I know I am not alone in saying that February has been an interesting month, especially in regards to the weather. We started the month here in Southern Oregon with our snowpack at 60% of normal and ended it with those numbers jumping to 118%. Most of our new snow came in the last week and closed down major highways, interstates and even the passenger trains. We have quite a few deer that wander through our backyard and I snapped a photo of these two in the midst of one of our very snowy days.
We do not live far from Crater Lake National Park, normally we take a trip up there to photograph our beautiful blue lake after a good snowfall but that is not possible right now. Crater Lake shared this photo from this weekend-those buildings are two stories high. Last report I saw they got over 123 inches but that was before the snow event had ended.
I am sure all of this makes our snowmen very happy. One of the reasons we like to go up to Crater Lake on a cold and snowy winter day is to stay and take in the stars at night. The air is so clear at that elevation and the sky affords amazing views-at least for those brave few who bundle up for the very cold nighttime temps.
I knew I needed a stargazing snowman in my quilt and titled this month's block
"Ain't it Thrilling."
Purchase the pdf for Block 10 here
My testers had fun with this block and made some creative changes with their fabric choices.
I have made a video tutorial to help you with making the Quarter-square triangles.
I used a new embroidery stitch for the star and made a little video tutorial for it as well.
I hope you enjoy making this month's block as much as I did. And I hope that wherever you are you are safe and loved no matter what is happening outside your door.
Block 1-Chocolate Cake
I love to bake, I love to eat what I bake; so when I found these blocks named for desserts I knew I had to make a quilt. I will be sharing a new block with you each month for the next 12 months. I have a Sew Along group on Facebook where others will be sharing their blocks as well and I hope you will join me there. www.facebook.com/groups/tuningmyheartsewalong It is the best way I have found to engage with all of you as we develop a quilting community there.
For this block you will need a copy of this month's pattern which can be downloaded here:
Block 1 pdf download
If you need a copy of the fabric requirements they can be found here: Just Desserts BOM
Each month I will share my tips for making these blocks. It is my desire to give you as much help as I can so that you can succesfully create your own blocks even if you are new to quiltmaking. So let's get started. The first thing we need to do after cutting out our pieces is to draw a diagonal line on the back of the B squares. To make this easier I have a clipboard with a piece of very fine sandpaper attached. This keeps the fabric from shifting as I mark my line.
For this technique it is best to use a pencil, something that will not show through to the right side of the fabric after you sew. I have a fancy mechanical pencil that can be refilled with a variety of colors of ceramic lead, but a cheap mechanical pencil works just as well. You just need a line that you can see to follow as you sew, so make it as light as possible, but dark enough to see easily.
Before we get started sewing I like to mention that a new project gets a new needle in my machine. Having a sharp needle can impact how well your piecing goes. I make sure to use a needle that is right for the weight of thread I am using. For piecing I am using Masterpiece by Superior Threads. It is a 50wt Egyptian cotton thread and works best with an 80/12 needle. (I prefer using Topstitch needles for piecing as they have a sharper point than a Universal needle) Your thread and needle combination will actually have an affect on the accuracy of your piecing so I always recommend you do a little practice first to make sure you get an accurate 1/4" seam allowance. I wrote a little tutorial on the subject a few years ago to walk you through this process: www.tuning-my-heart.com/tutorials/what-is-a-scant-14-inch-seam
I like to chain-piece whenever possible. I start with a scrap piece of fabric and my needle in the down position. This eliminates those long thread tails that need to be clipped and solved my problem of having the fabric not feed nicely under my needle when starting to sew. Notice I have sewn across my "leader" fabric, taken a few stitches beyond it and then, with my needle down, place the pieces I want to sew right up next to the needle. I do not feed them into this position, but have stopped my machine, lifted my presser foot and aligned my pieces right where I want them before sewing any further.
For this particular technique of making these corner units I will sew just to the outside of my drawn line. I have found that if I sew right on top of that line my resulting triangle will be too small. When I finish sewing all of these units I sew off of the last one onto a scrap of fabric called an "ender."
Now before I go any further I am going to check my corner triangle. I flip it over to make sure that it covers the square underneath. If it does I am good to go.
But if it does not quite cover there is a little trick I can do.
This will work if you are no more than 1/8" off from covering the square underneath.
Normally I would trim off both fabrics 1/4" from the stitching, but if that top triangle does not cover the square, I only trim off the extra top fabric; leaving the A square underneath intact. Now I know that when it comes time to sew this unit in place I will still have the correct measurement needed for it to work in my block. That is one of the reaons why I like this particular method for making these types of corner-square triangles.
If my B square has covered the A square and I have trimmed off both fabrics, after pressing I take the time to square up the block again. I do this each time I add a new corner triangle to the A square. I need the size of my square to remain the same after each addition.
After completing the Corner Units we need to make Flying Geese. I really like the No-waste method for making these. I made a video tutorial for the We Can Build a Snowman quilt which is really helpful if you have never made these before. Both quilts happen to use the same size Flying Geese so the trimming instructions are perfect for these as well.
My tip for sewing these is to make sure that the point of your top squares point away from your needle as you approach it.
My favorite tool for trimming Flying Geese remains the Bloc Loc ruler. There are five more blocks in this Sew Along that will make use of Flying Geese in this size, so it is important to get comfortable with making these.
If you are using a regular ruler be sure to line up the 2 1/4" inch mark on the ruler with the tip of your "goose" leaving 1/4" of fabric beyond it for the seam allowance. (see circled area) You will also need to line up the 2 1/2" mark of your ruler with the bottom of the "goose." (see arrow)
After rotating the block line up the 2 1/4" mark again. You also want the diagonal line of your ruler to line up with that diagonal seam and the 2 1/2" and 4 1/2" lines to fall on the trimmed edges of your Flying Geese units.
When we come to the part of the block where we join the F rectangles to the Flying Geese I sew with the Flying Geese on top. This way I can watch where my needle falls. I really want my needle to land on that point where the seams intersect. If I sew to the left of it I will loose my points when I press the seam.
As you join the rows together I want to show you how I pin my pieces. It is very different from what I was used to with garment sewing. I pin as shown below. When I come to a pin, I do not sew over it, but stop with my needle right next to it. Then I gently slide the pin out and continue sewing.
I hope these little tips help and that you have fun making this month's block.
While you wait for next month here is another version of
Chocolate Cake for you to try from I Am Baker.
Love is in the air this month and our snowpeople are singing a love song while walking in a winter wonderland. My husband and I got to do a bit of that yesterday afternoon.
The snow was falling up in the woods and it was beautiful.
This block goes together pretty easily. I want to walk you through the only tricky part, which is the quick-corner method I use to make the hearts. I start by drawing a line on the back of the small squares. I find that a piece of very fine sandpaper keeps the fabric from shifting while I draw my line. I keep mine on a clipboard.
I always sew with my needle in the down position.
Whenever I begin a new piece I lay it right up next to my needle. For these quick corners I want my needle to land just to the outside of my line so have placed the piece accordingly.
For this to work well you just need the needle to land right along the side of the line.
Once I have sewn the piece, I flip it over to make sure that it completely covers the fabric underneath.
Often when you sew on the line or to the inside you will find that the flipped corner does not completely cover those fabrics. There is a little trick you can use to solve the problem this creates...
Instead of trimming of both of the underneath fabrics, only trim the top one, leaving the rectangle underneath intact.
Now when you flip the corner you still have the correct size of the unit to work with. The flipped corner will be caught in the seam when you sew this piece into the rest of the block, solving the problem of it being a bit too short.
Repeat this process with another corner square,
again being sure to sew to the outside of the line.
Once everything is pressed check to make sure the finished size is still the same size as the original rectangle. I often find I need to do a little squaring up of the piece before using it to make my block. You can see here how the flipped corner is extending a wee bit beyond where it needs to be. So this will be trimmed off and all is good.
I am going to use this pink fabric to make another heart block. I have an idea that I started playing with last night about a stand alone little quilt. I will keep you posted on it's progress.
Before I go, I want to share the blocks my pattern testers made for this one.
I always enjoy seeing their take on my blocks as well as the others that get shared either via email or my facebook groups. Such fun to see how we each make the same pattern but it becomes uniquely our own!
Get your copy of this month's block here.
Previous month's patterns can be purchased in my shop.
Please note: The Snowman BOM started June 2018 and will run through June 2019. Blocks are released the first Monday of each month.
The 2019 BOM Just Desserts begins February 15th and each new block will be released on the 15th of each month.
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