Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Celestial Star QAL: JOINING BLOCKS

Alright, who is ready to join their blocks?? Sorry for the delay. I was racing last week to finish my last five blocks! I knew if I didn't spend all my time finishing them, I wouldn't. We also had a two week delay for school to start due to renovations on the school buildings. Today yesterday (I did write this yesterday) was the first day for my cute first grader, and then we decided this morning yesterday morning to put my two middle children in preschool, which also started today yesterday, and there went my whole day! I'm so excited about it, but a little nervous for my little girl. I have a tender heart for her, as she's such a sweet tender girl, but I think this will be good for her, and make us both stretch and grow. It's hard to let your children grow up.... anyway, lots of life going on right now. :)

Anyway... let's get on with this QAL already!!!


Celestial Star QAL with from blank pages...


Today's Topic: Joining Blocks  
Assignment: Sew all your blocks together to create a quilt top.   
On the Blog: Blog about it and link it up using the link up at the end of this post. OR you can also link up photos from Flickr* or Instagram.  
On Instagram: Take a picture and tag it using hashtag #CelestialStarQAL.



You can pick up a pattern on Craftsy and in my new shop!.
*If you are sharing pictures from Flickr, I started a Celestial Star QAL group, where you can also share your photos, or start up a discussion, ask questions, etc. I don't get on Flickr much anymore, but I'll try my best to keep my eye on it for any activity going on there. I still think Flickr has a pretty good platform for groups, even if the rest of the site has changed.
**If you decide to work faster than my schedule, which is fine, be sure to take pictures along the way so you can come back and enter the different giveaways!



Joining blocks really isn't anything technical, but I have a few tips I find helpful in create a polished quilt top. If you are only creating a one block project, then this post isn't really applicable, but perhaps I can share a few things that will help you with other projects. :)


At this point I still have all the paper on my blocks. Some people take it off, but I like the added structure it gives my fabric, and helps me feel a little more confident about not stretching and distorting my fabric. Sometimes it does get in the way, or shift, so it does include a little improvising and adjusting. But it works for me.

This is how I joined my quilt (scroll down for a picture of my completed quilt top! I still need to take a really good one... this is a tough quilt to photograph. The pictures just don't do it justice.) ;)

I sew my quilt in rows/columns. I decided to sew it in three columns first (but you can easily do four rows. It doesn't matter.) I started by sewing my blocks in pairs (The numbers represent the order I sew my seams):



Now my 12 blocks are 6 sets. I'll sew the 2 sets in each column together to make three columns.



Then sew the columns together.



Here is the important step to remember, and this goes for ANY quilt where you are joining rows and/or columns.

You need to alternate the direction in which you sew the seam. I have arrows indicating which direction I sewed my blocks, along with the number referencing which step I sewed them in. Notice how in column one the side I start from alternates as you go down the column?! Same with each column, and then the end I start sewing with when I sew the columns together also changes.


Why is this important??? For some reason when you sew lots of blocks together, or strips. If you always start from the same end and sew in the same direction, your quilt will start to curve, or fan out. Everything will be tighter on one side and be just a hair wider at the other. I know there is reasoning behind it, but I won't go into all that. Just trust me.

One trick that I use to help me remember where to start from, without giving it to much thought, is to find a pattern. In my quilt every other block is a blank background alternating with a designed background. If your blocks have some sort of alternating design or element, find that pattern. For me, I when I sewed my blocks together, I always sewed with the designed background print on TOP as I fed it through my machine. This technique, or pattern, ensures that I will always alternate my starting end. It would be really hard to feed a block through on both edges starting from the same end. Does that make sense?! Trust me. I've seen it in other people's projects, and am grateful my step-mom taught me this when she first taught me to quilt, as it's been something I've happily been able to avoid. :)


Another trick I find highly important: MATCH YOUR SEAMS!! Sometimes it happens that one block is a little wider than the other, or one section is wider than the section you are joining it to. You may think it's more important to make it flat and just sew it flat. In MY OWN opinion, I think it's more important that your seams line up. If you are making a show quilt - go somewhere else to learn all those tricks, I am no professional. BUT if you are going to make a quilt you'll use and love = you are quilting it, it will be washed a lot and often = a little bump in your fabric won't be noticeable.  I'm not talking about puckers. You don't want puckers. But if your fabric has a little bit of wave to it, no one will know it once it's washed and comes out fluffy and crinkly from the dryer. (I'm not talking about huge errors here either, just little ones where you can pull your fabric just enough as you feed it through your machine to get the seams to line up without puckering.) What you WILL notice no matter how many times you wash your quilt, are those seams that don't match and don't line up. You can't crinkle or quilt those mistakes away. :)

So, match your seams. And that is my own inexperienced unprofessional quilting advice. I don't know how people always avoid these little "errors" but I get them, and I just roll with them and don't beat myself up about them. And this is how I fake that I'm awesome at quilting. ;)


Here is my diagram for matching seams. I've pointed to the seams to align.


HOW TO:

I like to glue baste my blocks together. I can align them just right, and not worry about shifting as I transfer my blocks to my sewing machine, or am working with it in the machine. Which was especially helpful with my ginormous 24" blocks.

I don't have any diagrams. I'm sorry. If you want some I can make some. :)

1. Lay one block face up on your ironing board, with the edge your going to be sewing first in the middle of your ironing board (or where ever you can iron it.)
2. Draw a thin line of glue right along the edge of the side you will be sewing.
3. Lay your second block on top of the first block. Pay special attention that your edges are even (you want to have an even 1/4" seam allowance on both blocks when you sew them. If one block sticks out further than the other, your seam allowances won't be even.
4. Also pay attention that you are matching your seams. I like to start in the center and work out toward the edges.
5. As you align your block, press it where you have glues to set the glue. You can still reposition it if needed, but this really strengthens the bond if you are ready to sew!
6. Sew your blocks together with a 1/4" seam allowance. 
7. Press your seams to the side, alternating the direction for each column.
8. Repeat until your quilt top is done!


And now you should have a beautiful quilt top!! Wahoo!

Here is a picture of mine! I'm so in love with it!! But I need to find a good place for pictures. ;)



Be sure to link up your progress!!

Tomorrow I'll share some quilting ideas and open the link up for the quilting giveaway - sharing your quilting designs! (You don't have to be finished quilting, just starting, or sharing your ideas.) :)



   
   



Happy Quilting!!


Diane


4 comments:

  1. Hi Diane,
    I just wanted to tell you that I've been really enjoying reading these posts. I am not taking part in your QAL and have quite a bit of paper piecing experience so am not necessarily your target audience, but it always fascinates me to see how other people work. I have picked up quite a few tips, some of which I will use myself, others I will pass on to those who have difficulties with my methods. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.
    Juliet x

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  2. I have loved this QAL, thanks so much for all the tips and tricks. I have one block to finish, and then I will be posting. Your quilt turned out so beautiful! I started pinning all the blocks and quilts to a pinterest board called Celestial Star Quilt Along, so that when I make my next one, using 24" blocks instead of itty bitty 12" blocks, I can look at some ideas. Is there any way you could post all of your blocks individually so we could see them better? I'm not intending to "steal" anyone's designs, it's just that there are so many ways to put this design together I thought it would be fun to put everyone's ideas in one spot. Every block I designed turned out gorgeous, and I colored a ton of them! When I went to copy my own designs, I changed them again, so I couldn't even copy my own designs, which is so funny. I hope to make this again after Christmas. I wanted to let you know I believe you designed an absolutely wonderful block, thanks so much for doing a quilt a long with it. I would definitely buy more of your patterns, hope there are more in the works. I have been testing quilt patterns for some people online, and that's waylaid my finishing of this, but I will finish it soon, hopefully tomorrow. dahlgren0609 at gmail dot com

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  3. So gorgeous! I'm just about to FINALLY start my blocks---had to wait for canning season to finish or I know I'd never get those jars filled! (Just need to use up these pears and its quilty time!) This is a beautiful block, I've been dreaming up fabric choices, hope mine turns out as lovely as yours!

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