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.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

King's Crown - Quilt Block Tutorial

Here's another block I will be adding to my Christmas quilt. It's not part of our regular Block of the Month blocks, but I want to make more than 9 blocks for my quilt. 

King's Crown

This block is fairly easy, using both half-square triangle units and flying goose units.

Cut from background fabric:
(A1) four 2 1/2" squares
(A2) one 6" square (for the half-square triangles)
(A3) one 5 1/2" square (for the flying goose units)

Cut from dark (mine is red)
(B1) two 4 7/8" squares, cut in half diagonally)
(B2) one 6" square (for the half-square triangles)
(B3) one 7" square (for the flying goose units)

Cut from medium (mine is the print with the Cardinals)
(C) one 6 1/4" square

Woops! I forgot to cut B1 squares out at the beginning. Here they are, cut on the diagonal.
If I am cutting and sewing along the bias, as I will with these pieces, I usually press the fabric before cutting on the diagonal with some spray sizing to make them just a little stiffer. This prevents my bias from stretching uncontrollably while sewing.
Cut the square, press with spray sizing, then cut along the diagonal.
Units Needed for this Block
If you are a super-quilter and don't need a tutorial for each of the individual units, here is what we will be sewing:

Eight 2" finished (2 1/2" unfinished) half-square triangles. I made mine from A2 and B2.
Four 2" x 4" finished (2 1/2" x 4 1/4" unfinished) flying goose units. I made mine from A3 and B3.
One square in square unit. I made mine from B1 and C
Four 2" finished (2 1/2" unfinished) squares. 
You can see all the units in the photo below.

All the units ready to sew into the final block.

If you want step-by-step tutorial photos to make the units listed above..... keep reading!

Sewing the Flying Goose Units
This is my favorite way of sewing flying goose units. There are a few different ways of sewing them. You can follow the directions for this method, or you can find different methods here, and here. Your finished flying goose unit should measure 4"x2". This method uses the Quilt in a Day ruler found here.

Lay A3 on top of B3. Draw a diagonal line on B3 as shown in the photo. Pin the pieces together so they don't shift while you are sewing.

Sew a scant 1/4" seam on each side of the diagonal line. (Scant means 'two threads less than')

Cut o the drawn line.

Press the seam towards the smaller triangle. You can see the wrong side on the left and the right side on the right.

Place the pieces right sides together. The seams will not match up. You can see that in the photo above. Draw a diagonal line perpendicular to the seam line.

Sew a scant 1/4" seam on each side of the drawn line.

Cut along the drawn line.

Make a small cut to the seam, but not through it, in the center of the seam allowance. This will make it easier to press the seam in two directions.

In the piece on the right you can see that the seams are all pressed towards the red fabric. The piece on the left shows the right side of the fabric.
 Time to cut the flying goose units:
I love my Quilt in a Day Flying Goose ruler, but you can do this with any ruler. Place the red triangle of the 2" x 4" side on the center triangle of your sewn block, matching the red lines with the seams.
Trim around three sides.
Turn the goose unit the other direction. Line the bottom of the goose unit up with the horizontal red line on your ruler. 
Trim the top portion off. Your finished flying goose unit is perfect!

Do that three more times so you have four flying goose units.

Making the Half-square Triangles.
This is my favorite way of making half-square triangles. You can choose any method you like. You will need eight half-square triangles for this block.

Stack A2 and B2 right sides together with the dark on the bottom. Place the 2" finished half-square triangle paper on top.

Line up the fabric squares and center the paper on top. Pin in places where you won't be sewing.

Set your stitch length to 1.5 or whatever length is smaller on your sewing machine. This will make it easier to rip the paper off later.
Sew just on the inside of the dashed lines. The directions tell you to sew right on the dashed lines, but I always have better half-square triangles when I sew a scant 1/4" seam.

Trim on the solid lines. My order of cutting is: around the outside first, horizontal lines next, diagonal lines last. You can do it in whatever order you like, but I recommend cutting around the outside first.

Press towards the dark. Whatever way you press, it is usually easiest to press so that the paper is flat and not folded on the seam line.
After pressing I usually trim the little triangles that poke out on the edges of the seam. You don't have to, but I think it makes it easier to sew the block together at the end.
Next, tear the paper off your half-square triangle blocks. 
 Square in Square unit

Using two B1 pieces and C, center the B1 triangles along opposite sides of the  C piece. Sew a scant 1/4" seam to attach the triangles to C.
Press open with the seams towards B1 (the triangles).

Repeat the steps above and sew the other two B1 pieces to the other sides of the square. Press open.

Lay all the pieces out on your flannel board (or near your sewing machine).

Look at the photo above and see how I've sewn the side strips together. Long strips with the squares at the ends are on the left and right. Shorter strips are at the top and bottom.
Next sew the top and bottom strips to the center.
Then, matching seams, sew the left and right strips to the center.
Press your block and check the size.
Hopefully it will measure 12 1/2". If not, you can press and stretch (or shrink) it to fit.
There are only two things that can go wrong if your block isn't the right size. It is either the cutting (you aren't accurate enough in your cutting) or the sewing (you are not sewing a scant 1/4" seam).

If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below. I'll do my best to answer!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Pinwheel Star - Quilt Block Tutorial

This month's block is called Pinwheel Star. At the end of the post you will see how to rearrange a few blocks and turn it into a Martha Washington Star.

Pinwheel Star
 Thanks to Anne for choosing the pattern this month! It is a fun one!

Anne sent out a great tutorial, this one is a bit different from hers so you can choose which method works best for you.

I'm using printed paper to make my half-square triangles. I downloaded and printed the 3" Half-Square Triangle Paper from Block Central. I like to use a light weight paper like tracing paper or special paper for paper piecing. This time all I had was regular copy paper. Oh, well! It still works, it's just a bit more difficult to remove the paper from the fabric.

Cut from background fabric
(A1) one 8 1/4" x 8 1/4" square
(A2) one 8 1/4" x 4 1/4" rectangle
(A3) four 3 1/2" x 3 1/2" squares

Cut from color 1 (mine is red)
(B) one 8 1/4" x 8 1/4" square

Cut from color 2 (mine is green)
(C) one one 8 1/4" x 4 1/4" rectangle

All cut out and ready to start. Notice that the four pieces in the top row (A1, B, A2, and C) are all rough cut. They don't have to be cut to exact measurements because we will be sewing the lines on the paper and cutting out the pieces AFTER they are sewn.

Layer  A1 and B right sides together with A1 (the darker fabric) on the bottom. Do the same with A2 and C.
Place a full sheet of Half-Square triangle paper on top of the stack with A1 and B. Place a half sheet of Half-Square triangle paper on top of the stack with A2 and C. Pin in places that do not have dotted lines. You'll be stitching on the dotted lines.
Set the stitch length of your machine to 1.5 (or whatever is smaller than you normally use.) This makes it easier to tear the paper later. Stitch on all the dotted lines on both pieces of paper.

This is what it looks like on the back of the A1/B pieces. You can see the stitching ends up looking like a diamond.

Place on your cutting board with the paper side up.
Trim on all the solid lines. It should look like the photo above when you are done.
 Take the half-square triangles to the pressing board and press towards the dark fabric. This should be easy if your dark fabric was on the bottom when you sewed.

The pieces on the left show the wrong side of the fabric with the seam pressed towards the dark side. See how the paper triangle is not bent at all? The pieces on the right side still have the paper on the back. One reason I love this method is that the diagonal stitching line, which is on the bias, is stabilized and very straight. I never have any distortion of my half-square triangles on the pressing table when using this method.

Bend either the seam allowance of the paper or the large triangle towards the other side. You are making a crease on the stitching line so that it will weaken the paper and make it easier to tear off.

I started tearing the paper so you would see what it looked like. It doesn't matter if you tear off the seam allowance of the paper or the big triangle.
I usually check the size of each half-square triangle. They should be 3 1/2" square. I also trim off the little 'bunny ears' on each block so that there is less bulk as I sew the block together.

Putting the block together
Arrange the half-square triangle units to form either a.....
Pinwheel Star
 or like this to make a.....
Martha Washington Star

I've decided to sew a Pinwheel Star. If you notice in the Pinwheel Star photo above, the red fabric is directional. That means that it has a specific direction to the print.

I was careful to place the triangles so that the direction would be the same and the point of the star would look uniform. It probably wouldn't have been very noticeable with this fabric if I hadn't been fussy about it because the direction of the pattern isn't 'in your face' loud. But if you have a big print or a print with stripes, be careful how you place your half-square triangles. 

The green fabric has a large print, which is why I didn't choose it for the stars. I didn't think a seam through two half-square triangles would have complimented the star part of the pattern. It works well for both the center of the Martha Washington Star and the points of the Pinwheel Star.

Sew the rows together and press.

Press seams in opposite directions so they will nest when you sew the rows together. The yellow arrows show the direction I pressed my seams.
Next sew the rows together and press your block.

It should measure 12 1/2" square.

This is my finished Pinwheel Star.
Thanks Anne! This block was fun to sew and I love the way it turned out!