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September 2020
Using Up 2½-inch Squares,
Employing Batting Scraps to Layout Blocks,
and
Sewing Half Square Triangles

 
August 2020
Preparing Fabric Prior to Cutting,
Invisibly Piecing Quilt Backing,
and
Introducing Acorn Piecing Glue

 
July 2020
Squaring Up Blocks and a Mobile Design Wall
 
June 2020
The Quick Ripper, A Take-Apart Cutting Ruler,
and Other Ramblings

 
May 2020
Make a Memory of Hope “Crumb” Quilt

 
April 2020
Gadgets and Gizmos

 
March 2020
The Five-Star Method for Testing the ¼ Inch Seam

 
January 2020
Dealing With Overstuffed Magazine Storage

 
December 2019
Review Your Subscription Expiration Dates
 
November 2019
What to Do with Fabric Leftovers after the Bonanza?
 
October 2019
Cutting Tools and Cutting Aids
 
June 2019
Chain Piecing a 9-Patch Block
 
May 2019
Washing Fabrics and Quilts

 
April 2019
How To Make a Block Press
 
March 2019
Tips on Consistently Sewing
an Accurate Quilt Block

February 2019
A Quick Way to Un-Sew Seams,
Using a Seam Ripper,
Without Cutting the Fabric

January 2019
Repurpose Your 2018 Paper Calendar
for Your Next Quilt Project






September 2020
Using Up 2½-inch Squares,
Employing Batting Scraps to Layout Blocks,
and
Sewing Half Square Triangles

 

Happy September! As usual, this tidbit covers some things I have discovered as I have been sewing fabric pieces together to create a quilt top. This month I am using up some mismatched 2 ½-inch squares, employing batting scraps to layout blocks, and sewing half square triangles.

As I have been working my way through my “projects in waiting”, I came across a box of 2 ½-inch squares that I put together when I cleaned up my sewing room in November, as described in the November 2019 tidbit. These squares are a collection of mismatched charm squares that I cut into 2 ½-inch squares.
 
Along with stacks of 2 ½-in squares, the box contained a pattern called “Scrap Happy” by designer Christa Watson, from the October 2017 issue of American Patchwork & Quilting (shown in the picture).

Each block of the pattern uses a combo of print squares sewn into a 16-patch with 8 half square triangles and light background squares sewn around the perimeter. The designer used the wrong side of medium prints to ensure she had plenty of light fabric squares.

As you can see in the picture of the quilt pattern, a secondary pattern is created by the quilt layout.

As I looked at the pattern, I noticed the finished quilt would be 88 ½ by 96 ½ inches and used over 1,500 2 ½-inch squares. Whoa! I did not need a quilt that large and in no way did my box of 2 ½-inch squares contain 1,500 squares. I decided to make a 5-column by 6-row quilt that would measure about 64 ½ by 72 inches. I removed all the squares from the box and began to organize them. Using all flat surfaces available, including TV trays, small folding tables and my couch, I divided all the 2 ½-inch squares into stacks based on color. Next I needed to lay out the 6 half blocks and 27 whole blocks, using roughly 720 print squares and 600 light background squares. Laying out 33 blocks was going to take some thought and plenty of space.
 
Now how was I to lay out all these 2 ½-inch squares into 33 blocks and not have them skittering all over my house? I thought about how I made this pattern last time and I recalled I laid out each block on a piece of scrap batting.

So...that is what I did again. Each batting piece becomes a small design wall. The small squares stick to the batting in layout order until I can sew them together into the finished block. The batting stacks up and only takes the space of about 14 inches square.

To make my life easier, I found that I had 20 different styles of background squares, so I put them inside the box in their stacks until I am ready to sew the blocks together. Each full block takes 20 background squares. Score!

For each half square triangle I began sewing, my sewing machine would ingest the fabric and make a horrible knotted mess. No matter what I did, I could not get my machine to play nicely.

I remembered reading some place that you could start sewing half square triangles from another place rather than from the diagonal point.  I never tried it before because I had been successful sewing from point to point across the diagonal.   I was growing cranky from pulling out fabric from the interior of my sewing machine and untangling the mess of thread.  Some of the squares were really getting ragged.  I was not having fun!  So this change was worth a try.
 


 

To begin my experiment, I placed a print square and a background square face to face and marked the diagonal. 

Put the fabric under the presser foot, past the diagonal point toward the middle of the fabric.
 





I sewed from that point down the diagonal line and off the fabric.










Clipped the threads. Turned the square around, placed the square under the presser foot, placing the needle into the 4th stitch in the line of stitching, and sewed to the opposite corner.










Again, clipped the threads, and I had a pristine square that was not eaten and frayed by my sewing machine, and I had no tangled threads to rip out. Oh happy day!


Here is the square after trimming and pressing.











 

 

 

The above half square triangle was joined with another to create something like a flying geese unit.  Each block has four of these.

A tip on these half square triangle, flying geese units: 

Press the seams open so you don’t have so much overlapping fabric bulk.

Here is what a finished block looks like. I am still working on this quilt top. I have the 6 half blocks finished and 8 whole blocks completed; only 19 to go!

I’ll be back in October with another tidbit. Stay safe and healthy dear friends.

Oh by the way: I could use your help on something. I would like to know any successful tips you have to stifle or eliminate fabric fraying. Last month I sewed a quilt top with fabric that frayed like crazy. I may use your ideas in an upcoming tidbit. Thanks!

To provide input on this tidbit, go to the members section on the website and get my email address to write your reply.





multi color stripe
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September 2020
Using Up 2½-inch Squares,
Employing Batting Scraps to Layout Blocks,
and
Sewing Half Square Triangles

 

Happy September! As usual, this tidbit covers some things I have discovered as I have been sewing fabric pieces together to create a quilt top. This month I am using up some mismatched 2 ½-inch squares, employing batting scraps to layout blocks, and sewing half square triangles.

As I have been working my way through my “projects in waiting”, I came across a box of 2 ½-inch squares that I put together when I cleaned up my sewing room in November, as described in the November 2019 tidbit. These squares are a collection of mismatched charm squares that I cut into 2 ½-inch squares.
 
Along with stacks of 2 ½-in squares, the box contained a pattern called “Scrap Happy” by designer Christa Watson, from the October 2017 issue of American Patchwork & Quilting (shown in the picture).

Each block of the pattern uses a combo of print squares sewn into a 16-patch with 8 half square triangles and light background squares sewn around the perimeter. The designer used the wrong side of medium prints to ensure she had plenty of light fabric squares.

As you can see in the picture of the quilt pattern, a secondary pattern is created by the quilt layout.

As I looked at the pattern, I noticed the finished quilt would be 88 ½ by 96 ½ inches and used over 1,500 2 ½-inch squares. Whoa! I did not need a quilt that large and in no way did my box of 2 ½-inch squares contain 1,500 squares. I decided to make a 5-column by 6-row quilt that would measure about 64 ½ by 72 inches. I removed all the squares from the box and began to organize them. Using all flat surfaces available, including TV trays, small folding tables and my couch, I divided all the 2 ½-inch squares into stacks based on color. Next I needed to lay out the 6 half blocks and 27 whole blocks, using roughly 720 print squares and 600 light background squares. Laying out 33 blocks was going to take some thought and plenty of space.
 
Now how was I to lay out all these 2 ½-inch squares into 33 blocks and not have them skittering all over my house? I thought about how I made this pattern last time and I recalled I laid out each block on a piece of scrap batting.

So...that is what I did again. Each batting piece becomes a small design wall. The small squares stick to the batting in layout order until I can sew them together into the finished block. The batting stacks up and only takes the space of about 14 inches square.

To make my life easier, I found that I had 20 different styles of background squares, so I put them inside the box in their stacks until I am ready to sew the blocks together. Each full block takes 20 background squares. Score!

For each half square triangle I began sewing, my sewing machine would ingest the fabric and make a horrible knotted mess. No matter what I did, I could not get my machine to play nicely.

I remembered reading some place that you could start sewing half square triangles from another place rather than from the diagonal point.  I never tried it before because I had been successful sewing from point to point across the diagonal.   I was growing cranky from pulling out fabric from the interior of my sewing machine and untangling the mess of thread.  Some of the squares were really getting ragged.  I was not having fun!  So this change was worth a try.
 


 

To begin my experiment, I placed a print square and a background square face to face and marked the diagonal. 

Put the fabric under the presser foot, past the diagonal point toward the middle of the fabric.
 





I sewed from that point down the diagonal line and off the fabric.










Clipped the threads. Turned the square around, placed the square under the presser foot, placing the needle into the 4th stitch in the line of stitching, and sewed to the opposite corner.










Again, clipped the threads, and I had a pristine square that was not eaten and frayed by my sewing machine, and I had no tangled threads to rip out. Oh happy day!


Here is the square after trimming and pressing.











 

 

 

The above half square triangle was joined with another to create something like a flying geese unit.  Each block has four of these.

A tip on these half square triangle, flying geese units: 

Press the seams open so you don’t have so much overlapping fabric bulk.

Here is what a finished block looks like. I am still working on this quilt top. I have the 6 half blocks finished and 8 whole blocks completed; only 19 to go!

I’ll be back in October with another tidbit. Stay safe and healthy dear friends.

Oh by the way: I could use your help on something. I would like to know any successful tips you have to stifle or eliminate fabric fraying. Last month I sewed a quilt top with fabric that frayed like crazy. I may use your ideas in an upcoming tidbit. Thanks!

To provide input on this tidbit, go to the members section on the website and get my email address to write your reply.