Monday, February 24, 2014

Hive 9, March, Target Block

What is your name?
My name is Beky Branagan

Where do you live?
I live in Cary, NC

Tell us about your family: 
I’m single, and live with my  my 19 year old niece  and my dog. I come from a family of 8 children, but everyone else lives in New York and New England. I work in communications at a local university and I am co-president of my local quilting guild (Triangle Modern Quilt Guild). I am a very active outdoors person and am a volunteer leader for a group that hikes, camps and spends time enjoying the great outdoors.

Tell us about how you got interested in quilting.
My grandmother gave me her 221 Featherweight sewing machine that I intended to use for home decorating projects.  When I took it in for service, the shopkeeper read me the riot act for sitting on the case.  The biggest takeaway was that it was a machine favored by quilters and I was lucky to have it. I figured I should find out what all the fuss was about and I was hooked!

How do you organize your fabric stash?
Not very well at all! I tried to organize it by color, and by prints vs. solids, but as soon as I start looking for something, everything is a mess again. I just keep it in bins on a shelf and paw through it as necessary. My sewing room is an enclosed porch, so space is limited. It has great light, but is cold in the winter and hot in the summer.

Who is/are your favorite fabric designers?
Parson Gray (aka David Butler)  I love his geometric/earthy aesthetic, and Kaffe Fasset for all of the fabulous colors and color combinations that I am admittedly too afraid to try. Otherwise, I generally have no idea what designers have created any particular line of fabric, unless I don't like it. Then, I remember to stay away from . . .

What is one thing you have learned that you wish you knew when you first started quilting?
I've really enjoyed my quilting journey so far. I just wish I had known how important an extension table was when I bought my new machine – without one! L

What is your favorite sewing/quilting tool and why should we all go out and buy it?  
The De-Stitchinator - AKA seam ripper. For the same reason I like erasers.

Who is your favorite fictional character and why?
Temperance Brennan from the TV show Bones. I've learned to stop wasting my time and just say “ I don’t know what that means!” It helps a lot because it forces people to make the explanation that they should have started with anyway. I work at a medical school and everybody just assumes you know what they're talking about, no matter how complex or obscure.

The Block  

The block we're making is a simplified version of Latifa Safir's "Target Practice."  Her block is much larger and uses more fabric than the one we'll make, but her instructions may be useful.  It is based on the Pinless Piecing Method, but I do use pins for my own comfort.

You'll need at least two pieces of fabric. A print and a neutral.

I would like bright, clear colors. Prints or solids are OK, as long as there is the impression of a single overall color. Please use one "color" for your block. You may use more than one print, just make sure that they're the same hue. 

There appears to be a rogue purple with orange polka dot fabric in this photo that doesn't conform to the stated criteria. He's been photobombing lot's of fabric selections lately, just begging to get used. I don't know how he got in there. Please pay him no mind.

Please also use a solid or low volume neutral in cream, ecru, or off white.  Try to avoid bright white or tans. Other colors on the neutral are are OK as long as they are not too bright or make it seem like a color. The little green flowers on the top fabric below are fine because the overall effect is still neutral.

You'll need a few additional tools, besides the regular quilting ones. 
  • Pencil
  • Paper Scissors (if you use your fabric scissors, warn me first so I can look away!)
  • Glue stick. Washable paper paste like Elmer's or actual Fabric glue.
  • 2 pieces of 8.5 x 11 inch paper (or whatever your standard sized paper is that's larger than 6.5" square.)
  • Compass (optional)

First, we'll make two pinwheel blocks, one about 7.5" square and one about 12.5 " square. The two pinwheels should be reversed (I'll show you in a minute.)  

Note: I prefer to make my pieces a little bit larger and then trim as necessary. I hate finishing a block and finding that it is too small. For this block, trimming is not really necessary as I'll finish off each block by sewing on a final circle when I receive it. After your initial cuts, I will not be mentioning the size of things again as it won't really matter.

From each fabric, cut two 7" squares and two 4" squares.

Match one of each fabric, right sides together and cut on the diagonal.


Sew along the long edges. You should have four HST of each size.

Press to the darker fabric and trim off the points. 

IMPORTANT!! Lay out your blocks. When sewing the pinwheels together, ensure that the blades  (orange parts) in the first block are reversed on your second block. You do not want two identical blocks.  It doesn't matter which block goes which way as long as they're going in the opposite direction of each other.

Match the seams and sew. Press so that all of the seams go around in the same direction. 


Match the centers and sew. Because we've pressed them to the side, the center seams should lock. 

On the smaller block only, remove the stitches between the seam and the edge of the fabric. This should allow you to press it flat. (don't worry if it isn't perfect.)   Notice how all of the seams are going around the block in the same direction.

Stack the blocks on top of each other. They should look like this.  Set aside.

Take a piece of paper and fold into quarters.

If you have a compass, measure 3 inches and draw a quarter circle.


If you don't have a compass, cut a 2" x 6" inch strip from the second piece of paper 

Fold it in half length wise.

Draw a line across the strip and then draw another three inches from it. Then a line down the center, between the marks.


Make a small pin hole at one end where the lines cross and make a slightly larger hole at the intersection on the other end. 


Stick a pin in the pin hole and a pencil in the other. Hold the pin at the very tip of the inside corner of the folded paper and swing the pencil along the arc. Try to keep the paper taught between the pin and the pencil.  (You might want to tape the paper down so that it doesn't move) 

Cut the circle out on the inside of the line. It doesn't have to be perfect, but slightly smaller is better than slightly bigger. The circle should be no more than 6" in diameter.

Open up the circle and place it on the back of the larger pinwheel.

Carefully line up the creases of the paper with the four perpendicular seams of the block. When the seams are aligned the circle will be centered. I placed the fold exactly on the thread line.

Pin the paper to the block, making sure that the pins are at least a half an inch away from the edge of the paper circle.


Cut out the center of the circle, leaving at least a half inch between the edge of the fabric and the paper. 

Make cuts in the fabric, staying about 1/8 inch from the paper,  all the way around the circle. Be careful not to cut any seams or all the way to the paper.

Press the tabs back over the edge of the paper. I found it easiest to press towards me and rotate the paper. I used a dry iron and Best Press, a type of starch.

Using the glue stick, apply a liberal amount of glue to the paper under the tabs and press the tabs onto the paper until they stay down. Then apply more glue to the top of the tabs.


Remove the pins.

Place your smaller block, right side up, on your pressing surface. Flip the large block right side up and place on the smaller block. Align the seams and the block will be centered. The seams may not line up perfectly, but do the best you can.

PRESS THE HECK OUT OF THE BLOCK, paying particular attention to the edges of the circle. This will glue the larger block to the smaller one. 


Now comes the fun part. Peel back the top layer of fabric and carefully sew around the block, along the edge of the paper, staying as close to the paper as possible. Lift your presser foot every four or five stitches and move the fabric towards the back and out the way so that it doesn't crease or get caught under the needle. Back stitch a few stitches at the end. 

(You can click on this photo to enlarge it.)


Carefully remove the paper. It should come away from the glue with just a teeny tug.

Done. No need to press or trim as I will put another circle around this block to make the quilt.

Please let me know if you have any questions. This project definitely looks more difficult than it is. I couldn't believe how easy it was to do a circle like this.

Happy Sewing!


Unknown said...

I'm amazed by this and can't wait to try it! :) You do a wonderful job teaching; it should be a breeze to follow your directions. Also, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog. You are a genuine kind of girl and one I'd be honored to follow. I have a Flickr account as gbeckyjean and Instagram as @ketchapic. Love your work!

Unknown said...

Hi Beky! Great tutorial and block. Can't wait to give it a try. Now just trying to figure out a color to send you.

Beky B said...

Thanks ladies, can't wait to see what you make!

Unknown said...

This was so much fun!