Block 1 - Square Wheel
by Lynne Hagmeier, Kansas Troubles Quilters
I'm honored and delighted to kick off the 4th round of Moda Block Heads. I never dreamed when I approached fellow Moda designer, Lisa Bongean of Primitive Gatherings, at Quilt Market several years ago and suggested we gather all the "dark" designers to host a block hop that it would result in a book with Martingale and subsequent block hops with even more Moda designers! Whew! What a ride.
For those of you returning - Welcome Back! For those of you new to Block Heads, know that it isn't a race or a competition. We're all just happy to share our designs with you as sister quilters, and maybe teach a few tips and tricks that we've learned along the way.
For my fabric selection, I started with scraps from my upcoming collection of red/tan/blue Freedom Road. I'm loving the patriotic feel of the line, but also that it can be blended into my other KT fabrics. I'll add reds, tans, blues and golds from previous lines for a scrappier feel as the weeks progress.
|Freedom Road by KTQ for Moda|
These are the staples of my piecing arsenal - an Oliso iron, a spray bottle of starch mixture, pressing block, a small ruler and a Sewline marking pencil. Along with my wool pressing mat, I have seen improved results in my piecing accuracy over the years using these items.
I used Magic Sizing for years, but wasn't always happy with the outcome. When Joy Johnson (KT employee) found a recipe for sizing using Sta-Flo starch, potato vodka and distilled water, we all tried it and found it left our fabric crisper without the flakes of spray starch. Then Lisa Smith (KT employee) introduced me to Terial. It's a liquid starch that when used undiluted, will make your fabric as stiff as cardboard! I prefer a mix of 2 parts water to 1 part Terial for a nice, crisp finish that makes cutting and piecing easier. No stretching or distortion of fabric. I love it!
I know alot of designers soak their fabric in starch and hang it dry, but I honestly don't have the space, time or inclination to do so. Be sure to spray & press all precuts as well as yardage before starting your project. L
My block, Square Wheel, incorporates an element of piecing that has challenged me over the years. Connector Corners, or flip-and-sew corners, were always a dreaded chore. Now I've learned to mark the diagonal line across the wrong side of the connector corner square (blue) and stitch right next to the line closest to the corner, as shown. Basically, I'm leaving the drawn line as the fold line so the top triangle, when folded toward the corner, will match the background square's corner. It's practically foolproof! However, I always stitch one corner and test the fold before trimming any seam allowances to make sure I'm on the right track.
|My Favorite Piecing/Pressing Tools|
I add two connector corners on opposite corners of the block, then trim the seam allowance to 1/4" and press the seams open. I dry press the seam, then spray with starch and press again, finishing with the pressing block while I move on to the next block. For those of you who have not used a pressing block, find one now and try it! I'm amazed at how much flatter my seams lay after pressing with starch and laying the pressing block on the open seams for a few seconds. It's a game changer for me, especially with smaller pieces.
Add the remaining two connector corners and repeat - draw line, stitch, trim, press, block.
I pressed the seams open on the red/tan side bar units, too. Since they don't match up to any other seams, I like to keep the block as flat as possible. My main suggestion for these is when you're chain piecing pieces that are exactly the same length (squares or rectangles), lift the presser foot before starting to sew each unit. (It's one reason I LOVE my Bernina knee lift!) I think it helps to keep the presser foot from pushing the top piece that 1/16th of an inch that drives me crazy.
You've probably noticed by now that I didn't begin by stitching the center 9-patch together. That's because I wasn't sure how I wanted to place the fabrics in the center. By making the rest of the block, I could see how the different options would look before committing to one way. Here are my options:
|Option #1 - light tan print 9-patch corners|
Option #2 - 9-patch corners match D-connector corners and bars. Obviously, I chose option #2. I liked the more definitive cross/plus in the center and thought it rounded out the center of the block.
While most of the seams within the units are pressed open, I always press seams in the block rows for opposing seams. For this block, I press toward the red/tan bar units. This ensure perfect intersections and a more square block overall.
Side Note: My grandson called this block Flat Tire instead of Square Wheel. Five out of seven of us in the family have had tire issues in the last two weeks!
Here's the back of the block so you can see the pressing details. After sewing the rows together, I pressed the final two seams open.
HERE is the link to my block on Moda's website
Again, Welcome to Moda Block Heads #4! I'm so excited about the blocks coming up this year.
Better get back to my sewing machine.
See you next Wednesday!