An accurate 1/4 inch seam allowance on your sewing machine (hand work is different) is imperative for most quilt projects. Still some quiltmakers struggle. Below are some tips and, even further below, are some resources.
your usual thread
Seam guide or quarter inch foot
Optional: blue painter’s tape or masking tape
Mostly, I will provide tips and tricks. You can watch the videos below to set up and test your machine to sew an accurate quarter inch seam.
First, decide if you care. If you don’t care, move on with your life. I am not saying that flippantly. We are all busy and if sewing an accurate 1/4 inch seam allowance is something you don’t care about, then go sew something.
Second, be prepared to play around. You’ll have to do some testing. Think of it as playtime.
Third, you will need some kind of seam guide. A foot included with your sewing machine (or available for purchase separately) is an option.
I use the Janome quarter inch foot and interchange the same foot with both of my machines. I have 2-3 of them, but any one of them works on both of my machines. When I had a Singer, I stacked up layers of tape to make a ‘stop’ or wall at the quarter inch mark.
Dritz has a magnetic seam guide*. I used one of these and found that, when it stayed in place, it worked.
For Juki machines, Jen Carlton Bailly recommends, a “T” gauge*. This screws into the needle plate somehow. I have seen this in use, but have not used it myself.
These are a few of the many, many products available. Check around with your friends and ask your machine dealer what they recommend.
Try different methods to see what works for you.
Tip #1: If you use a seam guide, use the seam guide
It is easy to allow your attention to wander away from what you are doing. If you are using a seam guide, keep the fabric right next to the guide.
In general improv piecing is not a problem, but if you are attempting to go through many layers AND sticking to a quarter inch seam allowance, it is difficult. I ran into this when sewing the Red Strip Donation Top #2.
You can see the seam line wanders in the photo (left). When I am sewing tiny pieces together, the layers add up. This is what happens to me using my machine when I am trying to go through too many layers. This can also happen with blocks when a lot of layers come together in the center of a block.
Tip #3: Press open to reduce bulk
I don’t believe in pressing my seams open as a general rule. However, if you have a lot of bulk that is interfering with your seam allowance, pressing open can help. Have a reason to press open separate from “that’s what modern quiltmakers do.” I also press my seams open on the backs of quilts to reduce the bulk, which is the problem with accurate seam allowance and problems with longarm quilting. If you press open, you need to backstitch every seam that will not be crossed by another. That means that every improv quilt I make gets a line of stitching around the outside of the quilt. Every quilt without a border also gets a line of stitching around the outside. If you don’t, seams can unravel. On the edges both open seams and closed seams can unravel.
Tip #4: Machine markings
The measurement markings on your needle plate can help you keep your seam allowance accurate. While not a panacea, it is another aid when you are struggling to keep your piecing straight.
Tip #5: Adjust your needle
Many machine default to a 3/8ths or 5/8ths inch seam. Even pretty basic machines allow the maker to move the needle. If your machine has this feature, it is an easy way to get an accurate quarter inch seam. You just have to remember to do it when you turn on the machine!
Go through the process of testing your machine for an accurate quarter inch seam. Once you have it and have your system for sewing the accurate quarter inch seam, your patchwork will be better.
Tip #6: Use thin thread
Thread takes up space in the seam. If you are off my just a bit, then use thinner thread, like Aurifil 50 wt. Bottomline is a thin thread as well.
All People Quilt: video on accurate quarter inch seam
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Shortly after I finished the binding on Metroscape, I started and finished the binding on this sampler. I am pleased to have another finish! With this finish, I am crossing something off the list that has been on it for a long time. That feels great.
I showed it at BAM last Saturday and I was gratified at the response. I don’t think this sampler looks fuddy-duddyish, but I wasn’t sure how that more modern audience would take it. They liked it and it makes me want to pull out the Handbag Sampler and get back to it. I do think I would like to make some smaller blocks to go in a new sampler I might start, like the Star Sampler.
As part of the Sampler Quilt Class and other tutorials I have on this site, I want to add one about putting a quilt together. I thought it would be good to include information about sashing at the same time. Since I have been using this quilt to write the Sampler quilt posts, I thought I would use it to create the latest tutorial.
Process can be a difficult mistress (boy toy??) and she had both fangs and talons out for me on Sunday. I really wanted to just piece a bunch of stuff together, so I took Who Am I? off the design wall and started checking out sashing options for the Aqua-Red Sampler. I thought this would be a relatively easy task and I would be sewing in no time.
HA! I should never think that.
I started off thinking that the version above with no sashing just wasn’t quite right. I have a stack of fabrics that I keep for backs and sashing (larger pieces) so I started to look through them and try them out.
I always use Lorraine Torrence’s rule to “make visual decisions visually”. Well, when I do that I usually get good results. When I don’t, I ruin the quilt.
I pulled out the most likely option and pinned some blocks up on my design wall (2 layers of fabric don’t stick). You can see how optimistic I was that this would work based on the number of blocks I put up. It isn’t terrible, but I didn’t like the way the red was interacting with some of the reds in the blocks.
I thought maybe some blue and I have a nice turquoise solid that I got out. Not terrible, but nowhere near great either. The blocks with the lighter blue backgrounds stick out like sore thumbs and the blocks with the medium blue backgrounds wash out. I wasn’t daunted yet.
I thought maybe I should introduce a new color. I know I wanted this to be a, basically, two color quilt, but I started to think, perhaps, that there was no way to keep that dream alive with the two colors I had chosen. I thought about the green in Stepping Stones n.2 and I picked out a nice floral without flowers that included that green plus the blue.
I couldn’t yank that fabric off the design wall fast enough. It made me think of my man, Phil, though. I tried one of his prints. Also hideous. Well, not hideous, but it really didn’t work. The blue was wrong. The pink was wrong. It looked messy and slapped together.
I decided to try some white. It wouldn’t be my first choice because it is too predictable, but I was starting to feel desperate. Just a little. The white is wrong, too. I am not sure why, but it doesn’t add anything. It was too white as well, as if THAT makes any sense.
Since I liked the dots and was still thinking the white might just too white, so I pulled out a different dot and tried to like it. It isn’t terrible. It does add a bit to the whole piece, but the black dots just aren’t right. There is none of that fabric in the whole piece. I put it aside as a possibility.
Still thinking dots would work, I pulled out a different red dot print. The red wasn’t exactly the shade I would have chosen if I had all the fabric in the world, but the dots were larger and that was promising. Also, not terrible, but also not exactly right.
By this time, I was starting to feel disheartened and needed some input so I posted to Instagram to get some feedback. People were very kind and had some good ideas.
One person suggested navy, which might work, but I don’t like navy much and don’t have any navy fabric – yardage, at least. I might have some scraps. Amanda suggested yellow. I had a nice sunshine-y orange, which I just thought I would try to see. Not terrible, but not right either. It came across as gold in the photos (even the one above, I think). You remember the hunt for yellow in which I engaged for the basket quilt? I really didn’t want to go out and buy fabric. I really felt I had to have something that would work.
I found some cherry fabric, again by my man, Phil, and thought I would try it. The first Philip Jacobs option was still on my mind. I wasn’t ready to give up on him again. This fabric is actually okay. I think ‘okay’ is a step above ‘not terrible’. Still it didn’t scream YES! at me.
Much more sighing went on.
My last option for the day was a grey. I was not hopeful. I really wanted to sew and I had used most of my sewing time on an unsuccessful attempt to choose some sashing.It didn’t work. It doesn’t look much better than the white
I gave up and went to sew the latest donation quilt. I am starting to think this quilt does not want sashing and I’ll have to make the tutorial with another quilt.
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)
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
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
2. Cut 4 squares for inset pieces 4 inches by 4 inches.
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.
4. Open your rectangles and match up the raw edges.
Hint: I nest the center seams and pin, starting in the middle
Hint: leave an opening 2-3 fingers wide for later turning. I mark this with two pins right next to each other.
5. Sew your pinned seam shut except for the opening you have left.
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.
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.
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.
11. Fold corners into the center. Do this with all four corners and make a new square. The square should be 6 inches.
12. Lay out the blocks in a 2 x 2 grid, so you can see what you have
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
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
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.
19. Fold up the top triangles from the bottom row and the bottom triangle from the top row.
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.
22. Take your foreground triangles and lay them on top of your background
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Once you are finished with the flowers, change your thread and adjust the width and density of your stitch, if desired.
Arrange the leaves in a pleasing manner. I placed 5 at a time on the background and stitched them down.
Arrange and stitch all of the leaves. My photo shows only 10 sewn leaves, but I did eventually stitch all of them.
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.
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.
Once you are finished with the entire stitching and ripping out the tearaway, trim the background down to 12.5″
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
After cutting out a background, put it aside for the time being. You will need it after you make the templates and the ring.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Glue the paper templates to the template plastic.
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.
Trim the templates to the line on the pattern.
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.
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.
large sketch pad
favorite fusible (I like Soft Fuse)
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.
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.
I put the Soft Fuse, or other fusible of your choice, over the pattern and trace the pattern onto Soft Fuse.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Once your pieces are cut, lay them out or adhere them to your design surface, so you know what you have.
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).
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
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.
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.
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! 😉
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Second, line up the new diamond with the diamond you have already sewed to the triangle.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Sew the [red] diamond to the aqua diamond on the bottom. Stay out of the seam allowance and sew mark to mark.
It looks weird once you have sewn the diamonds together, but it will work out.
Pin vertically as discussed.
Line up the square with the [aqua] diamond and sew from mark to mark.
Two Halves of Block
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.
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.
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.
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.
Fabric scissors (see note on using a rotary cutter**)
Design surface or sandpaper board
Wooden kebab stick, stiletto or similar item you can use with your iron
Mary Ellen’s Best Press
hand sewing needle
hand sewing thread
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 from your fabric.
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.
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.
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 your hexagons in a pleasing manner on your design surface or on a sandpaper board.
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.
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.
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.
I keep my pieces on the design wall as I sew them in order to keep them in order.
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.
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 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.
When finished the block will have a lot of mini hexagons on the back.
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 your ironing board.
Use the Perfect Piecer marks as a guide. Fold and finger press the outer 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 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.
This is a daunting tutorial. You have made it to the last section! Good job!
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.
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.
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.
Press which ever way you think will work best for your block.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
After all that work, you have a beautiful foundation pieced block. Pat yourself on the back!
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.
For any templates that do not have matching fabric patches, cut your fabric.
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.
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.
Your patches should look similar to your template once cut out. All of these templates have an element of bias, so handle them carefully.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 😉
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.
We are midway through the foundation piecing class making a New York compass block. This is a long tutorial, but there are a lot of steps and I want all of the parts to be clear.
This segment discusses more foundation piecing. In order to get to this point, you should have completed parts 1 and 2. All of the supplies are listed in Part 1
Remember our goal:
Next, we need to foundation piece the small strip called Section D.
Cut 4 pieces of fabric that coordinate with the fabrics of your block. The pieces should be about 2.5″x 1.75″, which is generous. You may be able to use scraps for these pieces.
As you did in Part 2, you will work on placing 2 fabrics on the line between D1 & D2 with about a quarter inch hanging over into D2 as a seam allowance. Note the printed part of the pattern (the lines on which you sew) are face down for this step.
I like to pin the first piece of fabric to my pattern. It helps keep the fabric from shifting as I work on the second piece of fabric. Note the printed part of the pattern (the lines on which you sew) are face up for this step.
Flip Section D back over and position the second piece of fabric over the first. I often hold the pieces up to the light (or use a lightbox) to position the second piece.
When you have both of your pieces placed like you like them, pin in place. I like to use thin pins. Your piece should now look like the above photo.
With the applique’ foot on your machine. Sew on the line between D1 & D2. Do not cross the perpendicular line at the top or bottom. Back stitch one stitch at the beginning and the end.
Once you have sewn on the line, your piece should look like the above photo.
Open up both pieces and make sure they cover D1 & D2. Once you are convinced that you have covered both D1 & D2 with your fabric and there is a 1/4″ seam allowance, press your piece. Press with the pattern on top. Note the pattern is face up and you can see the sewing lines. (Nota bene: if you have taped your pattern, use a press cloth so that you do not get melted tape on your iron)
Flip your Section D over again, so you are ready to trim.
Lay your pattern, with sewn fabric, pattern side up (fabric down) on your cutting mat. The inside part of the curve will be facing your body. You may want to flip Section D around if you are left handed.
Fold the longer piece of the pattern over to the left using the seam line as the fold line. This will expose the fabric that will be your seam allowance.
Line up your ruler’s 1/4″ mark on the seam/fold line and trim your seam allowance to 1/4″.
Trim seam allowance to 1/4″.
Go back to the ironing board and position your piece so the fabric is up, pattern side down and smooth the fabric towards D2, lightly finger pressing.
Take the piece to the iron and press carefully towards D2.
Place your next fabric with the longer part towards D2 and the future seam allowance closer to D3. Hold the whole piece up to the light to make sure your placement is correct.
Pin in place.
Get ready to sew on the line between D2 & D3.
Once sewn, your piece should look like the photo above.
Check to make sure your fabric covers pattern section D3. You do this by folding the fabric over and looking to see that you have about 1/4″ on all sides.
Now, get ready to trim. Put your piece on the cutting mat pattern side up.
Fold your pattern to the left again, like you did before.
Line up your ruler’s 1/4″ mark on the seam/fold line and trim your seam allowance to 1/4″.
See that bump in the photo above? You do not want that bump to show once you have pieced D4 on to the parts of Section D you have already pieced. Press again, this time towards D4. Avoid the bump by pressing!
Press towards D4. No ironing!
We are heading to the home stretch!
Position your last piece as you have done before. It is going to look at little weird and out of alignment, because you are working with a curve. Remember to position the fabric so it covers D5 plus 1/4″ seam allowance. Pay no attention to the edges of the other pieces, such as D4, that you have already sewn.
It is easier for me to see whether or not piece D5 was in the right position by pinning it. Note, I would pin it on the pattern side to sew, because then I can see where the pin is in relation to where my sewing machine foot and needle are. The pin in the photo is temporary.
Once you have the placement finalized, go ahead and sew.
Now you have to fold back the pattern one last time and prepare to trim the seam allowance.
Now your piece is done. Fold back the D5 fabric and press. Place your ruler on the lines at the end of the pattern and trim a 1/4″ seam allowance. I know you can do this without photos.
Now you have to trim the curved parts of Section D
It is too difficult to sew the untrimmed Section D, so you will have to trim.
To trim, mark 1/4″ away from the dark line. The dots in the photo above mark 1/4″. I have trimmed the straight ends with a rotary cutter and I am ready to play “dot to dot” with my scissors. I am going to cut from dot to dot to create a 1/4″ seam allowance.
On to part 4!
If you have to rip out stitches, rip them out from the fabric side, not the paper side.
Pay attention to putting the next piece on the foundation.