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.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Catch As You Can – Block Tutorial

Catch As You Can
This is an interesting block because it's asymmetrical. I love the movement in it! We'll be making Quarter-square triangles, and Half-quarter-square triangles (the red pinwheel in the center.)

Before cutting I always press my fabric with either a little bit of starch or some home-made Best Press. Dawn and I have been using the home-made Best Press because it's so cheap and easy to make. There are a few recipes on the web. Here's the recipe that Dawn shared with me
Even Better Press  
1/2 distilled or filtered water, 1/2 vodka
The flavored vodka costs no more than regular but gives it a different fragrance than alcohol. Smirnoff is a cheap vodka, and is what I use. 
Make sure you purchase vodka distilled from potatoes, not distilled from grain. It is the potato starch that works to starch fabric. 
Smirnoff comes in these "fragrances" - green apple, blueberry, citrus cranberry, watermelon, orange, raspberry, strawberry and new black cherry. I currently have green apple "scent". My next "scent" will be black cherry. 
There are other recipes on the internet that use 1 oz of vodka to 1 cup of water. This recipe gives a little bit more body to the fabric than other versions that we've found.

Step 1: Cutting the Fabric

Fabric A: Background Fabric

  • A1: four 3 1/4" squares
  • A2: six 2 7/8" squares
  • A3: four 2 1/2" squares

Fabric B: Medium (grey dot)

  • B1: two 3 1/4" squares
  • B2: two 2 7/8" squares

Fabric C: Dark (red)

  • C: two 3 1/4" squares

I'm using the easiest way to make this block, that means there will be a little bit of waste as you go along. You can save the mirror image units for something else, or you can make another Catch As You Can block but mirror image the block. 

Step 2: Making the Half-square Triangles

I like to do all the sewing along the diagonals at once! It makes things go just a little faster.
Draw a diagonal line across all four A1 background squares, and all of the A2 background squares.
Pin in place as shown in the picture.
(You won't need all the A2 background squares just yet. Set the extras aside and only use two as shown in the photo.)
Sew a scant 1/4" seam on each side of the drawn diagonal line.
Cut along the diagonal line and press the seam open.
Trim the A2/B2 squares to 2 1/2" square using your favorite method. Set these aside.
 Step 3: Sewing the Half-quarter-square Triangles
Place an A2 background square (the four that you didn't use in the first step) right sides together with an untrimmed A1/C square.
Sew a scant 1/4" seam along both sides of the drawn line.

Here's a step-by-step photo:
Cut along the diagonal line (you will have two pieces that are mirror images of each other)
Press the seams open.
You will be using the bottom left piece in the Catch As You Can block. The bottom right one can be used if you are making another block, but you'll have to make a mirror image of the block we're making in this tutorial.
Use the pieces that spin the pinwheel in this direction.
 Step 4: Sewing the Quarter-square triangles

Draw a diagonal line on the back of two A1/B1 half-square triangles.
Place two A1/B1 squares right sides together, with the medium (B1) opposite the A1 (background) as shown on the bottom right in the photo.
Make sure you use one of the pieces with the diagonal line on each.
You probably already guessed that, but just in case....  

Sew a scant 1/4" seam along each side of the drawn diagonal line.
Cut along the diagonal line, press the seams open.

Trim each unit to 2 1/2".
You should have four quarter-square triangle units.

Step 4: Sewing the Block Together

Arrange your units as shown in the photo.
Double check to make sure your pieces are going the right direction.
Check one ore time.....
This block is asymmetrical if you aren't careful
you'll end up having to rip seams and sew them again! 

Sew in rows (or columns) and press the seams open.
Carefully pin the columns together matching the seams.
Sew the columns (or rows) together.

Catch As You Can
8 1/2" unfinished block
8" finished block
Yes, I know I have a spot where the points don't match exactly. That doesn't stop me from sharing and teaching, though. Hopefully your mistakes won't stop you from quilting, either!

If a quilt is finished and used, then it's a successful quilt. If I learned something along the way, then that's even better!

Here's Dawn's block:

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