Here we are again, with block ten of the dozen or so blocks I have planned for this series, and I have to say it’s one of my favorites.
In fact I liked it so well, I taped it to my kitchen cupboard, where I can enjoy it. My husband says it looks like a winking smiley face. I just see a rainbow.
As I mentioned before, unlike earlier patterns, there are now no hand-drawn designs since I am able to work in a new version of quilt software. But Please, since this is a free pattern: do attribute the source of this to Elizabeth at OccasionalPiece-Quilt (or OPQuilt.com) and do not print off copies for your mother or your friends. Please direct them here to get their free copies. Many thanks.
(Note from the 2020 Elizabeth: A new, revised pattern is coming soon, so I’ve removed the old ones from these posts. Many thanks.)
Print off four copies and cut out the blades, but cut out only one circle. Make sure your printer settings are set to 100% scale.
Here’s the blade papers pinned to fabrics and cut out. I used pins initially as I was checking for a smooth gradation of colors for my rainbow. Yes, I realized later I’d done the rainbow the reverse of what is normally shown.
After I liked the arrangement, I used a glue stick and glued them to the papers. I talk about gluing vs. basting in an earlier circle post, so read back through those to learn about that technique.
The one new thing for this circle is confessing my undying love for Karen Kay Buckley’s Perfect Circle templates.
I have them in two sizes: smaller, and bigger. It’s what I use for my circles, instead of cutting out the paper pattern. I have learned to punch 2-3 holes in the biggest circles when I take them to my ironing board, in order to let the steam escape.
I choose a circle a little bit bigger than the paper pattern, then lay it down on the wrong side of the fabric, and trace around it. I then cut about 1/2″ away from the line. I did talk about the construction of them *here;* just scroll down to where you see me taking a gathering stitch and pulling it up around the circle, then read on.
To construct this block, line up the “shoulders” of the upper edges, as shown. Take a stitch, then loop through it to make it more secure, as shown in the next photo, pulling it snug.
Then keep going, taking tiny “bites” of fabric of each blade, whip-stitching them together. It goes really quickly.
I did mine in sections, depending on which thread matched, then sewed the sections together.
Cut a 14 1/2″ square for the background, and crease in the centers on all four sides; if you are not near an iron, just finger-press it. Now it’s Decision Time: Point up, or valley up? I went with the valley between the two points, but my friend Lisa, who was sitting beside me at quilt guild, preferred the point up. I tell you this story to say that there is no right or wrong–just what you like. Applique this to the background using a neutral thread. There’s a trick to good appliqué, and that’s to not have the thread come all the way to the top of what you are appliquéing, but instead kind of split the fold. Then don’t pull the thread too tightly. You want it to float on your background, not be nailed to it. I have a photo below, when I appliqué the center, showing what I mean about “splitting the fold.” (At least I hope it does.)
After you appliqué the rainbow Dresden Plate onto the back, trim away the underneath, about 1/4″ away from your stitches.
Using either a pair of small, sharp scissors or the business end of a stiletto, loosen the glued edges, and pop out the papers.
Arrange your circle on your Dresden, pin. Now appliqué on. I need to start making my circles a wee bit bigger, because it was a close call on some parts, so I sewed with teensy little stitches in a neutral thread (here: a grey-green). See how the needle is kind of splitting the fold on that left-hand part of the photo? You want to try to get a good bite of fabric, but not so the needle comes out on the top. You want it at the “side” of the piece, if you can think about it that way, like if you were looking at a really flat layer cake–you’d want the needle to come out about where the filling is, not on top where the decorations are. Don’t pull the thread too tightly. . . just snugly.
Whew. Some of those seam allowances are barely a quarter-inch, but my stitches are tiny and the center will hold. (Quick! which poem is that from?***)
Here’s your completed block? Why a Dresden block? Doesn’t every circle quilt need one? I’d been making them for my bee groups. We used *this tutorial* and sewed them on the sewing machine (although I used my version of the centers, and machine appliquéd them on), but truthfully, sewing them by hand didn’t take that much longer.
First, Rene’ had us make one in blues and greens.
And then Cindy had us make one in bright colors, so how I could I resist?
And then there were ten!
*** The poem is from Yeats, and he actually said the “centre cannot hold,” but your lovely hand-stitched center will. Here’s the first part of his poem, and although I analyzed it to death when teaching it to my students, I still barely get the whole meaning, but it does have to do with the horrors of our twentieth century. It’s pretty scary out there. Too bad Yeats didn’t do English Paper Piecing. He might have felt better about things.
THE SECOND COMING, by William Butler Yeats
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold. . . . .