Update: One of the photos in the tutorial was incorrect and has since been replaced (July 4th, 3:20p.m. EDT). If you downloaded an earlier version of the tutorial, you may want to download the file again.
Welcome everyone to the second lesson for the Aiming for Accuracy Quilt-Along (A4AQAL). If you’re new here, please be sure to check out the main QAL page where you’ll find all the information you need including the fabric requirements, colour charts, recommended products, getting started information, cutting instructions for your background/contrast fabric and the first block.
We have weekly prizes that everyone can enter. Amy Gay of Butterfly Angels Quilting has volunteered to be Prize Coordinator and will be communicating with the winners and sponsors. For the first 12 weekly lessons, we have five or six prizes to give-away each week.
To enter the weekly give-aways: Each Saturday, there will be a blog post available on the Quilting Gallery site, where you will upload your completed photo for that week’s lesson. Check the main QAL page for the link. You’ll have until the following Friday evening to enter. Amy will be choosing the week’s winners on Saturday morning. For those that have completed Lesson 1, submit your photos here.
Please note: Even if you share photos on other social media sites or your own blog, to be eligible to win one of the give-aways, you still need to upload the photo on this site.
Let’s get started…
Quilting Accuracy: More on Fabric Ease
For this week’s lesson, I wanted to touch a little more on fabric ease. As I mentioned in the earlier Improving Quilting Accuracy blog post, easing is taking advantage of your sewing machine’s feed dogs to ease, or blend, two pieces of fabric so that they are the same length when sewn. You do this by placing the fabric that is longer on the bottom and using a tonne of pins to attach the fabric on the top.
When attaching the sashing strips for our units, I prefer to sew with the sashing strip on top. I have more confidence that my sashing strip has been cut more accurate than the fabric block I’ve stitched together. Your experience may not be the same, so adjust if needed.
To attach the sashing strip, or as we move along to other lessons, other units together, the first thing I do is fold the unit in half to find the exact centre, finger press a crease at the edge or drawn a line so it’s easy to see. I’ll do the same with the sashing strip, i.e. find the true centre by folding in half.
Then, I’ll add a pins at the centre and both sides, making sure to align the sashing and block unit at the sides so that it is square.
Then, I’ll add pins half-way between the centre and sides, essentially quartering the unit. If it’s a really long piece, or one that needs a lot of help easing together, I might fold the sides to the centre and mark the exact quarter of both the block and sashing piece.
Finally, I’ll continue to add as many pins as are needed before stitching the unit together.
Lesson 2 – Unit A4
Unlike last week’s typical nine-patch unit, this week’s block is more of a cross between a nine-patch and a four-patch block. While it does have three sub-units across and down, like a nine-patch, they are not equal in size. The larger sub-units in this block finish at 6″ and the smaller units finish at 3″. The unfinished block is 15.5″ square or 15″ once completely sewn into the quilt top.
When choosing fabrics for this block, there should be good contrast between the three fabrics, especially between the P1 squares and the two HSTs formed by the P2 and P3 fabrics so that the P1 blocks stand out.
Cut your fabrics using the following cutting instructions.
With the P2 and P3 squares, create (4) 6.5″ half-square triangle (HST) units. Draw a diagonal line from corner to corner, or draw your stitching lines at 1/4″. Stitch on the lines or 1/4″ away, depending on your preferred method. Set your seams, cut your triangles apart and press the units. Trim the HST units to 6.5″ squared.
Need help? See a more detailed Half-Square Triangle Tutorial for step-by-step instructions. Just be sure to use the measurements presented in this tutorial instead. The triangle units are over-sized and will need to be trimmed accurately to the size indicated above (6.5″ square).
Layout your (9) 3.5″ squares in the correct order (P1 and contrast). Sew the top two squares and the bottom two squares together. Then stitch the five squares that form the centre row together. Once stitched, the five squares should measure 15.5″ W x 3.5″ H, while the two square pairs should measure 3.5″ W x 6.5″ H.
Layout the rest of your block following the diagram. Don’t do what I did and sew the entire block incorrectly. *sigh* Press your rows either open or to the side to reduce bulk where possible. It’s a good idea to double-check that your top and bottom rows are 15.5″ W x 6.5″ H before stitching to the middle row. Sew your rows to complete the block and press.
These are large blocks so be sure to align the side edges of the unit you are adding, in addition to the edge you are sewing. In the photo below, I pinned the bottom two corners of the seam to be sewn, then I made sure that the edge of the block on the left/right sides was also aligned and added an extra pin on both sides to keep it from shifting. I then added the rest of the pins needed to the edge I would be sewing. (Photo shows front and back of two different units.)
I follow a similar idea when sewing the rows together, however, I first align any intersecting seams and put pins on both sides of the seam.
Then, I’ll pin the two corners of the edge to be sewn, align the left/right edges not being sewn and pin. Once all of those pins are in place, I’ll lay the block on the table and add as many pins to the edge to be sewn as needed, being sure to match the raw edges as best as I can without pulling the fabric or pulling out the previously-placed pins.
One final tip that applies to all piecing, not just larger units, when guiding your fabric through your machine, use your left hand to make sure that the fabric remains snug against your seam guide well past the needle. The feed dogs have a tendency to shift the fabric as its being moved through the machine. I often where my Machingers free motion quilting gloves on my left hand while piecing too as they provide some additional grip when guiding the fabric.
Once sewn, your block should measure 15.5″ square. Once the block is complete, I like to give it a light spray with Best Press and a final press with a hot iron.
Following the easing instructions given in today’s lesson above, attach the 15.5″ x 1.5″ sashing strip to the left edge of your block. Press. This unit now measures 16.5″ W x 15.5″ H.
Attach the 16.5″ x 1.5″ sashing strip to the bottom of the unit. Make sure that the sashing from above is on the left side of your block. Press.
Completed Unit A4 = 16.5″ W x 16.5″ H
Be sure to check the blog on Saturday to share your photos and enter the give-aways.
Download Free Tutorial
You can download the tutorial for Unit A4 for free by clicking the Add to Cart button below (preferred) and following the instructions on the next page, or you can download it from my designer library at Craftsy.
Disclaimer: This quilt design, tutorial and all photos are copyright Michele Foster of Mishka’s Playground. Please respect my copyright and do not copy this tutorial or republish it, for free or for sale, in print or online. You may use this tutorial to create quilts for your own personal use for free or for sale. However, please credit Michele Foster of Mishka’s Playground for the design. No mass production is allowed.