Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Quilting Tutorial Pt. 2

I'm baaaaaack! Okay, now that I've done a Part 1, that naturally means I have to do a Part 2, right? Either way, I feel like I should, so here it is! Now that you have the necessary tools, you should be ready to actually make something. I really want to share this little app with you though, if you have an iPhone or iPad, and like to quilt, I recommend it. It's called BlockFab, and there is a link to some information about how to use it. It helps to have a little knowledge of quilting before you use it though, as it does not go into great detail about how to construct blocks. It does tell you, however, how much fabric you'll need, and it lets you make the blocks any size you want! Today, for example, I decided that I needed eight 4-inch blocks to use for a project. I went in, picked the block, selected the size, and all the measurements popped up. Jolly helpful if you ask me! Oh, you want to see one of the blocks?
There you are. I'm not ready to tell what this is for yet, so stay tuned! This was my first block like this, and it's not perfect, which drives me crazy, but hey, I'm always learning! Anyway, with that app, you get to see different layouts for the block you choose, and there are little hints too. For your first project, you should start out with something that isn't too hard. Baby steps, people! That way, you won't get frustrated and throw your unfinished project into a bag/box/basket, and leave it there for years. Not that I've actually done that... Okay, maybe I have a few project skeletons in my closet, but who doesn't?! For the purpose of this post, I'm going to be making a pinwheel block. This block is very simple but can make a very pretty quilt.
Now that you know what our block will look like, let me show you how we will be constructing it.
Here I've broken down the block into four parts, outlined in yellow. Those are the four parts that we make and then put together to make the whole. Every "block" type design will consist of smaller parts sewn together to make one block. Then, when you make a quilt, you make lots of blocks and put them together to make one whole quilt.
The math for figuring out how much fabric you will need is a pain if you are not using a pattern that gives the directions for yardage. However, if you are using the app I mentioned above, it will tell you. There is another thing I like to use called the Fabric Calculator. This also only works for blocks and if you know the percentage of each color (up to 3) that you want. I do my math on scrap paper always and it's probably done the long and round about way. I always have one-yard cuts of fabric and I lay them out and measure to see how many strips and squares that I can cut out of them so I know how much to buy for particular projects. So, here is the unit that we will make, and we will make four for starters.
 *Helpful hint* First, you always want to wash and iron your fabric! Every time I buy fabric, I automatically throw it in the laundry room. Then, I have motivation to do laundry! I wash, dry, and iron the fabric, I mean, I've killed two irons in three years... I iron a lot! Then, if you are using a cutting mat, you will want to fold your fabric BACK INTO THE WAY IT CAME OFF THE BOLT. This means that you will fold it in half, with the finished/selvage edges together. Here is a helpful diagram that I borrowed. Here is where I got it!

See how each cut each cut edge is folded back onto itself, while the selvage edges are opposite the fold? Now we need to know what size we are going to cut our pieces. I want to make a 4 1/2 inch block. My app tells me that I need to cut my squares 3 1/8 inches by 3 1/8 inches. One thing to remember when you are doing quilt math, is that you will always sew 1/4 inch into the fabric, also known as your seam allowance. That means, when you are doing your math, you need to remember that every edge that will be sewn (now or later) will subtract 1/4 inch from your final shape. So, if I started with a 3 inch square, but I sewed other fabric to all four sides of it, it would end up being 1/2 inch thinner, and 1/2 inch shorter. Here is a visual:

Okay, now place it on your mat, smooth it out, and we are ready to cut! This is where we get to use that sweet, sharp rotary cutter! so I am going to cut one strip that measures 3 1/8 inches wide, so I can then cut smaller blocks from that.


Cut the ragged edge off the end, and line your ruler up at 3 1/8 inches. Note that I'm not using the numbers on the mat here, I'm just counting three and one eighth over. Now, put pressure on your ruler so it doesn't slide around, grab that rotary cutter and cut (away from yourself). Now you have a lovely 3 1/8 inch strip.

Isn't it nice?! Get ready for the next step, making squares.

Line up a ruler at the end of your strip. Trim off the edge so that you will have a nice straight line.

Now line up 3 1/8 inch and cut again. You now have 2 perfect little squares!

Repeat this process with your second fabric.

Here is the part where we get our squares ready for marking. Printed fabrics have a "right" side, which is the pretty printed side, and a "wrong" side, which is the duller, unprinted side. So, grab one square of each color and put the "right" sides together and line them up.

I'm using my lovely Frixion per that disappears when you apply heat (iron). I love these! I've used all kinds of stuff to mark with though, it's not going to show up on the finished project, it will be on the back! On the diagonal, draw a straight line right through the center.

Now our fabric is marked on the "wrong" side, time to sew. I'm going to sew 1/4 inch away from my mark. Here, I'm showing you where I line my mark  up. There is a 1/4 inch mark on my presser foot that I'm point to with a pencil to show. Using that as a guide, sew along one side of the line, then the other.

Here I'm sewing along the other side. Use a Chain Piecing technique to save time and thread. 

Now they are all stitched together, time to trim.

Cut right through the marked line and you have two half square triangles!

Do this with all squares you made, then iron the open. I always press my seams to the darker side, so they are harder to see from the front. 
Now we need to trim off those little tips! We want perfect squares here :)

Now we have out four squares. We will lay those out like this to see how our pinwheel will look.

That's how it will look in the end but we have to sew it in halves. First we will sew right where I'm pointing with my lovely pink pen...

We will do this for both halves, then iron the seams.
Now we are going to sew right up along the middle. If you have trouble keeping everything in place, use pins to keep things lined up. Crooked pieces aren't pretty! After sewing, iron that seam and voila! You have a lovely pinwheel block!
Make as many blocks as you want and lay them out :) Happy quilting!

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