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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 5 – Alchemy

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It’s Monday, so that means Block 5 of Summer Sampler 2017 is here! This week’s block is Alchemy by AnneMarie Chany of Gen X Quilters.

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I did the block in the 6″ size this week, and found it to be surprisingly fun and easy, even in the smaller size! Cool block too—I would love to make a whole quilt out of this one! (Want to make this block? Join the Summer Sampler 2017 quilt-along right now! Click here to join.)

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This week I’ve got a time-saving tip. When you’re making a lot of half-square triangles (as you do in this block), save some time and skip marking the backs of the squares. Instead, put a piece of tape down on your machine bed (I used some fancy orange washi tape, but duct tape or masking tape will work just as well). Make sure one edge of the tape is directly in line with the needle.

Then, as you’re sewing, keep the corner tip of the fabric squares aligned with the edge of the tape as you stitch from corner to corner. If you need to sew directly down the center of the square, leave your needle aligned with the edge of the tape. If you need to sew 1/4″ out on both sides of the center (as is required with this block), move your needle position 1/4″ over.

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Then trim and press as normal!

Happy sewing, and see you next week for Block 6! Don’t forget to use the hashtag #summersampler2017 to share your progress!

 

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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 2017: Block 2 – Tilted Star

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Block 2 of Summer Sampler 2017 is here! This one is called Tilted Star, by Karen Lewis of Karen Lewis Textiles.

This is such a unique block—it’s like a star that’s trying to be a pinwheel. LOL. I loved making mine in the 6″ size.

In case you aren’t familiar with Summer Sampler 2017, it’s the block-of-the-week quilt-along that I’m doing with Katie of Swim Bike Quilt and Faith of Fresh Lemons Quilts. Seventeen star blocks, all in two sizes each (6″ and 12″), plus one delicious layout for all these fun blocks. And it’s not too late to join! You can make the blocks all summer long, alongside us and everybody in our subscriber-only Facebook group. Click here to purchase.

Plus, you get my weekly tips! This week, let’s talk paper-piecing. I’m sure there more than a few of you who have never paper-pieced before. If you’ve ever taken any of my classes or been to any of my trunk shows, you know that I love paper-piecing and it’s my mission in life to make everybody else love it too! And this block, my friends, is the perfect way to make you love paper-piecing.

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First, why paper-piece this block? Faith and Katie and I actually tried it both ways (traditional piecing and paper-piecing). But with the funky angle of the half-square rectangles that make up the center of the block, it was impossible for those points to come together in a pinwheel fashion without being paper-pieced. Only 45-degree angles will make for perfect center points—a half-square rectangle has a 30-degree angle, which is much trickier.

So, we went with paper-piecing instead of “normal” piecing, because paper-piecing will keep you from losing your points. And you guys—paper-piecing literally does not get any easier than this. It’s one seam! Which means all you really have to do is stack up the fabric pieces and the paper templates in the correct order, and sew on the line of the paper template. That’s it! That’s all you have to do for a perfect half-square rectangle.

Let’s try it, shall we?

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First, stack the following pieces, in order, as shown in my photo above: a white (background) rectangle, a colored rectangle, and the paper template. (Don’t forget to print your templates at EXACT SIZE—don’t check “Fit to page” in your print dialogue box!) Place the paper template printed side up on top of the stack, so that the angled line on the template is about 1/4″ inch – 1/2″ inch from the right-hand edge of the fabric pieces, as shown.

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Next, without allowing the fabric/template stack to shift, move it to your sewing machine. Reduce your stitch length to about 1.4-1.5 (a shorter stitch length perforates the paper better, allowing you to tear the paper off more easily when you’re done). Now, sew on the angled line, right through your entire stack—the paper template and both pieces of fabric—just like I did in the photo above.

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When you’re done, your stack will be all sewn together and it should look something like this. (Hopefully yours won’t be quite as thready and messy as mine in this photo, but if it is, no worries, I promise it will be fine in the end. LOL.)

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Press the two pieces of fabric open, pressing on the non-paper side. Now it should look like this (as shown on the paper side).

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With the paper side of the stack facing up, use your ruler to trim around the outside edge of the template, trimming through all the layers (paper and fabric). I always line up the 1/4″ mark on the ruler with the inside line, rather than trying to line up with the outside line.

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Finally, tear the paper template off the back, and that’s it! You now have a perfect half-square rectangle that’s ready to go into your block! Easy, right? Don’t you love it? Are you counting the days until the next paper-pieced Summer Sampler block? (Hint: You won’t have long to wait!)

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And just in case you can’t possibly wait, my Wavelength pattern uses a very similar stacked-paper-piecing method, and the pattern comes complete with visual step-by-step instructions just like these. Click here to check it out! And see you next week for Block 3 of Summer Sampler 2017!

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Summer Sampler 2017: Block 1 – Millcreek Star

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It’s here! Summer Sampler 2017 starts today with Block 1—Millcreek Star by Katie Blakesley of Swim Bike Quilt.

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Hopefully you’ve heard by now, but just in case you haven’t: Summer Sampler 2017 is the block-of-the-week quilt-along that I’m doing with Katie and Faith of Fresh Lemons Quilts. Seventeen gorgeous star blocks, in two sizes each (6″ and 12″), plus one fabulous layout for them at the end. And it’s not too late to join! You can make the blocks all summer long, alongside us and all the fun peeps in our subscriber-only Facebook group. Click here to purchase.

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Millcreek Star is a great block to start with—not too complicated, but interesting and fun. During the course of this 17-week quilt-along, I’m going to be blogging a tip for each week’s block, to help you get the most out of the series!

This week’s tip is actually TWO tips for making accurate Flying Geese units. I have a feeling we’ll be making our share of Flying Geese during the course of this quilt-along, so let’s make them correctly, right out of the gate!

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First, when using this particular method of making Flying Geese (marking a diagonal line on the back of a square, then sewing along the line), I like to start sewing where the marked diagonal ends in the middle of the rectangle, as opposed to where the line meets the corner. You can see where I’m starting my stitches in the photo above—starting in the center instead of in the corner means less fabric bunching and distortion as you start your seam. Which gives you a flatter, more-square Flying Geese unit.

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Second, I always always always press Flying Geese seams OPEN. Even if you’re deeply committed to pressing seams to the side, I recommend giving open seams a shot on Flying Geese. Again, it’s all about the accuracy! Open seams are flatter, and therefore slightly more accurate, then seams pressed to the side. And when it comes to Flying Geese, the design means that you’re less likely to need to nest seams when sewing the finished unit into a block—and in my opinion, nesting seams is really the only compelling reason to press to the side. Open really is the way to go on geese!

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Finally, I thought I’d share with you my screw-up from this week, just to give you all a laugh. I’ve probably sewn thousands of Flying Geese in my lifetime—and yet somehow, I can still manage to sew them wrong on a regular basis! This time, I sewed two triangles onto the wrong side of the unit, and didn’t even notice until after I had trimmed off the excess and pressed one of them. Oops. LOL. Fortunately, since I’m working with solids, after ripping out the wrong stitches, I could just flip the triangle around and sew it on the correct way! There would have been more work involved had I been using a print!

Hope you all enjoy Millcreek Star! Don’t forget to use the hashtag #summersampler2017 when you share your blocks on social media, and see you next week for Block 2!

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2017 Summer Sampler: Summer Star Medallion

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That’s right! Last year’s Summer Sampler block-of-the-week program was such a hit, we knew we had to bring it back again this year! This time around, we’ve got something really special for you guys: Our Summer Star Medallion. Seventeen gorgeous star blocks in two sizes, and this fun medallion/sampler layout—and it’s available for pre-order starting today!

summersampler2017logoscreenresIf you didn’t participate in Summer Sampler 2016, here’s the lowdown: I’ve joined my book co-authors Faith Jones of Fresh Lemons Quilts and Katie Blakesley of Swim Bike Quilt, plus five of your other favorite designers, to create a block-of-the-week program. We’ll release a beautiful new block pattern each week, starting May 15 and running through Sept. 4—17 blocks total. Faith, Katie, myself, and all of YOU will make the blocks together all summer long! Then on Sept. 11, subscribers will receive complete instructions to finish the quilt as shown, including the Sawtooth Star and Flying Geese “filler blocks,” and the border.

You can pre-order Summer Sampler 2017 for a special pre-order price of just $19.99. That’s just $19.99 total, for all 17 blocks! Starting May 15, the price goes up to $24.99, so don’t miss out on the chance to save! (European Union customers: You can purchase Summer Sampler 2017 and all my other patterns through my Etsy shop. Click here to purchase.)

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As you can see, it’s a really fun, unusual design that looks great in all sorts of color combinations, from the ultra-modern to very traditional. Last year we had a wonderful (and large!) community of quilters making the quilt along with us, and the community aspect of it made it even more fun for everyone. I hope you all will join us again this year. Click here to order now, or scroll down for more details – can’t wait to sew with you all this summer!

Summer Sampler 2017 includes:
• A new block delivered to your email every Monday, starting May 15, 2017, through Sept. 4, 2017
• Fully tested PDF instructions for each block in both 12″ and 6″ finished sizes
• Quilt mock-up coloring sheet for planning
• Full instructions, fabric requirements, and suggested Kona Solids colors for our Star Medallion Sampler layout
• Access to a subscriber-only Facebook group to interact with other quilters and the designers

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More about Summer Sampler 2017 skill level and techniques:
• The different blocks vary in skill level, with some being simpler, while others are more advanced. I would say the overall skill level of all 17 blocks is intermediate—but if that’s not you, don’t be afraid to try it! We’ll include lots of links to tutorials for the techniques involved, so it’s a great skill-builder! And I’m planning to blog a tip for each week’s block the day of the pattern release.
• You will need to make 9 of the blocks at 12″ size, and 8 of them at 6″ size. We’ll include instructions for BOTH sizes every week, so it’s up to you which blocks you make in which sizes. Those 6″ blocks will help you hone your tiny-piecing skills!
• Several of the blocks are paper-pieced, while others use traditional piecing. The good news is, no curved piecing this year! : )

The Summer Sampler 2017 blocks were designed by:

Holly DeGroot – @bijoulovely
www.bijoulovely.com

Karen Lewis – @karenlewistextiles
www.karenlewistextiles.com

Lynne Goldsworthy – @lilysquilts
lilysquilts.blogspot.com

AnneMarie Chany – @genxquilters
www.genxquilters.com

Kelly Bowser – @kelbysews
www.kelbysews.com

Lee Heinrich – @freshlypieced
www.freshlypieced.com

Faith Jones – @freshlemonsquilts
www.freshlemonsquilts.com

Katie Blakesley – @swimbikequilt
www.swimbikequilt.com