Introducing the Twelve Words Sampler! I’m so excited to share this Block of the Month with you…and even more excited to see the blocks you make! I’m calling it the Twelve Words sampler because, as you’ll notice, each block will have a word on it. I chose these words to be uplifting and encouraging, they inspire me and I hope they will inspire you, too.
So here’s how it works: each month I will post a block with basic instructions. Then, for the next couple days I will post tutorials on how to complete each step of the block-making process. That way, those of you who are ready to just jump right in can just go for it as soon as I post the block, and those of you who are learning some new skills as you go will get to finish the blocks too.
Each month the blocks will incorporate a basic quilting “building block” as I like to call them, the elements that make up a large majority of quilting projects out there, in some combination or other. This will help build and refine skills, as well as help me build an arsenal of tutorials here on the little old blog.
By the end of the year, you will be old hat at machine applique, basic embroidery, flying geese, pinwheels, and lots of other things! Don’t worry, if you need a little hand-holding, I’ll walk you through it. Promise.
Please, join along! We’re going to have so much fun, and the end result will not only be beautiful, but positive and uplifting–and I don’t know about you, but I can use all the bright cheeriness I can get in this weather.
Like I said earlier, basic instructions today, more thorough explanations over the next 2-3 days. Please ask questions if you have them, and I will be sure to answer you.
Before we get too into this project, a few words on fabric selection so you can plan. I chose 8 solids and 2 linen blends to work with for this quilt. For each block I am choosing two or three solids to form my color palette, and then pulling print scraps from my stash in the same color values. You can see the black and white linen on the bottom of the pile, that will be my sashing. I wanted something that would set off every color nicely, but I didn’t want to use white. Finally, I am using a natural colored linen for my background of my embroidery and applique, and plan to use that natural color in each block as well.
Here’s the details on making this month’s block!
Piece 2″ squares in (4) strips of (8) squares, and (2) strips of (4) squares, as shown.
Press seams in alternating directions to avoid bulk.
Align intersections, pin, and sew top two rows together. Repeat for bottom two rows. Press.
With disappearing ink, mark a line 1″ from each side of your 7″ x 10″ rectangle. Trace center snowflake for embroidery. Using templates provided, and following manufacturer’s instructions, use fuseable web to adhere applique pieces INSIDE the lines you just marked.
Using a small zig zag or other decorative stitch, sew around each applique piece.
Using navy thread, embroider the main lines of the snowflake. Switch to aqua thread, use large stitches to embroider the small middle star. Press the block.
Trim to 6½” x 9½”.
Sew remaining (4) piece strips to the sides. Press.
Finish block by putting all three units together and pressing well.
Download templates here. January Sparkle Templates
I’m starting a flickr group where you can add pictures of your block, please add yours! (I just might have a giveaway planned, and your entry is your block picture in the group…) Join the flickr group here.
Piecing a perfect four-patch block is just one of those things a quilter should have under their belt, if you know what I mean. Luckily, it’s a quick and easy process (nevermind that it took me about a billion pictures to show how easy it is…). Once you get the hang of it, you can crank these babies out in no time flat, and you’ll want to, they’re in a TON of patterns. I apologize in advance for these colors. They’re pretty much clashing with everything else here…
Start with 4 squares of fabric, all the same size.
Take the squares on the left and flip them over so they are face down on top of the fabrics on the right. The “right sides” of the squares should be facing each other. In quilting terms, this is called “right sides together”. I know, we’re a creative bunch. Pin, if necessary. My squares are only 2½” square, so it’s not needed in my case, but if you’re working with squares bigger than about 3″, I suggest pins.
Using a 1/4″ seam allowance, sew both sets of two squares together using a straight stitch. To make things easier later, do NOT take a double stitch or backstitch on the first and last stitches.
They’ll look like this. Only with your fabrics, of course.
Put your sewn squares on your ironing board without opening them.
Press the seam allowance with a hot iron. I know this seems weird, but it’s called “setting” the seams. It makes the thread lay more flat so that when you open up the block and press it, it lays, well, more flat.
See? Looking flatter already.
Now, open up your pieces and lay them face down.
Decide which way you will press your seam allowance. Ideally, you will press in opposite directions, toward the darker fabric. So, see how the block on top is being pressed to the left, while the block on the bottom is being pressed to the right? This makes it really easy, later on, to make a perfectly aligned intersection. To make sure you don’t “lose” any fabric in the seam, gently pull both sides of the block away from the seam while using your fingers to press and hold the seam allowance the direction you will press it with the iron. Work slowly and carefully so you don’t skew or stretch your blocks.
Press with hot iron.
Now, place the right sides together again. You will notice that your seam allowances are facing different directions, directly opposite each other. You will also notice, that if you use your fingers to gently slide the blocks against each other, you can feel when the block “clicks” into place. This is usually called “butting” or “nesting” your seams, and is a great way to not only get precise intersections, but also to distribute bulk.
Pin. Usually, I will pin at the top, at each intersection, and at the bottom. If there is more than 3 inches or so between, I will pin there, too.
Using a 1/4″ seam allowance, sew. Be sure to remove your pins before they go under your presser foot.
Lay flat on your ironing board, and set the seam.
Open up the block, face down on your ironing board. Push the seam allowance in opposite directions on the top and bottom.
Since you didn’t take any backstitches before, pushing the seam allowances will loosen those middle stitches, allowing them to come out and open up, like this. Isn’t it cute? Besides being cute, it is also much flatter than pressing your seam allowance all to one side. (There ARE situations where that is a better option, though, so follow your pattern’s instructions.)
Press it. (And when I say press it, I mean pick up your iron, and place it on the block. Straight down. Don’t move it around. That will just stretch and warp your block.)
Now, flip it over, and give it one more press. Voila! A perfect four-patch block!
I knew you could do it.
Any questions? Tips or tricks? Share!
Get a pair of knee socks with contrasting toes and heels.
Follow this tutorial. (But use a zig sag stitch when machine sewing. Trust me on this.)
Make a couple more.
Bask in the praise of rejoicing children. Then, brace yourself for the meltdown when you tell them you’re giving them away. (Ask me how I know.)
No, seriously, I made a few of these…BIG hit. And of course, why wouldn’t they be? They’re adorable, if I do say so myself, and a GREAT idea for birthday party gifts. I threw these together in under 2 hours a piece, and that was with major three-year-old distractions. Just grab up some knee socks when you see them and have them on hand.
What is your go-to birthday gift? I need ideas, because as cute as these are, I’m not sure I can give them for every birthday from here on out. Enlighten me!