A year’s worth of learning

As of this past weekend, I can say that I have finished with the International Block Swap that I have been involved with. It was sponsored by Make Modern Magazine and I have loved working with 4 quilters from Australia and 1 from New Zealand.

Our fearless leader, Gaye, was the first to present a block back in April of last year….read the post here…..

……and now she is the last one to present a block as the challenge ends.

As I mentioned in the post, her blocks contained 61 pieces in a 10-inch square, which meant that accurate piecing was key!!

The first thing that I did differently from last time was that I used my “Accu-quilt” machine to cut the 1-1/2 strips and in a matter of minutes, all 122 pieces were ready to take to the sewing machine…..

In the post, I said that I had to make a few adjustments to my seam allowance, but in truth, I AGONIZED over getting it exactly right so that the blocks would end up being the correct size.

Over this past year, I have worked hard to figure out where to hold the fabric to achieve a perfect 1/4-inch seam allowance on my machine.

SO…..it was VERY exciting to sit down and be able to piece these two new blocks with minimal size differences.

MAYBE….just MAYBE my plan to “up my game” in the quilting area is coming to fruition!!!

The first block contains some of Gaye’s favorite “Moda Grunge” fabric…..

….and the second is a sweet blend of blue and yellow…..

Tomorrow they will be winging their way to New Zealand. HOPEFULLY, it won’t take 10 weeks like it did last time!!!

This challenge has been so much fun….not only for the quilt blocks that I have received but for the new quilting friends that I now have on the other side of the world!!!

If you have a chance to join a challenge like this, I suggest that you do it. It has been a BLAST!!!!

Wellspring…alternate blocks

When I left you last week, I had completed all of the larger whirlwind blocks….

Now it was time to fill in those spaces with pinwheel blocks. The first step was to cut out all of the pieces needed for a particular colorway (remember that I have THREE different strip sets/colorways for each block)….

I spent a LOT of time drawing lines down the pieces….

…and then sewing on each side of the line…..

Some of these were left as half-square triangles, but some were sewn one more time to make quarter-square triangles….

It was fun to sew these pieces into the inside pinwheel….

Once again, I tried to be careful with matching the seams and points…..

When I was pressing these blocks I decided to try “spinning my seams” and, unlike my imaginings, I found it to be easy and to make the blocks lie SO much flatter….

At some point, I will add a Terrific Tip Tuesday post to show how to do this!!

When the block bits were all made, it was time to start sewing the sections together…..

When they were all put together, I added a border, and VOILA…..

The Top Was FINISHED!!!!

You guessed it, quilting comes next!!

A Better Way of Piecing

As I was working on the pinwheel top and bitterly complaining about how hard the setting piecing was to do…..

….. my friend Sylvia Schaefer from “Flying Parrot Quilts” commented that, if I had not pieced the pinwheels first, then the entire top could have been pieced in rows……

And, of course, she is right!!!

I got so carried away by my pinwheel excitement that I didn’t stop to plan!!!

Does that ever happen to you?

By the way….you should check out Sylvia’s website and all of her amazing quilts and patterns!!

Well, that is it for the pinwheels…..for the moment. Who knows when they will surface again!!

Pinwheel proceedings…..

Since I am only getting to work in my studio on Saturdays, progress on the pinwheel quilt has been slower than I wished!! But, last weekend I worked on setting the quilt together…..NOT an easy task!!

The first step was to piece the “stem” blocks, adding 1/2 square triangles to each side of the check strip and then trimming them down to the needed 5-inch size.

After I trimmed the first one, I knew that I needed some way to easily position the ruler so that the “stem” split the block perfectly. To fix that issue, I took my square ruler and drew guidelines on it using a water-based marker…..

Having this simple guide-line made all the difference in prepping these blocks.

Next, it was time to lay the quilt out and figure out exactly how I was going to piece it…..

There is NO straightforward way to piece this quilt so I finally just picked a few pieces and started sewing them together. It has been a slow, slow, slow process with me piecing one seam at a time and then adding it back to the design wall. As the pieced quilt got bigger, it became easier to work on the floor rather than on the wall…..

At the end of my sewing day, unfortunately, I discovered that I had cut one or more of the background pieces at 4-3/4 inches rather than 5-inches. AND, of course I am running out of the background fabric….ARGH!!!!

As I wait for next Saturday to come around, you can be sure that I will be thinking about how I am going to fix the problem, maybe even leaving the last row off……

Keep your fingers crossed!!!

Photo courtesy of valueresearchonline.com

That block is TOO small!!!

On Monday, I posted about my lemon block in the 2021 Monthly Color Challenge…..

When I first made this block using the quarter-inch foot on my machine……

…….it was well over 1/4 inch too small!! Mind you, there were FORTY-EIGHT seams in the 6-inch block but that just meant that I had to be much more accurate!!

I started working with the Bonnie Hunter’s Bonus Buddy Ruler….

To use this, you put your needle in the 1/4″ hole and the edge of the ruler marks the 1/4 inch seam allowance.

In my case, I used a stack of painters tape to form a ledge against the ruler…..

I figured that this would do the trick so I started over on the block, carefully sewing the strip sets and pressing them SUPER carefully, using my fingers first and then doing it again with the iron…..

And guess what, they were a bit too big!!! How did that happen!!

Then I started thinking about the rulers that I use and the way that I set them on the fabric before I cut and decided that the problem was starting there…..

I played with it some more but couldn’t figure out exactly where to hold the ruler to make the cut perfect. Finally, I decided that I wasn’t going to try to change my 25+ year method of cutting and instead change the seam allowance.

It took a few tries but I finally figured out where I needed to hold the fabric edge to make it the PERFECT size…..

It was easy to sew the blocks together, using the tape edge as my guide……

I seldom pin when I piece but decided that, for this intricate of a block, I needed to….at least in all of the matching seams……

The result was a block that was ALMOST the perfect size (may 1/8th inch too small)…..

Two other comments about this process…..

For my normal piecing of a large block with a normal number of seams, the 1/4-inch foot works just fine. The difference was simply the number of seams in such a small block!!

Although the painters tape ledge works well, you can use other things instead. I have used a magnetic marker (only for non-computerized machines), or a simple stack of Post-It notes……

It was frustrating to have to make the block a second time, it was a great exercise to figure out how to sew a PERFECT (or close enough) seam!!!

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