Sunday, February 3, 2019

February 2019 - Hive 4 Tutorial

The last time I was in this bee was 2014. I finally finished that bee quilt in 2017. I'm hoping this one won't take as long because it's a quilt for my son's big boy bed. He's been in that bed for a while now, but has been small enough to fit under his baby quilt and blankets, but he's getting too big for those now. His room has a book theme, so I went back and forth, and finally decided on a bookshelf quilt.

There are plenty of tutorials floating around the internet (and this blog) of the easy way to make these blocks. But since I always have to do everything the hard way, here is what I did with it.


Size: 16.5" x 16.5" square

Fabrics: White solid for the background (I am using Kona White, but any "true" white solid is fine as I'll be sashing the blocks with a dark wood grain fabric. For the books and accessories on the shelves, you're welcome to use whatever, solid, print, novelty, etc. Whatever fits. And no, I have no issue with any colors, including pink, flower fabrics, or anything else. If it fits your block's theme, go for it. The only thing I ask is that you not use too many dark grey/black fabrics in your block, so it doesn't blend too much with my wood grain fabric.

Theme: Try to come up with a theme for your block (let me know what you picked on our Facebook group so we don't get duplicates). I went with Harry Potter (so that's taken), but you can do travel books (Atlas, tour guides, travel memoirs, etc.), crafting books, gardening books, children's books, Lord of the Rings, and so much more. If you need more ideas, just ask.

Accessories: I'm hoping you'll add a thematically appropriate accessory to your shelf, either paper pieced or appliqued. Fandom in Stitches is an amazing place to get free paper piecing patterns, but there are certainly many other places on the web to get free or inexpensive patterns. Some examples: globe for travel books, sewing machine for crafting books, bonsai or potted plant for gardening books, Winnie the Pooh stuffy for children's books, Tree banner and the one ring for LotR.

Signature "Book": If it's not too much to ask, I would love one additional strip/book with your name and location on it, so I can add those to my pieced backing.

List of Books: If you could send a list of books with your block, I am going to try and embroider the spines of the books. Please do not add any titles to the spines yourself, as I want them to be uniform.

Here is my fabric pull for my block and a fabric pull of novelty fabrics that would make for fun themes (background in both is my sashing fabric):

Top Row: Cookbooks; Middle Row: Nature (2), Science (2); Bottom Row: Nursery Rhymes (1), Travel (1), Christmas/Children's books (1), Crafting (1)

I started my block with a sketch (you don't have to do that). I used a 16x16 grid, sketched out where I wanted the different pieces to go, and then added .5" to each measurement for the seam allowance.

I may or may not have taken a picture of my HP books to see what the predominant colors of the spines were (and measured the height and width) - you REALLY don't have to do something like that:

I opted to paper piece the books, but if you follow the tutorial link for the 2016 bookshelf block, there is a faster and easier way to make the books. Here is my version of paper piecing (there are also many other ways to paper piece):

Print your template onto paper (I use regular printer paper, but thinner papers work too). Cut out the pieces (I like to leave room around the seam allowance, because these templates don't always have an accurate quarter inch seam allowance). Cut your fabric to roughly the right sizes. I will often just use fabric scissors, although for these books, a rotary cutter ended up being faster.

Take pieces 1 and 2 and position them on the back of the paper so that piece 1 covers the entire area for section 1, and piece 2 overlaps the line between sections 1 and 2 by about .25". Using a light source helps with this.

Make sure your stitch length is reduced to around 1 and then sew on the line through the seam allowance, if applicable (if you are starting in the middle of a piece for something more complicated, then you'll want to start about a quarter inch from where the line starts and end about a quarter inch from where it ends. Fold the paper back along the line you just stitched, and trim the fabric edges to a quarter inch from the fold.

Iron, finger press, or use a wooden presser wheel, to press fabric 2 up so it covers all of section 2. If you're not sure that it will actually cover, it's always good to give it a quick check before you trim and iron, just be folding it up and making sure it covers the section using a light source.

Now add piece 3, overlapping it along the line between sections 2 and 3 by about a quarter inch. Again, using a light source helps with this step.

Sew, trim, iron, repeat. Continue on in this way until you have covered all the sections. Now take your finished sections and sew them together. First trim a quarter inch from the lines (I like to use my ruler to determine how far from the line that is, because not every paper piecing pattern has accurate quarter inch outside seams).

If piecing a pattern with diagonal edges, it's a good idea to use a pin to line up important points on your block. Also, set your stitch length to longer when sewing together sections of a block (I use 2.5) as a sort of basting stitch. Check that your important points line up, and then either go back through with stitch length 1 to perforate the paper more, or just leave it at that.

When you are done with your paper piecing, make sure all the paper is removed from the back. I find a seam ripper works wonders for getting those tiny bits out from between the seams.

Once you're done making the smaller bits of your block, finish it up by adding background fabric in between. You'll notice that the background piece on the end in the second from top row is longer than it needs to be, so I can trim down to 16.5" before proceeding. And the top row piece is also taller than it needs to be for the same reason.

Sew the pieces into rows, then sew the rows together, and trim your block to 16.5" square.

Some additional helpful tips. I try to iron my seams open whenever possible to avoid bulk. But that's rarely possible when paper piecing, so I tend to press towards the side that has less bulk. In the case of my block above, that means ironing towards the background pieces around the Leaky Cauldron sign and the HP with the golden snitch. Also at the top of the potion bottle. Though I was able to sew them open between the books.

Thank you and Happy February.

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