I have machine pieced this block using my 'From Marti Michell' templates - as I mentioned in my previous post I love these acrylic templates with engineered corners, which make it so much easier to line up the pieces, which in turn means more precise blocks. However if you don't have the templates you can still follow this tutorial by rotary cutting your pieces as per the cutting instructions on the CD that accompanies the book.
For the primary fabric in this block I used a Sevenberry cottage floral print in purple. For the coordinates I used a green floral and a lilac floral from my stash, which match the Sevenberry print pretty well (both of those came from scrap packs so I am not sure which lines they are from, sorry).
Before cutting, I always starch my fabric using spray starch - I spray it onto the fabric generously but without soaking, then press it with a dry iron until the starch sets. I make sure the iron is not too hot or it scorches the starch, leaving brown marks. The starch lends stiffness to the fabric which makes cutting easier and more precise, and the finished block looks a lot sharper than it would have been without starch. You can also use products such as Best Press and Flatter to get similar results.
When working with small pieces such as the ones we have in this block, a rotary cutting mat helps HEAPS. I absolutely love my pink personalised one from Sue Daley Designs. It's super helpful with normal rotary cutting, and almost an absolute must-have if you are using the From Marti Michell templates as you have two extra cuts to make on each corner, and that little template slides off so easily if you are trying to rotate the piece by hand. I filmed the cutting process to show you how much easier it is with a rotary mat.
There are a lot of pieces in this block! So take extra care to make sure your cutting is as accurate as possible, as even the slightest error is magnified when you are dealing with so many seams in a block. If you are using the Marti Michell templates you can download the conversion chart here, which has detailed cutting instructions for the templates.
PIECING THE BLOCK
In explaining the steps I will refer to my pieces using the colours in my block i.e. purple, green and lilac. Replace these with your own colours when you are following the steps below. Use a scant 1/4 inch seam allowance.
Step 1. Sew the lilac triangles onto the long edges of the large green piece that will be at the centre of your block. Press towards the central green piece.
Step 2. Sew a green triangle onto a lilac square as shown. Press towards the green triangle. Make 4.
Step 3. Sew another green triangle onto the other side of the piece you created in step 2. The positioning of the second triangle is important - this is how it should look, and you stitch along the dotted line.
Make 4. These pieced triangles should be exactly the same size as your purple triangles.
Step 4. Sew together the triangle you made in step 3 onto a purple triangle. Press towards the purple. Make 4.
Step 5. We are now ready to assemble the block. Lay out your pieces as shown below.
Step 6. Join the pieces into rows. Press the seams of each row in alternate directions (e.g. top row to the left, middle row to the right, bottom row to the left).
Step 7. Sew the rows together by putting them right sides together and butting the seams at the intersections. I carefully pin each butted seam to make sure my intersections are precise. After sewing press the seams open. This is what the front and back of your block should look like.
MY TIPS ON PRECISION
- Starch your fabric before you cut (I use spray starch and a dry iron (ie no steam) on medium-high heat).
- Make sure your rotary blade is sharp so it doesn't chew and stretch your fabric as you cut.
- I highly recommend investing in a few basic sets of FMM templates - those engineered corners makes it so much easier to line up the pieces and make sure everything fits together perfectly.
- Pin blocks together before sewing. The pieces we are working with are very small so it's easy to be tempted to skip this step - don't.
- Press seams that will intersect in opposite directions so you can 'butt the seams' when you are sewing the two pieces together. I pin the butting seams together using a single pin placed at a slight angle - push the pin down through one seam, and back up again through the other seam.
- Check sizes of pieced blocks before continuing on to the next step.
- If you do a lot of patchwork, invest in a 1/4 inch foot, which makes it so much easier to get that precise quarter inch seam.
MY FARMER'S WIFE QUILT PROGRESS
Here are the blocks I've made since my last Farmer's Wife quilt-along post (see my previous blocks here). I have fallen behind a little as I am up against some pretty stiff deadlines on a secret squirrel project. Hopefully I will be able to catch up soon!
If you aren't currently sewing along but would like to join the 5300+ quilters worldwide taking part in this mega-quilt-athlon it's not too late! You can find all the information you need on how to join up and key links in my previous blog post. This is the book you will need.
** The Farmer’s Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt: Inspiring Letters from Farm Women of the Great Depression and 99 Quilt Blocks That Honor Them by Laurie Aaron Hird for Fons & Porter/F+W; RRP $28.99 – Click here to purchase. **