New to Quilting?

If you are brand new to quilting and don't know where to begin, start with the posts in September 2011 (look in the blog archive). The first four posts cover basics such as choosing equipment, choosing colors, how to sew 1/4" seams, how to use a rotary cutter, and how to press (not iron) your block during construction.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

November - Quilt Block Tutorial

November's block, a modified Friendship Star.

Here are the directions for the November block.

Click on the image and print from your browser

November Block Photo Tutorial
The letters in parenthesis are the fabrics I used following the directions above.

Choose four fabrics. From left to right: green (fabric C), red (fabric D), tan (fabric A), poinsettia (fabric B).

Making the Half-square Triangle Units
We are using Method 2 (found in the Half-Square Triangle Tutorial post) to make the half-square triangles.

If you look closely you can see that I have stacked my background fabric (A) and my main fabric (B)  right sides together. Cut a 7" square. This way I don't have to align my fabric as I do if I am cutting two separate pieces of fabric.

Sew a scant 1/4" seam all around the outside edge of the two pieces of fabric (that are still stacked right sides together).

Cut from corner to corner twice to end up with four half-square triangles.

Press open towards the dark side.

Square up the half-square triangle sub-unit to 4 1/2". Remember to align the 45˚ mark on your ruler with your diagonal seam so that your finished block will have a seam that goes from corner to corner. 
One of the benefits of making the half-square triangle units using two squares is that since my fabric is plaid the stripes are all going the same direction in the units. If I had cut smaller squares and drawn the diagonal line through the center (Method 1 in the Half-Square Triangle Tutorial), the patches would have had the stripes going in different directions. That can be kinda annoying for some people!

Sewing the Four-Patch Units
You should already have your strips sewn from the last post on strip piecing. If not, click here.

Take two pieces of the two-patch strip, line them up so that the colors are opposite (see photo) and the center seams nest together.

Not sure about nesting seams? Click here and visit this page  at Creative Collaborations blog or view a YouTube video linked at the bottom of this post.

Pin where the center seams match, and at the edges.
Sew a scant 1/4" seam.

I chain piece mine together, you can see the little bit of thread connecting the four-patches.
 Need a refresher on chain sewing? Visit this post and view the last video.

Press the four-patches open. You should have (5) four-patch units. 

Trim the four-patch unit to 4 1/2". If your seams are accurate and your cutting is accurate, you probably won't have to trim. I had to trim a little on 4 of the 5 blocks.

Putting the Block Together
Line up all your patches in the order you will sew them. These are lined up on my design/pressing board so I can easily move them around without changing the orientation of any of the units. I placed the center column of sub-units close to the left column of sub-units because I will chain sew those together first.
Look at this post to learn how to make your own design/press board.

Press towards the half-square triangles (or towards the four-patchs, but be consistent).

Sew the right column of units onto the center column of units. Press towards the half-square triangles (or the four-patches, but it should be towards the same unit as you did in the previous photo).

Line the columns up and nest the seams. It is a good idea to pin where the seams match (and are nested). Press seams towards the outside or the inside, or 'twirl' them open at the where the units meet (that's what you see in the photo above). 

I like to 'twirl' the seams open. You have to clip the little thread and open the seam slightly in order to press it like that. You will notice tiny four-patch looking area where four units meet.

A final press from the front and you are all done!
Below is another block made with exactly the same units, it's called either Wagon Tracks or Jacob's Ladder (same exact block, different name). You can see Wagon Tracks at Quilter's Cache-Wagon Tracks or Jacob's Ladder at AZ Patch.  This block has (5) four-patch units and (4) half-square triangle units just like our November block. The two differences are: Jacob's Ladder has only two (or three) colors and the direction of two of the half-square triangles is different.

This is Jacob's Ladder from AZ Patch's 2009 March Block of the Month 
Julie K. Quilts has a bunch of Wagon Tracks laid out in the second photo of this link.

If you want your star to really stand out in the quilt block, cut (1) 4 1/2" square of your B fabric or one of your C or D fabrics instead of using a four-patch unit for the center of the block. Then the name of the block changes to Friendship Star Variation. You can see it here.

Friendship Star Variation
Remember to send me photos of your finished block (with or without you in the photo) so I can use them in a Show and Tell post! Each block turns out so differently and we all love to see how your color choices change the look of the blocks.

Abracadabra Quilting Tips and Tricks: Nesting Seams

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