Today I’m sharing with you my first two completed blocks of the sampler quilt, Westside, that I’m working on from the book Patchwork City by Elizabeth Hartman. I realized that last time I did not elaborate much about the work Patchwork City. I kind of assumed that you all knew what it is about. I realized though that it’s an assumption I made and on the contrary those not in the quilting world have no clue what it is all about. Basically, in this book, Elizabeth Hartman presents “75 Innovative blocks for the modern quilter”. At the end of the book she presents 6 sampler quilts, and I’m doing two of those named Metro Area and Westside. Metro Area uses all 75 blocks while Westside uses all of the 8″ by 8″ blocks. Some of these 75 blocks are constructed with basic squares or rectangles, while others are done using patterns supplied by the designer herself.
The challenge is working with patterns; I’ve never dealt with patterns before. Although I started my first quilt two years ago; however, I’m pretty new to quilting. I only did basic cutting and hand sewing. Westside and Metro Area are literally my second and third quilts and so I’m learning a lot while doing them. Plus this time I’m actually using the ‘basic tools’ often listed by many quilters such as the cutting board, rotary cutter, non-slip rulers, ruler with 1/4″ seam allowance, freezer papers, etc.
I started with the #Elevator block as it was easy and straightforward in terms of measuring and cutting; no patterns required, no tricks and special techniques. What took time was choosing the fabric combination that spoke to me. About fussy cutting, I came across this term several times before and I thought it meant something complicated. When I looked it up, I was surprised that it referred to literally ‘being fussy’ and cutting fabric while targeting a particular motif.. that’s all!! It is one of the first terms I tackled, learned.
“Measure twice, cut once.” If there is anything I should emphasize from my experience doing these two blocks is this: “Measure twice, cut once.” This is sooo important and it will save you lots of time and headache of re-measuring and re-cutting. Be sure to measure your pieces twice or as many times until you are certain of your correct measurements. Finding out that your measurements are incorrect when you’re about to sew the pieces is one of the worst feelings- plus it is just a waste of fabric to cut incorrectly and re-cut fabric. Another challenge I faced when trying to sew the pieces together is to stick to the 1/4″ seam allowance. I’m very new to a sewing machine and thus getting an accurate 1/4″ seam allowance is a bit tough, but overall I think I managed successfully to get that done almost accurately.
The second block I did is #ForestPark. For this block, I had to use the pattern templates provided by Elizabeth. I traced the patterns on the freezer paper since my printer would not print on them- a paper jam occurs. After that, I used an Iron to press the freezer paper to the fabric and then I used my special ruler to cut the pattern with a 1/4″ seam allowance. That done, I had my pieces ready for piecing. All that was very easy.
The difficulty I faced was in piecing. On my first attempt of piecing the triangles together the result was off. I decided to undo it. Then I asked some fellow quilters working on the same project for some advice. They told me to pin it, to make sure the side triangles overlapped; some others told me to use the paper-piecing technique (but I wasn’t ready for that just yet). I pinned the pieces and sewed really trying to accurately follow the 1/4″ seam allowance. The other problem I faced was that my blocks would be small, not quite 3.5″ wide as they should be. They were even less than 3.25″. Again, I decided to undo and make sure I sewed the pieces at 1/4″ and maybe a bit less to get my blocks wider. Many trials, sewing, undoing, resewing and I finally was content to what I reached to. I was worried that the final #ForestPark block would be less than 8″ by 8″ but in fact it was not! Yayy! I was very pleased!
In summary of my experience doing these two blocks #Elevator and #ForestPark, here are some tips:
– Measure twice cut once!
– When dealing with patterns, make sure to really measure and cut for 1/4″ seam allowance and to sew to that measure. Accuracy is much needed to achieve the overall correct measure of the final block.
– Don’t worry if you spend too much time choosing and coordinating your fabrics. Honestly, this is the fun part of the process!! I really enjoy it! Yes it gives me a headache sometime but I find it the most enjoyable part, because after that there isn’t much creativity since you’re following the directions of the book.
– It’s okay if you do something wrong the first time around. Don’t feel discouraged; just try again.
My next block in the making is: #FavoriteSweater.
Cannot wait to share with you my experience with that block. Please share with me your experiences and blocks!