Now that the subassembly of my latest quilt project is done, it is time to assemble the two blocks that will make up the quilt. The first block is pretty easy. It is a variation of a square, known as “Churn Dash”.
For this block, I assemble three rows. The top and bottom rows consists of 2 half-square triangle units and the rectangle with 2 squares unit. The middle row has the 4 patch in the center and 2 more rectangle units. I sew the three rows together and everything goes without a glitch. The 10 units are completed pretty quickly.
Now on to the next block. First I must assemble the half-square triangle units into a square-within-a-square unit. This will be the center of the block. Again I assemble three rows to make up the square. This one has a square in each corner surrounding the Flying Geese units.
After completing this block, something does not look right. It seems like there is too many bright colors in this square. As soon as I put in next to the Churn Dash block I see it right away. I have inverted the Flying Geese units so they are facing the wrong way. It is amazing that inverting one thing makes such a huge difference in the design of the block! Thank goodness, I only sewed one block and do not have to rip out the stitching for 10 squares.
Now that I have all the blocks sewn together correctly, I lay the quilt out on the floor in preparation for assembly.
For the New Year, I start another quilt. A few years ago, I bought 2 bundled packs containing 10 fat quarters. The first quilt is draped over one of the couches in my living room. But the second pack has been waiting for the right quilt design to come along. Finally, I have come up with a design for the second pack.
After checking the fabric numbers of my design, I search through my stash for a background fabric to pull the whole thing together. Since I need 2 yards, I put aside the dark blue (almost black fabric) that is 3 yards for a possible backing. Finally, I find a black fabric with a multicolored confetti print.
Putting the design through my quilt design software to check the fabric amounts, I am certain that I have enough of each fat quarter, especially since I have left over fabric from the first bundle. The best way to show my fabric pull is to surround the black background with the 10 fat quarters. The quilting software usually puts out numbers that are more than enough for my projects, but this time around it did not get it quite right. I am shy one of the fat quarters by 2 small squares, but since this is a scrap quilt, I use one of the other colors to make up the difference. When I finish cutting my fabric, I have completely used 2 of the fat quarters. I am left with 8 fat quarters, 6 of which may not be enough to use in another scrap quilt.
When I am finished cutting my fabric, I have squares of various sizes and a rectangle. The background fabric is now cut into 4, 5 and 7.5 inch squares plus a 2.5×4.5 rectangle. The scrappy fabric is cut into 2.5, 3.5, 4 and 5 inch squares. I am not sure what to call this quilt, but for now I will refer to it as Scrappy Trails.
After all that cutting, it is time for some assembly work. My first step is to make some Flying Geese Units (the rectangle shaped unit in the image below). Since the directions for this quilt are using a “no-waste Flying Geese” construction, I search for instructions on how to do this. It uses the 7-inch background fabric and the 4-inch scrappy squares. The unit goes together perfectly.
Once, the most difficult unit is complete, I go on to the rest of the units. 2 inch squares get sewn together and then some of them are attached to the background rectangle, 4 and 5 inch squares become half-square triangle units, and finally the remaining 2 inch square pairs are sewn into 4 patch units.
The subassembly work is complete. Next up, will be the block assembly.
I finally finished the Night Sky quilt! The one that gave me so many problems. The one that I wanted to throw out once I completed the top because it wouldn’t lay flat. Despite all this, I put it on the quilt frame for quilting.
I had already decided that the best way to hand quilt Night Sky was to outline the stars and use some leaf stencils for the center of the stars. I stitched the primary star on the inside of the points, while stitching the outside of the points of the alternate color. I would then stitch near the border seams of each block.
The hand stitching went smoothly and I was pleased to see that the quilting actually helped flatten out the quilt. The quilting pattern was not completely visible on the blocks themselves so I just hoped it would look okay. Once I removed the quilt from the frame and was able to view the stitching on the green strip I used on the back to supplement the black fabric, I was quite pleased with the pattern.
Now I needed to figure out how to add the binding. It wasn’t the flat sides of the quilt I was worried about, but how was I going to attach the binding to those points. I viewed the quilt-along video that the creator had put up, and studied the instruction pamphlet as well, before I attempted a test run. Slowly and carefully I attached the binding to the points. There were a few of the inner points that could have turned out better, but no worse than any other binding I had added to quilts. I finally added the label on the back of the quilt, near one of the points, and it was done.
We invited our friends over for a pizza night, and I presented her with the quilt. She was so excited that we had to hold it up for showing a few times, before we sat down for dinner. Another quilt gifted to a close friend.
Plodding along on my construction of the Night Sky quilt, I finally finished all the half blocks by Easter. But, oh boy, did this quilt cause a lot of problems. Perhaps, it was because I have never been a perfectionist, the pattern was a stretch beyond my existing skills, or the fact that there were things that were missing in the instruction booklet that I found later on in a sew-along video. I don’t know if those pointers would have made a huge difference in this quilt, but they could have helped. I even joked with my daughter how the instructions were like the difference between the old Simplicity vs. Vogue patterns for clothes. Simplicity gave you detailed instructions, while Vogue assumed you knew how to construct a garment. I always felt that Vogue patterns were on the order of “cut the fabric, now add the zipper”
In the construction of the half blocks, placement of pieces was a big issue. The instruction booklet mentions this about the diamonds, “while it is not necessary for assembly, cutting the points off the diamonds can help ensure proper alignment when piecing.” It wasn’t until after my block assembly, that I found that video where she did not cut off the diamond points and instead lined up the point of the diamond with the point of the first triangle unit. The second triangle unit she then lined up with the dog-eared edge of the first step.
My second big problem was the placement of the block borders. There were 2 long pieces for each half-block, but since the finished unit would be on an angle I was not sure where to place these long pieces. Consequently, I was a bit short on one end and that came back to haunt me on the quilt construction. Again, no mention of the placement of these pieces in the instruction booklet. The video shows overhanging the long pieces by only ¼ inch at the top of the block in order to have proper alignment at the bottom. This little omission was the most significant issue in lining up the blocks.
Finally I had the blocks pieced and ready for row assembly and this was where the Vogue analogy came in. After the previous step of adding the block borders, the next instruction was “sew half blocks in columns. Sew columns together to complete quilt top”. Wait that was it? How was I supposed to do that? I already had the thing laid out on the floor and knew there were going to problems but I was too far into it to rip everything out. Besides, with all those angles, ripping out stitches would stretch the bias. So I continued on.
As I tried to sew the columns, I could not figure out how to place them without having one block higher of lower to the next block. Another check of the video showed the missing instruction. “Trim the sharp point of the blocks in order to line them up.” Once I discovered that tip, the columns went together with a little less struggle.
After I got the whole quilt together, I almost cried. I wanted to crumble it all up and throw it, but as my husband said, throwing something heavy would have been satisfying but balling up fabric and throwing it meant it would land at your feet. Nothing laid flat. The green blocks were the worst, particularly the one in the upper right corner. I sent a picture to my daughter, a much better quilter than I am, and she could not see what I was talking about. I still wasn’t satisfied. I actually went through my stash and selected fabrics for another go, put them in a bag with the completed quilt top and showed the whole thing to the recipient of this quilt. She was the third person to tell me it looked fine, and she could not wait to receive the completed product. So either everyone was trying to make me feel better or it was not as bad as I imagined it to be.
In any case, my quilt from hell is now on the quilt frame and I have decided on a quilt pattern. It will be a few months before it is finished.
During the time of miserable trail conditions, I started another quilt. A few years ago, I had purchased a pattern called “Night Sky” and decided now was the time to give it a try. I was not sure why I chose what looked like a difficult pattern, but it certainly would teach me some new quilting skills.
The pattern called for 4 color families, with 4 shades within each family. That sounded way too complicated for me, so instead of 4 fat quarters for each shade, I decided to use only 2 shades of each color. I then pulled some promising fabrics from my stash. Funny, but I still needed to purchase some additional fabric.
As luck would have it, my daughter wanted to meet up for coffee at a distance halfway between our homes. Knowing that there was a fabric store in Brunswick, I grabbed my selected fabrics and went down to meet her. The downside (if a quilter could call it a downside) of this trip, was that being susceptible to other people’s suggestions I left the quilt shop with 6 half yards of fabric. So basically, I ditched all but 2 of my original choices. I also discovered from that shop owner, that my closest and favorite fabric store was closing since the owner was retiring. Of course, I had to stop there on the way home and managed to purchase 15 yards of fabric, including the backing for my current project.
Now I was ready to begin my quilt. As I mentioned, the pattern was complicated. I had made it a tad easier by using only 2 shades of a color instead of 4. But, oh the shapes! Each block needed left and right-handed triangles, as well as diamonds. I had purchased a special ruler to help with the cutting phase of the project. Still, there was so much that could go wrong. The first one was figuring out which way to turn the ruler for cutting the triangles. After cutting one pair of triangles, I had to rotate the ruler 180 degrees in order to cut the next set. The first few times, I flipped instead of rotated the ruler, but I figured it out eventually.
Each block was going to consist of two double stars with 6 points each, initially constructed as half blocks. I figured this was another place where things could go wrong. For example, I could sew the triangle pieces to the diamonds the wrong way. There were just too many pieces here; right angled triangles to be sewn together to form another triangle, which in turn would be sewn to a diamond to create a bigger triangle, then those triangles sewn together to form the half star. Yikes! Believe it or not that part went together well. What I did do wrong was to sew 48 triangle pairs wrong sides together, instead of right sides together. This meant that the right sides were essentially on the inside of the quilt. After unstitching 48 triangle units and stitching them correctly together, things went a little more smoothly. As of this writing, I completed the half blocks for 2 color families. Additional progress reports to follow.