Block 5 of the National Quilters Circle Challenge is here. We are over the halfway mark now!! Time to get to work on those Half Square Triangles.
I am starting with my fabric all starched and pressed. First thing to do is draw a diagonal line on all of the 5.25 inch squares of my D fabric.
With right sides together place the 5.25 inch A, B, and C fabrics with the marked D fabric squares and stitch 1/4 inch from the drawn line. I like to chain stitch as much as possible. When I come to the end one piece I take a few stitches with my machine and then start stitching on the next without cutting the thread.
Once I have sewn all of these together, I snip them apart, turn them around and stitch down the other side of my drawn line, again 1/4 inch from that line.
This time instead of using scraps of fabric for my leading and ending pieces I am stitching some itty bitty triangles together using a 1/8th of an inch seam which is the inside of my narrow presser foot. These will be used to make a mini block like the one pictured here. The individual squares measure just 1" finished and the entire block is 4 1/4 inch in size before finishing.
To achieve these tiny squares start with fabric squares that measure 2" and then cut them in half to give you two triangles. After sewing two triangles together to make a half square triangle they need to be trimmed to 1 1/4 inch squares. Sewing with 1/8 inch seams will result in a 1" finished size. I will work on a little tutorial in the coming days that should help make my process clear. But the process for making the mini blocks is the same as the regular size.
Now back to my regular size. Once both seams are sewn I cut on that diagonal line I drew to give me two Half Square Triangle blocks.
I have talked about what it means to press rather than iron before. Remember to set your seams first by just setting your hot iron on the block before opening it up. Then carefully press the seam open after finger pressing it open.
Now that the blocks are pressed they need to be trimmed to 4 1/2 inches. Being sure to place the diagonal line of my ruler right on the seam line of my block gives me a nice finished result where the two fabrics meet perfectly at the corners.
All pressed and looking good for the layout, so time to sew these lovelies together.
I decided to streamline my process at this point and sew two units together for each row.
Here row one is laid out by my machine.
Anytime I can take advantage of chain piecing it just speeds the process up.
Chain piecing all of the units together.
To keep everything organized, as I cut the units apart I stack them up
in the order in which they were sewn.
Taking the top two units off of the stack I press as usual. The seams for Row 1 are all pressed in one direction. The seams for Row 2 will be pressed in the opposite and so on. These two units will be sewn together next to complete the rows.
The rows are all laid out and ready to be joined-
each row has two units that need to be sewn together then pressed.
My rows are all stitched so I am going to join the rows together.
Carefully placing pins where the seams join helps to keep things just where I want them to be.
I like to stitch right up to my pin then carefully remove it, keeping my needle in the down position as I do so. Whenever I come to bulky seams, or when I am just starting a seam or coming to the end of one I slow way down. I have found things look much nicer and I can keep my seams a lot straighter this way. If you have ever sewn over a bulky seam and ended up with your stitches curving at that point going slowly over those seams will help eliminate that.
Okay, the top and bottom sections are pressed and ready to be sewn together.
Block 5-both my regular and mini version! I have been told that if one can master the mini quilt it really improves your piecing skills-I don't know if that is true or not, but it is quickly becoming an addiction. They are just so cute.
Are you going to give the mini's a try? Leave me a comment and let me know.
I would love to see what you are doing and get to know you better, so please feel free to join me on my Tuning My Heart Facebook page and share with me there.
In the meantime...
It is snowing again this week after a brief taste of spring. We are also celebrating 33 years of marriage, thus my inspiration for Block 4 of my Snowman Version of the National Quilters Circle 9-week Challenge quilt. I want to add some applique to that center block and decided to simplify the four half square triangles with a square in a square block.
To do that I need to cut my main fabric 8.5 inches by 8.5 inches. The white background fabrics are 4.5 inch squares and I need four of those, one for each corner.
Just like with the HST's I begin by drawing a diagonal line down the center
of each of the light colored background pieces.
Now this is where things change up a bit. Placing one corner square on my main fabric, being careful to place the diagonal line the correct way, I will stitch right on that line.
All lined up and ready to stitch on the line.
Tip: Even when just sewing one piece I still us "leader" and "ender"
scraps to start and stop my stitching.
Before cutting away the extra fabric underneath I check to see if my edges line up. Sometimes the square underneath will show a bit and it that happens I do not trim it off, but leave it in place and stitch over both layers so that I will have a nice straight edge. (There are actually three layers here after pressing so I will trim the extra white fabric away to reduce bulk.)
Repeat the process with the next corner
making sure the diagonal line is going in the right direction.
After checking to see if the white triangle lines up with the edges of the blue square I trim 1/4 inch from the seam and then press it open.
On to the third corner...
And the fourth.
The square in a square that will become the center of my block is now ready for some snowmen... er, people.
Since I have covered the fusible technique I use in earlier posts I will just show how I approach an applique that has little pieces to put together.
Using a pressing sheet, which is a heat resistant see through plastic, I lay my sketch underneath and put the pieces of the snowman together before fusing to my square.
Once I have his scarf in place the way I want it, I press it while still on the pressing sheet. This snowman will peel right off of the sheet and can be placed on my fabric square without worrying about having to reposition those little pieces.
All the pieces in place and ready to be pressed.
With these smaller snowpeople I am using two strands of DMC floss. The noses are done with satin stitch; the eyes, buttons and berries are French Knots, and everything else is backstitched.
Now I can add the Half Square Triangles.
With my bigger center block I will end up with three rows to sew together instead of four.
The center units ready to be sewn together.
The top and bottom rows are both sewn and ready to add now too.
The top row went on pretty nicely.
Tip: To line up the point on the center block with the seam in the middle I stick a pin from the back to the front of that point-right at the very tip of the point-and then pin through the seam of the row I am attaching.
And there we have it...love is in the air...
Oh, and here is a very young looking couple from 33 years ago
about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime.
Thank you for joining me on this fun journey with my snowman quilt
My fun with snowmen continues in Block 3 of the Snowy Day Sampler Quilt.
These were pretty simple to design...grab a circle maker and trace onto fusible web
I decided I want each face to be unique so played around with that
and then pressed them onto my fabric.
Time to practice cutting on the lines. I love Karen Buckley's Perfect Scissors
for cutting out applique as they have a very fine serrated edge
which kind of grabs the fabric and are sharp to the very tip.
I decided to use my lightbox to trace the face designs onto
the fabric before fusing them to the background.
I wanted the faces centered on the squares
so had to remember the 1/4 inch seam linefor those on the corners.
I always place a piece of stabilizer on the back of the area I am going to machine applique. This is one of my favorites as it washes out over time leaving a soft feel to the applique.
These will be very easy to stitch in place.
(The fusible pieces would be fine without being stitched but I like the look and it means I can wash this quilt without worry of them coming loose over time.)
I start by taking 4-5 straight stitches right along the edge.
My machine is able to remember recent stitch settings
which comes in handy as I now switch to my favorite Double Buttonhole Stitch
Here you can see my stitch settings for the straight and buttonhole stitches.
I keep the stitch length the same on each.
After working my way around the circle I continue with the Buttonhole stitch right over my beginning straight stitches. This works to lock those stitches in place.
When I come to the beginning of the Buttonhole stitch I switch back to my straight stitch. Taking another 4-5 stitches and then a lock stitch finishes off the applique.
Time to add those hand embroidered details.
The noses are satin stitched using three strands of DMC floss.
The eyes are also done with a satin stitch,
and a backstitch is used for the mouth and eyebrows.
I use a backstitch for the green vine.
Finally, French Knots are used to make the little berries.
There we have it, four snowman faces to adorn my block.
So until next time...Happy Quilting
Block 4 of Andrea Smith's A Snowy Day Sampler is more of a challenge than last week. Lots of Half Square Triangles make up this block which means lots of points and lots of bulky seams to deal with. The directions say to cut 5.25" squares from all of my fabric choices. Working with triangles will be much easier if I take the time to starch my fabric first. By now we all ought to be getting pretty comfortable with making those HST's (Half Square Triangles) so let's get started sewing.... Download directions for Block 4 here.
I will start by drawing a diagonal line on all 8 of my light colored fabric D squares.
Placing a D piece on top of each of my A, B, and C fabric squares I begin stitching 1/4 inch from my diagonal line. Chain-piecing makes this a smooth and quick process; I just butt up the next two pieces I want to sew together right up to my needle and keep on sewing.
Flipping those pieces I have just sewn I stitch 1/4 inch from the other side of the diagonal line. By the way, I really like this method of making HST's as I am able to trim them to the exact size needed for my project and I do not have issues with the triangles stretching out of shape trying to sew two bias edges together if I started with two triangles.
(I am including a handy chart later in the post for knowing what size squares to start with to achieve the desired finished size of a HST.)
Using a ruler I will cut on the diagonal line of the squares to end up with two HST's.
As in previous blocks I need to trim all of the Half Square Triangles to 4 1/2 inches. It is important for this step to make sure the diagonal line on my ruler lays right on top of the diagonal line where the two fabrics meet in my squares.
After the first two cuts are made I line up the ruler with the 4 1/2 inch marks as well as the diagonal line on the fabric.
Now to lay out the pieces on my design wall. (A flannel sheet hung on my wall though you can just as easily use a tabletop for these blocks as well.)
I was very tempted to replace these HST's with a simple square, but where would the fun be in that? lol. As I looked over the pattern after printing it off I did think to myself, "Why, oh, why, Andrea?" Since, however, I approach every pattern as an opportunity to learn and stretch my abilities I quickly squashed that rebellious spirit.
Just like I have done on the previous blocks, I begin by sewing the rows together. Here the first two columns have been done and I am laying the next one in place, ready to sew.
Chain piecing as I stitch the rows together.
I want to make sure that my stitching has been accurate and my seams will line up so I check to see that my middle square measures 4 inches then add the final squares to my rows and check my measurements again.
With my rows completed it is time to sew them together. Pin, Pin, Pin is my motto and as I come to those pinned seams I slow way down and wait until I am a stitch away from the pin to remove it. It is rare for me to not break a needle and bend a pin if I do not take them out as I come to them, but others seem to have no problem. Perhaps my slightly smaller stitch length is the culprit. At any rate, I Pin, pin, pin, those seams where they meet and aim for the intersection of the previous stitching lines to achieve sharp points on my quilt block.
Block 4 is done-and if you look closely you will see I have some seams that do not quite match up even after a couple of redo's. Sometimes they just do not cooperate and that is alright. I am usually the only one who will notice these things. But oh our "mistakes" can be glaring to our own eyes. Do not be too hard on yourself!
As promised, here is a handy little chart for Half Square Triangles. My mathematician husband helped with the formula that works for whatever size you need. So algebra comes back to taunt me, but basically all you need to do is add 7/8 inch to the desired finished size of your square.
It feels great to be back at the sewing machine this week. I missed it while I was doing some all-day workshops last week. Andrea Smith has another block from her Snowy Day Quilt Sampler for us. There are several thousand quilters around the world taking part and you can find us all on Facebook chatting, sharing photos of our blocks, asking and answering each other's questions at NQC Quilt Block Challenge.
Digital tech is great until it doesn't work so you will notice my tutorial is using the fabrics from my snowman version of the quilt. This is the same quilt, I am just doing two versions of it. Because, well, I just did not have enough projects going right now-lol. That's what I tell myself.
Let's get started
My fabrics are all cut and starched and ready to go. Using a sandpaper board I once again need to draw diagonal lines on all of my Color D 5.25 inch squares.
Using the chain piecing method I sew a scant 1/4 inch from the drawn line. My machine has a quarter inch foot so I know that when I have my drawn line aligned with the edge of the foot I will have a quarter inch seam. Notice I have my "leader" going and position my fabric so it touches my needle. It also helps to make sure you are sitting straight on at your machine rather than off to the side one way or the other. I learned this tip a few years ago and it does make a difference in getting the edge of the fabric lined up with the edge of my foot. Have you ever had a problem with the beginning few stitches or ending few being less than straight? These two things solved that issue for me.
Time to turn the blocks around and do the same thing sewing down 1/4 inch from the other side of the diagonal line.
Once the three 5.25 inch blocks are sewn it is time to cut them apart and press the resulting triangle squares open. (Refer to my post on block 1 for more details on this process as I forgot to take photos of that step-I was just a having such a grand time cutting these apart I guess. Block 1 Tutorial)
After the triangle squares are pressed I need to trim them to 4 1/2 inches. I am back to using my favorite ruler for this by Creative Grids. They just do not slip so I am slowly replacing my rulers at this time, but this 6 inch square is very versatile for now.
It is important to line up the diagonal line at the seam where the two fabrics meet. Notice I have given myself more than the 4 1/2 inches here. Trim the side and top.
Rotate the block and trim the remaining two sides. I need to be sure that my diagonal line on the ruler is lined up with the seam again, and that the 4 1/2 inch lines are right at the edge of my triangle square unit.
This is the finished look I want: nice crisp corners where the two fabrics join.
Now that all of my units are ready I put them up on the design wall and step back to make sure I have everything in place correctly and turned the right direction. It is kind of like putting a puzzle together.
Andrea's instructions now direct me to sew the rows together. Here I have flipped the blocks from the second column on top and will carefully move them to my machine in order. Once again I am going to chain piece and begin my butting up each new set of squares right up to where they touch my needle.
All of these units need to be pressed, first by setting the seam and then by carefully opening them up, being careful not to stretch them. The directions state to press the seams-some to the right and some to the left, so I have laid out my pieces in such a way to remind me which is which-top to the left, next to the right and so on.
Pressing technique-again check out my previous post for more detail.
Back up on the design wall I have laid the pieces from the third column on top of the previously stitched rows and sew those together in the same way. And press.
This is a good point to check my 1/4 inch seam. Since I have been sewing 4 1/2 inch squares together, that means I have lost 1/4 inch on each side which equals 1/2 inch. I can measure the inside square to see if it is 4 inches now. This will help all of my seams go together nicely when I put the whole block together.
The last of my pieces in place for sewing...and pressing.
Now time to sew the four rows together. I am joining the top two and the bottom two first-that way I can chain piece these as well.
Even though the seams will snug up against each other nicely I find my seams meet better if I put a pin in, so I pin at each intersection. I have also learned to slow down when I come to bulky seams.
The final step is to join these two sections together.
Block 3 is done-well, except that I will be adding a snowman or two to this one.
Welcome to the site of Debra Davis-a woman who loves the Lord and loves to quilt.
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Sitting at His Feet
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