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:

Segment 1 Prize Package

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

segment 1 quilt along prizes.png
segment 1 pattern prizes.png

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.

Sew Let's QAL prize sponsors.png

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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Sew Let's Quilt Along: Quilter's Mug

Welcome back to Sew Let’s Quilt Along! It’s a fun, free, sewing-themed mystery quilt along. If you’re just joining in, my quilt along page has links to all of the information and past blocks. We’re glad to have you!

Our second block is this fun quilter’s mug designed by April Adams of JANDA Bend Quilts. Her idea of printing on fabric with an inkjet printer opens up a whole world of possibilities. If you don’t have a printer, you can embroider your block, or use a fabric pen like me (I explain my process below). I’m sure your mug will be amazing no matter which method you use!

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

Choosing Fabrics

I started by choosing the fabric for the center of my mug. I knew I wanted it to be light so the text would show up, but I still wanted it to have some interest. This paisley from my stash is one of my favorites, and it seemed to fit the bill perfectly. In hindsight, I probably should have chosen something even lighter, but I’m pretty happy with how this worked out.

Since the center of my mug was purple, I wanted to continue that to the outside. This cherry fabric was just the right color. For the table, I wanted a dark blue that would contrast nicely with the mug.

Text Tips - What to Do if You Don’t Have a Printer

I just love April’s idea of printing directly on your fabric. Unfortunately, that method requires an inkjet printer, and I don’t have a printer! She also provides the option of embroidering the text, but I’m not a big fan of embroidery. So I got creative.

My very favorite fabric pen is the Pentel Gel Roller for Fabric. It’s a permanent black ballpoint pen. I’ve been using it on my labels for years because it writes like a dream. I decided it would be the perfect way to get the words on my mug.

I used a light layer of Best Press on the fabric to keep it from stretching as I worked, and I cut the fabric a bit big so I could perfectly center the text after I finished writing. Then I taped the fabric to the text page of the pattern so I didn’t have to worry about it shifting around. I don’t have a lightbox, so I taped the paper to a window. I traced the letters with my fabric pen, being careful to fill them in completely.

Once I was done tracing, I carefully removed the fabric from the paper. I centered the text and trimmed the fabric to size. I found that I had about 3/4” clearance on the sides of the text, and 1” on the top and bottom.

I’m really pleased with how it came out! The pen was easy to write with, the words show up well, and I know they will be permanent.

text in quilt blocks

Piecing Tips

Seam Test

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.

To test your seam allowance, cut two 2" squares and sew them together. Press as desired, 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.

Stitch and Flip Corners

The secret to making a successful stitch and flip corner is to stitch just outside of the drawn line. The line you drew isn't the stitching line - it's actually where the fabric needs to fold! By stitching just outside of the line, you give yourself the extra fabric you need to reach all the way to the corner when you flip it over.

Just to be safe, I always test to make sure my corner is covered before I cut away the excess fabric from the back.

Laying out the Pieces

As soon as I had everything cut, I laid out all of the pieces on a design board. It’s a foam board covered with batting so the fabric stays in place. The design board made it really easy to keep track of my pieces as I worked. If you would like to make a design board of your own, this post has all the information you need.

Pressing

April has great pressing directions in her pattern. But I know it’s sometimes easier to look at a picture rather than reading each instruction as you go. Here’s a diagram that shows how I pressed my seams.

And here’s a peak at the back of my block.

Our Lovely Hosts

We have nine hosts for segment one, and we all made our very own quilter’s mug blocks. 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:

Segment 1 Prize Package

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

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.

It’s Your Turn!

I hope you’re excited about this week’s block! I certainly can’t wait to see everyone’s mugs. Do you think you’ll go with the saying that April provided in her pattern, or do you have another idea for what you would like your mug to say? Maybe you want to feature a novelty fabric instead of using a saying at all. I would love to hear your plan in the comments.

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Sew Let's Quilt Along: Sewing Machine

Sew Let’s Quilt Along has started! It’s a free, sewing-themed mystery quilt along, and I’m so excited to share our first block with you. If you missed the intro, you can get all of the details here. I also have a handy dandy quilt along page with links to each block as it comes out.

Our very first block is a sewing machine! I don’t know about you, but I don’t think there’s any better way to kick off a sewing-themed quilt along than with a sewing machine. And Sandra did a fabulous job designing this one. She even included embroidered details to make it look more realistic, but I opted to leave those off of my block.

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

Getting Started

Choosing Fabrics

I always think choosing fabrics is one of the hardest parts of making a block, so I was excited when my choices came together pretty easily this time. I started with the machine and table fabrics. Since there’s so much fabric in the machine, I wanted something with a lot of movement and variation of colors. Once I had that, I wanted a lighter fabric for the panel. From there, it was easy to find fabrics that went with the rest. Since the spools are so small, I was able to use some of my extra tiny scraps!

Helpful Supplies

The right tools make everything so much easier. Since some of the pieces in this block are pretty small, I heavily starched all of my fabrics with unscented Best Press before cutting. I used small office labels to keep track of my pieces, and a Sewline ceramic pencil to draw the lines on the stitch-and-flip squares. Finally, I pulled out my pack of Steam-A-Seam for fusing the knob on the machine. This was my first time using Steam-A-Seam, and I think I’ve been converted. It was so much easier to work with than Heat-N-Bond.

Piecing Tips

Seam Test

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.

To test your seam allowance, cut two 2" squares and sew them together. Press as desired, 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.

Stitch Length

Some of the pieces in this block are only 1 1/4" square. 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.

Organization

As I was cutting, I labeled each piece with its letter or number from the pattern. That made it so easy to be sure I picked up the right pieces when it was time to sew! To make sure nothing got lost, I arranged all of my cut pieces on a baking tray. I inherited this tray from my grandma, and it lives in my sewing room for just this purpose.

Stitch and Flip Corners

My favorite tool for drawing the diagonal lines is a Sewline ceramic pencil. They come in several colors, but I just bought one pencil and change out the lead as needed.

The secret to making a successful stitch and flip corner is to stitch just outside of the drawn line. The line you drew isn't the stitching line - it's actually where the fabric needs to fold! By stitching just outside of the line, you give yourself the extra fabric you need to reach all the way to the corner when you flip it over.

Just to be safe, I always test to make sure my corner is covered before I cut away the excess fabric from the back.

Pinning

I generally avoid pinning, but some of the seams in this block are pretty long! I find that pinning long seams makes a huge difference in my finished block.

Pressing

You can press the seams in this block any way you would like, whether that’s open or to the side. Since I prefer to press to the side, I put a little bit of thought into the best way to press all of the seams. If you would like to press the same way I did, here’s a diagram.

And here’s a peak behind the seams. I was pleased that everything laid so nice!

Applique Tips

Avoiding Stiffness

Before I fuse the Steam-A-Seam to my fabric, I like to cut out the centers about 1/2” from the edge. This helps keep the applique from getting too stiff. Sometimes I will nest pieces inside each other to save on fusible, but these circles were a bit too close in size for that.

Here’s a look after fusing. I make sure my fabric is a little bit bigger than the fusible web so I don’t end up with any sticky residue on my ironing board.

Fusing the Knob

I found it easiest to fuse the center onto the knob before moving it to the block. That way I could deal with the whole knob as a single piece.

Peeling the Paper

Sometimes I find it pretty challenging to get the paper to peel off. If you score it with a pin, it makes it so much easier to get started!

Centering the Knob

I wanted my knob to be centered horizontally on my sewing machine. I pulled out an acrylic ruler and lined it up with the center of the knob. I played with the placement until I was happy, then fused it in place.

Secure with Stitching

It’s important to stitch around your applique so you can be sure it will stand the test of time. You can use any stitch you would like. Zigzags and blanket stitches are both popular options. Personally, I went for a simple straight stitch just inside the edge.

For best results, choose a thread that blends. I used Aurifil 1148 Light Jade in the blue, and Aurifil 1147 Light Leaf Green in the green. I used needle down option on my machine and went slowly. I frequently lifted the presser foot to adjust the fabric in order to keep the stitching going nicely along the round edges. If you’re nervous about this part, just take your time. It’s easier than it looks.

A Fleet of Sewing Machines

We have nine hosts for segment one, and we all made our very own sewing machine blocks. 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:

Segment 1 Prize Package

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

segment 1 pattern prizes.png

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.

Sew Let's QAL prize sponsors.png

Time to Sew!

I hope you’re excited about this week’s block! I certainly can’t wait to see everyone’s sewing machines. Please remember to share your pictures so we can all cheer each other on. You can share in the Partners in Design Facebook group, or on Instagram with the hashtag #SewLetsQAL.

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