Double Plus Block

After another absence I am back…this time with a block for my Do Good Stitches Bee.  It is my month to set the block and after much back and forth I came up with this block….

double plus block

To make this 12 1/2 inch block (unfinished) you will need:

5 (five) x 3 1/2 inch squares of your main color
10 (ten) x 3 1/2 inch squares of low volume prints
5 (five) x 1 1/2 inch squares of your secondary color
4 (four) x 1 1/2 inch squares of low volume prints

STEP ONE – Make the small cross

smallcross

  • Layout your 1 1/2 inch squares in the desired layout.
  • Sew the three squares in three rows.  Press seams as desired (I pressed mine open).

IMG_1596

  • Sew the rows together again pressing seams as desired (I pressed my seams open).
  • Trim the finished block to 3 1/2 inches square.

trim block

STEP TWO – Make the block

Layout your block as below…

blocklayout

  • Sew your squares into rows and then your rows into a block.
  • Iron your seam as desired – I ironed mine open to get the block to sit as flat as I could.
  • If required, trim final block to 12 1/2 inches. Repeat the process until you have as many blocks as you need….

Our quilt will be a rainbow of color, with each block having two bright colors per block… but I think it would be fun to do a block with just two colors – one for the big blocks and one for the small blocks.

As a caveat to this blog post it is the first one I have done on my new MacBook.  My old computer gave up the ghost a couple of weeks ago (one of the reasons I have not been posting) and I am still finding my way around this machine.  My hope is a new computer will encourage me to post more… heres hoping!

Back with a block…

After a flurry of online activity, life once again got in the way of blogging but I am back again, this time with a block pattern for my Do Good Stitches circle.  You see in June I am the designated quilter which means I pick the colour scheme and block for my fellow DGS peeps to work with…

I never make this decision easily… I always ‘um and ah’ between a couple of block options… sometimes making test blocks to see what my idea looks like.   This month I settled on the colour scheme quickly…

CW_MoodBoardMonday_BluesGreens

and pulled these fabrics to match from my stash….

fabric pull

but struggled to pin down what sort of block I wanted to make.  I finally settled on a simple 12 inch block which Is called a Double T and dates back to 1882 I believe e…

finished T block

To make one block you will need to cut:

cutting instructions

This 12 inch block uses two different types of block components – flying geese and half square triangles (HST).  So lets start with the HST…

For these components you will need the two white 5 inch squares and the two green 5 inch squares.

mark down center

Using a fabric marker (I use my trusty Frixon marker) mark a diagonal line down the center of both the white squares..

Place one white square and one green square pattern side together and then sew down both sides of the center line using a scant quarter inch…

sew down each side

Then cut down that center line using your rotary cutter…

cut down drawn line

You now have two half square triangle pieces….  iron the HSTs with the seams open.

trim block

Then trim your ironed HST to 4 1/2 inches square.  For each block you will need 4 half square triangle components.

Next component is the flying geese…and you can make these one of two ways – either using traditional piecing or paper piecing…  the cutting instructions above are for the traditional pieced version.  If you are paper piecing you can cut a little more generously – say about 1/4 inch more on all the geese pieces.

Lets start with the traditional version…. first mark up all of the 2 1/2 inch squares with the same diagonal line you used in the HSTs.

geese corners

Place the small green squares pattern side down on the corner of your white triangle pieces.  Sew down your diagonal line…

Trim the excess corner fabric off your rectangle and press the green corner up on your block, pressing your seams open…

geese corner 2

Place the second 2 1/2 inch square on the opposite side of your rectangle piece and again sew down the marked line, trim and press seams open.  You will need to make two of these geese blocks for each flying geese component…

flying geese unit

If you would like to use paper piecing to make these components you can download the pattern for these 4 1/2 inch flying geese here… Flying Geese components

paper piecing option

Once you have made your block components lay your block out like this….

block components

I then sew the components together in rows…. and press the seams to the side, making sure that the bulky side of the geese is laying flat.

block rows

I then sew the rows together and viola you have a block…. and in a month or so I should have a collection of blocks from my fellow Do Good Stitches peeps which will become a pretty quilt top.

Back with some Bee blocks

This week I managed to get some Bee blocks done in between work and another cold.  I must admit I love making Bee blocks like this one…

bee-block-2

 

Blocks that are more complex and use small 2 inch squares and lots of scrap pieces…. blocks that I would love to see a quilt made out of but do not have the patience to make 20 or 30 of them for a whole quilt.

bee-block-1

These blocks are perfect for a quilting Bee because you share the quilting load… making two blocks each makes the quilt manageable.  This block is called Scrap Jar Star and you can find the free pattern on A Little Bit Biased’s website.  It was just what I needed to kick start my creativity this month.

A Bee Block for July…

So June has been a crazy month.  If you want to know what I have been up to you can check out this post by Living Room Real Estate… here is a hint… it involves fabric and kids…

modern-domestic-fabric-portland-7

But in between classes I have manged to get some sewing done… and have spent my precious free hours this week finishing my Quilts for Pulse quilt top (which I will blog this week I promise) and testing blocks for the Do Good Stitches bee.  This month I am setting the block for the group and I finally decided on this beauty…

flower block

The pattern is a free pattern from Cloud Nine called The Amsterdam Quilt.
The pattern is for 12 of these flowers but I need my Bee members to make just two of the flowers, so I have broken down the pattern to outline making just one flower so here goes…

fabric for one block

For one flower you will need:

Two (2) x 4 1/2 inch squares for the top of the flower
One (1) x 4 1/2 inch by 8 1/2 inch rectangle for the bottom of the flower
Two (2) x 5 inch green squares for the leaves
Two (2) x 5 inch squares of white for the background
Two (2) x 2 1/2 inch white squares for the flower top
Two (2) x 2 inch white squares for the bottom edges of the flower
One (1) x 1 inch by 8 inch brown rectangle for the stem

Construction is pretty simple.  I started by marking a diagonal line down the middle of all the white squares using my trusty Frixon pen…

line marking

The squares will form the corners of the flower top and bottom.  You need to make sure that you are making a mirror image when you sew them to the flower top pieces and the bottom section…

mirror image

I then sewed down my marked line..actually I sew just a hairs width on the outside of the line as it seems to give me a more accurate corner…

corners

The top piece is then completed by sewing the two 4 1/2 inch squares together to create a white V in the center of the top…

flower top

I then used the same technique to sew the 2 inch squares to the bottom of the flower section..  Then onto the leaves, where you are making four (4) half square triangles using the green and white 5 inch squares…

trim leaves

There is quite a bit of wiggle room with the HST’s so you can easily trim them to  4 1/4 inches square.

leave construction

You end up with four half square triangles that are then sewn together to make the leave sections..  The flower pieces then go together quickly and easily, as per the instruction sheet.

For my Bee flowers I have requested bright/jewel coloured flowers.  I want the flowers to be bright and happy and I have limited each flower to one busy novelty print and one more graphic colour as I did not want the flowers to be too insane… it was hard as I love my novelty prints but top and bottom busy novelty prints was just a little too much for even me!

finihsed flower blocks

I think this is going to be an fabulously bright and cheerful quilt when done.  I love how easy to make these blocks were…and just warning they are a little addictive.

Playing with small curves….

On a whim yesterday, I decided to play with a fabric die cut machine a friend has lent me.  I have never used one of these machines before but it seemed like a fun thing to use scraps on… so I grabbed some of my Cotton and Steel scraps and started cutting…

I decided to play with the Drunkards Path die that came with the machine, because it seemed like a great way to make these blocks, as the die cuts both pieces the perfect size….as opposed to the ruler method I have used in the past which leaves you with scrap pieces that are either to small or two big to use.

cut pieces

Anyway some ironing and cutting and an episode of Game of Thrones later I had a pile of curved block pieces….

cuttingNow these pieces make a 3 1/2 inch curved block for a 7 inch finished circle… in other words they are small.  The first thing I have learned with this project is that the smaller the curve you are trying to piece the harder it is to be accurate.  After some struggles aligning the pieces accurately I finally came up with a solution… glue basting.

glue baste 2

Using my Sewline glue pen I glued around the seam line of one of the pieces of the block…

pieces

Placed the pieces together, using the notch to align and then carefully finger pressed the pieces together…

press together

It worked like a charm and another episode of Game of Thrones later (we are just finishing up Season 5 so are a little behind)… I had a nice pile of glue basted…

glue basteNow all I have to do sew them… the glue basting will make chain piecing a breeze…

sewing

 

And I will have my block pieces done and ready for me to play with layout….

block layout

I am glad I decided to try the die cut curves… I have learned a lot including the fact that I like my curves big….much bigger than 4 inches….

Wonky Circles tutorial

February is my month again to set the block for my Do Good Stitches Circle.  After setting some more precision based blocks for my last two times out, I decided to go the wonky route this month…

finished wonky circle block

Yep I am asking my fellow Bee mates to make some wonky circles using a low volume palette.  To help out I am taking them (and you) step by step through the process to make two 12 inch blocks, starting with fabric selection.

For each block segment you will need two fabrics that have a small amount of contrast in them.   My colour scheme for this quilt is warm so I am using yellow, apricot, pink and a touch of grey.  For my fabric pull I went with predominantly cream and white background fabrics…

low volume background fabrics

and for the contrasting fabric I choose more solid low volume fabrics…

darker lv fabric pull

For each block you need 8 different fabric – four light and four darker (note: you actually get two different finished blocks from this process).  I selected my eight fabrics in pairs, making sure that there was a contrast between each pair.  If you are not sure how the fabrics are reading against each other you can always use the black and white setting on your camera or phone to see how things look…

bw block

Now for the fun part…making the blocks.

Step 1.  Cut out eight 7 1/2 inch squares from each selected fabric…  Take two of your contrasting fabric squares and align them on top of each other.

align two squares

Step 2.  Using your rotary cutter, cut a curve shape out of your squares… making sure that you leave at least an inch or so between your curve and the edge of your block.

wonky curve cut

Step 3.  Because you cut the two pieces of fabric together your background and center curve pieces should match exactly, no matter how wonky the curve you cut is.

Put together one of your fabrics as the background and the other as the center curve, making sure that they are as closely aligned on your cutting mat as you can get them.

Take a ruler and place it corner to corner across your block pieces.

find center of block

Step 4.  Using a chalk pencil or Frixon marker, mark the center of the block, making sure your mark across both pieces of fabric.

mark center of block

Step 5.  Place your pieces of fabric face together, using the center mark to align the pieces…

center mark

Step 6.  Pin your two pieces of fabric together at this center point… your fabrics should still be face together and the bottom corners of the block should be roughly aligned.

pin center of block

Step 7.  To sew the pieces together, begin at the center part of the block… where you have pinned.  I put my machine foot down on pin, remove the pin, lower my needle manually and I am ready to sew.

start of curved piecing

Step 8.  Slowly sew from the center point out to one edge of the circle block, nudging fabric into alignment as you go.  The fabric may not want to lay flat and that is okay… just try to avoid sewing creases into the block.

Note:  I always sew with my machine in the needle down position, as it allows me to stop and adjust the block pieces as needed, without the risk of anything slipping or moving.

 

sew curve

Step 9.  As you are sewing you will notice the block ends do not align, this is okay…do not panic.

finishing the curve

Step 10.  When you have come to the end of the block, lift your needle, cut your thread and re-position your block back in the center, this time sewing the half of the block you have not done.

center of curve

Step 11.  Your block segment is now ready for pressing… an important step because it will not be laying flat at all and you will have to iron it into submission…

sewn block piece

Step 12.    When pressing my block I press my seams first from the back side of the block…… and then press the front side of the block, making sure that my curve is sitting as flat as I can get it.

Note:  When pressing the block I always use starch as it helps persuade the fabric to do what I need it to do.

press block piece

Step 13.  The block piece is now ready to trim down 6 1/2 inches… you should have a bit of wiggle room with this block to trim a little off kilter, or with more background or more circle, depending on what you want to do.

trim block

Step 14.  Repeat the process until you have all segments of your blocks done.  For each colour pairing you make you will end up with two blocks….

block pieces

For my Bee blocks I am asking for two (2) 12 1/2 inch unfinished blocks…. laid out with alternating light and dark circle pieces.

blocks layout

What I love about this colour palette is that it compliments the wonky so well… the mismatch, strange curves are subtle, there are no stark contrasts drawing your attention to the off kilter shapes.   I think this is going to be a charming quilt when done.