Self-Bordering is a technique that I use pretty frequently, though I don’t always know what I am doing. Basically, self-bordering means that you treat the border blocks the same as the blocks in the main part of the quilt. You piece them in as you would regular blocks rather than as a long row.
I don’t know if I made this technique up. I am sure others have done it. If they have, I am not sure what else it would be called.
There are several advantages to using a self-bordering technique for adding borders:
Precision is improved, because you are adding a block or so at a time
It makes it easier to get the border lined up correctly
Eliminates long lines of stitching
Makes adding pieced borders much easier
This technique works with Chunking. If you are sewing all your blocks, for the whole quilt, together in rows, then don’t bother with Self-Bordering.
As you have seen recently, I am working on the En Provence quilt by Bonnie Hunter. The border is optional, but I am putting a pieced border on the quilt using self-bordering technique. In the photo, left, you can see the border on the bottom. It is made up of one row of four patches (or 3.5″ squares) all the way around the quilt.
All the blocks in this quilt are, essentially, nine patches. As I sew the blocks together, I work in threes – I sew three blocks in a horizontal row together. Once I have three rows made up of three patches, I sew two rows together, then I sew remaining row to the set of two I have just sewn together.
On the border, there is an extra 3.5″ piece. It is either a 4 patch or a 3.5″ patch. Instead of sewing 3 rows of three blocks together, I sew 3 rows of 4 blocks together and then sew three rows of four patches together.
The corner block ends up looking fatter, because of the extra patches. Once the corner and border blocks are integrated into the quilt, they look like blocks and a pieced border.
You cannot tell which way a border was made, if it was well done.
I like this method because I don’t like putting on borders. I also really like pieced borders. Depending on the design, of course, they really add additional interest to a quilt.
Once I finish a quilt, there is really no way to tell where the blocks end and the border begins from a quick glance.
The top arrow, left, shows the very edge of the border – the seam line between block and border.
The bottom arrow shows the border.
As I have said, they integrate so well that a casual viewer can’t tell where the border is. I really like that.
We are making the Flower Wreath block. To find out how to make templates, including the ring, see Part 1 for making templates and Part 2 for making the ring and positioning the ring on the background.
Now we are going to stitch the ring. If you haven’t started, check the Supply List in part 1 and grab your 3″x5″ tearaway backed fabric. Your ring should be applied to the background and ready to stitch. If your ring is not fused and ready to stitch, go back to part 2.
I stitch in layers, so that the stitching is easier, there are fewer starts and stops and the piece looks more finished. Now that you are ready to stitch, it is time to choose your thread.
Whenever you choose thread, you must consider the stitch. If the stitch will be dense like a satin stitch, you should choose the color by looking at the thread wrapped around the whole spool. That will give you a better sense of the color the satin stitch will end up.
It you will be using a straight stitch, you should unreel a bit of the thread and look at one strand on your fabric. You may need to pool a little of the thread together – less dense than the whole spool and more dense than one strand.
Now set up your machine for zig zag stitching. You will need to choose a stitch density. I like a semi-open zig zag that is not too wide. Dense satin stitching, however, can really highlight and outline each piece. I use the following settings on my machine:
Ring: width: 3.0, density: 0.45
Flowers: width: 3.0, density: 0.45
Leaves: width: 2.0, density: 0.5
Flower centers: width: 2.0, density: 0.5
YMMV: Your machine will vary so use the test piece and try out your settings.
Even if I haven’t chosen all the fabric, I like to get the ring stitched down first, so I can audition the other fabric without worrying about the ring. Yes, it is fused and shouldn’t go anywhere, but I still like it to be stitched down.
In order to choose the stitch density, you will need to test. Get the tearaway backed sample piece you have prepared and start testing with the width and densities I have provided above. Stitch lines of zig zag stitching 2-3″ long using a contrasting thread similar to the thread you will be using to stitch the ring. Adjust the width and density on your machine until you are pleased with the look.
Put the ring on the machine and start stitching. I always leave a long tail that I can pull to the back and tie shut later. My zig zag does not automatically tie the ends. If your machine is more advanced you may not have to tie a knot on the back. I don’t want my zig zag to come out if it gets snagged while the quilt is being used, which is why I tie the ends.
I use my applique’ foot, which has a red arrow in the center to stitch out the zig zag. I place the tip of the red arrow on the raw edge of the ring and follow it around. You want a smooth curve, so you should stitch with needle down or use the hand wheel to put the needle down when you stop. If the center point on your foot gets off the raw edge of your ring, stop and readjust. Stop with the needle down on the outside of the ring’s curve whenever you need to readjust the needle to accommodate the curve. Turn the fabric to the left to get the center point of the foot back on the raw edge of your ring. The stitching will be slightly closer together on the inside of the shape, when the needle punches the fabric to the left, and more open on the outside of the shape or when the needle hits the background.
When you have done about half – 3/4s of the stitching on the ring, stop and pull the beginning thread to the back and tie it off.
I tie the beginning off before I get to the end, because the beginning and ending threads can get tangled up and make it impossible to make small, neat knots. I have tied all four ends together in a pinch, but prefer to make the knots as small as possible.
I also use this technique also if I have to stop and pull the work out of the machine because of thread breakage or necessary bobbin refill.
I fold the work back (I only used my pincushion so I could photograph what I was doing. Normally, I just hold it with my wrist as pull the front through to the back and tie the ends together.) I don’t take the work out of the machine unless there is a good reason – like a big knot, or thread breakage, etc.
Once your knot is tied, continue stitching to where you started. I don’t overlap much once I get to the beginning, perhaps only a stitch or two, because I don’t want the look of the stitching to be too different.
I pull the work out of the machine and tie off the ending threads. Again, you may not need to do this if your machine does it for you.
Now follow the same steps, but on the inside, to finish stitching down the ring. Once you have stitched both the inside and outside of the rings, your ring will be complete and you will be ready to place the leaves and flowers on the ring.
If you have not already done so, choose the rest of your fabrics. You will need fabric for the flowers (1-4 fabrics) and leaves (1-20 fabrics). If you have not cut out and fused the wreath to the background, please go back to part 2. The leaves can be the traditional green or you can use something else. If you use one color, you might want to mix up prints to increase interest. You can also use different colors. Make the block your own.
I thought about making the leaves green to make them more realistic, but decided I still wanted to use a variety of turquoises and aquas and to stay with my quilt’s color scheme. I found more fabrics to use in my scrap basket.
It is important, with my limited color scheme, to make sure the viewer can see the individual leaves. For that, I need to have enough contrast between the various aquas and turquoises. Remember, when choosing your fabrics, to make visual decisions visually. Put your potential fabrics on the background and step back to look at them. From my test piece (right) you can see that there are a variety of tones of aqua and turquoise. Some of them blend a bit into the background. I want movement and interest.
Once you have chosen all of your fabrics press the fabric. Add fusible to the wrong sides.
Use the pressing cloth or applique’ pressing sheet to keep the fusible from sticking to your iron.
Follow the directions on your fusible’s packaging.
Mark all of your leaves and flowers. Flip the fusible so that paper side is up. You will be able to see your different fabrics through the paper. Place a template face DOWN on the appropriate fabric and trace with a writing implement. I use a Sewline pencil, but you can also use a pen, regular pencil or anything. I wouldn’t use a Sharpie even though I don’t think the paper will allow the marking to bleed through to the fabric.
Once you have traced all pieces**, cut them out right inside the drawn line. You should have 20 leaves, 4 flowers and 4 flower centers.
Take all of your pieces and arrange them the pleasing way. Arrange them into the final position. You are using this try-out to look at the overall effect of the whole block. Once you are pleased with the arrangement, take a photo or sketch out placement.
You will need to stitch the flowers first, then the leaves and finally the flower centers. The flowers and leaves are on the same layer, so you can stitch them in any order. Anything that will be covered by another piece will need to be stitched before you fuse the covering piece.
Place the flowers on the ring using the press marks you used to place the ring on the background (or fold the background in quarters and finger press again). Place them symmetrically along the ring, or in a pleasing way to your eye.
Fuse them into place and get ready to stitch. You can also reference the machine applique’ tutorial for more information. Again, pay attention to where the layers of the design are placed. If there are leaves that you want to place under the wreath, you will need to satin stitch them before you fuse the wreath down entirely. For the flowers, you will need to satin stitch down any parts of the design that will be covered by another piece of fused fabric, such as the centers. The design will look better if you satin stitch a layer and then fuse the next piece down.
Place the interfacing under the background. You could use a machine basting stitch to stitch the interfacing (Pellon Stitch & Tear or similar) temporarily to the background, but pinning works fine, too. You will need to zig zag with the interfacing under the background.
Satin stitch all the other pieces down using the thread you chose. When you stitch, the middle of the stitch will cover the outside raw edge of each piece. I line up the red arrow on my foot (see photo) with the sharp edge of that raw edge. The pieces you will satin stitch have curves, thus you will need to manipulate the stitch so it is smooth. Stitch with needle down.
Stop with the needle down on the outside of the curve for the leaves and flower petals. For the inside point between the flower petals stop above that point on the inside. If you do not have a machine that automatically stops with the needle down, again, you can use the hand wheel to move the needle into the downward position when you stop. Do thisMove the handwheel carefully without moving the fabric. Once the needle is down you will need to assess the way to turn the fabric. Always turn the fabric very slightly to ensure a smooth curve. You may only need to take one stitch before adjusting the fabric again in order to get around the curve smoothly. For the outside curves, generally, you need to turn the fabric to the left to make a smooth curve. (Updated 10/30/2012: My engineer SIL says: You turn it clockwise for outside curves and counter clockwise for inside curves. YMMV) The stitching will be closer together on the inside of the shape and more open on the outside of the shape when you move in this direction. For the inside point of the flower, between the petals, you will need to take a slight adjustment of the background to the right. For the pointy ends of the leaves, stop the needle on the outside of the leaf near the point and adjust the fabric to the right very, very slightly. Take one stitch, stop on the outside of the point again. Adjust very slightly to the right. Your goal should be to get the needle into the same hole on the inside of the leaf until the arrow or line on your machine’s foot is in line with the raw edge of the other side of the leaf. When you move the fabric always keep the needle down. Before starting, take a few of the templates, e.g. a leaf and a flower, make some test pieces and do a test with junk fabric so you get the feel of the procedure. This is not skill you should work on when you are pressed for time.
Once you are finished with the flowers, change your thread and adjust the width and density of your stitch, if desired.
Arrange the leaves in a pleasing manner. I placed 5 at a time on the background and stitched them down.
Arrange and stitch all of the leaves. My photo shows only 10 sewn leaves, but I did eventually stitch all of them.
Place the centers on the flowers and stitch them down. Follow all the directions above for tying off and moving the needle to create a smooth curve.
Once you have stitched all the pieces, rip off the tearaway. I use a seam ripper to get the ripping started on pieces that are surrounded by stitching. Try not to distort the block while you are tearing out the stabilizer.
Once you are finished with the entire stitching and ripping out the tearaway, trim the background down to 12.5″
Finished block! Hooray! You did it!
**Nota bene: These pieces have no right direction. You can trace them any way and apply them anyway and they will look fine. Pay attention if you are cutting out letters or another motif that has a special direction. Put the right side down on the paper backed fusible and trace the motif backwards.
Choose your fabrics. You will need fabric for the flowers (1-4 fabrics), leaves (1-20 fabrics) and the wreath (1 fabric). The leaves can be the traditional green or you can use something else. If you use one color, you might want to mix up the prints to increase interest. You can also use different colors. Make the block your own.
I used a variety of turquoises and aquas to keep my color scheme in the aqua/turquoise with red range. I have a few of the leaf fabrics picked out from my scrap basket, but need to find more. It is important, with my limited color scheme, to make sure the viewer can see the individual leaves.
The ring is the biggest pain to deal with so I worked on it first before I even really began thinking much about fabrics for the other parts. I decided to use one of the Pat Bravo Pure Elements solids in the turquoise range, but more on the green side. I haven’t used it in this quilt before, but it will complement the other colors. I picked it to highlight the leaves a little more.
Now you need to make sure that your fusible will cover your fabric.
I used a package of Steam-a-Seam 2 Lite, but there are many fusibles that will work just fine for this project. As I have said before, my new favorite is Soft Fuse. Use a product with which you are familiar or know how to use. Using what you have on hand is also a good idea.
Tear the paper carefully off of one side of the Steam-a-Seam 2 Lite (or follow directions for your fusible) and stick it to the fabric, smoothing it carefully so there are no puckers or bubbles. The fusible is sticky so you can stick to the fabric and re-position it until you are happy before you fuse it to the fabric.
Since the fusible pieces I had were 8.5″x11″, I needed to cover an extra piece (bottom of the photo above) that was wider than the 8.5″ width of the fusible. I cut a piece from the fusible (white part in photo above) and re-positioned it to cover the part of the fabric I need for the size of the template.
Once you are happy, fuse the 2 sided fusible (should have the paper left on one side) to your ring fabric. Follow the directions on the package or website. You may want to cover your ironing board and the piece with an applique’ pressing sheet to keep your iron and ironing surface clean.
Turn your fusible backed fabric so that the paper left on the fabric is face up, as in the photo above. Place your ring template face down on the paper and trace around it with a pencil.
Cut out the ring carefully on the line. I used an X-acto knife to start the center. I did use a pair of fabric scissors, but not my Gingher scissors. It is kind of hard to know what to do, because you are cutting both fabric and paper and you need a nice sharp edge. I use a pair of my mid-range scissors and hoped for the best. They still seem sharp even after this type of cutting.
Fold the ring into quarters and finger press lightly. Again you will be lining up the folds to center the ring.
Retrieve your background. Fold the background into quarters and finger press, so you can see the folds.
Remove the fusible paper from the ring.
Line up the folds of the ring with the folds of the background. If they are all in alignment, there should be a ring fold snuggled with a background fold evenly. If you want to check, measure from the edge to the ring. You do need an absolutely square block for this to work.
Press the ring with your iron, according to the fusible directions, onto the background so it sticks.
Carefully bring background with the ring stuck to it to the iron. Check to see that your ring is still in place. According to your fusible directions, press the ring into place.
Your ring should now be firmly ironed on to the center of the background.
Leave this piece on the ironing board temporarily.
Retreive the tearaway stabilizer and cut two pieces of tearaway stabilizer a little bit larger than your background fabric. Place your background on top of both pieces of tearaway and pin the background to the tearaway. This will provide stability and prevent the piece from puckering when you zig zag stitch the pieces.
You are now ready to machine applique’ your first part of the block. See part 3 for machine stitching the block.
Cut a piece of fabric for the background .5″ to 1″ bigger than the finished size of the block. If you have a regular background fabric, use that, if not use a coordinating fabric. I took a look at my current blocks to help me decide what background I wanted to choose. This is a coordinated scrappy quilt, but I also wanted to find a background that would work well with the applique pieces that I was planning to put on top of it.
After cutting out a background, put it aside for the time being. You will need it after you make the templates and the ring.
Rough cut out all the templates from the paperpattern. Feel free to adjust the design of the flowers or leaves, if you want the shapes to be a little different. It is good to make the pattern your own.
In the photo above, you can see all of them templates rough cut out, except the circles. The circles print from EQ7 on two sheets of paper. You will need to rough cut the two pieces for each circle and then tape them together. In order to tape the pieces together, hold each piece for one circle in a hand up to the light and match them up you. Before you hold them up, have have a small piece of tape ready to tack the pieces together. You can use a light box for this procedure also.
Fold circles in quarters to make a line down the centers. This will help you line them up to make the ring for the wreath.
I never did this before and had to figure it out, but it works pretty well.
Using the folds, layer the circles together so you can see the black line of the upper circle. Draw a line around the smaller circle, using the smaller circle as a template. You will be drawing on the larger circle. Use a soft implement (pencil or roller ball pen) that doesn’t skip to draw the circle. Once you have drawn the circle, you can put the smaller circle away with your other templates. I use a zipper bag for all of the pieces and parts.
Fold up the larger circle. Check the width of the ring of the wreath using a small ruler to make sure it is even. Once you are happy with the line. Cut along the line without opening the circle.
Once you have cut out the ring, open up the ring.
Now you are ready to make the templates. Grab all of your patterns, your template plastic and your glue stick.
Glue the paper templates to the template plastic.
The only tricky part is for the ring. I avoid the folds in the pattern and only put the template plastic on the parts of the ring where the fold isn’t. Why? Because I want to be able to fold this piece and put it in a zipper bag later. Also, by adding the template plastic in quarters you save template plastic and you can use smaller pieces. Finally, you don’t end up with a circle of leftover template plastic.
Trim the templates to the line on the pattern.
Depending on the kind of template plastic you have, your templates will look something like the photo above.
Part 2 will talk about choosing fabrics etc.
You can find more detail about machine appliqueing directional motifs, such as letters in a separate tutorial.
This is part of the quilt class, but I will use some different patterns and fabrics to demonstrate.
When I started working on the Tarts Come to Tea after a long break I really could not remember how to machine applique’. It was the strangest feeling. I knew the general principles (trace pattern, iron it on fabric, satin stitch around the shapes), but all the details were hiding in some dark corner of my mind. I felt like I had to start over.
Being a good librarian I looked at some books, but could only find references to needle-turn and raw-edged applique’. I developed the following process. This is an overview. A future tutorial will provide more detail.
large sketch pad
favorite fusible (I like Soft Fuse)
First, I draw the pattern out life size on a white sheet of sketch paper. (I know this doesn’t look like white paper, but see the Weekend Work post for an explanation). I usually draw in pencil to start. When I draw the shapes in pencil I can make small changes until I am satisfied with the shapes.
Next I trace the patterns on individual smaller sheets of paper. If there are parts that need to be in different colors or need to be separated for some reason, then I make separate patterns for them. For example, I made a separate pattern each for the main part of the cup, the coffee, the handle and the inside-back of the cup, above.
I put the Soft Fuse, or other fusible of your choice, over the pattern and trace the pattern onto Soft Fuse.
After that is done, I trim the fabric to the approximate size, then press the Soft Fuse (or other appropriate fusible) on to the wrong side of that piece of fabric.
Repeat for all of the parts of your pattern.
Finally, remove the paper and stick the pieces to the background.
Press the fusible on to the background, according to the directions and satin stitch around the edges.
Today we will work through the tutorial on making a LeMoyne Star. This block is also called an Eight Pointed Star. The method described below is one of the methods I use to make it. There are many methods and I encourage you to try different techniques.
Alex Anderson has a great tutorial on one of the Quilt Show episodes on making a Split LeMoyne Star.
Before you do anything else, print the rotary cutting instructions below (first item under supplies). All the sizes, shapes, etc are there.
These directions use a quarter inch seam allowance.
You will be creating Y seams.
Chain piecing is not part of this tutorial.
Respect the bias.
Do not sew into the seam allowance.
Cut a 3″x 23″ strips. That should be long enough for 4 diamonds (parallelograms). Cutting a 3″ strip across the width of a half yard of fabric (3″ x ~40″) will generate a strip that is long enough. You will need two of these strips. Using 2 different fabrics looks good.
As shown (above), line your ruler up so the 45 degree angle on your ruler is along the bottom of the strip.The side of the ruler should be lined up right in the corner of your strip.
The idea is to cut off the end of the strip, so you have the correct angle of one of the pointy ends of the diamond. I did try my diamond ruler, but none of the lines were quite the right size, so I couldn’t use it for this particular block.
I used the two rulers to make sure that the diamond were accurate. The first ruler, on the left, should be even with the far left diamond point so that it measures 4.25″ along the bottom edge. I used that measurement to line up the 45 degree angle of the second ruler so I could cut the angle in the right place. I butted the second ruler up against the first ruler (carefully) so everything was in alignment. The second ruler (on the right) must have a 45 degree angle that intersects with a corner or this method won’t work.
I removed the left ruler before I started cutting, as it was easier to cut with just one ruler on the mat. I was careful not to jostle the ruler in the 45 degree angle position. Line your ruler up exactly as shown in the photo. You don’t have to have exactly the rulers I have. You can use any rulers with the correct lines.
I found that the method really does work. You will need to repeat the step above 8 times to get 8 diamonds. After the first diamond, it will be easier, since you can use the 2d cut for each diamond as the first cut for the next diamond.
Aside from having to watch out for ruler jostling, I was really pleased with how easy this was and well these diamonds came out. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t have wanted to cut the 300+ diamonds for FOTY 2010 using this method, but for a LeMoyne Star, it works very well.
I cut all the diamonds at once from two strips of two different fabrics. My fabrics are:
background: Lil Plain Jane
red diamonds: Moda Bliss #55021
aqua dot diamonds: Moda Bliss #55023
Cut the squares and triangles according to the cutting directions on the PDF in the supply list. The triangles are quarter square triangles, which means that you cut the triangles so the straight of the grain will be along the hypotenuse (the long side of the traingle).
If you have some reason for not being able to cut the side triangles as shown, be careful while sewing the block together and then stay stitch the outside of the block once you are finished.
Once your pieces are cut, lay them out or adhere them to your design surface, so you know what you have.
I like to keep them where I can see them because it helps me to know where I am. As I sew, I put the sewn elements of the block back up on the design wall.
Once you have cut all the diamonds, you will need to mark them. You need to mark 1/4″ away from the seam line, because if you want this block to come out right, you cannot sew into the seam allowance. The biggest rule I have for making the LeMoyne/8 pointed star block is NOT to sew into the seam allowance. There are exceptions, but I am not going into those now.
Put your diamonds face down on a writing surface and prepare to mark. As you can see from the photo, I used my cutting mat as the hard surface. You can use a table or whatever else works for your work area. I used the Sewline pencil to make the marks. Pilot SCUF pens, a mechanical pencil, etc also work. A regular pencil might not have a sharp enough point to be accurate.
Get ready to mark the seam allowance on all of your pieces (squares, triangles, diamonds).
I like using the Perfect Piecer ruler by Jinny Beyer for marking weird angles, because I only have to move the ruler once to mark the ‘corner.’
With the Perfect Piecer (they aren’t giving me free stuff, BTW!), you put the ruler in the ‘corner’ as shown in the photo. Where I have placed the circle is a hole. Note it is a small hole, so a regular No.2 pencil usually won’t work. Stick your Sewline (or other fabric marking implement with a very thin point) in there and make a dot. Voilà!
You will need to use two different parts of
the Perfect Piecer ruler to make the marks on all four ‘corners’. There is no angle for the sides of the diamonds, so just use the straight edge (as I describe below). You don’t need to know the angles, if angles make you crazy. Just match up the shape of the ruler with your cut piece.
You can certainly use any kind of ruler. Take your regular ruler and line up the 1/4″ line with the cut edge. Make a line around where you think the quarter inch would be. Make it longer, so you don’t have to go back and make the line longer. Move the ruler to the opposite cut edge of the diamond and cross your first line with a new line. Make sure your lines make an X. I have done this numerous time and there is no problem using an X instead of the Perfect Piecer dot.
In case you were wondering what the marks look like, the photo (red diamond with blue circles, left) shows examples.
The upper left hand mark inside the blue circle is the mark made with a Perfect Piecer and the Sewline pencil.
The lower right hand mark is made using a regular rotary cutting ruler and the Sewline pencil. Either mark works, as I said. You will use these marks to stop and start your seam lines. NO sewing into the seam allowance!
You will need to mark the squares and the triangles, too. You can use the Perfect Piecer to mark those pieces as well.
At this point, use some Mary Ellen’s Best Press to stiffen your pieces since you will be working with and sewing along a lot of bias edges. You can either spray it on all of your pieces at once, or as you are getting ready to sew. If you don’t want to use Mary Ellen’s Best Press or spray starch, no problem. Just keep in mind that you are working with bias edges and you need to work with them carefully. You don’t need to be afraid of bias edges. Just work slowly and carefully. Respect the Bias! 😉
Sew Segments Together
Now you are ready to sew!
First, position one of your side triangles over the diamond as shown, right sides together. You are lining up the diamond with the left non-hypotenuse side of the side triangle.
Line up the marks you have made on the diamond with the marks you made on the triangles.
I used pins. I stick them through the two marks vertically one time to keep them in place until I get to the sewing machine.
You can give the pieces a little press to stick them together, if you want.
Next sew from mark to mark. Start sewing at one mark and stop at the second mark. Stay out of the seam allowance! You can back stitch, if you want, but stay out of the seam allowance. Easy!
An Aside: You are probably wondering about the lemon fabric. Short answer: ignore the lemon fabric. Long answer: I press fabric on my ironing board and if I am pressing a lot of pieces, then I will put a larger piece of fabric so that I can get more bang for my buck. As I press the smaller pieces the larger piece gets pressed as well.
You can press now. If you do, press carefully (remember the bias, respect the bias) towards the diamond. If you don’t want to press until later, that is ok, too. I usually create the entire segment (2 diamonds, one triangle) before I press.
Now you have your first piece. YAY!
Not hard or scary, right?
Repeat this step for all of the diamonds that will be in the same position as my aqua with white dot diamonds.
The next step is to sew the second diamond on to the segment (above: aqua with white dot & Lil Plain Jane flower fabrics) you have just made. You will be doing an inset seam. An inset seam is also called a Y seam. A lot of people hear Y Seam and panic. Y Seams are not difficult, but you can’t chain piece them and you have to pay attention. This method is similar to sewing hexagons together. Y seams really expand the number of quilt block designs you will be able to make.
As you can see I have lined the red diamond up with the segment I sewed and am ready to line up the pieces, pin and sew.
First, line up the marks on the triangle and the diamond.
I used pins to make sure that everything was lined up before I sewed. I placed the pins through the marks on both pieces of fabric vertically. I put a pin in the middle of seam line, once all the pieces were lined up, right before I sewed to hold everything together.
You will be sewing in two stages. I like to sew the triangle to the second diamond before I sew the two diamonds together.
Next, place the group of 3 patches (2 diamonds and a triangle) under the needle, lining up the marks so that the needle misses the seam allowance and goes straight into the first mark. Only sew through 2 layers of fabric.
Sew from mark to mark. The triangle and the second diamond will now be sewed together.
Second, line up the new diamond with the diamond you have already sewed to the triangle.
Match up the marks on the top and sides of the diamond and pin vertically. Right sides should be together.
Put the top of the 2 diamonds into the machine. You will start sewing at the mark, which is 1/4″ in from the top of the diamond. Sew between the two marks, avoiding the seam allowance. I sew towards the triangle.
Sew down to the mark at the bottom of the diamond. If the pressed seam allowance looks like it will go under the needle, move it out of the way with your finger, the tip of some sharp scissors or a stiletto.
Stop at the second mark.
Remove the piece from the machine.
Once you have sewed the the three patches together, you will have one full segment completed.
Next, press the 3 seam allowances into a swirl. This is similar to what you did with the hexagon block. As a guide, use the first seam that you pressed after sewing the first diamond to your triangle.
The reason I suggest the ‘Swirl’ is that it reduces bulk later. This particular pressing point isn’t as important in terms of bulk as the center, which has a crazy number of layers, once finished. Consistency is good, though.
Repeat to make four of the above segments.
Sew Quarters into Halves
Line up the square to the [red] diamond, matching the marks.
Arrange your pieces like I have done.
Line up the marks in the square with the marks on the outside side of the bottom (red in the picture) diamond.
Press, if you like.
Pin, if you like. Go back to the sewing machine and sew from mark to mark.
Repeat this step for all four segments.
If you just look at the next photo, you might have a heart attack. Please don’t. Adding the square is not hard. The key is to NOT sew into the seam allowance.
Nota bene: You can actually sew into the seam allowance on any seam that will end up on the outside of the block. If this thought is going to make your head explode, then just remember my mantra: don’t sew into the seam allowance and you will be fine.
Sew the [red] diamond to the aqua diamond on the bottom. Stay out of the seam allowance and sew mark to mark.
It looks weird once you have sewn the diamonds together, but it will work out.
Pin vertically as discussed.
Line up the square with the [aqua] diamond and sew from mark to mark.
Two Halves of Block
Finally, we are ready to sew the two halves together. You should have pressed in such a way that you can nestle the diamonds together using your pressed opposing seams.
Match up the marks with pins. I used really thin ones this time. I normally use the kind shown in the center detail photo, but switched to thinner ones as I worked on this step, because my normal pins weren’t giving me the accurate results I needed for this exacting piecing. Note that I don’t pin right in the center. I pin well where I am not going to sew and may put another vertical pin in the center temporarily. There are so many layers in the center that it doesn’t always make sense to pin there. Do what works for you.
Line up your piece carefully.
Hold on to your pinned halves tightly.
Sew over the center only . Start about an inch from one side of the center and stop about an inch after the center- ~2″ with the center point at the 1″ mark.
Sewing only a couple of inches makes it much easier to rip out. You might think that this will be a piece of cake, which it might be for you. It can be tricky also, because of the many layers of fabric that you are sewing through. My sewing machine did not want to go straight over that center section, which is why I had to rip the stitching out the first time.
Take the piece out of your machine, open it and see if you were able to match the center.
Once you have the center matched to your satisfaction, sew from the edge of one diamond across the entire center to the edge of the opposite diamond. Remember the mantra? Refrain from sewing into the seam allowance.
Once you have sewn the squares to the last sides of the last diamonds, pressing becomes very important. I have indicated with the circles how your pressing should look. If you need to re-press, spray the piece with water and that will make it easier.
By creating a swirl during the pressing of the center, you will reduce bulk for your later quilting step. You will thank yourself if you quilt your own quilts. Your quilter will thank you, if you have a longarmer quilt your quilts.
Once you have sewn the squares to the last sides of the last diamonds and pressed the piece, you should have a gorgeous block and feel very proud of yourself.
Fabric scissors (see note on using a rotary cutter**)
Design surface or sandpaper board
Wooden kebab stick, stiletto or similar item you can use with your iron
Mary Ellen’s Best Press
hand sewing needle
hand sewing thread
Block is 12.5″ unfinished, 12″ finished
These directions use a quarter inch seam allowance.
You will be creating Y seams.
Chain piecing is not part of this tutorial.
Respect the bias.
Do not sew into the seam allowance.
1. Prepare pattern for your hexagon template by printing two copies of the pattern.
Place one copy of the pattern with your other notes for reference or in your binder. Use it as reference first. Rough cut the hexagon pattern out of the other sheet.
Nota bene: Sometimes the seam allowance doesn’t print out, so you may need to add 1/4″ seam allowance to the pattern before rough cutting.
Glue the paper pattern (with seam allowances), using the glue stick (or other suitable adhesive), to the template plastic.
Create an Accurate Pattern
Fine cut the paper pattern you have adhered to the template plastic so you have an accurate template.
Gather your fabric and press it all. You can rough cut some pieces and press it with Mary Ellen’s Best Press to help keep the bias from stretching. The MEBP won’t prevent the bias from stretching, but it will add a bit of stiffness and help.
Place your template face down on the wrong side of the fabric and trace carefully around your template directly on to the fabric.
Cut using scissors.**
**PLEASE Do not cut around your template plastic template with a rotary cutter. I want you to be able to finish the block with no blood. There is not enough protection for your fingers. A rotary ruler gives your finger some protection from the blade of your cutter cutter. If you use a rotary cutter, you may want to use a hexagon ruler, such as the Fons & Porter Hexagon ruler. The smallest hexagon on that ruler is larger than my template, but you can alter the pattern slightly by using 19 of those hexagons, which fit in the 12.5″ block. You can also cut using a rotary ruler and rotary cutter by lining up the ruler on the line you drew around your template.
Cut 19 hexagons from your fabric.
Now, mark your hexagons so that the Y seams will be easy to sew. As mentioned in the supply list, I use the Jinny Beyer Perfect Piecer.
Line up your ruler in every angle in every hexagon and make a dot.***
You can also make a cross at the seam allowance by lining up a regular ruler along your cut edge and drawing a line near the angle. See the tutorial called Hexagons -Preparing to Sew, which gives more information.
***Nota bene: I used a different color fabric so you could sort of see the dot.
Remember: you will sew between the dots only NOT into the seam allowance. This is how you sew Y seams and we have done that in other tutorials.
Arrange your hexagons in a pleasing manner on your design surface or on a sandpaper board.
Take two hexagons, that will be next to each other in the final block, place them right sides together.
Put them under the presser foot, lining up your Perfect Piecer mark under the needle
Sew a few stitches, then backstitch.
Sew the entire seam to the second Perfect Piecer mark. Backstitch*+ to secure.
*+Nota bene: You want to backstitch even though it is a bit tedious, because no other seams will cross the seams stitching the hexagons together. If you do not backstitch, there is a chance your stitches will come out before you get to the quilting part. You can also leave long tails and make a knot at every intersection.
I like to to sew my hexagon patches together in groups of three, thus we will need to add the third hexagon to the two you just sewed together.
Lay the piece of two hexagons you just sewed on the table and place the third hexagon patch on top of top one, right sides together. Sew the third hexagon to the piece of two hexagons starting at the dot marked Start and stopping at the Perfect Piecer mark indicated as Stop. Backstitch as described above.
Remove from the machine and clip your threads.
Now you are ready to sew the last seam to make a larger patch out of the three hexagons. Line up your third hexagon with the hexagon you didn’t sew a minute ago.
Pin. I put the pin in a place closer to the stop mark, so I can fit the sewing machine foot on the Perfect Piecer Start mark.
Nota bene: I don’t normally pin small hexagons, but when I am sewing the last seam it is useful.
The second hexagon will be kind of rolled up. Just keep it out of the way of the needle. You don’t want to sew it to the underside of the other hexagons.
I keep my pieces on the design wall as I sew them in order to keep them in order.
Keep sewing your patches together in chunks, then into larger chunks until you get all of them sewn together. Sewing groups of hexagons together is like sewing 2 or three together. Sew between Perfect Piecer dots. You just have to be carefully to keep the other, already sewn, hexagons out of the way. Just keep looking at the finished pieces to make sure they are in the right shape.
Nota bene: It is useful to have a digital camera handy and take a photo of your layout in case of confusion while sewing. You can also number your patches with numbered pins or Post-it notes.
For small hexagon blocks, I usually don’t press until I am done sewing all of them, because I want all the swirls to be orderly.
Press from the back, one seam at a time so all of the seams look like they are pressed in a circular motion. While pressing from the back you will need to make sure the front is smooth. The center where the patches meet will look like a mini hexagon.
When finished the block will have a lot of mini hexagons on the back.
In order to prepare for applique’, you have to do something with the edges. If you want to do raw edge applique, you will need to trim the seam allowance off the outer edges, using the Perfect Piecer marks as a guide.
My preferred method is pressing the seam allowance on the outer edges in to make a clean edge.
Lay your hexagon piece right sides down on your ironing board.
Use the Perfect Piecer marks as a guide. Fold and finger press the outer edges in.
Next, get your fingers out of the way and press using a hot iron so the edges are pressed permanently under. Use a stiletto or kebab stick to hold the edge under the iron.
Once all of the edges are pressed under you are ready to place your piece on the background.
If you have not already done so, cut a background piece 13″ x 13″. It is cut a little larger to accommodate any take up from the applique’. You will trim it to 12.5″ x 12.5″.
Fold in quarters and finger press just so you can see the lines. DO NOT press with an iron. These press lines are a guide and shouldnät become permanent.
Using your finger pressed lines, center the hexagon piece, right side up, on the background.
Sew down either by hand or by machine using the applique’ tutorial.
This is a daunting tutorial. You have made it to the last section! Good job!
This segment discusses sewing the block together. In order to get to this point, you should have completed parts 1, 2 and three as well as part four.
Like piecing all other blocks, you want to sew smaller pieces together to make larger pieces, then sew the larger pieces together to complete the block. In part three, you should have cut any fabric for templates that did not have matching fabric patches already cut. Inventory your templates and make sure you have a fabric patch to match each template. If you don’t, go back to part three.
Now, following the skills you learned in the curves tutorial, sew the two patches together. Remember that the edges are not quite as smooth on the other (blue) side, but that is ok. Just remember to sew slowly and carefully.
Once those two patches are sewn, they might look a little rumpled, but once you turn them both right side up and carefully press the section, they will look great.
Press which ever way you think will work best for your block.
Next, we will sew the corner section to the small pieced strip (Section D).
Nota bene: if you did not foundation piece the small strip, follow the directions in part 4 or part three to do so. If you haven’t done any foundation piecing you might want to start with this piece as it is smaller and less complex than the pointy triangles section.
Again you will need to pin. This time you are pinning your quarter circle corner piece and your small foundation pieced strip.
Take your quarter circle corner piece and your small foundation pieced strip and pin them together. Line up the straight edges on the ends and pin them together (horizontally-see photo above). I make sure the horizontal pins are out of the way of other pins and the sewing machine foot. They are used just to make sure my piece is in place while I put the other pins in.
I use a lot of pins. It works for me. I know there are other tutorials that are pinless or use minimal pins, but I want precision and pins give me precision. Put these two pieces together the way it works for you. Remember: you only have two hands.
Once you are happy with your pinning, get ready to sew. I put the non-pieced corner quarter circle on the bottom and the pieced part on the top. I try to make this a habit, though it doesn’t matter with this particular foundation pieced section. In some sections, like our spiky triangle section, it matters.
You can rip off the paper before you piece or not. I was having some other problems, so I ripped it off, but normally, I leave it on until the very last second, e.g. before I took the pieced top to the quilter!
Attach your quarter inch foot and sew your small foundation pieced strip to your corner quarter circle. If you don’t know how to sew curves, take a look at the curves tutorial.
Once you are finished, press carefully. I press to the side with the least number of seams, or to the side that the fabric seems to be naturally inclined to lay. Your corner will look gorgeous like the one above.
Once you have the small foundation pieced strip attached to your quarter circle, you will sew it to your spiky triangles piece. You will, again, pin a lot, using the horizontal pin trick to stabilize the piece.
Again, as shown in the photo above, I put the foundation pieced part on top. In this case, you are sewing two foundation pieced sections together, so you can choose which you want on top. I chose the spiky triangles section to go on top, but it doesn’t really matter, since there are no points to worry about cutting off.
Next sew the two remaining sections together, press, again, towards the piece with the least number of seams and you should have a piece like the one below.
After all that work, you have a beautiful foundation pieced block. Pat yourself on the back!
We are nearing the last part of the foundation piecing class. I know this is a long tutorial, but there are a lot of steps and it is difficult to explain when I am not in the same room with you. I also don’t have a crew, so photographing every single step with only two hands is a challenge.
Mostly this segment discusses getting ready to sew the major parts of your block together. Yes, there is more prep before you can sew your blocks together. I will give some template tips as well. In order to get to this point, you should have completed parts 1, 2 and part 3. All of the supplies are listed in part 1.
Like all other parts of piecing, your goal is to sew smaller pieces together to make larger pieces. First, inventory your templates and make sure you have a fabric patch for each template.
For any templates that do not have matching fabric patches, cut your fabric.
Based on the photo above, I need to cut 3 pieces. In some New York Beauty related patterns, these are pieced, but in ours we are using one fabric. You can certainly modify any of these pieces to do more foundation piecing.
To cut out these templates, I place my fabric right side down and the template right side down and draw on the back of the fabric. This is the same for all three of the templates.
Your patches should look similar to your template once cut out. All of these templates have an element of bias, so handle them carefully.
Once you have drawn your template shape on the fabric, you can cut it out. Where possible, I use a rotary cutter and ruler. If I cannot use those tools, e.g. for the curves in the pieces of this block, I use very sharp scissors and cut slowly and carefully. Above you can see that I have cut as many parts of the patch as possible with my rotary kit and am ready to cut the curve with scissors.
As with the previous piece, lay your fabric right side down and place the corner template on top, also right side down. Draw around it with a thin point Pilot Scuff, Pigma Micron, or similar, pen.
Once you have drawn carefully around the template, remove it and make sure your line is continuous. If it is not continuous, carefully replace the template and fix the missing segments.
Line up your ruler with the corner of the fabric patch. You may need to rough cut your fabric first, if there is too much yardage skewing the fabric as you try and cut.
The corner quarter circle template has a quarter inch seam allowance, so you don’t have to do anything, but cut the line you drew (and all the fabric on the other side) off. You will want to cut so that the line is cut off, but you need to cut ONLY the line off.
Also, these pieces are large, so make sure you can hold your ruler down tight as you are cutting. You want to avoid ruining a whole large piece of fabric because your ruler shifted.
Cut any other pieces you might need.
Once you have cut out your fabric patches, you will have pieces that look like those in the above photo.
After seeing the above patches laid out, I decided to sew the two outer pieces together first. Again I want to join smaller pieces into larger sections. Also, the very outer piece has very skinny ends. I want to stabilize them a bit by sewing them to another piece before sewing them to the foundation pieced Section C.
The first order of business is to pin them together. I apply horizontal pins on the ends and a lot of pins in the middle. My goal is to make the seam smooth. You are working on the bias, so don’t yank too much.
For my advanced students: if you put the horizontal pin in the two fabrics as shown above, the horizontal pins on each side should be out of the way of your 1/4″ foot.
It is not quite as smooth on the other side, but that is ok. Set this piece aside for now, but remember that when you are ready to sew, sew slowly and carefully. Next, we will sew the corner section (quarter circle, Section D) to the small pieced strip.
If you don’t know how to sew curves together, check out the curves tutorial.
Nota bene: if you did not foundation piece the small strip, follow the directions in part 3 or above to do so. If you haven’t done any foundation piecing before you might want to start with this piece as it is smaller and less complex than the pointy triangles section (Section C).
I use a lot of pins and I know there are other tutorials that are pinless or use minimal pins. Put these two pieces together the way it works for you.
Now you are ready for part 5, which is the last part, I promise. 😉
If you have to rip out stitches, rip them out from the fabric side, not the paper side.
Pay attention to putting the next fabric piece on the foundation.
We are midway through the foundation piecing class making a New York compass block. This is a long tutorial, but there are a lot of steps and I want all of the parts to be clear.
This segment discusses more foundation piecing. In order to get to this point, you should have completed parts 1 and 2. All of the supplies are listed in Part 1
Remember our goal:
Next, we need to foundation piece the small strip called Section D.
Cut 4 pieces of fabric that coordinate with the fabrics of your block. The pieces should be about 2.5″x 1.75″, which is generous. You may be able to use scraps for these pieces.
As you did in Part 2, you will work on placing 2 fabrics on the line between D1 & D2 with about a quarter inch hanging over into D2 as a seam allowance. Note the printed part of the pattern (the lines on which you sew) are face down for this step.
I like to pin the first piece of fabric to my pattern. It helps keep the fabric from shifting as I work on the second piece of fabric. Note the printed part of the pattern (the lines on which you sew) are face up for this step.
Flip Section D back over and position the second piece of fabric over the first. I often hold the pieces up to the light (or use a lightbox) to position the second piece.
When you have both of your pieces placed like you like them, pin in place. I like to use thin pins. Your piece should now look like the above photo.
With the applique’ foot on your machine. Sew on the line between D1 & D2. Do not cross the perpendicular line at the top or bottom. Back stitch one stitch at the beginning and the end.
Once you have sewn on the line, your piece should look like the above photo.
Open up both pieces and make sure they cover D1 & D2. Once you are convinced that you have covered both D1 & D2 with your fabric and there is a 1/4″ seam allowance, press your piece. Press with the pattern on top. Note the pattern is face up and you can see the sewing lines. (Nota bene: if you have taped your pattern, use a press cloth so that you do not get melted tape on your iron)
Flip your Section D over again, so you are ready to trim.
Lay your pattern, with sewn fabric, pattern side up (fabric down) on your cutting mat. The inside part of the curve will be facing your body. You may want to flip Section D around if you are left handed.
Fold the longer piece of the pattern over to the left using the seam line as the fold line. This will expose the fabric that will be your seam allowance.
Line up your ruler’s 1/4″ mark on the seam/fold line and trim your seam allowance to 1/4″.
Trim seam allowance to 1/4″.
Go back to the ironing board and position your piece so the fabric is up, pattern side down and smooth the fabric towards D2, lightly finger pressing.
Take the piece to the iron and press carefully towards D2.
Place your next fabric with the longer part towards D2 and the future seam allowance closer to D3. Hold the whole piece up to the light to make sure your placement is correct.
Pin in place.
Get ready to sew on the line between D2 & D3.
Once sewn, your piece should look like the photo above.
Check to make sure your fabric covers pattern section D3. You do this by folding the fabric over and looking to see that you have about 1/4″ on all sides.
Now, get ready to trim. Put your piece on the cutting mat pattern side up.
Fold your pattern to the left again, like you did before.
Line up your ruler’s 1/4″ mark on the seam/fold line and trim your seam allowance to 1/4″.
See that bump in the photo above? You do not want that bump to show once you have pieced D4 on to the parts of Section D you have already pieced. Press again, this time towards D4. Avoid the bump by pressing!
Press towards D4. No ironing!
We are heading to the home stretch!
Position your last piece as you have done before. It is going to look at little weird and out of alignment, because you are working with a curve. Remember to position the fabric so it covers D5 plus 1/4″ seam allowance. Pay no attention to the edges of the other pieces, such as D4, that you have already sewn.
It is easier for me to see whether or not piece D5 was in the right position by pinning it. Note, I would pin it on the pattern side to sew, because then I can see where the pin is in relation to where my sewing machine foot and needle are. The pin in the photo is temporary.
Once you have the placement finalized, go ahead and sew.
Now you have to fold back the pattern one last time and prepare to trim the seam allowance.
Now your piece is done. Fold back the D5 fabric and press. Place your ruler on the lines at the end of the pattern and trim a 1/4″ seam allowance. I know you can do this without photos.
Now you have to trim the curved parts of Section D
It is too difficult to sew the untrimmed Section D, so you will have to trim.
To trim, mark 1/4″ away from the dark line. The dots in the photo above mark 1/4″. I have trimmed the straight ends with a rotary cutter and I am ready to play “dot to dot” with my scissors. I am going to cut from dot to dot to create a 1/4″ seam allowance.
On to part 4!
If you have to rip out stitches, rip them out from the fabric side, not the paper side.
Pay attention to putting the next piece on the foundation.
We are learning foundation piecing (also called paper piecing) using a pattern called New York Compass. If you are just finding this tutorial, go to part 1 to see the supply list and learn how to prepare your pieces.
I am using an aqua with white dots for my background and a red with white dots for my foreground. You should have already cut your rectangles for both foreground and background at 2.5″x6″. If not, do it now, as you will need them almost immediately.
The sections of Section C are marked in the order in which you should piece them. Start with C1. Odd numbers are the background and even numbers indicate you should use the foreground (spikes) fabric.
You will be piecing from one side (C1) towards the middle to the other side, ending with C17.
Set up your sewing machine with an applique’ foot or similar. You will not need your quarter inch foot for the foundation piecing part of the process.
Shorten the stitch length. If you can’t shorten the stitch length, remember to backstitch at the beginning and end of each line of stitching.
If you are a speed demon, and the option is available on your machine, slow down your machine a little bit. You will need to control the speed at the beginning and the end of the stitching lines.
Place your Section C pattern face down on a flat surface.
Cover piece C1 on the paper pattern with one of the background rectangles you cut in Part 1. Place the fabric in such a way to leave at least 1/4″ of fabric around each piece. You get extra bonus points if you line one long straight edge with the straight line at the end of the pattern.
Now, hold the pattern and the foreground fabric in one hand (optionally you can clip them together with a WonderClip) and hold the whole piece up to the light (facing a window or a lamp or on a light box). Take note of where the line is between C1 and C2.
Still holding your pieces up to the light, take one of your foreground rectangles and place one of its edges 1/4″ from the line between C1 and C2. This will be the seam allowance and that quarter inch should hang over the line into C2.
Put all the pieces carefully back down on your table.
Pin the two fabrics to the paper, keeping the pin well away from the line between C1 and C2. You want enough space so the pin doesn’t interfere with the foot on your sewing machine. I also like to pin parallel to the sewing line and within the seam allowance to so I can test to see if the fabric covers the other pieces. I like to pin on my cutting mat so I don’t damage the furniture.
Fold the foreground piece back to make sure that it covers C2. You will fold it on the line between C1 and C2. That will be your sewing line. You can move the pins to the front for easier sewing.
Flip the whole thing over and take a look.
Once pinned, check again to make sure that you have at least 1/4″ all around C1 (background) and C2 (foreground).
Take your piece to the sewing machine and sew on the line between C1 and C2. Do not go over. Only sew on that line.
Back stitch at the beginning and the end. One backstitch is fine.
Remove the piece from under the presser foot and fold your foreground over to check and make sure it covered C2. You might need to hold it up to the light.
You can see the foreground fabric through the background, which is why you need to trim. Depending on the colors you use, this may not be the case, but you don’t want to build up so many layers that you cannot quilt through the piece.
Take Section C back to your cutting mat and place it so the paper part of the pattern is on top.
Fold the paper back on the seam line so the excess seam allowance is exposed. You are going to cut this off, so it is worthwhile to take a minute and make sure you are not cutting off the wrong part, eg the part you need to cover your background and spikes.
Line up your ruler with the 1/4″ line on the seam line and trim the excess seam allowance.
Take your piece to your ironing surface and place it with the paper down. Press towards the foreground, so you get rid of as much of the “bump'” from the seam as you can. Press towards the middle of your pattern. You want the foreground fabric to be as flat as you can get it. Pressing is very important. It is possible that there will be a bump when you put the next piece over the previous one, if you don’t press well.
Your foreground piece should cover the line between C2 and C3 and give you a 1/4″ seam allowance.
Once you have pressed the foreground flat, you are ready to put on the next background piece.
Take one of your background rectangles and place one of its edges 1/4″ from the line between C2 and C3, smoothing (without stretching) the foreground piece you sewed, so it is as flat as possible. Again, this will be the seam allowance and that quarter inch should hang over the line into section C3. You may need to hold it up to the light again to position the piece correctly.
Once you have the correct placement, pin in place.
Once pinned, check again to make sure that you have at least 1/4″ all around C2 (background) .
Take your piece to the sewing machine and sew on the line between C2 and C3. Do not sew beyond the end of that line. Only sew on that line.
Repeat this process, alternating between foreground and background until you reach the other end of Section C. As you move down the pattern, your Section C will start to look like something you could put into a block.
Use your rotary cutting kit to trim the straight edges of Section C.
From the paper pattern side of Section C, I eyeball a 1/4″ and trim the curves with very sharp scissors. There are some serious layers here, so I am not fooling when I say sharp.
The finished Section C is a sight to behold. Even after making several of these sections, I amazed each time it turns out.
If you have to rip out stitches, rip them out from the fabric side, not the paper side.
Pay attention to putting the next piece on the foundation.
I hope you are enjoying this class! I am really appreciating the opportunity to update the tutorials. I hope to do more updating and keep making them better.
Today we are going to start another series of tutorials to learn foundation piecing. Foundation piecing is a technique where the pattern is printed on paper or fabric (the foundation) and the maker sews directly on to that foundation.
The block we will use is called New York Compass, a variation of the New York Beauty pattern. It is a little more complex than the patterns we have been working on, but I decided to throw caution to the wind and nudge you to step up. You have done curves, so I am confident you can sew this block.
In part 1, we will prep everything.
Notebook for notes
Pen to take notes 😉
applique’ foot (preferably one with a mark showing where the needle will stitch)
foundation piecing paper like Toni’s Disappearing Paper or Carol Doak’s Foundation Paper – you can just use printer paper, but it might be harder to rip off. Tracing paper can work, too, but it is good to be able to send the paper through the printer
Print the pattern sheets (all 4). I only have 8.5″x11″ paper so the pattern comes out on 4 sheets. Use some kind of foundation piecing paper to print the pattern. Nota Bene: I keep a folder for all of my projects, so I like to print at least 2, if not 3 copies of the pattern. One I use to make the templates (yes, we will need a few templates), one I will tape together and keep whole (you can use regular copy paper for this one) and one I will use for the foundations.
Trim off the margins and tape the parts together. Note, the tape will not play nicely with your iron when you press the foundation pieced parts so USE A PRESSING CLOTH. A scrap of fabric or ugly fabric work great. Guess how I found this out?
Above is how the templates shake out: 3 regular plastic backed templates and two foundation templates.
Cut the parts of the pattern apart. You will have 5 parts. Two of them will be foundation piecing patterns and 3 of will need to be made into regular templates with template plastic.
I am going to refer to the skinny spikes piece as Section C. Section C is in the middle.
Make your templates. You must add a quarter of inch to your paper templates (not the ones that will be foundation pieced. If you don’t know how to make templates with template plastic, refer to my tutorial on Machine Applique’ Part 1. Make sure you place the template on the wrong side of fabric when tracing. Set the templates aside
Cut rectangles for foundation piecing 2.5″x 6.5″. This is a generous rectangle. You aren’t going to save any fabric with this technique and you should worry more about coming up short, because ripping out stitches when using this technique is a real pain.
There is one tricky part about these templates. You will need to add a 1/4″ to the curve. The way you do that is to: A) glue the paper template to the largest piece of template plastic you have (you may have to piece the template plastic). B) Take your ruler and start at the left end of the paper template. Line the ruler’s 1/4″ mark up with the dark outline on the paper template (you should still have a rough cut paper template before you glue the paper to template plastic). C) Make a mark with a template plastic friendly pen at the 1/4″. D) Move your ruler slightly to the right and make another mark at the 1/4″ point. E) Follow the curved line of the paper part of the template with your ruler until you reach the far right side of the ruler. F) Cut along the dots you have made in as smooth a motion as you can using your paper scissors. You should now have a quarter inch seam allowance along your template. Repeat for all curved templates.
Cut your fabrics. Nota Bene: When you cut the fabrics for Section C, cut rectangles for these spikes at 2.5″ wide.
Check to make sure you have cut your rectangles large enough. Take your Section C and lay it face up. Cover the first section (labeled C1 on my pattern) to make sure your rectangle covers the entire section C1 plus 1/4″ seam allowance around all sides.
Part 2 will be posted soon so you can learn the actual foundation piecing.
If you have to rip out stitches, rip them out from the fabric side, not the paper side.
As mentioned in part 1, above is the current block in our Sampler Quilt Class. These directions are for machine sewing your Flower Basket and include a little applique’. The applique’ can be done by machine or hand.
Are you playing along? If you are just starting, below is the complete supply list. You won’t need everything for this step, but you will need to start with part 1 and that part requires more supplies.
These directions use a quarter inch seam allowance. Check your seam allowance before you begin. If you don’t know how to do that, there are resources available, including one from Connecting Threads and Craftsy. Search the web for others if you don’t like these tutorials.
You will be directed to use the Triangle Technique. Make sure you have the chart as well as the instructions handy.
Respect the bias.
After working through part 1, you have already chosen your fabrics, made your templates and cut your pieces. You are ready to sew.
Carefully stitch along the hypotenuse of the large background triangle, about 1/8″ from the edge, to stabilize it. This stitching will be covered up when you stitch the handle part of the block to the basket part of the block.
The result is 8-2.5″ half square triangles. The above are actually a thread or two larger than 2.5″, which leaves the perfect opportunity for trimming to make them an absolutely perfect 2.5″.
Trim your HSTs to an absolutely perfect 2.5″.
Now you have 8 beautiful HSTs. You will need to make one additional HST.
Of course, you can use whatever technique you like to make the half square triangles.
Layout and Assembly
Now that you have cut all of your pieces, lay them out on your sandpaper board, or put them up on your design surface. It is great to be able to see where all the pieces belong and adjust any pieces that need adjusting before you sew.
Sew Handle to Background
Because I decided to use the method described below, I made another handle template with NO seam allowance. I placed it on the handle I had cut from the striped fabric carefully so there was an even seam allowance on all sides. Then I traced around it with my thin black pen. I thought the template was a little wide at the end so I adjusted the line a bit to make the seam allowance larger.
My pieces look a little weird-not the right size, etc when I laid them out. Have no fear! They will improve.
I was using my stiletto to adjust the seam allowance, but it was impossible to hold the stiletto, the camera and the iron all at once. Press carefully, so as not to distort your pieces. This is where a mini iron comes in handy.
Pay attention to the corners. The layers of fabric will want to pooch in weird directions. Again, this is where a mini iron comes in handy. I used my regular iron and a stiletto.
Take your handle and press the the seam allowance under on both sides of the piece. Press so that the drawn line is on the inside of the handle and is covered by the piece once the handle is sewn.
Nota bene: the orange fabric is laying on my ironing board and was selected for good contrast so that the steps would show up well
Fold the handle in half with wrong sides together and finger press on the midpoint. Unfold.
Fold your large triangle in half with right sides together and finger press. Unfold and layout.
Nest the handle into the triangle with the right sides up using your finger pressed marks.
Line up the bottom edges of the handle with the hypotenuse of the background triangle. If the handle ends are a little over, it will be fine. You can trim them later.
Eyeball your piece to make sure everything looks good and even.
Pin the handle to the background down the center of the handle. Remove the pins as you sew. Try not to sew over them.
Using a lot of pins will help keep the handle in place as you sew
Sew slowly and carefully along the drawn line around the curve. I chose a matching thread, an applique’ foot and a topstitch/sharp needle.
You will either need to hand applique’ the other side down or using a machine stitch that suits you.
Sew both sides down with a straight stitch.
Optional: You can satin stitch (see the Machine Applique’ tutorial) or blanket stitch or use some other decorative stitch to machine sew the handle to the background triangle piece. If you use one of these stitches, you may need some tearaway stabilizer
Optional 2: you can hand applique’ the handle to the background triangle.
Once the handle is sewn you are ready to move to sew the woven part of the basket.
Sew Basket Together
The block can be broken down into two pieces: the top half with the handle and the bottom half with the basket.
The parts are labeled as follows:
Single triangles A-G
Background pieces: B1-B3
Get ready to Chunk it, Baby! This is where numbered pins would come in handy.
Sew A to HST/1. Press towards Triangle A.
Sew B to the A-HST/1 combo. Press.
The two colored HSTs are supposed to give the illusion of a woven basket.
Trim off dog ears from the A,B-HST/1 combo.
Sew HST/2 to HST/5. Press towards HST/5.
Using the diagram above to confirm placement, sew your A, B-HST/1 combo to your HST/2-HST/5 combo. Press towards the red.
Sew HST/8 to Square 10. Press towards the Square 10.
Sew HST/6 to HST/9. Press towards the red part of the HST.
Using the diagram above to confirm placement, sew your HST/6-HST/9 combo to your HST/8-Square/10 combo. Press towards the HST/6-HST/9 combo.
Using the diagram above to confirm placement, sew C to HST/3. Press towards the red.
Using the diagram above to confirm placement, sew D to your C-HST/3 combo. Press towards D.
Trim your dog ears.
Sew HST/4 to HST/7. Press towards HST/7, making sure your seams will nest with the seams you have already pressed.
Sew HST/4-HST/7 together and then sew the HST/4-HST/7 combo to E. Press towards E.
Using the diagram above for placement, sew your HST/4-HST/7-E combo to your C-D-HST/3 combo. Press.
Trim dog ears.
Sew your A,B-HST/1-HST/2 segment to the HST/6-HST/9 segment.
Trim your dog ears!
Sew the last two segments of the basket part together. You may have to re-press some seams.
I didn’t move the borders the whole time I worked on the quilt See how much the basket part shrank? That is seam allowances for you! The more seams the more the piece shrinks!
Trim the dog ears, if you haven’t already.
Now you have two halves of the basket. Sew the woven part to the handle part by placing the woven part on top of the handle part, lining them up and then sewing carefully. You can fold the two sections in half, bisecting the handle, to match them up if you think that you need to trim the handle portion later.
Now you are ready to sew on the borders.
Sew the B2-G background section by placing the red triangle (G) face down on top of background piece B2 and sew the short end of the background to the triangle, as shown in the picture.
Take the basket piece that you sewed together above and place the B2-G background section on top of the basket section. Line up the red triangle’s seam from the B2-G background section with the HST/8-Square 10 section. You want the seams to match, so pin. Press towards background piece B2.
Only one more border to go.
Take the basket piece that you sewed together above and place the B1-F background section on top of the basket section. Line up the red triangle’s seam from the B1-F background section with the HST/9-Square 10 section. You want the seams to match, so pin. Press towards background piece B1.
Now you are ready to sew the last piece.
First, trim the dog ears.
Your basket is almost complete.
Complete your basket half by sewing background piece B3 to the basket. You have already snipped off the corners using a Judy Martin Point Trimmer. Just line up the triangle piece with the borders already sewn to the block. Press towards the background piece B3.
Your half is complete.
Take the top half of the basket, the piece with the handle, and carefully sew it to the basket half.
These directions use a quarter inch seam allowance. Check your seam allowance before you begin. If you don’t know how to do that, there are resources available, including one from Connecting Threads and from Craftsy. Search the web for others.
You will be directed to use the Triangle Technique. Make sure you have the chart as well as the instructions handy.
Respect the bias.
You really only a need a template for the basket handle. If you are using templates for all of your pieces, then prepare all the templates for pieces in the patterns as directed below.
Prepare pattern for your basket handle template by printing two copies of the pattern. I prefer to do this first so when I get into the throes of sewing I don’t have to stop and fiddle around with templates.
You will eventually place one copy of the pattern in your binder, but keep it handy so you can use it as reference.
Nota bene: You probably know how to make templates. However, I am including a quick refresher.
Rough cut* the handle pattern out of the second printout.
Glue the paper pattern (with seam allowances) using the glue stick to the template plastic.
It is okay to use scraps of template plastic. Put a piece of tape on seam lines to keep the joins stiff.
Fine cut** the paper pattern and template plastic you have adhered so you have an accurate template, cutting off any seam allowance that may have printed.
If you plan to machine sew the handle, prepare another basket handle template, in the same manner, without seam allowance.
Gather your fabric and press it all. Rough cut some pieces and press them with Mary Ellen’s Best Press to help deal with the bias. Treat the large background triangle and the basket handle in the same manner.
In my example basket, above (same as at the beginning of the post), this fabric is the medium blue.
Place fabric large enough for your basket handle wrong side up on your table or cutting mat.
Place your handle template right side down on the wrong side of the fabric.
Trace around the template carefully with your Pigma pen. Trace carefully without pulling or tugging at the fabric. You will be dealing with some bias on the curves. You will need to carefully move your hand along the template to keep it in place while you trace. Use the Pigma pen with a light touch.
Using your fabric scissors, cut around the traced image, cutting the drawn line off. If you are using a template with no seam allowance, leave approximately a quarter inch seam allowance on all sides.
Set the handle aside.
In my example, above, this fabric is the blue Michael Miller Ta Dot with white dots.
Measure the template for the large triangle of background fabric. It should be 10″ on each of the outside edges WITH seam allowance. Cut a square 10.5″ x 10.5″. You can trim it later. Better safe than sorry. Press the square with Mary Ellen’s Best Press.
Cut the square in half along the diagonal.
Cut the following additional pieces according to the measurements given:
2 patches: 2.5″x8.5″
1 patch: square 4 7/8″x 4 7/8″. Cut in half. Nip off the bunny ears with the Judy Martin Point Trimmer
1 square: 5″ x 5″. Cut in half on the diagonal and set your second triangle aside
You can cut some of the background pieces out of the leftover triangles.
The foreground fabric is used for the basket. You will need at least two fabrics for this part. In my example I am using a scarlet red and a medium blue. See picture above for placement of foreground fabrics.
1 square: 2.5″ square
For the HSTs, you will need 2 squares from different fabrics, according to the HST Size Chart, 6.25″ x 6.25″.
Nota bene: The above Triangle Technique only yields 8 HSTs. You can make another set using the Triangle Technique directions and have some extras, or you can cut the triangles themselves
1 square 2.5″ x 2.5″
Cut 4 squares 2 7/8 in. by 2 7/8 in. the second background fabric (red in my project). Cut in half. These are the base and top line of your flower basket.
You should now have all of your pieces cut. Look for the next part of the tutorial on sewing the block together. It will be available tomorrow.
* Rough cut means that you cut around the outside line and a little away from it, leaving some extra paper. This helps to position the template properly and eventually cut it accurately.
** Fine cut means that you cut the template out very exactly and carefully getting rid of any extra paper and template material used when you rough cut. This is the shape you will use to cut your fabric so prepare this step with care.
The next block is the Dresden Plate, which we are making using templates. As you have probably guessed, there are a large number of methods of making blocks. If you would like to see a wide variety of Dresden Plates, you can do a Flickr search to see what others are doing.
heat resistant template plastic
Pilot SCUF black thin point pen or Pigma Micron or Sewline pencil
magazine subscription postcard or small piece of scrap card stock
12.5″x 12.5″ or larger square rotary cutting ruler (I like Creative Grids)
Mary Ellen’s Best Press (or similar)
stiletto or similar (skewer might work)
sharp fabric scissors
thread for piecing
basic sewing kit
1. Select your petal fabrics. You can use 2 or many. You want to be able to see the work you have put into this block. Above are all of my options. I didn’t end up using all of them.
2. Print 3 copies of Dresden Plate Templates pattern. Two you will cut out and one you will keep for future reference.
3. From one pattern sheet rough cut around the petal and the circle including the seam allowance.
4. From one pattern sheet rough cut around the circle template and the petal template excluding the seam allowance. On the petal, cut off the thick black line. For the circle, leave the thick black line on the template.
Optional: Write ‘Dresden Plate” on each piece (or some way of identifying why you made these templates for later). Make a notation on the circle with no seam allowance so you don’t it mixed up with the other circle.
5. Glue circle and petal templates to template plastic
6. Carefully cut templates out of template plastic just outside of thin outside line.
7. Extend the straight line into the seam allowance with a ruler and a very sharp pencil or pen.
8. Right where the curve starts to move away from the straight line of the template, draw a line between those two points.
9. At the intersection, poke the corner of the petals to mark sewing start and stop points. I used a pin and then enlarged the holes with a seam ripper.
Cut your fabric into rectangles larger than your petal templates.
Optional: Spray rectangles of petal fabric with Mary Ellen’s Best Press to control the bias.
10. Place fabric wrong side UP on your table or cutting mat. Trace around the petal template, which is face down on the wrong side of the fabric. In order to keep that template still, hold the template tight down on the fabric with your fingers near where your pencil or pen is moving around the template.
11. Use at least 2 different fabrics to trace 16 petals. You can use many more. If you use two, alternate them. You want to be able to see the work you have put into this block, so select fabrics with contrast.
12. Trace a circle using the template with the seam allowance. Cut out the fabric circle with a generous seam allowance (more than 1/4″).
13. Cut fabrics using very sharp fabric scissors OR cut straight lines with rotary cutter and curved seams with fabric scissors.
Mark the holes you cut near the curves.
14. Choose your background fabric by laying the petals on the possible background fabrics, approximating the shape of the Dresden plate.
15. Cut a larger block, because the sewing of the block may make it shrink up. Cut a 13.5″x13.5″ background piece. Your Dresden Plate will be appliqued to this piece. Make sure it is square. You will trim the background piece once your block has been completed. Set this aside for now.
16. Line up two petals, right sides together.
17. Pin pieces together by lining up the holes you made when you traced around the template.
18. Sew from point to point, back stitching at each end. DO NOT sew into the seam allowance.
19. Press seams open.
20. Sew petals together in groups of 2, then sew the groups of twos to each other to make groups of 4, etc.
21. Sew between points, back stitching at each end. DO NOT sew into the seam allowance.
22. Sew all petals to each other, back stitching at each end, making a ring.
23. Press all seams open.
24. Trim threads.
25. Lay petal ring face down on your ironing board.
26. Lay the petal template without the seam allowance (which must be made from heat resistant template plastic or cardboard. Don’t use something that will melt) on the back face up.
You probably won’t be able to get the seam allowances flat, but press enough so the fabric knows where the curve is. It will help you when you are ready to stitch it down.
27. Press the curve into the outer edge of each petal. Use the stiletto to hold down the edge and iron right over the stiletto tip and the template. This is the miserable step, so intersperse eating some chocolate or some other sewing. Lay aside.
28. Take your cut piece of background fabric. Fold it in half and press lightly.
29. Fold your background fabric in half again (in quarters) and press lightly.
30. Open and you should be able to see the cross you have pressed into your background piece.
31. Take your plate of petals and line up 4 of the seam allowances with the pressed cross on your background fabric. This will center the plate on the background. Make sure you pay attention to the vertical as well as the horizontal.
32. Pin in place
33. Use thread that matches the plate or is neutral for hand applique’ or a blanket stitch to sew plate to background. You can also machine applique’ the plate to the background. We will cover that technique in another lesson, but there are many other tutorials available.
34. Pin curved edges of plate as you move around the plate to applique’.
35. Knot the thread sufficiently so the knot does not pop through the background.
36. Bring the thread up from the back through the fold of the plate (where you pressed the seam allowance).
37. Tug gently and put the needle into the background, just catching it, and pull the needle tight through the fold of the plate again.
38. Go around the entire plate in this manner, using the needle to tuck in the seam allowance so it has a smooth round shape.
39. Trace the circle template without the seam allowance onto the magazine subscription card.
40. Cut out the magazine subscription card circle, being sure to cut off the pencil/pen line.
41. Take the circle fabric you have cut and wrap it around the magazine subscription card circle.
42. Using any thread, take a running stitch in the seam allowance of the circle fabric and tighten it, keeping the magazine subscription card circle flat. If the magazine subscription card does not have enough body, you can also use the circle template without the seam allowance.
43. Press the drawn up circle well, so it is flat and a perfect circle. You will need to tug on the thread to draw the circle up as you press the first time. Once the fabric knows it needs be pressed you can pull the thread tight and make a knot.
44. Pin the circle to the center of the block, covering the raw edges of the center petals.
45. Applique’ using the same directions you used to applique’ the plate.
46. Trim block to 12.5″x12.5″. You might want to wait until on this step until you start assembling the quilt.
The green, turquoise, black and pink sample Dresden Plate was made for the class I taught in 2006/2007. I did this one a little differently. I machine stitched the plate to the background and the circle to the center.
As you can see, I also fussy cut fabrics to take advantage of larger spaces in the quilt block.
In the solid Dresden Plate, I placed like fabrics into groups of two for a slightly different look. The center circle was a good showcase for a bit of hand quilting.
I store my templates in a ziploc bag with a picture of the block or a label with the name and size of the block on it.
There is a link to this tutorial from the Artquiltmaker Info–>AQ Tutorials link under the header (see above).