A while back I was watching sewing videos on YouTube. I kept following video links until I came across a gadget I just *had* to try. (I'm a sucker for any type of sewing gadget. My local quilt shops see dollar signs when I walk in. No kidding.) It's this template called the "Lil' Twister", made by CS Designs. http://www.country-schoolhouse.com/twister_tool.htm
There are several demos of this tool on YouTube, but I've taken some pictures as I've been working on my quilt blocks because, as usual, I'm doing things a bit differently. The technique is the same, I just have my own layout ideas. I'm just hoping my project winds up looking as good as it does in my head.
This tool is advertised as a new way to use charm squares. I'm sure it works great for that, but I couldn't find any charm squares I liked so I cut my own with my 5" charm template. I spent an afternoon cutting charm squares. (I didn't think I'd like that much since I normally hate cutting things out, but slicing and dicing my fabric into charm squares was strangely relaxing - almost a moment of Zen.) I decided my way of unifying these blocks was that I would have a yellow block in the center of each nine patch. I then sewed my charm squares into a nine patch block using a standard 1/4" seam. Once I had my nine patch blocks done, I cut three inch strips to add borders to each side. The short sides were cut at 14 inches long. I sewed those along two opposite sides, then I repeated on the other two sides using more 3" strips cut to 19" long.
The next part is where things start to get fun. I aligned the template with the seams in the block and cut each one with a rotory cutter. I did this each place where the seams made an intersection.
Once I got that done, I removed the squares I had cut.
This is what was left behind.
It looks like a lot of fabric gets wasted. Fear not, I have a solution for that. I hate waste. Quilting cotton can be expensive.
On my first block I used a rotory cutter to cut my squares. I ended up with these wonderful 2.5" squares left over. The problem was, I am not so precise with a rotory cutter so these perfect little squares had rotory cutter bites. I decided I wanted to save those little squares so I cut all of the remaining blocks by tracing them with a pencil and cutting them by hand.
See how perfect these are? I already have another project in mind for these.
The border bits can be used too - there are a couple of options...
You can cut 2.5" by 1" rectangles. If you use these little rectangles between your "bonus" 2.5 inch blocks, it makes a really cute border.
Or, you can also sew the angles together to make a new rectangle. If you do this there is almost no waste.
Well, there is this collection of fiddly bits. If you are really into recycling, these can be used as stuffing for another project.
Oh, yeah, back to the actual block construction...
You can see in the picture above that the blocks get twisted slightly and then laid out into another square - this time a 16 patch.
So now I had this intricately cut block that I needed to sew back together.
First I sewed pairs of blocks together...
Then the pairs into rows...
Then it was time to press my strips.
I have seen several demos where I was instructed to iron the seams by ironing the blocks face to face first, then use the iron to"roll" the top portion of the block into place and them iron the seam flat.
See how the seam is flipping away from the iron? That is what I wanted. The weight of the iron keeps the fabric in place and allows the top to flip so that the seam is pointed toward the top fabric. Once I got the fabric into this position I ironed it flat. I repeated this same method all the way down the strip.
The reason this is important is that I needed to be able to "nest" my seams when I sewed it to the next strip. Since I needed the next strip ironed in the opposite direction, I turned every other strip upside down.
Now I grouped each set of strips into pairs.
Since I had pressed the seams in opposide directions, they nested together nicely. I ironed these strips flat and then sewed the center seam. FInally, I pressed the block flat. This isn't my best pressing job, but you can see how the seams nested together, creating less bulk on the seams.
Then I flipped the whole thing over and gave it one more press.
Here's the finished block. (ok, ok... it's not the same block - I actually made a bunch of these. But I think you get the idea.)
I hope you have as much fun making these as I did!
I should really be sewing right now.
I have projects I really need to finish before I start something new... but I got a shipment of laminated cotton and PUL today that is calling to me. I really do need a lunchbag - seriously! And the fabric is beautiful! No, seriously...wanna see?
But there's that baby quilt I'm supposed to be working on, and the kid is due any day now. And I still have a special project for my friend Tammy that she is absolutely going to love once it gets finished (more on that later - it's a secret for now!) Spring is just around the corner, and I could use some new skirts for work. Then there's a group project in the QCA Crazy Quilt group that starts soon (that is going to be loads of fun!)
So why start a projects blog when I could be using my time for actual projects?
I like to share. Sharing is nice. My mother told me so.
In all seriousness, I find it's a good way to get feedback to improve future projects, a good way to show someone else techniques that they may not have tried, and a nice way to keep track of my projects. I've collected a wealth of information from generous people on the internet, and I'm thinking it might be time for me to give a little back.
And it's fun. I'm all about the fun.