Friday, January 13, 2012

Newby Quilting Bee - Class 1 - The Friendship Star Block

Friendship Star Block

So happy you can join us!  This is very basic instruction.  For those of you who are seasoned quilters, much of this will be old stuff.  For the Newbies this is uncharted territory which I hope will open new vistas of creativity for you.  Please, if you have questions, drop me an e-mail and I will try to answer them.  There are many roads that lead to Rome, some more traveled than others.  Quilting is much the same, there are many ways to accomplish the same thing.  I am teaching you one way, again, there are way is not the only one or the "right" one, it's just one of many.   As you build your quilt, block by block,  I hope you will take a moment to post your creations on our Flickr site so everyone can enjoy them!      And with that, here we go! 

Here is a link to the PDF file: PDF File with Pattern and Instructions

You should have 2-3 fat quarters to get you started.

Select the fabric that you want to use as your "star" and the fabric you want to use as your "tips", put them right sides together, with the lighter of the two fabric's on top.  This is just for ease in marking, it has nothing to do with placement of the fabric in the finished block.

If you need a little quickie course on how to use a rotary is an excellent link, you may want to read it first and get familiar with your rotary cutter and the proper way to use it, before you proceed.  If you are coming to class we will cover this information in class.  Link for Rotary Cutting Instruction

Place the fabric on your cutting board so it looks like a rectangle with the long edge at the top and bottom.

If you are right handed, take your ruler and "neaten" the left side selvage.
If you are left handed, take your ruler and "neaten" the right side selvage.
(this simply means that you are taking a small strip off the edge so that you are cutting from a straight selvage.)

Now place your 6 inch ruler so that one edge is exactly on your neatened selvage and proceed to cut a 6 inch strip.  Fold up the remainder of your fabric and set it aside.

Now turn your strip so that the long edge is at the bottom by you as shown below, still keeping the right sides of the fabric together and cut a strip 12 inches long.  Fold up the remainder and set aside.

Take your marking pencil and your ruler.  You are going to mark a line dividing the fabric into two 6 inch squares as shown below.  I have used a blue permanent Sharpie marker to show this line for instructional purposes only.  You can use a pencil, a chalk pencil, a disappearing marker (my favorite)...what ever... DON'T USE SOMETHING THAT WILL BLEED ON YOUR FABRIC WHEN YOU WASH IT.

Mark a line dividing the fabric strip into two 6 inch squares as shown above.  Again, I have used a permanent Sharpie marker for demonstration purposes only:

Draw 2 diagonal lines dividing each of the squares as shown below.

When you are done marking up your piece, it should look like this, the diagonal lines will be our stitching guide...we will be stitching 1/4 inch on both sides of this line, we will NOT be stitching on the line.  (don't freak out if you got ahead of yourself and stitched on the line...that is why we have seam rippers ;-)

Start stitching 1/4 inch from the diagonal line, don't break your thread when you get to the end, just lift up your pressure foot, turn your fabric and sew 1/4 inch from the diagonal on the other piece...don't break your thread, lift up your pressure foot, turn your fabric and sew 1/4 inch from the diagonal line going in the other direction till you reach the center, again lifting your pressure foot without breaking the thread,  turn the fabric and complete your last 1/4 inch seam as you see below.  I have used black thread for instructional purposes only, you would select a thread to match your fabric.

When you have completed this step, give your fabric a pressing to set the seams and then back to your cutting mat.  Cut all the lines apart, starting with the one in directly in the middle and then cutting your diagonal lines that are between your seams as shown below:

Take your pieces to your ironing board and press them open. Press all seams in one direction.  It's important not to scrub your fabric with the iron because we are working with a diagonal piece and you can distort your fabric.  If you want you can finger press your pieces open first and then hit them with the iron. 

Okay, now you should have 4 pieces that look like this...These are the "tips" of your "star".

This is a good time to talk about squaring up.  Squaring up is just what it sounds like, you are making sure that each component of your block is square and the same size.  Squaring up is an important part of quilt making, it let's you put the components together evenly so that your quilt will lay straight with out puckers or ripples.  So how do you square up your components?  
Take your fabric and place your ruler on it so that you can see the edge line up with 5 1/2 inches on both left side and the bottom.  Trim away any excess fabric on the right and the top.  Turn your piece 180 degrees (flip it around) and do the same, you should have your component squared up to 5 1/2 inches.  Please refer to the Video link below, it has an excellent example for you.


Video demonstrating How To Square Up

From the remainder of the strip of fabric that you cut, you should have enough to cut a center piece that measures 5 1/2 inches square.  Whether you chose two fabrics or three; you will need to cut 1 or 2 strips that measures 5 1/2 inches .  From these strips you will cut 4 squares that measure 5 1/2 inches square each.

When you are done cutting, you should have the following components for your block, all measuring 5 1/2 inches square:

4 - half square triangle units
1 - center square
4 - corner squares

see below:

Lay out your block on your cutting mat, just the way you want it to look, see below:

Take the top three pieces, stitch them together and press all the seams going in one direction. Set it back on your cutting mat. Do the same with the next two rows, always setting them back in place and checking your design.  

Now take the top row and flip it down onto the next row with the right sides together, take your hand and grab the top right seam, you should have one seam pressed in one direction and the other seam pressed the opposite direction like below.  You should be able to squeeze them together with your thumb and fingers, so that they butt right up against each other, you will feel them lock in place.  Place a pin on either side of the seam, not in the seam and then stitch.

Once you are done sewing the seam, finger press it open with the seam going away from the center of the block and press with your steam iron.  Check your seams, they should match up precisely as below:

Repeat the process placing the piece back on your cutting mat, lining it up with the remaining segment and repeating the above instructions to finish the block.  Once done, give your block a good pressing and you are finished for now.  We will not square up our blocks until we finish constructing all of them.



Ready to start your second one?  Yes, we are going to do two blocks in this first class, see if you notice anything about this block before we get started.

Shoo Fly

Have you noticed what is special about this second block?  Look at the picture below and see if you can figure it out.

Do those components look familiar? They should, they are exactly the same as those used to create the Friendship Star Block!  By simply turning the fabric a different way, you can come up with other combinations to create other blocks from the same components!  Wheeee!!! This is EASY....before you stitch this block together, see what other combinations you can come up with.

Here is a layout that is called Snowball. Notice how completely different it looks from the block above and yet we are using the same components!

Here are a couple more possibilities...

Each block is completely different and yet they ALL use the same components.  That is the lesson I want you to take from this class.  In quilting there are a multitude of options to express your creativity, you only need to open yourself to play and experiment.

Sew your second block together using the same method described for block number one.  Make sure you lay it out on your cutting mat the way you want to stitch the block.  


You may notice that I used a directional fabric in the second block.  Directional fabrics can be a challenge sometimes and I don't recommend them for beginners.  But, with that said, this method for making your half square triangle units will provide you with positive results, just check the direction of your fabric in your layout before you start sewing your block together and flip your component as necessary to make sure they are all going in the direction you wish.
Set up your sewing space, if possible with your mat next to your machine and your ironing board close by.  Have everything at hand that you will need for your project before you being.  Make sure you have adequate lighting. Wind several bobbins before you start, nothing worse than running out when you're on a roll.
If you have wall space, take a piece of thin batting and pin it to your can use this as a design wall.  Your fabric will stick to the batting like a felt board, no pins necessary.  This gives you an opportunity to step back from your project and assess things.  Don't have a free wall?  The floor will work.  You just need some distance to see if your fabrics are "reading" the way you want them too.  Using a digital camera to take photos of your blocks and your quilt will be helpful as you sew.  It gives you that "distance" from the project and you can often times, quickly see a fabric that doesn't work, or a design element that you want to change, before you get to the finished product.
The center square of fabric in each of the blocks can be "fussy" cut.  That means, you might have a motif in a piece of fabric that you want to center in that block.  Normally you would cut from the edge of your fabric.  With a fussy cut, you are aiming to center that motif.  Maybe it's a large flower or a particular floral spray, it could be an animal, it could be anything special that you want  to center and focus in that block. Here is a video by Eleanor Burnes that nicely demonstrates 
fussy cuts.  

This has been fun!  We now have two of our blocks finished!  Join us Friday, February 10th at 9am for our next class!  And please take a moment to post your blocks to Flickr, the link is at the top and we want to see your creations!

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