Friday, November 1, 2019

Hive 1 November 2019 Tutorial – Brights on Darks

Hello Hive 1!  I’m Pam, the last Queen Bee this year, and I wanted to make my block big but easy. One of the things I’ve enjoyed about being in Stashbee is writing the tutorials.  My personal sewing style is more trial and error and improv-in-the-moment, so having to plan in advance, work slowly, and photograph and explain each step is challenging and fun.

My Brights on Darks block was inspired by wonky diamonds quilts I’ve seen online, but I didn’t want mine too diamond-y or too wonky.  In my experience, wonky is harder to explain and sometimes more time-consuming than working with measurements, so mine is wonky-ISH.

COLORS:  The background fabric should be a dark fabric in any color, either solid or print.  The bright fabric can be any bright solid or print that contrasts nicely with the background.

FABRIC REQUIREMENTS:  Each block requires a fat quarter of a dark background fabric and four 2.5” x 12” strips of a bright fabric.  The strips need to be at least 12” long but if they’re a bit longer that’s okay.

Here’s how I cut the background to minimize waste.  Fold the dark fat quarter lengthwise, press a crease down the center, then unfold and cut along the fold.  This should give you two pieces approximately 9” x 22”. 

Stack the pieces on top of each other and subcut two 9” segments to give you two stacks of two pieces 9” x approximately 9” each.  No need to square them up to exactly 9”.

Place the two stacks of background pieces next to each other on your mat.  On the left-hand stack, measure two inches in from the upper right corner and make a mark with chalk or pencil, then measure five inches in from the lower right corner and make a mark.  On the right-hand stack, make the marks measuring in from the left side of the fabric.  Place the edge of your ruler along the marks and cut.  Marking and cutting this way ensures you’ll have two each of the mirror-image pieces.

1.   Place a bright strip along the diagonal edge of one of the smaller background pieces, right sides together, making sure the strip overhangs the background generously on both ends.  Using a ¼” seam, sew the strip to the background with the strip up so that the bias edge of the background doesn’t stretch.  Repeat with each of the strips and smaller background pieces, chain-piecing to save time. 

Press the seams towards the strips.  This helps the bright fabrics pop just a bit more against the dark background.

2.  Lay the remaining background piece next to the background/strip piece so that the edges of the background pieces are in line, then hinge the background piece over so that the pieces are right sides together.  You can pin or just hold the edges together as you sew.  Sew with the strip side up to prevent the bias edge stretching.  Repeat with all for remaining background pieces.

Press the seams towards the strips. 

                3.  Use a ruler to trim both seamed edges of the units so that these edges are parallel.  A wide ruler works great, or you can use the markings on your mat.  Don’t worry about how wide or long the units are, just make sure the edges of the units are parallel.  Repeat with all four units.  The four units probably won’t be the same size, but that doesn’t matter at this point.

                4.   Take two mirror image units and line them up so the strips are in line, and then place right sides together, using pins to keep these seams together as you sew--the seams will not “nest,” but that’s okay.    The edges of the backgrounds on both pieces probably won’t line up, but don’t stretch or ease the edges to match—we’ll be trimming those sides down later.   Sew matching the seams on the strip.  Repeat with the other pair of units.

Press these seams open to reduce bulk.

                5.   To straighten the long edges of the two pieces before seaming them together, it helps to use a wide ruler so you can place a line of the ruler along the seam you just sewed and the edge of the ruler along the inside long edge you’re preparing to sew.  Cut off as little as possible off this edge to straighten it.   Then place the two straightened edges right sides together, pinning at the seam.  Again, don’t worry about the ends of the background pieces not lining up.  Sew matching the center seam.

Press this seam open to reduce bulk.

                6.   At this point the sewing is finished and all that is left is to trim the block down to 16 ½” (unfinished).  Feel free to skip the trimming down, and I’ll do that myself.  If you want to trim, here’s how I did it.  Before I pressed the final seam open, I placed the sewn block with right sides together on my mat and used a wide ruler to measure 8 ½” from the edge of the seam allowance and cut off the excess.  I then pressed the final seam open and measured 8 ½” from the edge of the seam allowance out to the side of the block and trimmed off the excess.

I’m looking forward to seeing what my Hivemates come up with this year.  Happy sewing!


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