Sew Let's Quilt Along: Ruler

I can’t believe we’re already on block 3 of Sew Let’s Quilt Along! If you’re just joining us, you can find all the information and links to past blocks on my quilt along page.

This week’s block is designed by Sherry Shish at Powered by Quilting. It’s the corner of a rotary cutting ruler! I’m so glad I learned to quilt after the invention of the rotary cutter. I just can’t imagine having to cut everything with scissors!

Head on over to Sherry’s post to get the pattern. All of our block patterns will be free until the quilt along ends on September 24, 2019.

Piecing Tips

This block has some very small pieces, and they all need to line up just right for it to look like a ruler when it’s finished. Fortunately, there are some things you can do that will help your block come together well. My biggest tip is take your time. Cutting carefully, sewing slowly, and handling your pieces gently will make a big difference. It took me about 5 hours to cut and piece this block (not counting the applique).

Seam Test - Extra Important!

Any time a block has different sized pieces coming together, it’s essential to test your seam allowance. It’s the only way you can be sure everything will fit together nicely and your block will come out at just the right size.

But it’s even more important this time! For this block, you’ll want to press all of your seams open. If you’re like me, almost never do that (trust me - it really is necessary this time). Pressing your seams open means you lose a little bit less fabric going up and over the thread. Your seam allowance will need to be adjusted to account for this.

To test your seam allowance, cut two 2" squares and sew them together. Press open for this block, and measure the resulting rectangle. The rectangle should be 3 1/2" long. If your rectangle is shorter, you need a narrower seam allowance. If your rectangle is longer, you need a wider seam allowance. Adjust your seam and try again. Once the rectangle is exactly 3 1/2" long, you're good to go.

Starch

Sewing narrow strips into sets, then cutting those strip sets into more narrow strips makes it easy for things to get wonky. To help keep that from happening, I heavily starched my fabrics with Best Press before cutting. I actually repeated the starching process several times to make my fabric pretty stiff. The Best Press will come right out when I wash the quilt, so I don’t mind being heavy handed with it.

Stitch Length

Many of the pieces in this block are only 1" wide. To keep those short seams from pulling apart, I recommend using a pretty short stitch length. I set the stitch length on my Viking to 2.0, which is about 16 stitches per inch. In hindsight, I maybe should have gone even a bit smaller, because I found that pressing the seams open made them more inclined to pull apart.

Design Boards

I love my design boards! They’re foam core covered with batting so that fabric sticks to them. I used them to lay out my pieces so I could be sure I didn’t sew any of the strips together in the wrong order. If you would like to make some design boards of your own, check out my tips here.

Pinning

For this block to look like a ruler, it’s important for the seams to line up. That means it’s really worth it to take the time to pin everywhere there’s a seam coming together. I carefully pinned right in the join between the fabrics so I could be sure they were lined up perfectly when I went to the sewing machine.

Applique Tips

Once you’ve finished piecing your block, you’re in the home stretch! You just need to add the numbers so it really looks like a ruler.

Measure the Test Square

Sherry has helpfully provided a test square so you can be sure your pattern printed at the right scale. Measure this box to be sure it’s 1” square before you trace the numbers.

Trace with a Pencil

I really like to trace applique with a pencil. That way I can erase any lines that aren’t quite right. Note that you need to trace each number twice so you can use them on both sides of the ruler. My preferred fusible web is Lite Steam-A-Seam 2.

Avoid the Seam Allowance

Make sure you don’t put your 3’s too close to the edge. You don’t want them to get caught in the seam allowance when you sew your block to something else! To make sure I was clear of the seam allowance, I covered it with one of my rotary rulers before placing the number.

Stitch Slowly

Once you’ve fused your numbers in place, it’s time to stitch around them. I prefer to use a straight stitch just inside the edge of each piece.

For this block, you’ll want to stitch extra slowly. If your machine has a needle down function, go ahead and turn it on. The curves inside the numbers are especially tight, so it helps to stop with the needle down and lift your presser foot so you can pivot the block before taking the next stitch.

Use Matching Thread

I always prefer to use matching thread for applique. It keeps the stitching from standing out too much, and it makes any mistakes less noticeable. For this block, I used Aurifil 1148 Light Jade.

Our Lovely Hosts

We have nine hosts for segment one, and we all made our very own rulers. Be sure to visit all of the lovely ladies below for more tips and inspiration. If you like what you see, leave a comment! We all love a bit of encouragement from our fellow quilters.

Prizes

We will have a prize package at the end of every segment, as well as a grand prize at the end of the quilt along. The prizes are open to all participants that are at least 18 years old. If you don’t remember what I mean by segment, check out the intro post for a refresher on how this quilt along is structured.

How to Enter

To be eligible to win a segment prize, you need to make all of the blocks from that segment. Share a photo or photos of your blocks (in a single post) to be entered.

For segment 1, entries will be open from 12:00 am May 7 to 11:59 pm May 20, 2019 (Eastern time). There are three places you can share your blocks to be entered in the drawing:

  • Facebook - share in the Partners in Design Facebook Group

  • Instagram - share with the hashtag #SewLetsQAL

  • Blog Linky - the hosts will include a link-up on their segment 1 wrap-up post on May 7, 2019

Segment 1 Prize Package

We have a wonderful array of prizes for each segment! Here’s the prize package for segment 1:

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Grand Prize

To be eligible to win the grand prize, you need to make all 13 blocks from the whole quilt along and turn them into a quilt or other project(s). Quilt tops don’t need to be quilted, but projects do need to be finished. Share a single post that shows all of the blocks in a quilt or project. It doesn’t matter how many projects or what projects you make, or how many blocks you use in each project as long as you show that you’ve used all 13 blocks in a finished project or projects.

Important Note

To keep the contest portion of the quilt-along fair and fun for everyone, only quilters that use all of the designers' blocks [in a quilt or project(s)] will be eligible for the grand prize. Likewise, our segment prizes will only be open to those that make all of the designers’ blocks for that segment.

Fabulous Sponsors

We are really lucky to have some amazing sponsors on board for this quilt along! Please check them out as thanks for supporting us. Bluprint, Dear Stella, Everything Mary, Island Batik, Paintbrush Studio Fabrics, Prym, Shabby Fabrics, Timeless Treasures, Warm Company Additionally, many of the block designers are donating their quilt patterns.

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Let’s Do It!

I hope you’re excited about this week’s block. I love that it’s a tool we use every day. I can’t wait to see what colors everyone chooses!

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