Thoughts on Constructing a Quilt Block

Recently I had a chance to do some beta-testing on BlockBase+, which is a revised version of Electric Quilt’s original software. I will write about the sofware next month when I host a giveaway for this software, but this post is about the process of making. In our beta-testing, we were asked to make test quilt blocks, check for spelling issues, functionality, etc. so I thought I would try out a new-to-me quilt block.

Every block in BlockBase+ has a name and a number, based as it is on the Barbara Brackman Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns. I thought this looked cute, so I went for it.

I printed out the templates, labeled them as to the color I wanted, then got to work.

This whole thing was a little tricky, trying to get the petals seamed around the blocks and little triangles. But I really really liked the design I had cooked up (coming soon), so I persisted.

You can see the finished quilt block above, but all I could think was, how did this quilter in the early part of the 20th century put this thing together? But some early quilters did, as I found in a search online:

The blurb describing it says: “Antique Vintage Triple Sunflower Quilt Top in 1930’s prints beautifully hand and machine stitched.  This measures about 33 x 47.5 inches and is in very good as found vintage condition with 8 places that need to be resown.” NOTE: It sold for $26 this past September 2020.

I had not seen those antique quilts when I started this block. So on the second round, I decided to try using English Paper Piecing in putting it together. Many sections went together more easily, like the petals: crisp and sharp.

This long stem was less fun.

The back. I think it’s always fun to look at the reverse side of EPP.

Done. This took me about two days of pretty constant piecing, but I did get to watch a few episodes of Ted Lasso on Apple TV (colorful language alert).

Side by side, back and front.

What was the clue I garnered from the antique blocks?

Okey-dokey. This would have made things so much faster and easier. There is also a lot of variety on the stems and leaves, all hand-appliquéd after the four blocks were assembled. And I was able to really enlarge the green-bordered block to see the grain of the background pieces: the grain is not all straight of grain, so while I don’t know if they did a lot of EPP at that time, they might have. Or they might have used odd bits from their scrap bags.
(I don’t know about you, but I wish some fabric designer would do a replica of the lower right petals of the blue sunflower block at the bottom, with those cool alternating blue-white half circles.)

Overall: putting in a seam on the rectangles and the center squares would make it easier to construct. However, I do like the long stem in one piece…pieced-in, rather than appliqued.

Regarding the giveaway for the Walk book: the Husband Random Number Generator picked a winner, and I’ve notified the winner by email. Thank you to all who wrote. I had the best time reading all your springtime descriptions, and felt like I was visiting different areas of the country and world. I laughed at many, and got warm feelings on others. You are all amazing writers and quilters. Thank you for reading.
Happy Quilting!

P.S. Happy Pi Day. Since I’m not making a pie, enjoy these random pie charts from The Internets.

Hotel California Pie Chart

Making a Curve for the Dungeon of Cute • Affinity Designer Tutorial

Yes, I’m going to talk about making curves, but it’s part of a path that began after I finished the Bee Happy Quilt. You know what comes next: either get it quilted by check, or if you are daft enough, quilt it yourself. (Above: measuring and cutting the batting). But the hardest part is coming up with ideas, so then I check Instagram. I found Rebecca Silbaugh of rubybluequilts and generally followed along to what she had quilted for customers’ quilts like mine. It wasn’t exact, but it gave me a roadmap.

I use a Sweet Sixteen mid-arm, or stationary quilting machine to stitch by quilts, so I have to find some workarounds, and one of them is good use of the disappearing marker. But I need a template to trace to get the design I wanted for the border, and didn’t want to take the quilt downstairs to try out a bunch of plates from the cupboard to find the shape I wanted, or go through all my rulers.

In the early days, when quilters wanted a repeated shape for their border, would often cut a piece of paper the length of the border, and then fold it into parts, using that to mark off the segments. But I had two border lengths to work with and neither were easy measurements, but I figure if I could get a 3 1/2″ petal-shaped something-or-other, I could trace that and make it work. I turned to my Affinity Designer software to get that perfect shape. The steps I took are listed at the bottom of this post, as I didn’t want to interrupt the post, but if you are someone who is learning this software, they may help.

I printed out my shape, but kept a connecter — punching a hole so I could mark through it. I traced one side at a time–using the shape at a perpendicular angle in the middle to fill up the space and arranging it around the corner.

Here’s a picture of the border pattern in soft afternoon light, so you can see the quilting. I used So Fine thread from Superior Thread, color #402 — an off-white — in both top and bobbin for the center of the quilt. Then I switched to a matching Magnifico Thread (also by Superior) to quilt the borders, keeping the bobbin the same.

The quilt — and I — are resting before I tackle the trimming, binding and sleeve. I’m also waiting for inspiration to strike for a name. I’ve called it the Dungeon of Cute all this time (I began the quilt in January of 2019), as I loved the first three or four blocks. Then it was like being chained to a wall, having to make cute blocks over and over and over. (But I don’t think I want to name it this.)

Something will come to me.

Affinity Designer Tutorial for making a petal-shape

I had taken a class at QuiltCon that talked about merging shapes and subtracting shapes, so I started with the left mess, trying to get that curve. Fail. Then I found *this video* and it opened my eyes to possibilities. Go and watch it now. I’ll wait. In figure 2, I drew a constrained square by holding down the shift key to make the sides all the same length (without the shift key, I’d get a rectangle). I put a thicker border on the square so I could see it.

Then I did what it says. I clicked on the border to highlight it, then converted it to curves. That lets each side and each corner move independently of the others.

Click on the corner tool (in the pink circle) and the nodes will change to little boxes. Right by them, not really visible in his illustration is a small red “handle” that you’ll grab. Move your cursor around to locate it for one corner, then drag toward the center of the square.

You can see the little red “handle” in this image; it looks like a small circle. The farther the radius of that larger red circle, the flatter the corner.

Figure 5 is getting a work out.

But I really want to make a petal-shape. I dragged the handle until the radius was the same as the square’s side: 3 1/2″ inches. I kept my eye on the measurements, shown in the pink oval.

But I wanted a thinner petal, so I went with a 4″ radius. Then I copied and pasted them together, using Command-G to merge the layers so I could move them as I wanted. I printed them out on cardstock and used that in the marking of my quilt (below).

Good news! All Affinity software is on major sale right now (50%), so if you need any design or photo or pattern-writing software, I can recommend it to you. No subscriptions. And they also have a 90-day free trial, as well. I don’t get any kickback for recommending them to you; click this link for more information.

Happy Quilting!