Welcome everyone to Lesson 5 for the Aiming for Accuracy Quilt-Along (A4AQAL). If you’re new here, check out the main QAL page where you’ll find all the information so that you can join us on this QAL adventure.
We have weekly prizes that everyone can enter. 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. For those that have completed Lesson 4, submit your photos here before midnight on Friday (tomorrow) (EDT).
Quilting Accuracy Lesson
For this week’s Quilting Accuracy lesson, I wanted to touch on a couple of things that I hear mentioned in the Facebook Group.
Trimming and/or Squaring Up Blocks
I am a strong believer of NOT trimming or squaring up pieced blocks. Trimming your blocks, especially this design with lots of HST, QST and SQST units, means that you’re taking away some of the seam allowance needed to attach those triangle units to the sashing and still maintain the integrity of the triangle points.
If you’ve cut your blocks accurately, sewn with an accurate 1/4″ seam allowance, pressed correctly without stretching, measured as you go, and aligned all seam intersections and all edges of your block/unit as you attach them together, you shouldn’t need to trim anything or square up your blocks.
Remember, fabric is flexible, it stretches and two pieces can be eased together by taking advantage of your sewing machine’s built in ability to ease fabrics together so that they are the correct length. Anything that’s less than 1/4″ off, can be hidden in the next seam allowance too.
Now before I have several people scream at me, yes there are some blocks that need to be squared up at the end, such as appliqué, paper pieced and other blocks deliberately sewn oversized, which are then trimmed to the cut size and pieced together.
Measuring Large Units
A question came up on Facebook Group last week, on how to measure your blocks/units or sashing strips if your ruler is too small. Well, it depends on what tools you have at your disposal.
While I don’t recommend using your cutting mat to accurately cut your fabric squares/strips, it can be used to quickly measure if a unit is the correct size. Remember, we can ease the pieces together once they are joined to the next unit. As long as it’s within that 1/8″ or a bit more over/under measurement, it’ll be fine. You could also use a tape measure too, and you probably will need to use one when measuring the borders.
Now a word of caution, tape measures can stretch, so before you rely on it to be “good enough” as a measuring tool, check it against your favourite quilting ruler. Same with your cutting mat, they can warp and become distorted over time. I have a fairly new one, and I tested it against my ruler, and it seemed to me to be great, except for the starting line, which is a little thicker than the others, so I have to adjust for that.
Another reliable way to check if your block is correct, is to measure the inside finished units. For the blocks we’ve done so far, I’ve given you the grid size and the block’s finished size. For example, today’s A2 block is based on a 4×4 grid and finishes at 12″. Therefore, if you take the 12 (finished size) and divide by 4 (grid size), the individual unit size is 3″. Two of them sewn together will be 6″.
Remember, we’re ONLY measuring finished units in this example, i.e. units that have all four seams already sewn. Don’t go trimming off our 1/4″ seam allowances on the outside edges of blocks not yet sewn. :)
Again, while we are aiming for accuracy and the puzzle design does require a certain amount of accuracy for it all to fit together, please don’t stress over a tiny bit of difference.
Lesson 5 – Units A1 and A2
For this week’s lesson, you’ll be creating two blocks and joining them together to form Unit A1/A2. Before you get started, I strongly recommend that you read through all of the instructions at least once, then start back at the top and follow each step. There are no new block types this week, as we’ve made all of these block units in previous lessons.
Here are my fabrics for both Units A1 and A2:
However, once I had completed the combined unit A1/A2 and put it on my design wall, I was unhappy with my fabric selections for Unit A1. I removed just the QST paired block from the combined A1/A2 unit, and re-stitched it. Some photos below still show the old fabrics as they were the photos taken while preparing for the tutorial. Here’s what the old Unit A1 looked like (top left corner):
One final point, now that the large quilt blocks are done for our quilt, when you are choosing fabrics for the remaining blocks, it’s a good idea to look at your overall quilt blocks/design and choose fabrics needed in certain areas to tie the entire quilt top together. In other words, have you used a large amount of red in the lower half of the quilt top, but none in the upper section? If so, you may want to add some red fabric to the top part of the quilt top as you stitch this week’s lesson.
Unit A1 is made up of two QST units and a left-side sashing strip.
Cut your fabrics using the following cutting instructions.
The two fabrics should contrast well with each other and look good with the A2 unit beside it. Please note that I redid this block, and some of the photos shown in the tutorial for it are from two different colourways.
With the two large 7.5″ squares, follow the QST Tutorial to create two (2) QST blocks. Draw a diagonal line, stitch on both sides to create two (2) HSTs, cut in half and press. If pressing the seams to one side, press to the same fabric for both HSTs.
Layer the HST units again, with opposite fabrics on each side, draw a diagonal line in the opposite direction of the current seam, stitch, press, cut apart. Trim the QST units to 6.5″ square.
Attach the two QST units following the block diagram, making sure to line up the triangle corners as best you can. I wasn’t happy with my first try, shown in the photo on the right, and took out a small section of the seam to get it a little closer.
Attach the 1.5″ x 12.5″ sashing strip to the right side of your QST pair. Don’t forget to fold the sashing strip in half, and pin the centre mark with your QST’s centre seam, being careful not to chop off your triangle points.
Completed Unit A1 = 7.5″ W x 12.5″ H
This block is made up entirely of HST units. It is based on a 4×4 grid and could easily be made larger or smaller in increments divisible by four. As you did for last week’s block in Lesson 4 that had five different fabrics, you’ll want to spend some extra time choosing the four fabrics for this block, so that the design is maintained.
Fabrics P1, P2 and P4 should have good contrast between each other, as well as P2 and P3. It’s a good idea to write down which fabric you’ve chosen to represent the numbers in the diagram.
Cut your fabrics using the following cutting instructions.
With the two (2) P3 and contrast squares, create four (4) HST units. With the two (2) P4 and two (2) of the P1 fabrics, create four (4) HST units. With the remaining four (4) P1 fabrics and the four (4) P2 fabrics, create eight (8) HST units. Refer to the HST tutorial if needed.
Trim all of these HST units to 3.5″ square. At the end, you should have 16 HST units of various fabrics.
Layout your HST units following the block diagram, being careful not to get the units mixed up.
Stitch your units into four rows.
Then stitch the four rows together to complete the block. This block should measure 12.5″ square.
To complete Unit A2, attach the 1.5″ x 12.5″ sashing strip to the right side of your A2 block. Don’t forget to fold the sashing strip in half, and pin the centre mark with your block’s centre seam, being careful not to chop off any of the triangle points. See the tips in Lesson 4.
Completed Unit A2 = 13.5″ W x 12.5″ H
Combined Unit A1/A2
Attach Units A1 and A2 together to complete this week’s lesson. Since both the A1 and A2 blocks have centre seams, these seams should line up on both sides of the sashing strip that separates them.
To achieve this, I turn the block over, line up my ruler with the seam allowance of my block, and draw a line in the seam allowance of the sashing strip, such as shown in the photo below. Really, all I’m doing is extended the seam from the block into the sashing. This gives me a reference point that I can use when attaching the block on the other side of the sashing. (Please note this photo is for illustration purposes, your block A1 and A2 units will be different.)
I then stick a pin directly in the seam allowance of the block I’m attaching through to the sashing and pin on both sides of that seam so it doesn’t shift. If it’s a triangle point, I’ll match that too and draw a dot on the sashing so I know where to stitch exactly to hit the top of the point(s). I’ll then pin the rest of the sashing as normal.
Completed Combined Unit A1/A2 = 20.5″ W x 12.5″ H
My first five lessons complete:
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 Lesson 5 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.