Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Hive 4 - March Block

The groundhog was correct and we are having an early Spring here in Southeast Texas.  Flowers are blooming like crazy, our container garden has been planted and the war with the squirrels has begun.  This is a favorite time of year for me because the daylight begins to stick around a bit longer and I am energized for new projects!

For my block this month I have chosen to go with the Union Jack block.  The very detailed tutorial I am using was designed by a former Stash Bee member, Granny Maud's Girl.  It is a paper pieced pattern and the tutorial provides links to both a Letter size version, as well as an A4 version.  When printing, make sure that your printer is set to print "Actual Size" so that the finished block is the correct size.  You will need to print 2 copies of the template.

I am asking for a block in gray and red fabrics with white for the small stripes.  The white should be solid white, no cream colors please.  The gray and reds should be medium to dark shades, no pastel or light colors.  When choosing reds, nothing that has an orange or wine tone to it please.  Also, no batiks if possible as I am not really a fan.  If you do not have any gray or red, please let me know and I will be happy to pop some in the mail to you.

As for prints on the gray and red, I love anything that is plaid, checks, paisley or Libertyesque floral.  While other colors in a print are fine, it should read red or gray as the predominant color.   You can choose to do the flag center in gray with red field (as shown) or red center with gray field.  The tutorial or this finished quilt top will give you some excellent examples of print combinations.

Cutting the Fabric:
You will be cutting fabric for 2 different sized sections, A and B.  I found it helpful to separate and label those as I cut.  It works well to cut apart the templates into the four quadrants and stack the fabric on those.  All the dimensions in the tutorial are in inches.  Cut two of each size for each flag quadrant .  This applies to all pieces unless noted otherwise.

One thing to note is that the numbers on the left hand side of the cutting dimensions correspond with the placement number on the template.  They do not indicate the number of pieces to cut. 

Tips to Help:
  • Check the measurements of your printed templates before sewing so the block will be the correct size.
  • If you are worried about using such small pieces of fabric, cut the fabric larger and trim off excess after sewing.
  • I found it helpful to label each section of the template with the color that it should be. 

Then I stacked the fabric in order of use.  It helps keep the white pieces from getting mixed up.
  • Use a very short stitch length on your sewing machine. The extra perforations will make it much easier to tear away the paper before you join the quadrants.
  • Double check that you are on the correct placement line before you stitch a seam.  It is very tedious to pick out those very short stitches as I learned.
  • Press each piece and trim away any excess seam allowance before sewing the next piece. Double check the fabric before trimming to make sure you don't cut the block side of the fabric instead of the seam.
  • Do not use steam. It will make the paper shrivel up and distort the finished block.

Putting it All Together:

Once you have pieced all four quadrants, you will need to carefully remove all the paper backing.  Press each piece well (starch or finishing spray is helpful).  Next you will sew one Block A to one Block B.  Repeat for the other two blocks.

The final step will be to join those sections with the center strip.

When all sections are combined, your block should be 15 1/2" x 8".

I am looking forward to seeing the blocks that everyone creates! 

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