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I finished all those quilts for my husband's siblings on the Friday before Thanksgiving. In case you missed seeing them, here is the link.

If you read all the way to the end of that diary, you can see that my enthusiasm and enjoyment for my quilting has improved throughout the year. In fact, that same Friday evening I began a new quilt. This one is for Jim and me. (It's been a long time since I made a quilt to keep!)

The center block of the new quilt was inspired by a block I saw on a pattern, so I can't take credit for originality. You can make this block, too -- it's easier than it looks. With block made, you can make more to make a larger quilt, frame it once with a border and make a table mat, or make a number of borders for an old-fashioned medallion quilt. That's what will happen with my new project. What you do with yours is up to you!

Here is the block as I used it in one of the siblings' quilts:

And here it is for my new quilt:

And here are two more in completely different color sets:

This block measures 15" square, when finished. That means your unfinished version should measure 15.5".

There are FOUR color components: center, accent, points, background. For good value contrast, the background should be noticeably lighter OR darker than the points. If the values are similar, the colors need to contrast sharply.

CUT:
1 center, 6.5" square
4 background, 5" square
1 background, 7.25" square
1 accent, 7.25" square
2 points, 7.25" square.

With the 7.25" squares, cut in half carefully and completely across the diagonal. DO NOT move the fabrics after cutting. Now, cut again across the other diagonal. You will have 4 triangles from each square.

Tip: press fabric carefully before cutting. Use a sharp rotary cutter blade; dull ones pull and miss threads (and increase the probability of a bad cut, of either the fabric or you!)

Tip: when cutting multiple squares from the same fabric, I cut strips first along the selvage, as it is more stable and less likely to distort when I cut. For example, for the background 5" squares, I will cut a 5" wide strip first, and then subcut to squares.

Lay out the fabric as if it were an Ohio star. Make sure the color combination is pleasing to you before bothering to sew. My first try didn't work.

SEW:
Use a 1/4" seam allowance for all sewing.
Sew 4 of the points triangles to the background triangles, being careful to sew the correct seams. This is easy to do wrong, believe me!
Sew the other 4 points triangles to the accent triangles. Do this the same way you did the first ones. For example, if the points triangles were on top for stitching the first ones, stitch these with points on top, too.

Tip: I use a 1/4" foot to make my seam allowances better. It has a little "fence" to guide my fabric edge. Still I need to know whether to nudge my fabric against the fence or leave a thread width away from it. If you don't have a 1/4" foot, there are a lot of sources for tips (here and here, for example) in getting a better seam allowance. This doesn't always matter a lot when just sewing squares, but it does matter a lot when sewing triangles.

Tip: the bias edges of the triangles need to be treated gently so you don't stretch them. Don't pull the fabric through under the needle. Pulling will stretch the patches and distort the output. Let the feed dogs move the fabric through smoothly.

Tip: think about when you last changed your needle. If it is dull, you may hear a popping sound as it pushes through the cloth. Change it! If you can't remember the last time you changed it, change it!

Now you have 8 pairs of triangles joined.

PRESS:
With your iron set to the cotton setting, turn the patches right-side down, opened with the seam up. Gently separate the seam with your fingertips without pulling or stretching. Press without pulling or stretching.

Tip: sometimes I press seams open and sometimes I press to the side. I try to press them open when I will have multiple seams that meet in the same place. This allows the intersection to lie flatter.

Lay out your pressed sets of triangles again to make sure you sewed them together correctly. Once you've verified that, pin sets to make square patches, matching at the seam line.

Tip: I use really thin pins, and tend to pin a lot on longer patches and when attaching borders. Pinning helps make sure your seam allowance doesn't shift while you're sewing, and it also allows you to fudge or ease when the lengths differ a little.

SEW and PRESS:
Sew the sets together, and then press the seams open as before.

If you've done good cutting and good seam allowances, these squares should measure 6.5". Check the sizes to see how close you are.

Lay everything out again. You should see an odd nine-patch, with the corner squares each only 5" and the other squares at 6.5".

CUT:
Now you'll cut the accent edge off the hourglass squares. Do these ONE AT A TIME.
For each hourglass square, measure 5" from the background edge. Cut the rest off. Then trim the "tags" or "dog ears" at the remaining corners. This will give you rectangles (points units) that measure 6.5" x 5".

Lay everything out again. Now you should see the shape of the final block. This photo looks like it is all sewn together, but it isn't. There are nine patches.

SEW:
As you would with a nine-patch, sew a background corner to a points unit. Sew the opposing background corner to the same points unit. Repeat for the other end of the block. Sew the middle points units to the center.

PRESS:
Press away from the points units for all 3 pieces.

SEW:
Pin to match seams. Sew both sides to the center of the block.

PRESS:
Press your completed block. It should measure 15.5". Here is the view from the wrong side.

And then the fun begins! Now you can decide where to go from here. If you will add a pieced border, think about what sizes and shapes would work. The easiest way is for the number of patches on a side, times the width of the patch, to match the finished length. For example, with a 15" finish, you might use 1.5", 3", or even 5" patches to make the border. You might try half-square triangles at 3", for example. You would need 5 on each side, plus 4 more patches (pieced or unpieced) for the corners.

I decided to use flying geese with finished measures of 1.5x3". Here is how that turned out. Again, with a 3" width, I need 5 flying geese patches per side.

And now it's 42" heading to about 60", and it's ready for another border. Something dark this time. Any great ideas?

Questions? Comments? Ideas for what to do with a big block once it's made? And WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON?

Originally posted to DK Quilt Guild on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 03:00 PM PST.

Also republished by Pink Clubhouse.

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