The plot, like my gravy, thickens

One of my favorite scenes from “The Big Bang Theory”…..

And yes, the plot is thickening in the December installment of the Macaron Mystery from Meadow Mist Designs.

She kept the December clue easy and, since I didn’t get around to it until January, that was probably a good thing.

This month we were making a Square-in-a-Square block.

The first step was to cut one set of squares in half on the diagonal and I got confused by this and wondered if I really wanted to do it!! I HATE working with bias seams!!! I finally cut two squares in half and made one of the blocks. When I felt more certain of what I was doing, I cut the rest…..

Next step was to sew one triangle on two alternate sides of the square…..

You didn’t have to trim the corners but I did anyway….

Then, you add triangles to the two opposite sides…..

Now it was time to trim this block to 3.5-inches. I find this hard to do and still keep all of the inside corners 1/4-inch away from the outside. There is almost too much to look for!!

THEN, I remembered the ruler that I bought at Houston….

Deb Tucker’s Square Squared!!

You can use this ruler for the entire process of making a Square-In-A-Square block, but in this case, I just needed the right-hand section for the final trim.

It works like this….

You line up the inside 3-inch square with the dashed lines on the ruler

Trim it….

Then line the trimmed edge up to the 3.5-inch lines…..

Note that the inside square still matches the dashed line square drawn on the ruler.

The result was that I have 12 (well actually 13 but they don’t photograph as well) perfect Square-In-A-Square blocks…..

…and I learned how to use another new ruler…..

A Win-Win……

But there are SO many lines….

Do you ever find it confusing when you are looking for the correct line on a rotary ruler?

And, some of the rulers have SO MANY lines!!

In the past, I have used a water-soluble marker to remind myself where to cut but I worry about getting the marker on my project.

Instead, I have now started using painter’s masking tape.

It is easy to position, it comes off without leaving a residue and you can’t miss that bright blue color!!!

If I am cutting a 4-inch square, I might place the tape directly on the measuring line…..

….or just behind the line if I am cutting a 1/8th inch increment (3-5/8 in this photo)…..

I still have to do some adjusting to make sure that the ruler is properly lined up but at least I know the general area that I am headed for!!

What tricks do you employ to make your cutting easier???

Tradewinds….the big finish!!

On Thursday, I left you with the quilt at this stage…..

As I looked at it, I felt that it needed some separation between the blocks so decided to add 1-inch sashing.

….and the blue background seemed to be a perfect choice.

Before I started pulling blocks off of the design wall, I added numbered pins to each block which GREATLY helped to keep the blocks in the same place as piecing commenced…..

If you are interested, here is an older video that I made reviewing one of the Numbered Pin brands…..

I quickly had the horizontal sashing added…..

Now came the hard part….. adding the vertical sashing and making sure that the blocks were perfectly lined up!!

I accomplished this by marking registration lines on the sashing piece and pinning every seam so that they matched….

The top was finished, including the 1-inch sashing around the entire top. Now I wanted to add a splash of color to the border. As I searched my stash, my eyes fell on these fabrics…..

After lots of trial and error, I ended up cutting strips from several of these and piecing them together into irregular-sized chunks.

A final blue border and the top was finished…..

And, I LOVE IT!!!

I am not interested in quilting this myself so have sent it off to let Sheila work her magic with thread.

Just because I am not quilting this myself doesn’t mean that I couldn’t quilt it if I had the time…..

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Tradewinds – Part 2

Yesterday I posted about making the Strip sets for my newest project….”Tradewinds”!!

Now it was time to sub-cut them into triangles.

The pattern uses a special ruler called the “Strip Tube Ruler”…..

One of the things that I appreciated about the pattern was that they included instructions for how to make the sub-cuts using a different type of ruler and this is what I did.

I used my “Easy Angle” ruler and simply put painter’s tape along the line that I would be following….

I actually put several layers of tape along that line…..

….so that I would have something to butt the fabric up against.

It worked beautifully!!!

For some of the cuts, I actually drew the lines on the ruler using a fine-point sharpie…..

I did try several different cutting lines until I got the size that yielded the proper triangle.

I also added smaller pieces of painter’s tape to help me see which line I was cutting on!!

This wasn’t an ideal way to do the cutting, but it was better than having to wait for another ruler to arrive.

As I started sewing the two triangle sets together, I marked the center of both blocks and used that to line up the pieces…..

It was enjoyable to quickly sew the triangles together to form the blocks……

…although twice I got a little carried away…..

It is SO frustrating to have to stop and rip when you are on a roll!!!

With all of the blocks made, I was excited to throw it up on the design wall and see how it looked…..

I wasn’t exactly sure about the layout but thought that I could go ahead and piece the big blocks together.

It was so exciting to see the corners and points match up …..

Isn’t that a thing of beauty!!!

Since every other block is rotated, I found it easiest to sew all of one type together first. Because I did it this way, I saved two or three blocks that I was about to sew incorrectly. I would notice that I wasn’t having to match up the same lines as before and that would be my “twig” that I was doing it wrong.

On the wall again…..

And, although I love the bright colors, I think that it needs something else…..

Come back Saturday for the big finish!!

Let’s add a skinny border

A few weeks ago I was working on a quick gift and felt that it needed a skinny border to finish out the design and was thinking about making it 1/4-inch in width.

My first thought was to cut a strip that was 3/4-inch but decided that there was too much possibility for the border to be crooked or to vary in width as it went.

What I am trying to say here is that I wouldn’t be able to sew it straight!!!

Instead, I cut the fabric strip at 1-1/4 inches and sewed it onto the two sides…..

After pressing it well, I brought in a square-up ruler and trimmed the new border to 1/2 inch…..

Next, I headed to the machine and sewed the outer border on, using my VERY BEST 1/4-inch seam allowance…..

And….voila….. the skinny border was incorporated into the top…..

I have already shared the finished version of this quilted gift…..

….and you can read about the fabric painting technique in THIS POST.

How do you ensure a tiny border??