Monday 26 March 2018

Patchsmith Sampler Block 4 - Chain Block

Block 4 - Chain Block

This week is the turn of a traditional block – the Chain Block. 

The Chain Block is a great block for practising seam matching - a skill that relies on stitching an accurate ¼” seam allowance and can be influenced by the way in which you press the seams.  
Seams will match naturally if your seam allowance is accurate

I use a ¼” foot on my sewing machine to ensure my seam allowance is accurate. If you don't have a ¼” foot for your machine you can use a piece of tape on the plate of your machine (see this article on how to position the tape).
If you are new to patchwork, pin your sections together before stitching.
As you become more experienced you may prefer to butt the seams together without pins.

As for seam pressing there was a time when it was advocated that all patchwork seams be pressed to one side. This was especially important if you were hand stitching/quilting or intending to quilt ‘in-the-ditch’ (along the seam). However, with the advent of machine quilting this has changed over the years and now it is up to you whether you press the seams open or to one side (explore different methods of seam pressing).

You can even combine seam pressing within the same block.  This is something I do a lot.
Seams pressed to one side AND open within the same block

If a pattern states seam pressing directions you do not have to follow them - they are just a recommendation.  As you gain confidence you will find your own preference and ease.
All joining seams pressed towards the middle as per the block instructions

Sometimes you will find that seams naturally lie one way or another. Other times you will find it easier to match points if you press the seams open or in opposite directions - especially diagonal points as used in Block 14 - Friendship Block.
Block 14 - Friendship Block 

Within the Patchsmith's Sampler Blocks I sometimes give directions for seam pressing to help with matching seams but you can press your seams as you prefer.  Likewise, you may find it easier to pin the sections together before machine stitching or you may find it sufficient to butt the seams together without pins.  Try different methods to see what suits you best and do not worry if your seams are not perfect.  
If your seams do not match EXACTLY do not worry
- it will not show in the finished quilt

When it comes to the Chain Block you may prefer to press the longer joining seams open (I found it helped the block to lie flatter.)
Pressing sectional seams open may help a block lay flatter.

Next week’s block ‘Paths around the Square’ introduces us to fussy cutting. Until then I look forward to seeing your Chain Blocks over on Instagram (#block4chainblock) or in the Flickr Group

Monday 19 March 2018

Patchsmith Sampler Block 3 - Watermelon Block

Block 3 - Watermelon

Week 3 of the Patchsmith’s Sampler sew-along introduces quick corner triangles to create a juicy Watermelon Block.

A quick corner triangle is a simple way of adding a contrasting triangle to a corner of fabric,  To make a quick corner you first need to mark a diagonal line onto the WRONG SIDE of a square of fabric. 
I use a Frixion pen to draw lines onto fabric. It disappears when ironed. 

Next place the marked square, right sides together, onto the relevant corner of a rectangle or square according to the pattern. The marked square should be facing up. 
Place the marked squares right sides together onto the rectangle
Stitch along the marked line. Then, using your quilters ruler, trim ¼” away from the stitched line (Be sure to trim ¼” on the outer edge of the stitching as shown.)  
Stitch along the marked line before trimming 1/4" from the stitching

Press the triangle open.  The finished patched rectangle/square should measure the same as the original rectangle or square before you applied the quick corners (you may need to trim it slightly).
Press the corner triangles open to create quick corner triangles
The secret to getting a quick corner triangle right is in the marking and stitching of the diagonal line. Take your time with the marking – make sure the diagonal line goes from corner to corner and stitch along the line.  

The fun thing with quick corner triangles is you can make quick corner triangles on top of a quick corner triangle to create fun patterns. We do this on the bottom two corners of the Watermelon Block.
Layering quick corner triangles on top of each other

It is also the method used when making Block 23 – Stained Glass Cross. 
Block 23 - Stained Glass Cross

If you are new to quick corner triangles the Watermelon Block is a great practise block. Do not worry if your corners are not even – watermelon flesh or rind is never perfectly oval. Just have fun learning this new patchworking technique.
Union Jack Blocks and Runner pattern using Quick Corner Triangles 

Before I go, here is a little appliqueing tip for those watermelon pips.  Once you have fused the pips onto the wrong side of your fabric, and before you have cut them out, slightly peel the top edge of the fusible webbing paper back. 
Peel back top edge of fusible webbing paper
prior to cutting out the pips
Finger press the paper back down and cut the pips out.  Then use the peeled top edge to remove the backing paper from each pip.
Peeling the paper off each pip is easy as you have
the top edge already started

Of course, you may prefer to use buttons instead of applique for the pips .......
If using buttons do not add them until all quilting is completed.

Next week we will be looking at seam pressing with Block 4.  Until then I would love for you to post your Watermelon Blocks over on Instagram (#block3watermelonblock) or in the Flickr Group.  Until then ......  

Monday 12 March 2018

Patchsmith Sampler Block 2 - Guiding Star and the HST

Block 2 ‘Guiding Star’ is made up of four 'Friendship Stars'. This block uses 1½" half-square-triangles (HSTs) making it an ideal block for experienced patchers.  However, don’t be put off if you are new to patchwork – I have a helpful tip for making those small HSTs. (Experienced patchers may wish to scroll down to the end of this post for pressing tips for this week's block.)
A Friendship Star Block made using four HSTs

A half-square-triangle (HST) is a square made up of two triangle halves. They are great for creating all sorts of patchwork block patterns so making them to size is a good skill to master.
Nine HSTs come together for this pretty block.

There are many ways to make them but the simplest is to mark a diagonal line on the wrong side of one square of fabric. Lay the marked square, right sides together onto a contrasting fabric square and stitch along the marked line. Finally trim ¼” away from the stitched line and press open to create a HST.
I use a Frixion pen to draw lines onto fabric.
It disappears when ironed. 

However, making small 1½” HSTs can be fiddly so my tip for new quilters is to make the HSTs larger than needed and trim them down to size. (You will need a quilter’s ruler with ¼” or ½” markings, a rotary cutter and a cutting mat.)  

1.         Make a HST using the method detailed above using one 2½” square of background fabric and one 2½” square of contrasting fabric .  The HST should measure approximately 2½” square.  Don’t worry if it doesn't measure exactly 2½” square as we are going to trim it to size.
2.         Position the HST onto the cutting mat so that the seam is aligned with a 45° diagonal marking on the mat and the left-hand edge overlaps slightly one of the vertical lines on your mat.  If your mat doesn’t have 45° markings position the HST as straight as possible onto the mat.
I use a Fiskars small rotating cutting mat for my sampler blocks.

3.         Trim the left-hand side of your HST by lining up the ruler with a vertical line on the cutting mat.  (I trimmed the left-hand side but you can trim either side.)
 Trim one side of the HST using a line on the cutting mat.

4.         Next line up the 1½” line on your ruler (indicated by the arrow below) with the trimmed side and trim the right-hand side. 
The black arrow indicates the 1½" line on the ruler.

5.         The HST is now a rectangle measuring 1½” wide. Turn the rectangle on its side for the next step. 
You no longer need to keep the seam aligned with the 45° mark.

6.         Line up a horizontal line from your ruler the bottom straight edge of the HST as indicated by the black arrow. The cutting edge of the ruler should be positioned at the point where the seam meets the cutting board as indicated by the red arrow.  Trim as shown.
The black arrow shows the bottom edge aligned with the ruler.
The red arrow shows the point where the HST seam meets the cutting board.

7.         Finally turn the HST a half turn and line up the ruler as you did at step 5 so that the cutting edge is at the point where the seam meets the cutting board (as indicated by the black arrow) and the 1½” line on the ruler aligns with the left-hand side of the HST as indicated by the red arrow.
The red arrow shows the side edge aligned with the 1½" line on the ruler.
The black arrow shows the point where the HST seam meets the cutting board.

8.         Make that final cut to create a HST measuring 1½” square.
A perfect  1½" HST.

Before I finish just a quick tip for pressing the seams for this block.......

In the book I have recommended seam pressing for the individual Friendship Stars as shown below. This helps with seam matching and reducing bulk.   

However, when putting the four Friendship Stars together to create the Guiding Star block you will find it easier if you press the seams of the top right and the bottom left Friendship Stars in the opposite direction to that shown above.  You will then be able to nest the seams.  Alternatively you could press all seams open.

Pretty in pastels.

Next week is the turn of the mouth watering Watermelon block when I shall introduce quick corner triangles. Until then don't forget to post your block photos over on Instagram (#block2guidingstar) or in the Flickr Group.  Until then ......  

Monday 5 March 2018

Patchsmith Sampler Block 1 - Brick Wall

Block 1 - Brick Wall

Welcome to the first block from The Patchsmith's Sampler pattern book and it is a nice easy block to start. 

Block 1 ‘Brick Wall’ requires no seam matching and it doesn't even matter which way you press your seams!

Building your Brick Wall is very simple – two different rows combine to make a 6” (finished size) block.  
Block 1 is a great scrap buster block.

Resizing the block is easy too. Just add more rows of bricks, staggering each row.

Tip:    To make a 12" Brick Wall block using bigger bricks cut the A rectangles 4½" x 2½" each and the B squares 2½" each.

This block is a great filler allowing you to turn those fabric scraps into a useful patchwork block.  And there may be times when only a rectangle block will do as I found out recently in the Bee Happy sew-along.  
I replaced an embroidered part of the Bee Happy quilt with a gingham Brick Road.

So there you are – a nice easy Block from The Patchsmith’s Sampler Quilt Blocks pattern book. 
Available from Amazon

I would love to see your blocks over on Instagram (#block1brickwall). I have also set up a Flickr group where you can post your block photos, meet and make friends and just hang out. Feel free to ask a question in the Flickr group or below.  
Moonlit Cat Mug Rug Pattern - the inspiration for Block 1

Next week I will show you cheat for making little half-square triangles for Block 2 ‘Guiding Star’.  

Until then .......