Today has been a long time coming… it’s my day to reveal the block I designed for The Splendid Sampler 2 book by Pat Sloan and Jane Davidson. I designed, made and submitted the block in the summer of 2017, almost a year and a half ago! I’m excited to share the process and some tips for making the block today.
If you’re new to the blog, let me introduce myself. I’m a designer, award-winning quilter, independent pattern/product publisher and teacher. My mission is to enhance people’s lives through beautiful, meaningful design as well as to empower and inspire others to enjoy the process of making. I love sharing the stories of what I make with others. Interested in seeing more of my work? Check out my gallery here or my shop here.
behind the scenes of designing the block
When Pat and Jane approached me to participate they asked me to create a block in my signature style that answered the question, I’m living my best quilting life when…
As a trained graphic designer, all of my designs start with a concept and after brainstorming potential directions, I start sketching. Once I have a fairly developed design in mind, I then decide the best way to construct and piece the quilt.
To answer Pat and Jane’s question, I started to think about my process and how I feel when things are going really well with a project. My block, entitled Connection, is inspired by how I feel when the idea for a quilt comes together and the concept and design are connected. There’s this wonderful spark when the layout, fabric selection and quilting all support one another. Here’s the original sketch for the block (with the final block you’ll find in the book):
While I love designing, writing and sharing quilt patterns using all types of techniques, I especially like to develop quilt patterns using foundation paper piecing. This technique allows for precision and for creating designs that just couldn’t be achieved through traditional piecing. Paper piecing does require a bit more brain power than traditional piecing for some quilters. It gets easier with practice!
Here are some of my top paper piecing tips:
• You may find it helpful to use a water-soluble fabric glue stick to attach the fabric to the first section of each piece of paper.
• Reduce your stitch length to 1.5. This shortened stitch length will make it easier to remove the paper at the end.
• I like to match my thread to one of the colors of the fabrics that I am sewing, especially for seams that are pressed open.
• After adding each piece, trim seam allowance (the optional “Add a Quarter” ruler is handy for this) and press seams before adding the next piece. This handy tools makes it easier to align your ruler to the folded edge of the paper pattern, allowing you to trim a precise 1/4″ seam. This ruler really speeds up the trimming process.
• Before pressing with a hot iron on the fabric side, I use a wallpaper seam roller or Hera Marker to press the seam on the paper side.
• Be prepared to use your seam ripper! Even the most experienced paper piecers will need it at times.
One question that has come up is about the bulk of the seams and alignments, especially in the middle of the block. One of the challenges with foundation paper piecing can be the handling of seams. This block is a bit bulky in the middle, but it is manageable. I want to share some “behind the scenes” or the back side of my block to show you what mine look like.
It does look a little bit messy, but I find if I get it somewhat flat on the back (with a hot, dry iron) and then flip it over and give it another good hot press it will be good to go for quilting. I’ve recently been using a wool pressing mat and find that I get flatter seams. The wool mat retains heat, so when you press your seams, it’s like pressing from both sides at the same time. This helps with paper piecing since you should not press on the paper side—all of your ink from your paper with come off on your iron (ask me how I know!).
There’s definitely some bulk to this block, but not so much that it’s difficult to quilt through.
Spark your inspiration!
If you haven’t already, grab a copy of the book and sew along with us. 80 quilters contributed blocks to this book, so there’s something for everyone!