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……
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!!!