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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 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!

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Summer Sampler 2017: Block 4 – Rosetta Star

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This week, we’re doing my block for Summer Sampler 2017! Meet Rosetta Star.

I have to say, I’m really digging this block. It’s just a subtle twist on a standard star block, but it’s so fun and unique. Yes, the star points are paper-pieced, but after last week’s block I think you’ll find this one is a walk in the park! Want to make it? Click here to purchase Summer Sampler 2017! (Just $24.99 gets you this and 16 other blocks, each in two sizes, 6″ and 12″, plus instructions for a fab sampler layout at the end.)

So let’s talk about my tip of the week. There was a lot of discussion in our Summer Sampler 2017 subscriber-only Facebook group about matching up points with last week’s Celestial Star block. And it was a challenging one to be sure. Those crazy angles need to be dead-on—even slight discrepancies can really throw off your star points. So how do I get them matched up? Let’s look at how I did this week’s block.

First—and this applies to any block I’m working on, whether paper-pieced or traditional piecing—match up seams, not edges. My priority always goes to matching up my seams when I’m piecing together parts of a block. If the seams line up but the edges don’t, it’s not a big deal, because edges will always be hidden in the seam allowance of the next piece/unit you add. And let me tell you, I’m the queen of fudging seam allowances in situations like that. : )

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So here’s how it works. Take the two paper-pieced units you want to line up and put them together, fabric sides touching, paper sides out. (I’ve recently become a convert to leaving the paper on, but that’s up to you.) I put my thumb right at the point where seams need to match up, which in this case is where the seam for piece 2 crosses the 1/4″ seam allowance line around the edge of the template. Don’t pay attention to whether the side edges of the unit match up! Right now you should only worry about the stitched seams.

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Bend back the paper/fabric unit closest to you, exactly at the quarter-inch seam allowance line on the paper. Adjust the two units slightly until those seams align perfectly, like they do in the photo above! Again, I’m not worring about the edges of the unit. Only whether that seam between the purple and the white looks good. Once you’ve got it perfectly into place, with a bigger unit I would probably put a pin right there at that seam. With this tiny unit, I’m just going to forge ahead and check my other seam.

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Now, keeping that unit exactly where you had it so the first seam doesn’t get nudged, carefully check the other seam that needs aligning. In this case, it’s the seam between pieces 2 and 3 (purple and blue). You’ll want to nudge that corner seam very carefully into place without screwing up the first seam (this can be tricky and takes practice).

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Once both of those seams are aligned, pin that puppy into place nice and securely. You’ll notice that I never did check the side edges. Because I still don’t care about those. LOL.

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Sew it up and see what you’ve got. Looks pretty good, huh?

Like anything, lining up seams like this takes practice, but keep plugging away and each block will be more perfect than the last, I promise!

Hope you like Rosetta Star! As always, hashtag your progress with #summersampler2017. You guys have been making some gorgeous blocks—so fun to watch everyone’s progress! See you next week for Block 5 of Summer Sampler 2017.

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Summer Sampler 2017: Block 3 – Celestial Star

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It’s only Memorial Day, but we’re officially three weeks into summer with Summer Sampler 2017! Here’s block 3 of the Summer Sampler 2017 quilt-along, Celestial Star by Holly DeGroot of Bijou Lovely.

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Last week we dipped our toes into the paper-piecing pool. This week we’re really taking the plunge. So if you haven’t paper-pieced before (or even if you’ve only done last week’s simpler block), I suggest you start by visiting one of Faith’s paper-piecing tutorials to get the basics down.

Did that? Great! Now I’d like to share with you my extra-special favorite mind-blowing paper-piecing tip that will help you place those pieces perfectly every time! Sound too good to be true? It’s totally not. Read on.

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Let’s use position 6B of today’s Celestial Star block as an example. Because I’m here to tell you, piece 6B is a tricky little minx. We’re dealing with a strange angle on 6B (even more so than on 6A), so unless you place the fabric exactly right, you’re not going to cover what you need to cover, and you’ll screw it up. That’s frustrating, I know! So here it is—this is what your B unit should look like when you’ve got pieces 1B-5B sewn on. So far so good. Now we need to add 6B.

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Before adding the 6B fabric piece, flip the unit over and fold back the paper, right along the line you’ll be sewing, between 6B and everything else. (You can tear the paper a little as you pull it back if your previous stitches crossed over where you need to fold—you can see I’ve done that in the photo above.)

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Once the paper is folded back, trim all of the excess fabric 1/4″ out from the folded paper, like so.

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Here’s what it should look like after you’ve trimmed the excess fabric.

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And now here’s what it should look like from the other side (the fabric side). You’ll notice that you can see some of the folded paper sticking out beyond the purple piece. That little bit of folded-back paper peeking out is the key to placing the next piece of fabric correctly.

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So here it is with fabric 6B placed. Just line up the edge of piece 6B with the edge you trimmed off, but make sure piece 6B also covers that little flap of folded-back paper. As long as you’re covering the folded paper that sticks out, you’re golden! You’ll cover what you need to cover, every single time. No missed points!

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Next, flip the whole thing over (sewn unit and new fabric piece 6B), making sure to leave the 6B fabric in the exact same position (you may want to pin it into place before you flip). Then unfold the paper template and flatten it out so you can sew.

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Stitch on the line as usual (with shortened stitch length), and press piece 6B into place. Ta da! Piece 6B was in the exact spot it needed to be to cover every bit of space you needed to cover. Easy, right?

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This tip works any time you’re paper-piecing and it’s not obvious where the next piece needs to go—you can visit my post on the Bernina blog for a more thorough explanation of how it works. It will change your life, I tell you! : )

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And finally, here are all three of my Summer Sampler 2017 blocks together—two 6-inchers and today’s 12-inch. I love seeing them come together like this!

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There’s still time to join Summer Sampler 2017 and make the blocks with all of us! It’s only $24.99 total, for 17 block patterns in two sizes each (6″ and 12″), plus instructions to finish it into this gorgeous layout! Click here to purchase. I hope you’ll join us! And don’t forget to check the #summersampler2017 hashtag to enjoy everybody else’s blocks! See you next week.

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Summer Sampler 2016 Block 14: Piccolo Park

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I’m a little late with this one, but it’s a beauty, so I hope you’ll forgive me! This is Block 14 of Summer Sampler 2016, Piccolo Park by Katie Blakesley of Swim Bike Quilt.

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I expected this block to be insanely complicated. And it was complicated, but fortunately not insanely so. : ) Lots of cutting and lots of little pieces, but the pieces is actually pretty standard when it comes down to it.

Still want to join in the Summer Sampler fun? Don’t worry, you’ll get all 13 previously-released blocks immediately, plus the 7 remaining blocks delivered to your email inbox every Monday! Click here to subscribe.

And as always, check the #summersampler2016 hashtag to see everyone else’s beautiful blocks!

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Summer Sampler 2016 Block 13: Diamond Ladder

IMG_8967 This week’s Summer Sampler block! It’s a skill-builder block, courtesy of Faith at Fresh Lemons Quilts. : )

Half-square triangles and a few flying geese—that’s it! But of course those are both units that you see in quilt designs over and over again, so it’s always good to get in some more practice.

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And somehow, these simple shapes add up to a unique design. One of the things I love so much about a block like this!

Still want to join in the Summer Sampler fun? Don’t worry, you’ll get all 13 previously-released blocks immediately, plus the 7 remaining blocks delivered to your email inbox every Monday! Click here to subscribe.

And as always, check the #summersampler2016 hashtag to see everyone else’s beautiful blocks!