Saturday, March 26, 2011

Constructing a Wedding Ring Block

Welcome to the 100th post of No Rules Quilting! **********************************
Because I'm a little crazy, I have embarked on making a "wedding ring" quilt for Craig and Rhonwyn. My EQ7 program has a number of wedding ring blocks to choose from. It does a great job of providing the templates in any desired size, but does not provide sewing instructions (and to be fair, I haven't made a big effort to find instructions elsewhere). I've made a few of the blocks now - and have developed a method that I think works best, which I am documenting here: Sew? How do we get from this.... To this? A finished Wedding Ring block. Start with the inside rings and the "ovals".Mark the center of the two pieces. I used pins, but do whatever works for you, although I don't recommend clipping - 1/4" seam allowance to too shallow for clipping. Pin the two centres together for each of the four quadrants. Stitch - you can chain them together.
Tips for sewing curves:

  • The bigger the curve radius, the easier it is to sew.

  • Sew S L O W L Y.

  • Use a relatively short stitch length - the tighter the curve, the shorter the stitch. I used my machine's default stitch length for my block, but you may wish to use a shorter stitch.

  • Stop frequently (needle down) to realign the edges and the sewing direction if necessary. By this I mean, raise the presser foot to ensure no bunching and that the seam is tracking smoothly around the curve. Depending on the curve, this may be only a few stitches between stops.

  • NO CLIPPING. I know some suggest this, but I do not. It weakens your seam and can make it look disjointed. Follow the go slow/short stitch advice above and you will be fine.

  • Similarly, I do not pin other than the center and at critical points - pinning is a time waster and can cause a disjointed appearance on curves. Use your fingers as you go to ease the edges together.
Press the seams toward the light fabric. You should now have four bigger "oval" pieces, as per below. Next up - the outside rings and the little square ends. Stitch the end sections to the ring sections. Press the ends toward the ring section. Now pin the outside ring/end section to the corresponding "oval" sections. Again, mark the centers and pin centres together. For this step, I also pin the seam join. As it is on a curve, I want to be sure the easing is equally distributed. Stitch the outside rings to the "oval" sections - again, the four quadrants can be chained together. Press two opposite quadrants toward what will be the centre of the block, the remaining two quadrants toward what will be the outside of the block -as per below. Now there is an even larger set of four "oval" sections (above). Next step is to stitch in the centre piece. A note about this - I've chosen to do this as one large block. The big block can also be made by joining four smaller blocks, in which case, this centre piece would be four "corners". To eliminate seam bulk, I combined the four corners into one large piece. Anyway - use the same method as above - mark the centre, pin at the centre. Stitch opposite sides. Then press toward what will be the centre of the block.

The shot below is to show that the centre "ends" start a seam allowance (1/4") past the seam joining the outside to the inside ring section.

Below is a closer shot of the pressing direction - not sure if it shows up any better here.

Use the same process to stitch the remaining opposite "oval" sections to the centre piece. This time press toward the outside of the block. One note: the "ends" of the centre piece are "raw" as per the photo two above. Be certain to stitch such that the end is tucked inside the seam. It may be necessary to deviate slightly wider from the 1/4" seam allowance at that spot.

Below is what the block should look like at this stage - it's almost done!

Above is a close up of the pressing direction for the last opposite "oval" attachments.

All that's left are the corner pieces. Using the same method: mark centre, pin centres, stitch - and again the "ends" start a seam allowance past the ring section into the "end" section.

All corners are pressed such that the seam allowance goes toward the outside of the block.

Below is the full block from the back - if you click on it to see it much larger, I hope the pressing directions can be seen. I found this the best compromise for minimizing seam bulk where all the little "ends" come together and for "locking" the pieces together for ease of stitching. You may find a better way - if you do, please let me know!

And of course, here is the finished block from the front!

And with it's increasing number of friends!

Monday, March 21, 2011

March Divas Day

Gourmet Diva Sue was at it again! For this alone, we love our Divas Days. Above, tomato basil soup.
Maple pudding and really yummy chocolate cup cakes complete with Bailey's icing.

Some other yummy stuff.

Yam salad.

Sew... on to the quilts!
Diva Joan has been extremely busy these days. She put together a number of kids quilts as follows:

"Bug Jars" - I think there are other things in those jars, but for some reason, bugs seems to have stuck as the name.

This one is "Fishy" - front above, back below.
"Caterpillars" - below.

Joan with Megan.

Here are a couple of "Eye Spy" quilts - also by Joan.
Front above, back below.Here are a couple more.

A word about Joan's quilts. You may recall that we made some quilts for Ronald McDonald House last year. As a fall-out from that, we inherited a LOT of fabric from a RMcD client family that has a relative who used to be an avid quilter, but is unable to quilt due to dementia. The family donated her fabric to us, so we will be using this for making quilts for various charities. We finished some quilts that were already started to be given back to the family, and we donated one of our quilts to the Alzheimer's Society on behalf of "Shirley," the woman whose fabric it is. The kids quilts above will go back to Ronald McDonald House.
I came home from our day and put together the first of many "wedding ring" blocks for a quilt I will be making for my son, Craig, and his fiance, Rhonwyn. They are getting married on May 10. I'm going to try to get it finished, but have a hard deadline of July 4 when they will be leaving Canada for Australia, where Rhonwyn is from (Hobart).
R wanted Asian themed fabric on a black background. Asian because their plan is to get work in China. She lived there for a couple of years before attending university (where they met), learned Mandarin, took it as a minor so can now read and write it.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Hey! It's the Zoo Times Two!

At long last - delivered the last of the kids quilts - "Day at the Zoo" and "Day at the Zoo, Too". Here we have baby Brett (he's about 10 months old), Mom Andrea, Jolene (who is three) and Dad Wayne. These kids are adorable. I think this is a theme - the little tykes we know are adorable! We spent a great evening visiting - Andrea even made ice cream!

Friday, March 11, 2011

"Easy" Four-Patch

This probably falls into the category of "I'm always the last to know." You've probably seen this years ago, but I just learned this neat way to make basic four patch squares this week.....
As an example: I want to make a 6 inch square made of 4 four-patch squares. So I need 4 four-patch squares that are 3 inches finished size. Each of the small squares would be 1.5 inches square or 2 inches with seam allowances. This method makes two four-patch squares each time. For 4 four-patches, cut four 4 inch squares - two each of two colours (or different colours as desired) - the square size is twice the unfinished size of the small square (2 *2 = 4). I need four squares, so two sets of 4 inch squares (above).
In an effort to be less convoluted - cut one 4 inch square of one colour, one 4 inch square of a second colour. You will end up with two 3.5 inch squares. If you double that, there will be enough for a six inch square.
Right sides together, one of each colour (below).
Stitch two opposite sides of each set of squares (below).
Cut down the centre, parallel to stitching (below).
We end up with four new not-quite squares as per above - press them out. Line up right sides together, opposite colours together, as per below.
As per above, again stitch opposite sides - where you "cross the seams." Then slice parallel to that stitching, down the centre, as per below.
Press them out. Here are the 4 four-patches. Then I assembled for my 6 inch block, as below.