It\’s the middle of May, which means it\’s time for another update on the 2017 Patchwork Quilt Along with Fat Quarter Shop. Last month I shared my six Star & Cross Blocks, and this month we make our Homestead blocks. These blocks are much easier to put together, as there aren\’t any tricky seams to match.
I am using the Fleurs collection by Brenda Riddle (Moda) for my quilt. Every month when I pull out this fabric, I fall in love with Fleurs all over again. It\’s so soft and dreamy, and Brenda\’s tiny floral details are perfect!
I\’ve received a few emails asking for tips on how to get nice crisp blocks with matching points and so forth. At 5 1/2\” finished, these Patchwork Quilt Along blocks can be a bit challenging. I thought I\’d share some of my tricks of the trade with you. You may have different techniques that work for you! I figure we can never have enough ideas on how to perfect our piecing. Here\’s a short list from me to you:
1. When making small blocks, I always use spray starch to press my fabric before cutting, but I do not use it while piecing or when the block is finished. In my experience, starch can slightly shrink fabric, which can cause headaches in blocks this small! I love Mary Ellen\’s Best Press in the Caribbean Beach scent. It smells heavenly and is non-aerosol.
2. Be precise with your cutting. Change your rotary cutter blade if it is dull and take your time when cutting. If you cut a piece slightly off, don\’t use it. We\’re all tempted to do that (we don\’t want to waste fabric), but don\’t. Good piecing starts with good cutting.
3. Change your sewing machine needle with each new project or after several hours of sewing smaller projects. A sharp needle is important to good piecing! A quilting friend told me this years ago, and she is so right!
4. Use a good quality thread. I always piece with Aurifil. It is smooth, doesn\’t knot up or break, and it keeps my machine clean inside.
5. Always square up pieced blocks, like half square triangles, per the instructions even if it doesn\’t appear that you need to. Just an extra hairline of fabric may make the difference!
6. Use a quarter-inch presser foot if you have one. On my Bernina, I use my Patchwork foot #37. It is designed for straight-stitching and ideal for sewing 1/4\” or 1/8\” seam allowances due to its size and markings.
7. I do not use a scant quarter inch when sewing. It\’s just my personal experience, but when I move my needle over to sew a scant quarter inch, I find that my seam allowance on points is just too small and leads to errors (and a very unhappy Taunja). Instead, when I\’m sewing I try to make sure that my fabric runs \”just shy\” of the edge of my quarter inch presser foot. You can see in the picture below that fabric is not visible outside the right edge of my presser foot.
8. On small blocks such as these, I nearly always press my seams open. I\’ve never had a problem with seams pulling apart. (If you are concerned about that, simply reduce your stitch length a bit.) Pressing open allows your blocks to lay flatter and also makes them truer to size.
9. I pin, A LOT! Seams don\’t really \”nest\” when you have them pressed open, but they are easy to match visually. So I press open and then pin!
10. Finally, when my little blocks are completed, I lay them on my cutting table and stack heavy quilting books on top of them overnight. This makes them nice and flat.
In case you are a new reader, this annual event hosted by Fat Quarter Shop is a charity quilt along. The patterns are free and are posted on the 15th of each month on the Jolly Jabber. Quilters are asked to donate $5 for each block pattern that they download. All proceeds will go to the Make-A-Wish Foundation! What a great opportunity for us all!
It\’s not too late for you to join in the fun. Here’s a link which provides all the details: