Friday, October 31, 2014

Free Download for November - Peace and Plenty Potholder

I work part time at my local quilt shop (Threads That Bind) and as part of what I do to help keep our customers engaged and coming into our shop I have been designing free block of the month projects.  I've done a 6 month series and a 5 month series and have a year long project in mind to start in January.  Since we had a few months before the end of the year I decided to do a few stand along blocks/projects.  This is my November project - a Pot Holder!

I did a bit of browsing, looking for a block that was a little different, but something that would represent the Thanksgiving season.  I found this block, called Peace and Plenty and thought it would be quite suitable for my project.  The nice thing is that for this project you can use charm squares, leftover jelly roll strips or scraps!

The technique I use for the half square triangles and the flying geese is a sew and flip technique.  This does waste a little bit of fabric, but the results are so reliable that it is well worth throwing away a scrap of fabric.  Or you could make more half square triangles out of those leftover bits and make a tiny block to match your pot holder....

Here is how I do this technique:  First you need to mark the back of one of your squares.  You can use a ruler and pencil to mark a diagonal line

 That's a very faint line!  You can mark it darker than that if needed.
 Or carefully finger press a diagonal crease in your square.
 Be careful not to stretch your block, because this is the stretchy bias grain.
 Now layer up your squares and sew that diagonal seam right on your line.  I like to chain them up in a row to save time.
 Then trim them up while they are still attached to each other.
 Press the seam toward the dark and you have a nice half square triangle.
 Double check the size to make sure it is correct!
 I chain stitched all the leftover pieces together, then pressed them -
 They measure 1 3/4 inches!  If you sew them in a four by four block, it will be 5 inches square and very cute!
 Now for the flying geese blocks.  Mark your 2 1/2 square for the left side and place it like so:
 Stitch your seam and trim 1/4 inch away (always trim the corner side!)
 Press out toward the corner.  Mark the right corner square
 Sew and trim...
 Press out toward the corner.  Voila!  A perfect flying goose block...
 Look how cute this version of my block is!  The fabric is from a Bobbins and Bits Charm Pack (designed by Pat Sloan)  Love the colors!

The Peace and Plenty Pot Holder pattern and instructions are available here.  This pattern will be free through the month of November.  

Thursday, October 30, 2014

2014 UFO Challenge - August Finish - How to sew a y-seam quilt block - LeMoyne Star

The LeMoyne Star is an old traditional block - I've seen versions from the early 1800's!  It is a beautiful block, but a little tricky with those Y-seams, though.  I wanted to show you how I do them by machine.  First you cut all your pieces.  I used EQ7 to print out my template for the diamond and rotary cutting instructions for the background pieces.  The best thing about using the rotary cutting instructions is that it figures it out so the triangles are cut with the straight of grain on the outside of the triangles, making it much easier to get a block that stays square!

I fussy cut my blocks using a clear plastic template that I cut from heavy duty template plastic.  I marked the position of key elements on the plastic to guide my cutting for each piece.

Choosing which way I want to sew the diamonds.  I decided that I liked the blue stripe to be nearer the center of the block (the first picture)
Putting them together in pairs....
Lining them up to make sure I sew them all the same way (sure enough, if I skip this step one will get turned the wrong I always line them up before I start)

I sew from the tip, backsitiching 1/4 inch from the end of the seam.  This is the pivot point and it sews together easily as long as you stop at the 1/4 inch mark.  You can mark it with a pencil dot or pin - I have done so many I can eyeball them pretty well, now!
I finger press all the seams to the same side for all four pairs.
Put two of the pairs together..
Match up the seams at the point....
Take a peak to make sure they are lining up just right
And sew from the point, stopping at that 1/4 inch mark once again.
Finger press the seam going in the same direction again, then put your two halves together and check those seams....looking good!
Sew all the way across the halves, you have to start and stop at that 1/4 inch mark for this seam!
Press to one side and you have the star put together.  Look at that nice center!  You can press your seams open, but I think it helps me match up the intersections better if I press to one side.
Looking good!

Time to add the background pieces.  I start with a triangle.
Line up the point of the triangle with a point of the star.
Here is where the 90 degree corner of the triangle goes into the join between star points.
I like to stick a pin through the corner of the triangle where the seam allowances would meet, then pin through the end of the seam between star points.
Stitch from the point of the star to the seam and backstitch at the pivot point.  Make sure you don't stitch into the seam, just stop at the 1/4 inch mark on this seam as well.
It's all right if you are a tiny bit short of the corner, just don't stitch across that seam allowance or you will get a pucker.

Now line up the next star point with the other side of the triangle. Stitch from the 1/4 seam to the end of the point.
Just fold the rest of the star out of your way so you don't accidently stitch anything into your seam allowance.

See how your seam allowances meet at the corner, but don't cross.  Just make sure to backstitch one or two stitches and you will be fine!
Open up the block to see your beautiful corner...very nice!  Only 7 more y-seams to go....

Now to do a corner square.  See how the background and point make a perfect square at the corner?
Perfect for sewing the corner square and matching up the sides!
Just line the top up with the background piece and the side with the outside of the star seam!  This will give you a perfect point at the corner (the seam is sticking up, so it looks like the edge of the star is shorter than it should be, but it does line up with the seam)
Sew to the middle, watching that 1/4 seam allowance, just like the triangle piece...
Now match the edge of the trimmed triangle with the outside edge of the square.
Sew from the 1/4 inch mark to the edge of the block.
Another perfect corner...Practice, practice, practice!
Front of the finished block....
And the back after sewing all 4 triangles and corners.  Make sure you don't goof and sew two squares in a row...I've done that before!
To press, I like to press the seams away from the star to reduce bulk at the points.
Use the point of your iron to encourage the seams to spin the way you want them to.
Lift and press - be careful not to distort your block!
All seams pressed and laying nicely!
Here are all 9 blocks, sashed and bordered!  So pretty!  This is a really old UFO and I am so glad that it is now a finished quilt!  Well worth my time!
Now, I just need to catch up on the September UFO quilt blog posts are starting to become UFO's too!