background, put it aside for the time being. You will need it after you make the templates and the ring.
    3. Rough cut pattern out for templates
      Rough cut pattern out for templates

      Rough cut out all the templates from the paperpattern. Feel free to adjust the design of the flowers or leaves, if you want the shapes to be a little different. It is good to make the pattern your own.

      All patterns rough cut
      All patterns rough cut

In the photo above, you can see all of them templates rough cut out, except the circles. The circles print from EQ7 on two sheets of paper. You will need to rough cut the two pieces for each circle and then tape them together. In order to tape the pieces together, hold each piece for one circle in a hand up to the light and match them up you. Before you hold them up, have have a small piece of tape ready to tack the pieces together. You can use a light box for this procedure also.

Fold circles in quarters
Fold circles in quarters

Fold circles in quarters to make a line down the centers. This will help you line them up to make the ring for the wreath.

I never did this before and had to figure it out, but it works pretty well.

Layer Circles
Layer Circles

Using the folds, layer the circles together so you can see the black line of the upper circle. Draw a line around the smaller circle, using the smaller circle as a template. You will be drawing on the larger circle. Use a soft implement (pencil or roller ball pen) that doesn’t skip to draw the circle. Once you have drawn the circle, you can put the smaller circle away with your other templates. I use a zipper bag for all of the pieces and parts.

Check width
Check width

Fold up the larger circle. Check the width of the ring of the wreath using a small ruler to make sure it is even. Once you are happy with the line. Cut along the line without opening the circle.

Complete Ring Pattern
Complete Ring Pattern

Once you have cut out the ring, open up the ring.

Now you are ready to make the templates. Grab all of your patterns, your template plastic and your glue stick.

  1. Glue the paper templates to the template plastic.
    No template plastic on folds
    No template plastic on folds

    The only tricky part is for the ring. I avoid the folds in the pattern and only put the template plastic on the parts of the ring where the fold isn’t. Why? Because I want to be able to fold this piece and put it in a zipper bag later. Also, by adding the template plastic in quarters you save template plastic and you can use smaller pieces. Finally, you don’t end up with a circle of leftover template plastic.

  2. Trim the templates to the line on the pattern.
Front & back of templates
Front & back of templates

Depending on the kind of template plastic you have, your templates will look something like the photo above.

Part 2 will talk about choosing fabrics etc.

You can find more detail about machine appliqueing directional motifs, such as letters in a separate tutorial.

Quilt Class: Basic Machine Applique’

Cake block detail
Cake block detail

This is part of the quilt class, but I will use some different patterns and fabrics to demonstrate.

When I started working on the Tarts Come to Tea after a long break I really could not remember how to machine applique’. It was the strangest feeling. I knew the general principles (trace pattern, iron it on fabric, satin stitch around the shapes), but all the details were hiding in some dark corner of my mind. I felt like I had to start over.

Being a good librarian I looked at some books, but could only find references to needle-turn and raw-edged applique’. I developed the following process. This is an overview. A future tutorial will provide more detail.

Supplies:

  • pencil
  • large sketch pad
  • favorite fusible (I like Soft Fuse)
  • black marker
  • paper scissors
  • fabric
  • thread
  • sewing machine
  • applique’ foot
Cake block pattern
Cake block pattern

First, I draw the pattern out life size on a white sheet of sketch paper. (I know this doesn’t look like white paper, but see the Weekend Work post for an explanation). I usually draw in pencil to start. When I draw the shapes in pencil I can make small changes until I am satisfied with the shapes.

Machine Applique' Pattern
Machine Applique’ Pattern

Next I trace the patterns on individual smaller sheets of paper. If there are parts that need to be in different colors or need to be separated for some reason, then I make separate patterns for them. For example, I made a separate pattern each for the main part of the cup, the coffee, the handle and the inside-back of the cup, above.

Tracing Machine Applique' Pattern
Tracing Machine Applique’ Pattern

I put the Soft Fuse, or other fusible of your choice, over the pattern and trace the pattern onto Soft Fuse.

Traced Pattern on Fabric
Traced Pattern on Fabric

After that is done, I trim the fabric to the approximate size, then press the Soft Fuse (or other appropriate fusible) on to the wrong side of that piece of fabric.

Repeat for all of the parts of your pattern.

Cake block detail
Cake block detail

Finally, remove the paper and stick the pieces to the background.

Press the fusible on to the background, according to the directions and satin stitch around the edges.

See the Fusible Applique’ tutorial for more detailed information. See the Machine Applique’ using Directional Motifs for more information on making sure your designs go the right way.

Quilt Class: LeMoyne Star

Finished LeMoyne Star
Finished LeMoyne Star

Today we will work through the tutorial on making a LeMoyne Star. This block is also called an Eight Pointed Star. In this class, you will learn to use Y Seams.Y Seams are not difficult. The key is to mark and sew slowly.

The method described below is one of the methods I use to make it and I will walk you through making a successful block. There are many methods and I encourage you to try different techniques.

Alex Anderson has a great tutorial on one of the Quilt Show episodes on making a Split LeMoyne Star.

Before you do anything else, print the rotary cutting instructions below (first item under supplies). All the sizes, shapes, etc are there.

Supplies:

  • 8 Pointed Star Rotary Cutting Directions
  • 4.5″x 12.5″ Creative Grids ruler
  • 4.5 x8.5″ Creative Grids ruler
  • Jinny Beyer Perfect Piecer ruler
  • Optional: Mary Ellen’s Best Press or similar
  • Optional: stiletto
  • fabric marking implement (pencil, Sewline, Pilot SCUF, Pigma Micron, mechanical pencil, etc)
  • rotary cutter
  • mat
  • sewing machine
  • thread
  • iron
  • ironing board
  • 3 fabrics (I will name them A, B, C)
    • 3″x23″ strip of fabric A for 4 diamonds
    • 3″x23″ strip of fabric B for 4 diamonds
    • 1 fat quarter for the background (fabric C)

Important information:

  • Block is 12.5″ unfinished and 12″ finished
  • These directions use a quarter inch seam allowance.
  • You will be creating Y seams.
  • Chain piecing is not part of this tutorial.
  • Respect the bias.
  • Do not sew into the seam allowance.

Cutting

Line Up Ruler to Cut 1 Side of Diamond
Line Up Ruler to Cut 1 Side of Diamond

Cut a 3″x 23″ strips. That should be long enough for 4 diamonds (parallelograms). Cutting a 3″ strip across the width of a half yard of fabric (3″ x ~40″) will generate a strip that is long enough. You will need two of these strips. Using 2 different fabrics looks good.

As shown (above), line your ruler up so the 45 degree angle on your ruler is along the bottom of the strip.The side of the ruler should be lined up right in the corner of your strip.

The idea is to cut off the end of the strip, so you have the correct angle of one of the pointy ends of the diamond. I did try my diamond ruler, but none of the lines were quite the right size, so I couldn’t use it for this particular block.

Line Up Rulers to Cut the Second End
Line Up Rulers to Cut the Second End

I used the two rulers to make sure that the diamond were accurate. The first ruler, on the left, should be even with the far left diamond point so that it measures 4.25″ along the bottom edge. I used that measurement to line up the 45 degree angle of the second ruler so I could cut the angle in the right place. I butted the second ruler up against the first ruler (carefully) so everything was in alignment. The second ruler (on the right) must have a 45 degree angle that intersects with a corner or this method won’t work.

I removed the left ruler before I started cutting, as it was easier to cut with just one ruler on the mat. I was careful not to jostle the ruler in the 45 degree angle position. Line your ruler up exactly as shown in the photo. You don’t have to have exactly the rulers I have. You can use any rulers with the correct lines.

Cut 2d End of Diamond
Cut 2d End of Diamond

I found that the method really does work. You will need to repeat the step above 8 times to get 8 diamonds. After the first diamond, it will be easier, since you can use the 2d cut for each diamond as the first cut for the next diamond.

Aside from having to watch out for ruler jostling, I was really pleased with how easy this was and well these diamonds came out. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t have wanted to cut the 300+ diamonds for FOTY 2010 using this method, but for a LeMoyne Star, it works very well.

I cut all the diamonds at once from two strips of two different fabrics. My fabrics are:

  • background: Lil Plain Jane
  • red diamonds: Moda Bliss #55021
  • aqua dot diamonds: Moda Bliss #55023
Side Triangles
Side Triangles

Cut the squares and triangles according to the cutting directions on the PDF in the supply list. The triangles are quarter square triangles, which means that you cut the triangles so the straight of the grain will be along the hypotenuse (the long side of the traingle).

If you have some reason for not being able to cut the side triangles as shown, be careful while sewing the block together and then stay stitch the outside of the block once you are finished.

Pieces cut
Pieces cut

Once your pieces are cut, lay them out or adhere them to your design surface, so you know what you have.

Cut Diamond, Face down
Cut Diamond, Face down

I like to keep them where I can see them because it helps me to know where I am. As I sew, I put the sewn elements of the block back up on the design wall.

Once you have cut all the diamonds, you will need to mark them. You need to mark 1/4″ away from the seam line, because if you want this block to come out right, you cannot sew into the seam allowance. The biggest rule I have for making the LeMoyne/8 pointed star block is NOT to sew into the seam allowance. There are exceptions, but I am not going into those now.

Put your diamonds face down on a writing surface and prepare to mark. As you can see from the photo, I used my cutting mat as the hard surface. You can use a table or whatever else works for your work area. I used the Sewline pencil to make the marks. Pilot SCUF pens, a mechanical pencil, etc also work. A regular pencil might not have a sharp enough point to be accurate.

Get ready to mark the seam allowance on all of your pieces (squares, triangles, diamonds).

Mark with Perfect Piecer
Mark with Perfect Piecer

I like using the Perfect Piecer ruler by Jinny Beyer for marking weird angles, because I only have to move the ruler once to mark the ‘corner.’

With the Perfect Piecer (they aren’t giving me free stuff, BTW!), you put the ruler in the ‘corner’ as shown in the photo. Where I have placed the circle is a hole. Note it is a small hole, so a regular No.2 pencil usually won’t work. Stick your Sewline (or other fabric marking implement with a very thin point) in there and make a dot. Voilà!

You will need to use two different parts of

Ruler Angle Does Not Fit Side
Ruler Angle Does Not Fit Side

the Perfect Piecer ruler to make the marks on all four ‘corners’. There is no angle for the sides of the diamonds, so just use the straight edge (as I describe below). You don’t need to know the angles, if angles make you crazy. Just match up the shape of the ruler with your cut piece.

Use Straight Edge for Marking
Use Straight Edge for Marking

You can certainly use any kind of ruler. Take your regular ruler and line up the 1/4″ line with the cut edge. Make a line around where you think the quarter inch would be. Make it longer, so you don’t have to go back and make the line longer. Move the ruler to the opposite cut edge of the diamond and cross your first line with a new line. Make sure your lines make an X. I have done this numerous time and there is no problem using an X instead of the Perfect Piecer dot.

Beautiful marks!
Beautiful marks!

In case you were wondering what the marks look like, the photo (red diamond with blue circles, left) shows examples.

The upper left hand mark inside the blue circle is the mark made with a Perfect Piecer and the Sewline pencil.

The lower right hand mark is made using a regular rotary cutting ruler and the Sewline pencil. Either mark works, as I said. You will use these marks to stop and start your seam lines. NO sewing into the seam allowance!

You will need to mark the squares and the triangles, too. You can use the Perfect Piecer to mark those pieces as well.

At this point, use some Mary Ellen’s Best Press to stiffen your pieces since you will be working with and sewing along a lot of bias edges. You can either spray it on all of your pieces at once, or as you are getting ready to sew. If you don’t want to use Mary Ellen’s Best Press or spray starch, no problem. Just keep in mind that you are working with bias edges and you need to work with them carefully. You don’t need to be afraid of bias edges. Just work slowly and carefully. Respect the Bias! 😉

Position Triangle over Diamond
Position Triangle over Diamond

Sew Segments Together

Now you are ready to sew!

First, position one of your side triangles over the diamond as shown, right sides together. You are lining up the diamond with the left non-hypotenuse side of the side triangle.

Line up the marks you have made on the diamond with the marks you made on the triangles.

I used pins. I stick them through the two marks vertically one time to keep them in place until I get to the sewing machine.

You can give the pieces a little press to stick them together, if you want.

Sew from Mark to Mark
Sew from Mark to Mark

Next sew from mark to mark. Start sewing at one mark and stop at the second mark. Stay out of the seam allowance! You can back stitch, if you want, but stay out of the seam allowance. Easy!

An Aside: You are probably wondering about the lemon fabric. Short answer: ignore the lemon fabric. Long answer: I press fabric on my ironing board and if I am pressing a lot of pieces, then I will put a larger piece of fabric so that I can get more bang for my buck. As I press the smaller pieces the larger piece gets pressed as well.

Press Carefully
Press Carefully

You can press now. If you do, press carefully (remember the bias, respect the bias) towards the diamond. If you don’t want to press until later, that is ok, too. I usually create the entire segment (2 diamonds, one triangle) before I press.

Now you have your first piece. YAY!

Not hard or scary, right?

Repeat this step for all of the diamonds that will be in the same position as my aqua with white dot diamonds.

 

2d Diamond with Pieced Segment
2d Diamond with Pieced

The next step is to sew the second diamond on to the segment (above: aqua with white dot & Lil Plain Jane flower fabrics) you have just made. You will be doing an inset seam. An inset seam is also called a Y seam. A lot of people hear Y Seam and panic. Y Seams are not difficult, but you can’t chain piece them and you have to pay attention. This method is similar to sewing hexagons together. Y seams really expand the number of quilt block designs you will be able to make.

As you can see I have lined the red diamond up with the segment I sewed and am ready to line up the pieces, pin and sew.

Line Up 2d Diamond & Pin
Line Up 2d Diamond & Pin

First, line up the marks on the triangle and the diamond.

I used pins to make sure that everything was lined up before I sewed. I placed the pins through the marks on both pieces of fabric vertically. I put a pin in the middle of seam line, once all the pieces were lined up, right before I sewed to hold everything together.

You will be sewing in two stages. I like to sew the triangle to the second diamond before I sew the two diamonds together.

 

Sew 2d Diamond
Sew 2d Diamond

Next, place the group of 3 patches (2 diamonds and a triangle) under the needle, lining up the marks so that the needle misses the seam allowance and goes straight into the first mark. Only sew through 2 layers of fabric.

Sew from mark to mark. The triangle and the second diamond will now be sewed together.

Sew from Top to Middle
Sew from Top to Middle

Second, line up the new diamond with the diamond you have already sewed to the triangle.

Line Up 2d Diamond & Pin
Line Up 2d Diamond & Pin

Match up the marks on the top and sides of the diamond and pin vertically. Right sides should be together.

Put the top of the 2 diamonds into the machine. You will start sewing at the mark, which is 1/4″ in from the top of the diamond. Sew between the two marks, avoiding the seam allowance. I sew towards the triangle.

Top View of Sewing Mark to Mark
Top View of Sewing Mark to Mark

Sew down to the mark at the bottom of the diamond. If the pressed seam allowance looks like it will go under the needle, move it out of the way with your finger, the tip of some sharp scissors or a stiletto.

Stop at the second mark.

Remove the piece from the machine.

 

Segment 1 Complete
Segment 1 Complete

Once you have sewed the the three patches together, you will have one full segment completed.

Next, press the 3 seam allowances into a swirl. This is similar to what you did with the hexagon block. As a guide, use the first seam that you pressed after sewing the first diamond to your triangle.

The reason I suggest the ‘Swirl’ is that it reduces bulk later. This particular pressing point isn’t as important in terms of bulk as the center, which has a crazy number of layers, once finished. Consistency is good, though.

Repeat to make four of the above segments.

Sew Quarters into Halves

Segment and Square
Segment and Square
Sew Square to Segment
Sew Square to Segment

Line up the square to the [red] diamond, matching the marks.

Arrange your pieces like I have done.

Line up the marks in the square with the marks on the outside side of the bottom (red in the picture) diamond.

Press, if you like.

Pin, if you like. Go back to the sewing machine and sew from mark to mark.

Repeat this step for all four segments.

Sew Square to Segment 1
Sew Square to Segment 1

If you just look at the next photo, you might have a heart attack. Please don’t. Adding the square is not hard. The key is to NOT sew into the seam allowance.

Nota bene: You can actually sew into the seam allowance on any seam that will end up on the outside of the block. If this thought is going to make your head explode, then just remember my mantra: don’t sew into the seam allowance and you will be fine.

Two Quarters of the Block
Two Quarters of the Block-Once you have two segments sewn to two squares, prepare to sew the two quarters together.

 

Line up 2 Halves along the Center Diamond
Line up 2 Halves along the Center Diamond

 

Sew Diamond Only
Sew Diamond Only

Sew the [red] diamond to the aqua diamond on the bottom. Stay out of the seam allowance and sew mark to mark.

Seam Line After Sewing Diamonds
Seam Line After Sewing Diamonds

 

After Diamonds are Sewn
After Diamonds are Sewn

It looks weird once you have sewn the diamonds together, but it will work out.

Pin vertically as discussed.

Line up Square
Line up Square

Line up the square with the [aqua] diamond and sew from mark to mark.

 

You Finished Half of Your LeMoyne Star
You Finished Half of Your LeMoyne Star

Two Halves of Block

Center detail
Center detail

Finally, we are ready to sew the two halves together. You should have pressed in such a way that you can nestle the diamonds together using your pressed opposing seams.

Match up the marks with pins. I used really thin ones this time. I normally use the kind shown in the center detail photo, but switched to thinner ones as I worked on this step, because my normal pins weren’t giving me the accurate results I needed for this exacting piecing. Note that I don’t pin right in the center. I pin well where I am not going to sew and may put another vertical pin in the center temporarily. There are so many layers in the center that it doesn’t always make sense to pin there. Do what works for you.

Sew Halves Together
Sew Halves Together

Line up your piece carefully.

Hold on to your pinned halves tightly.

Sew over the center only . Start about an inch from one side of the center and stop about an inch after the center- ~2″ with the center point at the 1″ mark.

Sewing only a couple of inches makes it much easier to rip out. You might think that this will be a piece of cake, which it might be for you. It can be tricky also, because of the many layers of fabric that you are sewing through. My sewing machine did not want to go straight over that center section, which is why I had to rip the stitching out the first time.

Take the piece out of your machine, open it and see if you were able to match the center.

Once you have the center matched to your satisfaction, sew from the edge of one diamond across the entire center to the edge of the opposite diamond. Remember the mantra? Refrain from sewing into the seam allowance.

Finished and Pressed (full)
Finished and Pressed (full)

Once you have sewn the squares to the last sides of the last diamonds, pressing becomes very important. I have indicated with the circles how your pressing should look. If you need to re-press, spray the piece with water and that will make it easier.

By creating a swirl during the pressing of the center, you will reduce bulk for your later quilting step. You will thank yourself if you quilt your own quilts. Your quilter will thank you, if you have a longarmer quilt your quilts.

Finished and Pressed (detail)
Finished and Pressed (detail)

 

Finished LeMoyne Star
Finished LeMoyne Star

Once you have sewn the squares to the last sides of the last diamonds and pressed the piece, you should have a gorgeous block and feel very proud of yourself.

Quilt Class: Hexagons

Finished Hexagon Block
Finished Hexagon Block

Here is the next block in our Sampler Quilt Class. These directions are for machine sewing your hexagons.

Supply List

  • Hexagon Template
  • mechanical pencil
  • thin Pigma pen (or similar)
  • template plastic
  • glue stick
  • foreground fabric
  • 13″ x 13″ piece of background fabric
  • Perfect Piecer ruler by Jinny Beyer
  • Small rotary ruler such as the Creative Grids 4.5″x8.5
  • Fabric scissors (see note on using a rotary cutter**)
  • thread
  • pins
  • Design surface or sandpaper board
  • Wooden kebab stick, stiletto or similar item you can use with your iron
  • sewing machine

Optional

  • Mary Ellen’s Best Press
  • hand sewing needle
  • hand sewing thread

Important information:

  • Block is 12.5″ unfinished, 12″ finished
  • These directions use a quarter inch seam allowance.
  • You will be creating Y seams.
  • Chain piecing is not part of this tutorial.
  • Respect the bias.
  • Do not sew into the seam allowance.

Templates

1. Prepare pattern for your hexagon template by printing two copies of the pattern.

Place one copy of the pattern with your other notes for reference or in your binder. Use it as reference first. Rough cut the hexagon pattern out of the other sheet.

Add Seam Allowance if it doesn't Print
Add Seam Allowance if it doesn’t Print

Nota bene: Sometimes the seam allowance doesn’t print out, so you may need to add 1/4″ seam allowance to the pattern before rough cutting.

Create Template

Glue the paper pattern (with seam allowances), using the glue stick (or other suitable adhesive), to the template plastic.

Create an Accurate Pattern

Fine cut the paper pattern you have adhered to the template plastic so you have an accurate template.

Gather your fabric and press it all. You can rough cut some pieces and press it with Mary Ellen’s Best Press to help keep the bias from stretching. The MEBP won’t prevent the bias from stretching, but it will add a bit of stiffness and help.

Cutting

Place Templates Face Down
Place Templates Face Down

Place your template face down on the wrong side of the fabric and trace carefully around your template directly on to the fabric.

Cut using scissors.**

**PLEASE Do not cut around your template plastic template with a rotary cutter. I want you to be able to finish the block with no blood. There is not enough protection for your fingers. A rotary ruler gives your finger some protection from the blade of your cutter cutter. If you use a rotary cutter, you may want to use a hexagon ruler, such as the Fons & Porter Hexagon ruler. The smallest hexagon on that ruler is larger than my template, but you can alter the pattern slightly by using 19 of those hexagons, which fit in the 12.5″ block. You can also cut using a rotary ruler and rotary cutter by lining up the ruler on the line you drew around your template.

Cut 19 Hexagons
Cut 19 Hexagons

Cut 19 hexagons from your fabric.

Mark your hexagons
Mark your hexagons

Marking

Now, mark your hexagons so that the Y seams will be easy to sew. As mentioned in the supply list, I use the Jinny Beyer Perfect Piecer.

 

Hexagon Markings
Hexagon Markings

Line up your ruler in every angle in every hexagon and make a dot.***

You can also make a cross at the seam allowance by lining up a regular ruler along your cut edge and drawing a line near the angle. See the tutorial called Hexagons -Preparing to Sew, which gives more information.

***Nota bene: I used a different color fabric so you could sort of see the dot.

Sewing

Remember: you will sew between the dots only NOT into the seam allowance. This is how you sew Y seams and we have done that in other tutorials.

Arrange Hexagons
Arrange Hexagons

Arrange your hexagons in a pleasing manner on your design surface or on a sandpaper board.

Hexagons right sides together
Hexagons right sides together

Take two hexagons, that will be next to each other in the final block, place them right sides together.

Put them under the presser foot, lining up your Perfect Piecer mark under the needle

Sew a few stitches, then backstitch.

Sew the entire seam to the second Perfect Piecer mark. Backstitch*+ to secure.

*+Nota bene: You want to backstitch even though it is a bit tedious, because no other seams will cross the seams stitching the hexagons together. If you do not backstitch, there is a chance your stitches will come out before you get to the quilting part. You can also leave long tails and make a knot at every intersection.

I like to to sew my hexagon patches together in groups of three, thus we will need to add the third hexagon to the two you just sewed together.

Add 3d Hexagon -seam 1
Add 3d Hexagon -seam 1

Lay the piece of two hexagons you just sewed on the table and place the third hexagon patch on top of top one, right sides together. Sew the third hexagon to the piece of two hexagons starting at the dot marked Start and stopping at the Perfect Piecer mark indicated as Stop. Backstitch as described above.

Remove from the machine and clip your threads.

Add 3d Hexagon -seam 2
Add 3d Hexagon -seam 2

Now you are ready to sew the last seam to make a larger patch out of the three hexagons. Line up your third hexagon with the hexagon you didn’t sew a minute ago.

Pin. I put the pin in a place closer to the stop mark, so I can fit the sewing machine foot on the Perfect Piecer Start mark.

Nota bene: I don’t normally pin small hexagons, but when I am sewing the last seam it is useful.

The second hexagon will be kind of rolled up. Just keep it out of the way of the needle. You don’t want to sew it to the underside of the other hexagons.

Sewn hexagons on the design wall
Sewn hexagons on the design wall

I keep my pieces on the design wall as I sew them in order to keep them in order.

Sewing patches together
Sewing patches together

Keep sewing your patches together in chunks, then into larger chunks until you get all of them sewn together. Sewing groups of hexagons together is like sewing 2 or three together. Sew between Perfect Piecer dots. You just have to be carefully to keep the other, already sewn, hexagons out of the way. Just keep looking at the finished pieces to make sure they are in the right shape.

Nota bene: It is useful to have a digital camera handy and take a photo of your layout in case of confusion while sewing. You can also number your patches with numbered pins or Post-it notes.

More on sewing hexagons can be found in a previous post.

Press

For small hexagon blocks, I usually don’t press until I am done sewing all of them, because I want all the swirls to be orderly.

Press in a circular motion
Press in a circular motion
Press in a swirl to create mini hexagons
Press in a swirl to create mini hexagons

Press from the back, one seam at a time so all of the seams look like they are pressed in a circular motion. While pressing from the back you will need to make sure the front is smooth. The center where the patches meet will look like a mini hexagon.

Pressed back of hexagon piece
Pressed back of hexagon piece

When finished the block will have a lot of mini hexagons on the back.

Applique’

In order to prepare for applique’, you have to do something with the edges. If you want to do raw edge applique, you will need to trim the seam allowance off the outer edges, using the Perfect Piecer marks as a guide.

My preferred method is pressing the seam allowance on the outer edges in to make a clean edge.

Lay your hexagon piece right sides down on ironing surface
Lay your hexagon piece right sides down on ironing surface

Lay your hexagon piece right sides down on your ironing board.

Use the Perfect Piecer marks as a guide. Fold and finger press the outer edges in.

Press edges in
Press edges in

Next, get your fingers out of the way and press using a hot iron so the edges are pressed permanently under. Use a stiletto or kebab stick to hold the edge under the iron.

Once all of the edges are pressed under you are ready to place your piece on the background.

If you have not already done so, cut a background piece 13″ x 13″. It is cut a little larger to accommodate any take up from the applique’. You will trim it to 12.5″ x 12.5″.

Fold background into quarters
Fold background into quarters
Fold background into quarters
Fold background into quarters
Fold background into quarters
Fold background into quarters

Fold in quarters and finger press just so you can see the lines. DO NOT press with an iron. These press lines are a guide and shouldnät become permanent.

Using your finger pressed lines, center the hexagon piece, right side up, on the background.

Sew down either by hand or by machine using the applique’ tutorial.

Finish Line

YAY! You have completed your block! Good job!

Finished Hexagon Block
Finished Hexagon Block

You can find more information in the Hexagon Clarification post.

Remember: no sewing into the seam allowances!

 

Quilt Class: Foundation Piecing pt.5

This is a daunting tutorial. You have made it to the last section! Good job!

New York Compass
New York Compass

This segment discusses sewing the block together. In order to get to this point, you should have completed parts 1, 2 and three as well as part four.

Like piecing all other blocks, you want to sew smaller pieces together to make larger pieces, then sew the larger pieces together to complete the block. In part three, you should have cut any fabric for templates that did not have matching fabric patches already cut. Inventory your templates and make sure you have a fabric patch to match each template. If you don’t, go back to part three.

In part 4 you also pinned:

Pin sections together

Now, following the skills you learned in the curves tutorial, sew the two patches together. Remember that the edges are not quite as smooth on the other (blue) side, but that is ok. Just remember to sew slowly and carefully.

Outer patches sewn
Outer patches sewn
Outer patches sewn - blue side up
Outer patches sewn – blue side up

Once those two patches are sewn, they might look a little rumpled, but once you turn them both right side up and carefully press the section, they will look great.

Outer sections pressed
Outer sections pressed

Press which ever way you think will work best for your block.

Section D
Section D

Next, we will sew the corner section to the small pieced strip (Section D).

Nota bene: if you did not foundation piece the small strip, follow the directions in part 4 or part three to do so. If you haven’t done any foundation piecing you might want to start with this piece as it is smaller and less complex than the pointy triangles section.

Again you will need to pin. This time you are pinning your quarter circle corner piece and your small foundation pieced strip.

Pin ends horizontally
Pin ends horizontally

Take your quarter circle corner piece and your small foundation pieced strip and pin them together. Line up the straight edges on the ends and pin them together (horizontally-see photo above). I make sure the horizontal pins are out of the way of other pins and the sewing machine foot. They are used just to make sure my piece is in place while I put the other pins in.

I use a lot of pins. It works for me. I know there are other tutorials that are pinless or use minimal pins, but I want precision and pins give me precision. Put these two pieces together the way it works for you. Remember: you only have two hands.

Sew 2 patches together
Sew 2 patches together

Once you are happy with your pinning, get ready to sew. I put the non-pieced corner quarter circle on the bottom and the pieced part on the top. I try to make this a habit, though it doesn’t matter with this particular foundation pieced section. In some sections, like our spiky triangle section, it matters.

You can rip off the paper before you piece or not. I was having some other problems, so I ripped it off, but normally, I leave it on until the very last second, e.g. before I took the pieced top to the quilter!

Attach your quarter inch foot and sew your small foundation pieced strip to your corner quarter circle. If you don’t know how to sew curves, take a look at the curves tutorial.

Corner with 2 sections
Corner with 2 sections

Once you are finished, press carefully. I press to the side with the least number of seams, or to the side that the fabric seems to be naturally inclined to lay. Your corner will look gorgeous like the one above.

Once you have the small foundation pieced strip attached to your quarter circle, you will sew it to your spiky triangles piece. You will, again, pin a lot, using the horizontal pin trick to stabilize the piece.

Sew Sections Together
Sew Sections Together

Again, as shown in the photo above, I put the foundation pieced part on top. In this case, you are sewing two foundation pieced sections together, so you can choose which you want on top. I chose the spiky triangles section to go on top, but it doesn’t really matter, since there are no points to worry about cutting off.

Next sew the two remaining sections together, press, again, towards the piece with the least number of seams and you should have a piece like the one below.

Finished: Foundation Pieced Block
Finished: Foundation Pieced Block

After all that work, you have a beautiful foundation pieced block. Pat yourself on the back!

Quilt Class: Foundation Piecing pt.4

New York Compass
New York Compass

We are nearing the last part of the foundation piecing class. I know this is a long tutorial, but there are a lot of steps and it is difficult to explain when I am not in the same room with you. I also don’t have a crew, so photographing every single step with only two hands is a challenge.

Mostly this segment discusses getting ready to sew the major parts of your block together. Yes, there is more prep before you can sew your blocks together. I will give some template tips as well. In order to get to this point, you should have completed parts 1, 2 and part 3. All of the supplies are listed in part 1.

Like all other parts of piecing, your goal is to sew smaller pieces together to make larger pieces. First, inventory your templates and make sure you have a fabric patch for each template.

NY Compass Outline
NY Compass Outline

For any templates that do not have matching fabric patches, cut your fabric.

parts and templates

Based on the photo above, I need to cut 3 pieces. In some New York Beauty related patterns, these are pieced, but in ours we are using one fabric. You can certainly modify any of these pieces to do more foundation piecing.

Cutting fabric patches

To cut out these templates, I place my fabric right side down and the template right side down and draw on the back of the fabric. This is the same for all three of the templates.

Patches should look similar to template

Your patches should look similar to your template once cut out. All of these templates have an element of bias, so handle them carefully.

Outer Edge Patch half cut out

Once you have drawn your template shape on the fabric, you can cut it out. Where possible, I use a rotary cutter and ruler. If I cannot use those tools, e.g. for the curves in the pieces of this block, I use very sharp scissors and cut slowly and carefully. Above you can see that I have cut as many parts of the patch as possible with my rotary kit and am ready to cut the curve with scissors.

Corner template on fabric
Corner template on fabric

As with the previous piece, lay your fabric right side down and place the corner template on top, also right side down. Draw around it with a thin point Pilot Scuff, Pigma Micron, or similar, pen.

Line drawn on fabric
Line drawn on fabric

Once you have drawn carefully around the template, remove it and make sure your line is continuous. If it is not continuous, carefully replace the template and fix the missing segments.

Line up ruler along 90 degree angle
Line up ruler along 90 degree angle

Line up your ruler with the corner of the fabric patch. You may need to rough cut your fabric first, if there is too much yardage skewing the fabric as you try and cut.

Cut using rotary kit

The corner quarter circle template has a quarter inch seam allowance, so you don’t have to do anything, but cut the line you drew (and all the fabric on the other side) off. You will want to cut so that the line is cut off, but you need to cut ONLY the line off.

Also, these pieces are large, so make sure you can hold your ruler down tight as you are cutting. You want to avoid ruining a whole large piece of fabric because your ruler shifted.

Cut any other pieces you might need.

Fabric patches cut

Once you have cut out your fabric patches, you will have pieces that look like those in the above photo.

After seeing the above patches laid out, I decided to sew the two outer pieces together first. Again I want to join smaller pieces into larger sections. Also, the very outer piece has very skinny ends. I want to stabilize them a bit by sewing them to another piece before sewing them to the foundation pieced Section C.

Pin sections together

The first order of business is to pin them together. I apply horizontal pins on the ends and a lot of pins in the middle. My goal is to make the seam smooth. You are working on the bias, so don’t yank too much.

Horizontal pin - close-up

For my advanced students: if you put the horizontal pin in the two fabrics as shown above, the horizontal pins on each side should be out of the way of your 1/4″ foot.

Pinned End
Pinned End
blue side up
blue side up

It is not quite as smooth on the other side, but that is ok. Set this piece aside for now, but remember that when you are ready to sew, sew slowly and carefully. Next, we will sew the corner section (quarter circle, Section D) to the small pieced strip.

If you don’t know how to sew curves together, check out the curves tutorial.

Nota bene: if you did not foundation piece the small strip, follow the directions in part 3 or above to do so. If you haven’t done any foundation piecing before you might want to start with this piece as it is smaller and less complex than the pointy triangles section (Section C).

I use a lot of pins and I know there are other tutorials that are pinless or use minimal pins. Put these two pieces together the way it works for you.

Now you are ready for part 5, which is the last part, I promise. 😉

Tips:

  • If you have to rip out stitches, rip them out from the fabric side, not the paper side.
  • Pay attention to putting the next fabric piece on the foundation.
  • Avoid the bump by pressing!

Resources: