Sunday, 26 January 2014

Block Buster Sunday #3 Card Trick Block Tutorial

Hi, Welcome to another block tutorial.
This week's tutorial is for the card trick block.
I know a lot of people love this block and when I returned to quilting a few years ago, it was one that I definitely wanted to try. I would rate this as an intermediate level block. It's construction is relatively straight forward, but you do need to concentrate on fabric placement and when you are trimming the components. It's not a block to make after a couple of glasses of wine!!

The tutorial shows you how to make the block with four different fabrics for the "cards" because this, to me, is the iconic block, but there is considerable fabric wastage with this. You would be better to make 2 identical blocks and that way you avoid the wastage.
Please note that when I took the photos for the tutorial I cut my larger squares at 5 1/2", not the 5 1/4" that I think is the better size, and is the size given in the cutting instructions. It makes the trimming easier. Some of the photos therefore show more fabric needing trimming than is actually the case.

I have given cutting instructions for three sizes of block 6" finished, 9" finished and 12" finished

For a 6" finished block you need to cut:
4    3 1/4" coloured squares (one each of your chosen fabrics)
4    3" coloured squares (one each of the same fabrics as above)
1    3 1/4" background squares
4    3" background squares

For a 9" finished block you need to cut:
4    4 1/4" coloured squares (one each of your chosen fabrics)
4    4" coloured squares (one each of the same fabrics as above)
1    4 1/4" background squares
4    4" background squares

For a 12" finished block you need to cut:
4    5 1/4" coloured squares (one each of your chosen fabrics)
4    5" coloured squares (one each of the same fabrics as above)
1    5 1/4" background squares
4    5" background squares

Pair each of the smaller coloured squares with a smaller background square. Draw a pencil line along the diagonal.

 Accurately match the squares and sew 1/4" seam line either side of the pencil line. You can chain piece these. Cut along the pencil line and press open to create 8 HSTs (half square triangles)

Discard one of each colour (or save for the second block) and trim to 2 1/2", 3 1/2" or 4 1/2" depending on the size block you are making.

Take the 4 larger coloured squares and cut each into 1 HST and 2 QSTs (quarter square triangles)
Cut the remaining large background square into 4 QSTs

Sew one of each coloured QST to a background QST, ensuring that the right angles are together at the base and that the coloured piece is on the right hand side.

Trim the overhangs. Lay out all your pieces as shown.

Sew the 4 QSTs in the centre of the layout, first into 2 HSTs 

then join to make  a single QST block. Trim to 2 1/2", 3 1/2" or 4 1/2" depending on the size block you are making.

Sew the remaining HSTs to their adjacent pieces.

Trim to 2 1/2", 3 1/2" or 4 1/2" depending on the size block you are making.
This is where concentration is needed. You need the diagonal seam lined up with the 45 degree line on the ruler and the 4.5" mark (or the correct measurement for your block size) on the edge of the ruler level with the QST seam line.

You will now have 9 equal size components of your block, and hopefully it's plain sailing from now on!!

Join the pieces in each row.

Then sew the rows together to complete the block.

You're done !! It's pretty spectacular, isn't it!
Now, it' time for that glass of wine!!

Because it's such a dramatic block, I think this needs to shine, rather than be one of many in an overall design. Below is a quick mock up of a suggested layout using the block.
I've created an off centre column of card trick blocks with narrow sashings of the individual colours, leaving a lot of negative space where I could continue the modern look with straight line quilting, or possibly diamonds?
I like creating and posting the mock ups. It gives me an good resource to go back and look at if I ever need inspiration for a quilt.

The 2 colour version is simpler to construct and more economical with fabric.

You will need:
For a 6" finished block 
2    3" squares of colour A
1    3 1/4" square of colour A
2    3" squares of colour B
1    3 1/4" square of colour B
2    3" squares of background 
1    3 1/4" square of background

For a 9" finished block 
2    4" squares of colour A
1    4 1/4" square of colour A
2    4" squares of colour B
1    4 1/4" square of colour B
2    4" squares of background 
1    4 1/4" square of background

For a 12" finished block 
2    5" squares of colour A
1    5 1/4" square of colour A
2    5" squares of colour B
1    5 1/4" square of colour B
2    5" squares of background 
1    5 1/4" square of background

Pair up one of the smaller colour A squares with a same size background square and do the same for one smaller colour B square.
Draw a diagonal pencil line on each and create 4 HST squares as before. Trim to 2 1/2", 3 1/2" or 4 1/2" square depending on the size of block you are making.

Cut the 2 remaining smaller squares in half diagonally.
Cut the 3 larger squares into quarters diagonally.

Lay out out the pieces as shown below and complete your block as described for the four colour version.

I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial and may someday have a go at making card trick blocks.
The Block Buster Sunday tutorials do seem to be growing in detail, but I am enjoying exploring the blocks and the layouts that can be achieved with them.
It probably means, though, that they appear fortnightly or every few weeks, if they are this detailed. That way I may actually get some quilting done, rather than just talking about it!!

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

A Few Works in Progress

I have quite a few works in progress at the moment. I'm a bit of a butterfly, happily flitting from one to another. Sometime you just don't feel like working on the thing you really should be working on, so it's nice to have a lot of choices.
This week I went back to my Farmer's Wife quilt. I started it about a year ago, but didn't get very far.
At the time I chose some Liberty fabrics, but I didn't get very far. 

I wasn't comfortable with the palette, and I couldn't see it being a quilt that would go with any of my rooms. It would end up as a car or garden quilt, so I decided to start over.
This time round I'm using a Moda layer cake - 30s Playtime Chloe's Closet, plus any scraps from my stash that happen to go well. I'm also using plenty of solids , as I think too many prints was part of the problem last time. I've chosen a spring green, navy, red and snow for the solids. Others may be added as needed.
Two other changes I'm making - I'm pressing all my seams open. Some of these blocks have a lot of tiny pieces, so I'm going for consistency and pressing all the seams the same way.
I'm also working consistently through the block numbers. No skipping ones that I don't fancy that day allowed!!
So here we have:
Block #1 Attic Windows

Block #2 Autumn Tints

Block #3 Basket

 The handle of the basket is hand appliqu├ęd on afterwards. I love sitting quietly in the evening doing a little hand sewing. I must do more of it!! The strip was cut on the bias, folded under and then curved into position. It was a pretty tight curve and it didn't look as though it was going to co-operate. Then I remembered a tip that was stored somewhere in the dark recess of my mind - spritz it with water! I did, and it just sort of fell into place. I pressed it firmly until it was dry, and hey presto! the basket has a handle.

Block #4 Basket Weave
4 blocks down, 107 to go !!

I've also been working on my Economy Block quilt.

Adding a side border...

And another...

And a third

It's a finished quilt top now. 60" x 64"and I love it far, far more than I ever thought I would.

It will be stored away for a while, as I'm going to put myself through a sort of marathon free motion quilting practice on some scrap blocks. And when I think I'm good and ready, it will get quilted. This was going to be a charity quilt, but I'm not sure I'm going to be able to part with it!

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

First Finish of 2014

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My first finish of the year and it's a knitted one! Now just before you start to be impressed….. after all we are only 3 weeks into the new year, don't be. I started this in March 2013 !!

From that distance you can't really admire the lovely buttons on it, so here is a close up of one.

 They are ceramic, and hand made by a local lady. Everyone is different. So much nicer than shop bought ones, don't you think?
The pattern is from this book.

They are designed by Martin Storey. Just basic patterns but ones I will use a lot. The garments all have some shaping at the waist, and it makes so much difference  to the fit.
In fact I like his designs so much, I've bought a second book!

Much the same designs, but for lighter weight yarn. I don't think I'll be using Cotton Glace as I don't really like a mercerised cotton. I'm hoping that I can away with Debbie Bliss Eco Cotton which is organic.
I'm also hoping it won't take me 9 months to finish the second one!

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Economy Block Quilt Progress

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This is a very short post, mainly to share with you how stupid I have been!!
Monday all was well, I was working hard on my Economy Block Quilt. I have the bulk of the top completed. All that's left to do is the side borders.
Tuesday I was sitting at my laptop enjoying a morning cuppa, when suddenly the cup jumped out of my hand and deposited it's entire contents over my laptop!!! And just incase you're wondering what expletives ensued, I was in such a state of shock I was dumb!
I did have the sense to turn said laptop upside down immediately, but I don't think my immediately was immediate enough.
The result - no working laptop!
I'm hoping when my laptop and I visit the kind Apple Genius tomorrow morning the diagnosis will be a good one, but until then it has to have complete rest in a warm room (and nil by mouth!!!)
The quilt is coming along nicely. Should you be interested in the quilt 's progress I will be updating Instagram rather than using my blog until the laptop is fixed. Button to the link is at the top of the sidebar - it's the little camera icon.

It's more than likely that there will be no Block Buster Sunday this week, as trying to write a blog post from my phone is excruciatingly frustrating and just gives me a mega headache, but rest assured. it will resume just as soon as my laptop is well again.

And if you're in the habit of enjoying a nice cup of tea (or a nice cup of anything!) whilst browsing the internet, take my advice - don't
It's not worth the hassle!

And just in case you feel sorry for me - Don't! It was my own stupid fault, and it's something I won't do again!

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Block Buster Sunday #2 Economy Block Tutorial

Welcome to Block Buster Sunday #2
This week I'm exploring the Economy Block which is also known as a Square In A Square block.
I would rate this as an easy block, with the proviso that you do need to have some sewing experience as  there are bias cut edges, which can stretch if you are not careful.
I recommend starching the fabric before you cut, particularly if you are a beginner quilter.

My tutorial is for a rotary cut and pieced block, and I have given cutting instructions for 3 sizes of block -  6", 8"and 10" finished. You can of course paper piece this block and there are free templates available if you search the internet.

For a 6" finished block you need to cut:
1     3 1/2" square for  A
1     4 1/4" square for  B
2     4"       squares for C

For a 8" finished block you need to cut:
1     4 1/2" square for A
1     5 1/4" square for B
2     5"       squares for C

For a 10" finished block you need to cut:
1     5 1/2" square for A
1     6 1/4" square for B
2     6"       squares for C

The size of the C squares allows for a little trimming when the block is finished.

Cut square B diagonally in both directions to give 4 quarter square triangles. Cut both C squares diagonally in half to give a total of 4 half square triangles.

Pin the long edge of a B quarter square triangle to one edge of A.
For the first few blocks I lined up my ruler against the edge of A and ensured that the point of the triangle was exactly in the middle of the square. After a few blocks you get a feel for where the centre is, and can eyeball it.

Do the same on the opposite edge.

Using a 1/4" seam allowance, sew in place.

Trim off the overhangs and press the seams away from the centre.

Repeat for the remaining 2 sides of the inner square.

Place one of the C half square triangles on the outer edge, using a ruler to help ensure it is centred correctly (that diagonal line through the centre of the ruler helps enormously!. Pin in place.

Do the same for the opposite edge. Sew in place.

Press seam allowances away from the centre.

Repeat for the remaining 2 sides.

Press open and trim. You need to ensure that you have 1/4" beyond the points on the B sections and that where the vertical lines on the ruler run through the top and bottom points is exactly half the unfinished size of the block.
My block is 8" finished, (8 1/2" unfinished), so it is the 4 1/4" line that runs through the top and bottom points.

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The block can provide some very different effects.
The scrappy look:

Planned and limited colours:

Limited colours and sashing:

Planned colours across several blocks:

Which effect do you like the best?


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