Welcome back! I am so excited to see all of the wonderful blocks from part 1. There are so many creative quilters out there. Each block is so different. That is what is wonderful about a mystery quilt and the imagination of all of you. Some of you are happy with your results and some of you were not. Some took time to make more than one option, some redid their blocks. Don't get discouraged! Keep working at it and you can get it done. Seeing the finished product is such a satisfying experience for me.
PIECING ACCURATE BLOCKS
Let me take a few minutes to talk about consistency, accuracy and using the proper tools. The last blog I showed my video on establishing an accurate 1/4" seam allowance. There are a lot of things that go into sewing an accurate block and the 1/4" is just one of them. Using some type of guide to line up the edge of your fabric with, you will have a consistent seam. If you didn't get a chance to watch my 1/4" video then check out the first mystery blog and watch it.
Another important part of quilting is accurate cutting. When I started quilting I wasn't sure where I was suppose to line up the edge of my fabric with the ruler. Plus each set of rulers looks different. Some have fat lines some have faint lines. If you choose a set of rulers stick with the same name brand set. You wouldn't believe the differences between different company's rulers! You would think an inch is an inch!
When lining up your fabric edge with the ruler line, be sure to include that thin line. If your original strip or shape is too small then you will not get the size you want no matter how accurate your seams are. Along with rulers is your cutting mat. I never use my mat to cut my strips. Cutting mats are subject to weather conditions and can contract and expand due to heat and cold so they are not always accurate.
The third thing that will affect your blocks is how you line up the edge of your fabrics. Many quilters don't take the time to look at the bottom strip of fabric when sewing. If the edges are not perfectly lined up, those small fractions that are off add up and then you wonder why the seams don't match. Take extra time to peak under your strip as it is being sewed to check to make sure the edges are still together. Here are some examples of bad and good edges when getting ready to sew.
The final technique that will affect the size of your block is pressing. I always finger press my seams before I add heat. By finger pressing you can feel the edge of the seam to make sure there are no pleats and the seam lays nice and flat. Some teachers will tell you to use steam to set your seams, some will tell you to use dry heat. I am one of those that uses dry heat. Using steam can sometimes distort your seams, especially if you "iron" your seams instead of "press" them. Pressing is an up and down motion where ironing is a back and forth action. By pressing straight up and down you do not move the edge of your seam, you end up pressing them flat.
By doing just these little things, you will find that your quilting and seams will match much better. I also use a "measure as you go" method. If my sections don't measure correctly then I will fix them until they do. It is easier to fix them individually than when you have it all put together.
Ashley Hough has a great video to add to some of my tips. You can access it here:
Before I discuss the second installment I do want to announce the winner of my previous blog! Congratulations to cmykrgb and Jessica Barrett. The first one of you to respond to me will get to pick which prize they want. If either of you are reading this, please send me your snail mail address using my contact me form in this blog. If neither of you contact me I will draw two new names.
Now to the second installment. (Click on Part 2 if you didn't get the instructions.) This week's piecing includes some more Flying Geese units. This time I chose to cut the half-square and quarter-square triangles to make them. Again I used my "Cutting Corners" template set to cut them. First I want to tell you the difference between a half-square and quarter-square triangle and where they are used in blocks and quilts. I know some of you already know this but for those that don't, a half-square triangle is a square cut diagonally into 2 triangles. Each of those triangles has 2 edges that are on the straight of grain of the fabric. Those triangles are typically used in the corners of a block or quilt so that the edges are stable.
A quarter-square triangle is a square cut diagonally into 4 triangles. On this triangle the long edge is the one that is on the straight of grain. These are typically used as setting triangles in a quilt or on the inside of a block. These are the triangles that are in 8 point stars and center of Flying Geese blocks.
Here is how I use my Cutting Corners templates to cut half-square and quarter-square triangles. When cutting half-square triangles you use the triangle template. There is no special math to use. If you have a 2" finished block you just add 1/2" seam and cut a 2-1/2" strip. The corners are already trimmed on the template so you don't have any "rabbit ears" to cut off after you piece them. I use the corner of the template to trim both corners.
To cut the quarter-square triangle you use the same size strip but you use the square to cut it lining up the long line on the ruler to the bottom of the strip.. Again I will use the corner of the triangle to trim off the corners of the triangles.
Here is what your units would look like set next to each other. All you have to do now is line them up, right sides together, one at a time, and sew with your 1/4" seam. Be sure not to stretch your seams and just let the machine do it's work. Press to the small triangles.
They fit on top of each other perfectly.
For the rest of the block, follow the directions for cutting and piecing. Trim where it calls for trimming. I did leave one thing out. On step 6 I forgot to add what the section should measure at. It needs to equal 8" x 15-1/2".
Many of you have ordered my Cutting Corners template set and I appreciate it. If you use it please take time to post photos of you using it on the National Quilter's Circle Facebook feed. If you are still interested in purchasing it you can find it here: Cutting Corners template set.
One other trick I want to tell you about is twisting the seam on the back of the four-patch with the half-square triangles and squares. You can make all the seams go in the same direction on the back (clockwise or counter-clockwise) if you grab the center seams on both side of the center of the block and twist them in opposite directions, (one up and one down) in the same direction as the other seams are going. I know this probably sounds confusing so I will see if I can make a short video of it and post it on FB.
I will have another drawing with this blog. Be sure if you leave a comment you put your email address. If you don't want to leave it in the message, then send me a message in my contact me form letting me know what your comment was. If I can't contact you, you can't win! I will be giving away one more Cutting Corners set and a seam guide. Those international quilters will get to pick one of my patterns in it's place if they are picked.
As always: Do what you love and love what you do. Have fun, enjoy reading, and feel free to share with your quilting friends. Thank you, Toby Lischko