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.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Windblown Square - Quilt Block Tutorial - Version 2

Windblown Square
8" finished
This is an intermediate block called Windblown Square. I've done a tutorial on it in a different post that you can find here. This tutorial is for an 8" finished block, the earlier one is for a 12" finished block.

This tutorial has a different method of making the block. Instead of making a parallelogram unit and a flying geese unit, I used half-square triangles and flying geese. This block is a little trickier to sew all the final units together. This isn't my favorite method, I prefer the first method I posted because there are fewer seams in the final block, which means fewer chances to cut off points.

However, this is a good post to review two different ways of making flying geese units. It's a long post with lots of pictures!

Step 1: Cutting the Fabric

Cut from background fabric
two 3" squares
two 2 1/2" x 4 1/2" rectangles

Cut from fabric 1 (black)
one 5 1/2" square

Cut from fabric 2 (red)
two 3" squares
four 2 1/2"squares

Step 2: Getting the Pieces Ready to Sew
Draw a diagonal line across the black square.
Draw a diagonal line across both of the 3" white squares.
Draw a diagonal line across each of the 2 1/2" red squares (there are four)
Draw a diagonal line across both of the 3" white squares.
Place the 3" white squares, right sides together, on the 3" red squares. We'll be making four half-square triangles just like we did in the last post: Starting Point

Center the 5 1/2" black square on top of the 7" white square. We'll be making these into four Flying Geese units using Flying Geese Method 2.

Place ONE of the 2 1/2" red squares on each of the white rectangles. We'll be making these into two Flying Geese units.

Place everything on your design and pressing board. The tutorial to make one is here.

Now you're ready to sew! If you already know how to make Flying Geese Units and half-square triangle units, you can scroll down to Step 6 and put the block together without going through a million step by step photos.

Step 3: Two Flying Geese Units Using Sew, Trim, and Flip Method

My needle is set so that it I can sew just barely on the right side of the drawn line.
Sew just to the outside of the drawn line. Do this on both rectangles.

Trim 1/2" away from the seam.

This is what it looks like after you trim off the corners.

Press the triangles to the outside.

Pin the other red 2 1/2" squares to the other end of the rectangle and repeat sewing just to the outside of the line. Pinning keeps the square from shifting. If you don't want to pin, that's okay. Just make sure that your square doesn't shift while you sew.

You can see the stitching on the outside of the line.

Trim the corner as you did for the other side.

This is what your pieces should look like after you've trimmed the corners off.

Press the other corner out and your Flying Geese units should look like this.

Trim the blocks to 2 1/2" x 4 1/2".

Step 4: Four Flying Geese Units using the Quilt in a Day Flying Geese Ruler

This is my favorite way of making Flying Geese Units. It's very precise and I get accurate units and sharp points every time! I'm using the Large Flying Geese Ruler 4 x 8 by Quilt in a Day.

Pin the pieces together so they don't shift while you are sewing. I always pin these pieces together because they are large and shift while I'm sewing.

Sew a scant 1/4" on either side of the drawn line. You only sew the inside square, you don't sew on the larger square.

Cut on the drawn line.

I know it looks odd and it's a little tricky to do, but press towards the larger square.

Draw another diagonal line across one of the pieces.

Place squares right sides together, the square with the diagonal line on top, pin in place.

Pin! You really need to pin this so the pieces don't shift while you are sewing. The seams are not nested and this causes some shifting if you aren't careful.

Sew a scant 1/4" seam on both sides of the diagonal line.

Cut along the diagonal line.

Make a clip from the cut edge to the seam without going through the seam.

See the clip in the middle of the seam?

Press the dark towards the light so that black triangles are pressed out. The block on the left shows what it looks on the right side after it's been pressed.

Use the end of your Flying Geese Ruler that says 2" x 4" Finished Geese. Place it just as you see in the photo with the dashed line at the top of a triangle and the red triangle on the ruler matching up with your sewn triangle.

Trim along three sides.

Flip the unit over and match the red line to the bottom of your Flying Geese unit, and both sides of your unit to the edges of the ruler.

Trim along the top edge of the ruler.
Trim all the Flying Geese units the same way. You should have four Flying Geese Units from two squares of fabric.

Step 5: Sewing Four Half-Square Triangles (This is easy!!)

Instead of cutting these squares 2 7/8" we cut them 3". We get a more accurate unit because we can trim them down when we're done sewing the unit. See the pins? Using pins = more accurate units!

Sew a scant 1/4" seam on both sides of the diagonal line.

Cut along the diagonal line.

Press towards the dark side of the unit. If you place the dark side on top while you are ironing, then set the seam, you can flip the dark side up and press. It makes it easy to get the seam towards the dark side.

I've used both Marsha McCloskey's 6" Precision Trimmer and the Quilt in a Day 6 1/2" Square Up Ruler. I like them both.

This is the Precision Trimmer. Line up the 2 1/2" horizontal line with the seam on your half-square triangle unit. Trim along both sides of the top.

After the first trim, it will look like this.

Flip the block 180˚ and line the 2 1/2" line on the ruler with the seam line. Trim off the two edges.

This is what it looks like after the unit is completely trimmed.
Step 6: Putting the Block Together

Set up your units on your board so you can see how the block is going together. This isn't a straight forward block that you can put pieces together.
If you are an experienced quilter you can see by the set up in the photo above how to sew the block together. If you aren't experienced, keep ready and looking closely at the photos.

Place the half-square triangle units right sides together on the neighboring Flying Geese units. Pin in place.
Sew a scant 1/4" seam where you've pinned. Press open or towards the half-square triangle.

Place the pieces you just sewed right sides together and pin in place.

Match the point of your Flying Geese unit to the seam between the half-square triangle and the bottom Flying Geese unit. It's important to place a pin through the point and into the seam. This will help match the point to the seam.
Sew a scant 1/4" seam. Do this on both units.

Press open and place it back on the board. Sew the other Flying Geese unit as shown in the photo.

Press seams open. Almost done!

Pin the two halves of the block together, matching the seams.
 Sew a scant 1/4" seam.

Press open and trim to 8 1/2"

You're all done!

If you have any questions please leave them in the comments below and I'll be sure to answer them.

Update: Reader blocks! Thanks for sending your photos to share!

Jaime's colorway

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Starting Point - Quilt Block Tutorial

Here's our first block for the new block of the month quilt we are working on in our neighborhood. Please visit Quilt, Etc in Sandy UT if you would like printed directions for the block. They have monthly kits that are $5.50 that include the pattern. The blocks this year will be 8 1/2" unfinished, 8" finished and sewn into the quilt.

Starting Point
also known as Star Puzzle by Jinny Beyer
8" finished
To make this block you will need:
You will need one dark fabric (B) 7" x 14",
and one light fabric for the background (A) 7" x 14".

Cut from background fabric
(A) eight 3" squares

Cut from dark fabric
(B) eight 3" squares 

Cut eight 3" squares from dark fabric (B) and eight 3" squares from light fabric (A).

The block is made up of sixteen 2" (finished) half-square triangles. There are quite a few methods you can use to put together half-square triangles. I've used one that I use often and is easy for beginning quilters. Here is a post on two other ways to sew half-square triangles, and a third way here.

Draw a diagonal line on each of the light 3" squares. I use a pencil. We'll be cutting on the line later so use your favorite marking method.

Put a light and dark square together, light on top so you can see the diagonal line. If you haven't sewn much, place 2 pins in each pair to keep them from shifting while you are sewing.

My needle is set 1mm to the right of the center point so I can sew a scant 1/4" seam. If you change your needle position, make sure your needle does not hit the presser foot! I also have a piece of blue painters tape lined up with the needle so that I can line the point of my square up and sew accurately. My presser foot is a 1/4" piecing foot and the pencil line is just on the left side of the presser foot guide. Sew a scant 1/4" from the drawn line.
(To find out more about scant 1/4" seams, go here.)

I chain pieced down one side of all the pencil lines, then turned the stack at the end of the pile to sew down the other side. You don't have to chain piece, you can sew one set of squares at a time.

Once you have sewn all the blocks, cut along the drawn line and stack them up with the dark side facing you.

Press each block open. If you start with the dark fabric on top, the seam will be pressed towards the dark side.

Time to trim the block. Line the horizontal line along the seam line. I like the Precision Trimmer, but there are other rulers that do the same thing. The 6 1/2" Square Up Ruler by Quilt in a Day is another good one.

Trim both edges off.

Flip the block, place the trimmer on the horizontal seam line, trim off any extra. Trim each half-square triangle unit to 2 1/2".

Lay your half-square triangles out on a flannel board or something you can carry to your sewing machine.

Using a scant 1/4" seam, sew each row of blocks.

Press your seams in opposite directions so they will nest together when you sew the next seam.

If you want your seams to have the best chance of lining up, pin them together!

I want my seams to nest together so there is less bulk, and the corners of the sub-units will match precisely, that's the goal!

Pin the two halves of the block together, nesting the seams, and pin in place.
Sew with a scant 1/4" seam.

Press open and measure. If you were sewing accurately your block should measure 8 1/2", which will be 8" finished in the quilt.

Then pat yourself on the back! You did it!

Update: Reader's Blocks! Thanks so much for sending me your photos to share!
Dawn's colorway

Jaime's colorway