Friday, April 30, 2010

Reeds Free-pieced Quilt Block

Finished Block - cropped The irregular, curved shapes in this block have an organic feeling and abstracted, natural look. I see reeds, but you might see green shoots or leaves of grass.

It's a pretty simple block that offers the opportunity to work with curves, make bias edges work for you and freely cutting and piecing it all together.

To make a 7-1/2 inches square (7 inch finished size) block:

Cutting Fabrics
  1. Cut:
    One rectangle cut from background fabric that is at least 8 inches high and 9 inches wide. (My example is a 9 inch square).

    Three 1-1/2 inch wide strips cut on the bias of reed fabric. Two should be 9-10 inches long; the third 4-6 inches long.

    One 1-1/5 inch wide strip cut on the bias of background fabric, 4-6 inches long.

  2. Sew the ends togetherSew the two short bias strips together end-to-end and press toward the darker fabric.This join can be made at an angle–just be sure that your resulting joined bias is straight.

  3. Lay the background rectangle on your rotary mat, right side up. Using your rotary cutter to draw, cut a gentle curve that extends from the top to bottom.

  4. Insert a bias strip. First sew it to the side of the background with the outside of the curve. Gently press the bias reed in place–steam may help if it doesn’t want to bend to your will and lay nice and flat.

    Draw the First Reed  Insert the bias strip

  5. Bring the sewn side back to the mat. Trim the un-sewn side of the reed to create an irregular, more natural shape.

    Trim the Insert (Reed)

  6. Slightly overlap the side with the reed attached on the background and, following the edge of the reed you just cut, trim the background to match.

    Trim background to match  Sew the matching curves together

  7. Sew the matching curves you have just created together and press.

    First Reed completed.

  8. Repeat steps 3 through 7 twice more, to add two more reeds to your composition. When adding the two-color reed, keep in mind that you will be trimming the block to 7-1/2 inches square. Be sure that the “end” of the reed is within the finished block.

    Repeat for another Reed  Third insert

    Inserting 2-Color Strip  Keep in Mind the final size of the block

  9. Trim the completed block to 7-1/2 inches square and admire your composition.

    Finished Block
For the May 2010 Block Lotto, we are making this block with lime reeds on white, black or black  and white print backgrounds.  For more sewing tips, check out this blog post on the Block Lotto group blog:

Tips and Troubleshooting for the May Block

Here is a collection of some of the early lotto blocks, from Caroline, Kate, Kim and me.

Kim Hall's  Reed Block Black Background Kate's Reeds Block - B&W Background Kate's Reeds Block - Black Background
Sophie's Reeds Block - B&W Background Sophie's Reeds Block - Black Background Sophie's Reeds Block - White Background
Caroline's reeds black background Kim Hall's  Reed Block B&W Background Kim Hall's  Reed Block B&W Background
Sophie's Reeds Block - B&W Background Sophie's Reeds Block - Black Background Sophie's Reeds Block - B&W Background
Sophie's Reeds Block - Black Background Sophie's Reeds Block - B&W Background Sophie's Reeds Block - Black Background

You can see all of the blocks made for the block lotto in these blog posts.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Quartered Star Quilt Block Pattern

Quartered Star Block (cropped)Here's another block I had planned for the block lotto that didn't make the list. I still love it, for the friendship star in the center and the ribbon effect when the blocks are put together in a straight set.  I think it has all kinds of scrappy possibilities.

According to Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Blocks, this block was first publishedwith the name Quartered Star, in 1978 in Michael James' The Quiltmakers Handbook, but I've also seen it referred to as the Ribbon Star.

Whatever you call it, I think it offers great possibilities for playing with color and value. For the block lotto, I had originally thought of a constant of dark blue for the star in the center, medium blue in the corners and quilter's choice of lights–I used pink in this sample–for the "ribbon." But don't let my ideas of color hold you back from making this block your own.

The construction of this block is accomplished by using partial seams, a useful technique for any quilter's repertoire. 

To make the 6 inch (finished size) block as shown:
  1. Cut four 2.5 x 4.5 inch rectangles of light (ribbon) fabric, four (corner) 2.5 inch squares of medium blue and five 2.5 inch squares of dark blue (star) fabric.
  2. Begin by aligning a dark blue square (star fabric) with the right end of a rectangle (ribbon fabric), right sides together.

    Choose & Cut Fabrics Snowball-style corners

  3. Draw a line from the upper left corner of the square to the lower right.  Sew on the line.
  4. Trim 1/4-inch on the outside of the seam

    Draw the Sewing Line Trim

  5. Press the seam (toward the blue/star fabric) rotate the rectangle 180 degrees and repeat, adding a medium blue (corner fabric) triangle.  Be sure to always draw the line in the same direction (upper left to lower right, when the rectangle is horizontal like this.)
  6. Once again, trim 1/4 inch on the outside of the seam, press open (toward the medium blue/corner fabric.)

    Press and Repeat Trim Again
  7. Your rectangle should look like the unit below on the left after adding triangles to each end.
  8. Make 4 identical rectangles.  Then, you're ready to assemble the quartered star block.

    Finished rectangle unit Make 4 Rectangles
  9. Lay out the rectangles around the last dark blue *star fabric) square as shown below on the left.
  10. Sew the center square to the rectangle above it.  Start the seam where the two ends are aligned and sew ONLY 1/2-to-2/3 across the small square.  Press the partially sewn seam.

    Lay it Out Seam #1 - a Partial Seam
  11. Add the rectangle on the left to the end of the two blocks partially sewn together.  Press.
  12. Add the rectangle on the lower left.

    Seam #2 Seam #3
  13. Add the last rectangle, to the lower right.  Then go back to the original (partially sewn) seam and complete it.  See how easy partial seams can be?

    Seam #4 and back to Seam 1

    Your block is done!

    Quartered Star Block

Free-style Tree Block

Four Tree BlocksI confess this idea was a Block Lotto idea reject–I liked it. but the feedback from a  couple of people from whom I solicited an opinion was that they thought it was  too simple.

Personally, I still like it and it may appear in the block lotto rotation one day . . . but in the meantime, I couldn't think of any reason not to share the block tutorial. As you might guess from my sample blocks, my original thought was to create a psychedelic forest using pairs of black and bright fabrics.

The measurements in these directions will produce a pair of 6 inch (finished size) block. The block really IS so simple that you could adapt them to produce any size and proportions you need–just start with something that is a couple inches larger than the finished size you want to produce, whether it's a smaller or larger square or a rectangle, tall and skinny or short and wide.  You can also probably imagine how to add complexity to these trees. Think of this simple block as a jumping off point to create a liberated tree . . . or a whole forest of your own.

To make a pair of 6 inch (finished size) blocks:
  1. Begin with two 8-inch squares of fabric
  2. Stack the two squares on top of each other, right sides up.  Make the first cut at least 1-1/2 inch from the bottom.This will define the bottom of your tree.

    1. Start with two squares 2. First Cut

  3. In the bottom section, make two vertical cuts near the middle, at least 1-1/2 inches apart, to create the tree's trunk.
  4. In the top section, make two angled cuts to form the tree shape.  Cut the first one, then pull the sky piece you just created out of the way before making the next cut.

    3. Make two vertical cuts 4. Make two angled cuts
  5. Swap the top and bottom fabrics for the tree and trunk
  6. Assemble the top and bottom units.  Trim even and join top to bottom.
  7. 5. Swap Fabrics 6. Sew and Trim
  8. After you have assembled the block, press and square up to 6.5 inches. Your two blocks will be identical with opposite fabric placement.

    Casual Trees