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Friday, May 31, 2013

How to make a basic patchwork sampler quilt top - Basics and Block 1

To start patchwork you will need some basic tools. There are some well assorted beginner sets like the Omnigrid Rotary Cutting Kit, that you can get online at amazon, but if you don't want or have that option what you will need is:

- A rotary cutter, the standard version is 45mm.
- A self-healing cutting mat
- A patchwork ruler

Additionally you will need a sewing machine or sewing supplies if you prefer to sew by hand and an iron and ironing surface.

The sampler quilt top will measure 70x70cm/28x28in

You will need three different cotton fabrics. You can either choose contrasting fabrics as you see in the picture below.

or you can choose different fabrics from the same colour family as you see in this picture. Just make sure there is enough contrast to see the patchwork.

This is, by the way, the project for our sampler quilt. To make it you will need the following quantities of fabric (112cm/44in):

light blue       25cm / 10in
purple           70cm / 28in
medium blue 35cm / 14in

The sampler quilt consists of four 20cm/8in basic patchwork blocks, 10cm/4in sashing and a 10cm/4in border.

We will first prepare the 4 blocks, then join them with the sashing and finally attach the border.

So let's start:

Block 1 -Trip around the world

Now  this is how it works:

You have three fabrics, fabric 1, 2 and 3, and you will need 9 pieces of fabric1, 8 pieces of fabric 2 and 8 pieces of fabric 3, that will have to be sewn together as shown below in order to finish the block.
Now decide which fabrics will be 1, 2 and 3 and start cutting the squares. Each square should measure 5.2 cm / 2 1/8 inch.
The finished block measures 20cm/8in, there are 5 squares in any row and column and therefore each square measures 4cm/1 5/8 in. Cutting the squares we have to add the seam-allowance to the size of the finished piece as otherwise it won't be the right size after having been sewn in place. Seam-allowance is usually 0,6cm/ 1/4in per side Therefore you must cut 4.0+1.2 =5.2 cm/ 1 5/8 + 1/2 = 2 1/8in.

Instead of cutting single squares it is easier to cut one strip of the correct height and then divide it into single squares. For fabric number 1 you need 9 squares, therefore your strip must measure 5.2cm/ 2 1/8in in height and 9 times that number 46.8cm/ 19 1/8in in length.

To cut place your fabric flat on the cutting mat, iron it if it has creases, and measure the correct dimensions with your ruler. When cutting strips that are longer than your ruler, carefully fold the fabric (with the rotary cutter you can cut through several layers) and clean off the edge where you will be cutting the strip, so that both layers are perfectly equal.

Now place your ruler on the fabric measuring the correct height all the way along the ruler and, holding the ruler firmly in place with one hand, cut along the edge of the ruler with the other.
Pay attention to holding the rotary cutter in a 90° angle to the cutting mat sliding it along the edge of the ruler in order to cut the shape the way you need it to be. Go slowly in the beginning.

Now take your strip and carefully cut it in 9 perfect squares, placing the ruler and cutting carefully.

Very good, you have cut your first 9 squares. Now take fabrics 2 and 3 and cut 8 squares each, following the steps above. Please note that now you will only need 8 squares and therefore your strip should be 1 square shorter and thus only 41,6cm/ 17in.

When you have finished cutting all your squares we can start sewing.

Place all your squares on the table in the way they will be sewn together.

Then start sewing row by row from left to right.
Take the first square of the first row and place it on the table right side up. Then take the second square from the first row and place it on the first square right side down. You may pin them together if you prefer, but as they are rather small pieces they can be sewn without pinning.

Put one side of your double square under the needle of your sewing machine, and sew the two pieces together. I use a 1/4 inch presser foot that helps me measuring the seam-allowance (as you see in the picture, the edge of the fabrics is aligned with the edge of my foot) which makes it rather easy.

I you don't have an adeguate foot the easiest way of measuring the correct distance is to somehow trace it onto your machine. The 1/4 inch might already be marked on your plate as it is in the picture below.

As a marker would be very difficult to get off later, a good way is to place several layers of masking tape along the 1/4 inch line as the tape will not only show you where the edge of your fabric should be, but if you put several layers it will work as a guide.

Now, if your foot is larger than the 1/4 inch, as it is in the picture above, it will get caught on the masking tape. You can try moving your needle all the way to the right and measure 1/4 inch from there, in most cases that will work. If not trace the line with a pencil or just put 1 layer of masking tape. In the picture below, using the same presser foot, the needle has been moved all the way to the right so that there is a little room between the masking tape and the foot.

Now sew the two pieces together, then flip one piece over and iron open. When doing the first row, iron all seam allowances to the right (you will later iron the seam allowances of the second row to the left, the third to the right and keep on alternating, as that will reduce bulk when joining all rows).

Place the newly created patch on the table right side up, first piece on the left and second piece on the right. Then place the third piece right side down onto the second piece.

Sew in place, then flip and iron open with the seam allowance pointing to the right.

Add the fourth and fifth square and thus finish the first row.

Now proceed in the same way with the other 4 rows. Attach one piece at a time, moving from left to right, flip them over and iron them in place, remembering to alternate the direction in which you iron the seamallowance from row to row.

Now we need to join the 5 rows in order to finish the block. Start by attaching the first two rows together. Place the first row right side facing upwards onto the table then place the second row right side down on top of it. Make sure to make the edges between the single squares meet between the two rows and pin together. 

Now sew the two rows together, flip them open and iron. 

Then attach the third row in the same way and put the piece aside.

Take the fourth and fifth row and join them together. Then join the upper three and the lower two rows to finish the block.

The finished block will later be incorporated into the quilt, therefore it should now measure it's finished size plus seam allowance on all sides and thus 21.2cm / 8 1/2in square.
For now we're done. Continue with the tutorial for the 2nd. block.