I Wish You a Merry Quilt-A-Long: Christmas Presents

As promised, here is the second block being released this week. This time it's Christmas presents! If you missed the first block, you can find it here. For links to all of the past blocks and quilt along information, check out my quilt along page.

One of the best parts of Christmas is giving gifts to loved ones. That's why I just love that this block is named, "With Love at Christmas." It was designed by Sola Ajisafe of Alice Samuel's Quilt Co. You can find her post with the pattern right here. Remember, all of the blocks are free until January 16, so you'll want to go ahead and download it now.

Tips and Tricks

I have quite a lot of tips for this block to make it go as smoothly as possible for you. First up, I chain pieced whenever possible. Since we're making two presents, it was easy to chain piece the components, and that saved me quite a bit of time.

This block is made of lots of narrow strips, so you want to be extra careful when pressing so you don't distort them. For the top and side of the box, I pressed all of my seams one direction (this will allow for nesting later). For the front of the box, I pressed both seams away from the ribbon.

I took this picture after cutting the "side of box" strip set into two pieces, but it still shows the directions for pressing.

I wanted to make sure the ribbon was perfectly centered when I trimmed the strip set for the front of the box. To do that, I lined up the 1 5/8" line and the 2 3/8" line with the edges of the ribbon.

I always like to draw a diagonal line on the back of my squares when I'm going to make a stitch and flip corner. I was away from home when I made this block, and I didn't have my Sewline ceramic pencil handy. Fortunately, a regular mechanical pencil works just as well.

The first thing I stitch and flipped was the side of the box to the top of the box. I laid the top of the box with all of the seams going up, and the side of the box with all of the seams going down. I carefully nested the seams together before sewing just to the outside of the drawn line.

The nesting seams allowed my points to come out nice and crisp where the ribbons meet! Sewing just to the outside of the drawn line made sure there was enough fabric to completely cover the bottom rectangle after flipping the square over.

When adding the background to the bottom side of box piece, it's important to pay attention to which way the seams are going. In this picture, the seams are all pointing down, and I'm going to be flipping the background over the bottom right corner. This will allow the seams to nest when I sew the top and bottom portions of the box together. Once again, I've sewn just to the outside of the drawn line so I don't come up short when I flip the corner over.

When I joined the bottom and top halves of the boxes together, I pressed one present towards the top, and the other towards the bottom. This way the seams would nest when I joined the presents to each other.

For the top ribbon, I tried both piecing and applique. I found I was much more satisfied with the results when I appliqued, so that's what I went with for this block. I cut two peices of HeatnBond Lite at 7/8" by 6 7/8". This gave me a little bit of wiggle room when fusing it to the top ribbon.

I trimmed the ribbons to 1/2", being careful to make sure the cut piece was completely covered with my fusible web. With the ribbon pieces flipped upside down, I used the 45 degree line on my ruler to trim the top. Once again, I made sure to cut off the unfused fabric.

Next, I lined up the cut edge of the ribbon with the ribbon on the front of the box. It's a little hard to see since my top and side of box fabrics are the same, but I lined up the 1" line on my ruler with the seam between the top and side of the box. This way I knew my ribbon was straight before I trimmed it even with the top of the box.

After trimming, I removed the fusible web and took the block to the ironing board. Once again, I lined up the bottom of the ribbon with the front ribbon, and the 1" line of my ruler with the seam between the top and side of the box. I was extra careful to make sure the ribbon was straight before fusing it in place.

Note - If I had had parchment paper handy, I would have placed it under the present and fused the ribbon in place before trimming it to the right length. That would have been less fiddly since I would have only needed to line up the ribbon once. Sans parchment paper, lining it up twice worked well, and I'm thrilled with how precisely the top ribbon came out.

All that's left is the last few seams! I pressed the seam between the presents towards the one on the right, then I pressed the final seams towards the background fabric.

And the block is finished! I really like the blue and purple together. I had a hard time choosing my ribbon fabrics, but the bright colors really make it pop.

My Fellow Hosts

As always, I am joined by 10 fabulous ladies who are also sharing their blocks and tips. Be sure to check them out!

Abbie at Sparkle On
April at JANDA Bend Quilts
Becca at Pretty Piney
Bobbi at Snowy Days Quilting <---- That's me!
Diane at Cwilt
Jennifer at The Inquiring Quilter
Karen at Tu-Na Quilts, Travels, and Eats
Laura at Slice of Pi Quilts
Sandy at SandyStar Designs
Sherry at Powered by Quilting
Vanda at Quilt in Piece

Prizes

We have some more fabulous prizes for this block. First up is an elegant pair of scissors from Warm Crochet. If you've never heard of them, you'll definitely want to check them out. They're the prettiest scissors I've seen! Next is a pdf pattern of your choice from the lovely Yvonne Fuchs of Quilting JETgirl.

To be eligible to win, post your block by 11:59 pm Eastern time on Monday, October 23.  You can share your block in our Facebook group, on Instagram with the hashtag #iwishyouamerryqal, or by joining the linkup on Sola's post. I can't wait to see what you make!

Even if you don't win this time, you can still get a discount on Warm Crochet's scissors. Use the coupon code ChristmasQAL at checkout for 10% off.

We also have a fabulous grand prize package. Here's a look at the wonderful sponsors we have lined up for that. To be eligible to win the grand prize, post a completed quilt top that includes all 12 blocks by 11:59pm Eastern Time on January 15, 2018. The final block will be released on December 5, so you'll have plenty of time. It doesn't even have to be quilted!

I Wish You a Merry Quilt-A-Long: Poinsettia

This is a big week because we get two new I Wish You a Merry Quilt-A-Long blocks! The first is this lovely pieced poinsettia. You can find the second block here. If you're wondering what we're up to, you can find all of the quilt along information and links to past blocks on my quilt along page.

I'm not sure how poinsettias came to be associated with Christmas, but I always enjoy seeing the fresh flowers in the winter. This block was designed by Sandy Maxfield of SandyStar Designs. You can find her post with the pattern here. Remember - all of the quilt along blocks will be free until January 16, 2018, so you don't wait too long to download them.

Tips

I really enjoyed the simple piecing and symmetry in this block. Sandy even made all of the pieces a bit oversized so we can trim them down as we go.

When trimming both the half square triangles and the split triangles, you want to line up your ruler's 45 degree line with the center seam of the unit. For the split triangles, you also want to make sure the 1 3/4 inch mark is right in the center where all three pieces come together, and the 3 1/2 inch mark is where the leaf and background fabrics meet in the corner.

This block is made of four identical sections that are rotated to create the flower. Whenever a block is designed this way, I find it easiest to work in quadrants. I sewed all of my pieces into four patches that look like this:

Press your first two seams in opposite directions so the center will nest. Sew the center seam of the quadrant, then spin the seams. Spinning the seams will reduce bulk and ensure that all of your seams nest when you sew the quadrants together.

If you're not familiar with spinning seams, check out this quick video tutorial by Adrianne Reid. She demonstrates with regular four patches, but the principle is exactly the same here.

Rotate the quadrants to create the poinsettia and sew them together. Sew the quadrants into two pairs to make the two halves of the block. Make sure you spin the seams where the quadrants meet before sewing the block halves together. That will ensure that everything nests for the final seam. Sew the final seam, then spin again. Every seam on the back of your block will be spun, and all of your points will lay nice and flat!

For the center of the flower, I decided that a 1 inch diameter circle would be just about right. To get a perfect circle the right size, I pulled out my button jar. I measured buttons on my cutting mat until I found one with a one inch diameter. Then I traced around it to draw a circle on my fusible web (HeatnBond Lite).

Circles are always the hardest shape to peel the paper from after fusing. I like to score the paper with a pin and fold along the score line. This makes the paper release so much more easily.

I lined up the 1/2 inch lines on my ruler with the center seams of the block to ensure my circle was perfectly centered before I fused it. And my block was finished! I really like how it came out.

Inspiration Abounds

I don't know about you, but I just love seeing other people's takes on a block. There are 10 other ladies hosting this quilt along, and they have all made their own versions of the poinsettia. Check them out and be inspired.

Abbie at Sparkle On
April at JANDA Bend Quilts
Becca at Pretty Piney
Bobbi at Snowy Days Quilting <---- That's me!
Diane at Cwilt
Jennifer at The Inquiring Quilter
Karen at Tu-Na Quilts, Travels, and Eats
Laura at Slice of Pi Quilts
Sandy at SandyStar Designs
Sherry at Powered by Quilting
Vanda at Quilt in Piece

Prizes

It's prize time! The first prize for this block is The 4"x5" Quilt-Block Anthology signed by author Carol Hopkins and donated by Laura Piland of Slice of Pi Quilts. The next prize is a pdf pattern of your choice by my friend Jennifer Fulton of Inquiring Quilter.

Entering the giveaway is easy! Just post your finished poinsettia block by 11:59 pm Eastern on Monday, October 23, 2017. You can share your block in our Facebook group, on Instagram with the hashtag #iwishyouamerryqal, or by joining the linkup on Sandy's post. I can't wait to see what you make!

We also have a fabulous grand prize package. Here's a look at the wonderful sponsors we have lined up for that. To be eligible to win the grand prize, post a completed quilt top that includes all 12 blocks by 11:59pm Eastern Time on January 15, 2018. The final block will be released on December 5, so you'll have plenty of time. It doesn't even have to be quilted!

I Wish You a Merry Quilt-A-Long: Angel

Welcome back to I Wish You a Merry Quilt-A-Long! I hope you're having as much fun as I am. If you missed any of the past blocks, my quilt along page has all of the links you need to get caught up.

This week's block is an adorable angel by Sandra Healy of Sandra Healy Designs. You can find her post with the pattern here. Remember that all of the quilt along patterns will be free until January 16, 2018, so you'll want to download it now.

My Tips

This is such an easy block! The biggest thing I paid attention to was the direction I pressed my seams so they would nest in the bottom corner.

For the strips of squares, I pressed all of the seams towards the aqua fabric. When I sewed the set of three squares to the big grey square, I pressed towards the grey. To reduce bulk, I also pressed the final set of four squares towards the grey. If it's easier for you to see it, here's the back of my block:

If you've been following along with me, you know my other tip is to score the paper on the back of the applique with a pin. Then you can fold along the score line to make the paper come off more easily. It works so well!

You may be able to tell that I appliqued the eyes instead of embroidering them. Having done so, I would strongly recommend against it. Since they're so tiny, they are all but impossible to fuse in place, and they're too small secure with stitching. You're definitely better off embroidering them.

My Fabulous Cohorts

There are 10 other wonderful ladies hosting this quilt along with me. One of them is Becca Fernstermaker of Pretty Piney.  This insanely cute elf variation came from her creative genius. I'll admit - I wish I had thought of this one. If you love it as much as I do, I'm sure Becca would love to hear from you! You can leave her a comment on her post.

If you liked that, you're sure to love what the rest of my fellow hosts have done. One of my favorite parts of this quilt along is how much inspiration there is from the moment each block goes live. Check out the links below to see 10 different angel blocks, []along with some more tips and tricks.

Abbie at Sparkle On
April at JANDA Bend Quilts
Becca at Pretty Piney
Bobbi at Snowy Days Quilting <---- That's me!
Diane at Cwilt
Jennifer at The Inquiring Quilter
Karen at Tu-Na Quilts, Travels, and Eats
Laura at Slice of Pi Quilts
Sandy at SandyStar Designs
Sherry at Powered by Quilting
Vanda at Quilt in Piece

Prizes

Our prizes this week are a small fat quarter bundle from the Blushing Blooms collection by Island Batik, and a pdf pattern of your choice from Sandra Healy of Sandra Healy Designs. I'm super excited about this bundle, because I adore Island Batik's fabrics. Even though I'm making this quilt with solids, batiks are my favorite, and everything I've used from Island Batik was absolutely wonderful.

To be eligible to win, post your block by 11:59 pm Eastern time on Monday, October 9.  You can share your block in our Facebook group, on Instagram with the hashtag #iwishyouamerryqal, or by joining the linkup on Sandra's post. I can't wait to see what you make!

But that's not all! Sandra is offering a 20% discount in her shop for all quilt along participants until October 25, 2017. Just enter MERRYQAL20 at checkout to take advantage of this great offer!

We also have a fabulous grand prize package. Here's a look at the wonderful sponsors we have lined up for that. To be eligible to win the grand prize, post a completed quilt top that includes all 12 blocks by 11:59pm Eastern Time on January 15, 2018. The final block will be released on December 5, so you'll have plenty of time. It doesn't even have to be quilted!