Sunday, May 17, 2009

Crazy Pieced Blocks

So many people have asked me about how I made these cute little blocks that I decided to post a lesson on my method for making them. They are addicting, so when I figured out that I would need 144 of them for a graduation quilt I really didn't think twice about it. I make them in groups of 5, and make two groups at a time, in about an hour and a half from start to finish and I am not worried about speed.

I cut my squares (144 of them) at 6 inches for a 4" finished block. And, I cut it at 10" for a 8" finished block. For other sizes add 2" to your desired finished size to get the measurement for your starting square.

Since this block has 5 pieces, select 5 squares that coordinate.

Now stack them directly on top of each other in an order that you like.

Take your acrylic ruler and rotary cutter, set your squares on your mat and make 2 cuts at random angles from top to bottom. You do not need to measure but, do not make your cuts too close to the corner.

Now cut just the middle section twice from side to side again using unmeasured random angles.

Next, you'll mix up the order of pieces in each stack. To do this, leave the first stack on the left alone, take the top stack in the middle vertical row and take the top piece and put it on the bottom. Take the middle stack and put the top 2 pieces on the bottom. Take the bottom stack in the middle and put the top 3 pieces on the bottom. And, on the right column take the top 4 pieces off and place them under the fifth piece. Now all the stacks are mixed so that each layer contains five different pieces, one from each of the squares. Can you see that in the top layer?

Now you'll start sewing the blocks together. Start with the middle column and chain piece the top piece to the middle piece for each block. Remember I said I work on two groups at a time? So, you'll see I have 10 pieces chain pieced together. I'll cut off the first 5 and go on to the next step.

Note how I have offset the edges. I've pointed to where you should hit your 1/4" seam allowance.

Add the third piece making sure you're adding it to the middle piece not the top piece. It's easy to get them turned around. You'll know you have it right if when you lay the pieces out the angles match and the three pieces together are straight. If they make a funny angle to each other you've turned something around.

Time to press. You only need to press twice during this process. Once now and once after both side pieces have been added. You can trim the sides if you want to but, these will work just fine the way they are.

Now add the two side pieces. Pay attention to the angles here. One end of the red strip is wider than the other. Place the wide end of the strip towards the narrower part of the middle strip. If you get it backwards when you go to square up your blocks you might not have the width you need.

Press your blocks again. Generally I press the side strips away from the center strip.

Square up your blocks to 4 1/2".

Here's what I did with my blocks. I'm using 16 of them in each block set 4 x 4 and changed direction on each one so the seams don't have to match or line up. They are surrounded by larger blocks done in many blacks. I like using a wide range of reds and blacks for these.

Gotta go! I have about 15 more red ones to make and about the same number of black ones to make. Hope you enjoy making some of these fun little blocks. There are several variations I'm sure but this is how I've been making them for years. If you have questions please drop me a comment and I'll try to answer.

Monday, May 4, 2009

New Grill

Oh, the simple joys of spring! We had to get a new grill this year. Our previous one, that we brought with us when we moved here from Canada ten years ago, gave up the ghost after 15 years of service. When we started this one up tonite and it actually cooked our veggies beautifully and quickly...oh, that's the way a grill is supposed to work! Who knew!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

I'm Waiting

Well, I've tried mobile posting several times (Grrrr!) to no avail. I can't seem to get the system to work so I can post pictures I've taken with my phone over the past two weeks. So, the learning curve is still on the giant part of the upswing. Anyway.....

What I've been waiting for was delivered today. It will take quite a bit of unpacking and assembling but I've been told the assembly is not so bad and, of course, the payoff is really worth it. While in Paducah, I purchased a long-arm quilting machine called the HQ Sixteen. I brought home the machine in the car but the table and frame was sent via UPS.

The HQ Sixteen is a light-weight version of a long-arm machine. A couple of things I think that will be really important is that the table is adjustable in height and length so, if the space I have available for it changes, let's say, to an apartment, I can change the size of the table. I can even use the same machine head on a table the size of a card table (for free-motion work only). It's also not quite so industrial as other machines I was considering. And, I really don't plan on owning a sweat-shop so I don't need an industrial strength machine. Actually, the machine is industrial it's the table that is less so. I think it will be absolutely perfect for my use, and that of a couple of friends. So, if I ever get the tech side figured out, there will be photos!