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Summer Sampler 2017: Block 15 – Skipping Star

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We’re in the homestretch on Summer Sampler 2017!! This week we’re doing a paper-pieced block called Skipping Star, designed by Faith Jones of Fresh Lemons Quilts.

Like Block 10, Spring Star, this block has a kaleidoscope-style construction, where it’s pieced in wedges. This can be challenging to get the hang of, but if you haven’t done many blocks like this, it’s a good chance to build on the skills you developed making Spring Star! I would recommend revisiting the Spring Star post for my tips on aligning the wedges accurately. All the same things I said about Spring Star apply here too!

IMG_1983One of the nice things about this block, Skipping Star, is that there’s only one seam that needs to line up as you piece the wedges together. (Right where the blue meets the darker purple in my block above.) So as you’re joining your paper-pieced units in Skipping Star, that is where your focus should be. Line up those seams and the rest of the block should come together too.

Should, of course, being the operative word here. : ) On my first attempt at piecing the center of Skipping Star, my points didn’t even come close to touching! So here is my tip if that happens to you: Take all of the paper off (if you haven’t already, then unstitch only in the center, about 1″ to 1.5″ inches in each direction. Leave the rest of the block stitched up, especially if that part looks good! Then realign the center as needed and restitch. My second attempt, when I was concentrating only on the center and had all the paper off, looked good to me, and hopefully yours will as well!

Want to make this block? Click here for all the details! See you next week!

 

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Summer Sampler 2017: Block 14 – Saddle Star

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We’re on Block 14 of Summer Sampler 2017—when did that happen? : ) This week’s block is Saddle Star, designed by Katie Blakesley of Swim Bike Quilt.

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And check it out, it’s my last block in the 6″ size! I’ve decided I have a love-hate relationship with these little guys. They’re such a pain, but somehow so satisfying when they’re done!

Anyway, for this week’s tip, when you’re making the hourglass unit at the center of the block, I would suggest pressing seams toward the aqua fabric, rather than open as the pattern suggests. It’s all really just personal preference, but I find hourglass units just come together better when seams are pressed to sides, and you can nest them together when sewing the second hourglass seam. So if you’re having trouble getting that center point nice and neat, pressing seams toward the darker fabric might just do the trick.

That’s it! Want to make this block, but haven’t signed up for Summer Sampler yet? You still can—just click here! When you make the purchase, you’ll receive a link to download all of the blocks that have been released so far. It’s instant gratification! : ) See you next week for Block 15!

 

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Summer Sampler 2017: Block 13 – Compass Star

Happy Monday—hope you all are ready for Summer Sampler block number 13! This one is called Compass Star and was designed by Faith Jones of Fresh Lemons Quilts.

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Yes, it’s another paper-pieced block. : ) But what I really appreciate about this one is that after you finish the paper-piecing part of the block, there really aren’t any seams to line up, so it comes together beautifully with minimal effort.

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My tip for this week is, when you sew together the two flying geese units, make sure you sew with the larger (darker) goose facing towards you—just like I’m showing above.

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That way, your seam will go right through the point and you can make sure it hits right where it should. Perfect points!

Want to make your own? Click here to purchase the Summer Sampler 2017 pattern! All 17 blocks, plus the pattern for finishing the quilt, for just $24.99 total. And be sure to share your progress with the #summersampler2017 tag. Have a great week!

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Summer Sampler 2017: Block 12 – Ombré Star

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It’s Monday, so it’s Summer Sampler block day! And we’re on Block 12 already! This week we’re doing Ombré Star, designed by yours truly.

IMG_1882And it’s a cool little block if I do say so myself! I love what it looks like on point, too. (Want to make your own Ombré Star block? Click here to purchase the Summer Sampler 2017 pattern!)

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For this week’s tip, let’s talk about how to make the most of your limited sewing time. The flying geese units in this block are really easy to chain-piece—I like to line up all the pieces next to my sewing machine. Then I go through and sew one side of all the units in a row, chain-piecing them for maximum speed. When I’m done, I pressed all 8 units, trimmed the excess, and then chain pieced the other side of all 8 units. You’ll find that the block goes much faster this way!

Happy sewing, and see you next Monday! Don’t forget to tag your progress on Instagram with #summersampler2017!

 

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Summer Sampler 2017: Block 11 – Pixie Dust

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It’s Monday, so that means it’s Summer Sampler day! Ready for Block #11?

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This week’s block is Pixie Dust by Kelly Bowser of Kelby Sews. This week we’re going old-school with half-square triangles, and a whole lot of them. My favorite thing about this block is how geometric it is, yet still so starry!

This week’s tip is a doozy you guys: It is pay attention to what you’re doing. I know that doesn’t sound like much of a tip, but it bears repeating with this block! If you want to make the color placement look like the mock-up, you really do have to pay close attention to the written instructions and the diagrams in the pattern. You’re basically making some units that are mirror images of other units, as you can see from mine in the photo.

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It’s not a difficult task—it just requires close attention to what you’re doing. Without that, this block is a prime candidate for one of those where you sew it together wrong and don’t realize it until the whole darn thing is done. LOL. And as always, remember that the key to this block is accurate trimming. These units are trimmed in the exact same way as hourglass units, so click here to revisit my tips for trimming.

Have fun with this week’s block! And thank you,Kelly, for designing such a pretty addition to the quilt! If you’d like to play along, click here for all the details, and don’t forget to hashtag your posts #summersampler2017.

 

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Summer Sampler 2017: Block 10 – Spring Star

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It’s Monday, so are you all ready for Block 10 of Summer Sampler 2017? This week we’re working on Spring Star by Faith Jones of Fresh Lemons Quilts.

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This time, we’re turning from the usual 4-patch/9-patch set-up and branching out with a kaleidoscope-style block that’s pieced in wedges instead of triangles or squares. As a result, the look of this star is a departure from what we’ve been doing all summer—but thanks to paper-piecing, it’s shouldn’t feel a whole lot different in terms of the skills involved.

So here’s my tip for the week, and it involves what happens after the paper-piecing. Here’s what I do to line up the paper-pieced sections neatly:

1. First, I leave the paper on until I’m completely finished with the block. As I’ve mentioned before, I feel like the paper stabilizes the pesky, skinny little points on these units.

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2. I start by lining up the seams, not the edges of the units. (If you to choose to align only one or the other, go with the seams! Uneven edges can be fudged when you assemble the quilt top.) To align these seams, place your thumb right at the point where the seams dissect the outer-edge seam allowance, and fold the paper/fabric back against your thumb (as shown in the photo). This allows you to clearly see whether your seams line up exactly 1/4″ in from the edge, like they’re supposed to.

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3. If the seams are aligned correctly, you should have a dog ear at one edge of the unit, while the bottom points should be generally lined up (as shown in the photo). Once you’ve got everything aligned the way it should be, pin right next to that point, and sew.

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4. If all went as planned, the seam you just sewed should hit right at the point where the dog ear meets the edge of the unit, as you can see in this photo. If it does: Great job! If it doesn’t: Oh well, no worries. Uneven edges won’t show later!

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Here’s what it looks like when you’ve got the two units successfully aligned and sewn together.

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And keep going in the same way until the whole block is together.

Enjoy this week’s block! Don’t forget that you can always join us, any time—all previous blocks will be available with your first download! Click here for more info, and be sure to hashtag your progress with the #summersampler2017 tag.

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Summer Sampler 2017: Block 9 – Midland Star

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Block 9 of Summer Sampler 2017! We’re moving right along!

This week’s block is Midland Star by Katie Blakesley of Swim Bike Quilt. After several paper-pieced blocks in a row, it was refreshing to go back to some “normal” piecing this week.

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The most challenging part of this block is the hourglass units. Hourglass units are a little more difficult than half-square triangles, but they’re a key piecing concept to be able to pull off!

IMG_1540Bringing me to this week’s tips!

Tip #1: Always press to the side when making hourglass units. I usually love to press my seams open, especially on half-square triangles, but you’ll get better, more accurate results when you press that first hourglass seam to the side, because then the seams can nest when you sew it the second time.

And Tip #2: Trim carefully! Make sure to use the center point and the diagonal seams to align your ruler as you trim, and expect that you’ll have to trim all four sides of the unit rather than just two. Another thing that’s helpful is having a square ruler in the size to which you’re trimming. I have a lot of square rulers, in practically every size available (3-1/2″ square, 4-1/2″ square, 6-1/2″ square, etc.) As you can see from the photo above, that 4-1/2″ square ruler makes this task so much easier, since the center is clearly marked, and I can see exactly where the edges of this unit will end up when trimmed.

Want to make your own Summer Sampler 2017? Click here for all the details! And don’t forget to hashtag #summersampler2017 so everyone can enjoy your progress!

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Summer Sampler 2017: Block 8 – Princess Cut Star

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Happy Monday, and happy July! We’re now on Block 8 of Summer Sampler 2017, which means we’re almost halfway done already, which is hard to believe.

It’s my turn as designer again this week, so my Princess Cut Star block is up! I designed this block and was immediately reminded of the facets in a princess-cut diamond, and so Princess Cut it was. : )

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Here’s the great thing about this paper-pieced block: Templates A and B are pieced in reverse order. Why is that so great? Because it means when you join an A unit to a B unit, the seams will nest together, just like they do in traditional patchwork. I think you’ll find that it makes this block come together much more accurately and easily than some of the other blocks we’ve tackled during this quilt-along. Piecing the templates in reverse order isn’t always possible (it totally depends on the design), but when it is, it’s happy-dance time.

So here’s my tip for this week: I leave the paper on my paper-pieced units when I’m joining each A unit to a B unit. I think leaving the paper on is particularly helpful with triangular-shaped units, because it stabilizes those little angled points at the edges. Just pay attention, as your joining A and B units, to whether your seams are all snugly nested together. But once the A and B units were together, at that point I took my paper off, before I sewed the quadrants together. With the ability to nest those seams, I don’t think it’s necessary to leave the paper on once you have the triangles sewn into nice stable squares.

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And here are all my blocks so far, all together. Loving them! Want to join in? It’s not too late! Click here! And if you’re playing along, don’t forget to hashtag your photos #summersampler2017. Click here to see the beauties being made by others who are participating!

Happy sewing everyone! See you next week.

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Summer Sampler 2017: Block 7 – Turning Star

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Good morning! Block 7 of Summer Sampler 2017 has arrived! It’s Turning Star by Lynne Goldsworthy of Lily’s Quilts.

I’ve been looking forward to making this one since we first got Lynne’s mock-up! Love love love this block. And it’s not a difficult paper-piecing project—it comes together so nicely!

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Now for this week’s tip. If you would like to do color placement similar to what I used in my block (a color-gradient center and alternating colors around the outside), it’s very simple to do. Start by lining up the colors you’ll be using in the center, from one end of your gradient to the other, like I did above.

Since the inside pieces are the first piece you’ll use, just work your way through the templates using the colors in the order you laid them out in—just be sure to alternate Template A and Template B as you go. By doing that, you’ll always have As and Bs next to each other, just the way you wanted them. (It doesn’t matter if you start with A or B.)

Then, when you get to pieces 3A and 3B, just make sure all the A templates use one of your outside colors, and all of the B templates use the other outside color.

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Just following that simple plan should allow your block to come together perfectly! (Well, from a color-placement standpoint, anyway. LOL.)

Want to make this block? Just purchase the Summer Sampler 2017 subscription! You’ll get this block, along with 16 more equally-beautiful star blocks, plus finishing instructions, all for only $24.99! Click here to purchase.

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Summer Sampler 2017: Block 6 – Marine Star

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Summer Sampler 2017 Block 6 is here! This week, we’re doing a simplified mariner’s compass block—Marine Star by Katie Blakesley of Swim Bike Quilt.

I did the 6″ version of this block, and I’m not going to mince words: It’s a challenging one. LOL. Particularly in the 6″ size, the paper-piecing isn’t too bad—it’s joining the paper-pieced units that can be tricky.

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I also did a scrappy print version of the 12″ block, and that one sure came out better for me. LOL. So if you’re concerned about this one, you may want to stick with the 12″ version.

But in spite of all my warnings above, don’t worry, I KNOW you guys are up for the challenge of this block! I’ve been so impressed with what you all have done so far in this quilt-along—especially our newbies, who are trying out techniques you never thought you’d try! I love that!! So to that end, let’s talk about this week’s tip.

Here’s what worked for me on this block:

• I left the paper on throughout the process, waiting to remove the paper until the very end. I think the paper helps stabilize some of those angles as you sew them and try to get them to line up.

• I had several parts of the block that didn’t come together well at first (especially that white center square, which was my nemesis this week). So once the whole block was together, I removed the paper and THEN snipped stitches where the seams didn’t come together quite right. I did NOT unstitch the whole seam—only as much as I needed to in order to more accurately resew the areas where seams needed to align. In many cases, with angles like this, tiny adjustments are all you need to perfect the block!

Pressing is SO IMPORTANT! A lot of people finger-press when paper-piecing or use a seam roller. I’m fanatical about pressing with my iron very thoroughly after every paper-piecing seam, because it absolutely can affect the accuracy of your block. If that seam isn’t pressed quite right, once you remove the paper? Bam, the size of the unit has changed without the paper to stabilize it. It may be only a slight change, but that’s enough to screw you up with this block!

I hope that helps! Can’t wait to see your Marine Star blocks—post them with the hashtag #summersampler2017. And it’s not too late to join us in the quilt-along! Click here to join in!