Welcome back, Quiltketeers! Last week we were slicin' and dicin' so this week we are ready to hit the pedal to the metal, of our sewing machine that is 🙂 Ready to make all of the pretty blocks? This is when our quilt really starts to take shape.
New Horizons Sew Along Schedule
- Week 1, June 30 - Sponsor Fabric Stork: Pick fabric and gather supplies
- Week 2, July 7 - Sponsor Global Fiber Textiles and Notions: Cut fabric
- Week 3, July 14 - Sponsor Saltwater Fabrics: Make HST and stitch-and-flip blocks
- Week 4, July 21 - Sponsor Trace Creek Quilting: Assemble blocks
- Week 5, July 28 - Sponsor Lamb & Loom Fabrics: Assemble rows
- Week 6, August 4 - Sponsor Sewing Arts Center + custom longarm quilting for a throw New Horizons quilt from Evanston Quilt Company: Sew rows together and trim the finished quilt top
Don't forget that the only way to enter to win a prize from our weekly sponsor is to use #NewHorizonsQuiltSA on Instagram AND have a public profile. If you only have a private profile, you can create a public one just for this sew along and then delete it afterwards.
Week 3: Make Blocks
Are you ready to fire up that sewing machine? This week we do a little more cutting as well as some sewing. All of my tips are specific to making the throw quilt. If you are making another size, double check the amounts in the pattern. Let's dive in!
Tip #1: Make the strongest seams possible.
Last week we made sure to use a sharp blade on our rotary cutter so that we could cut multiple layers of fabric quickly and accurately. This week we sew, which means it's important to make the strongest seams possible so that your quilts last a long time!
Here are 3 things that will help you get strong seams:
- Set your stitch length to 2.5. This one isn't complicated, just make sure your stitch length isn't much longer than 2.5 or your seams will get stretchy. Stretchy seams = loose seams = torn seams = don't DO IT!
- Use quality thread. I know it's tempting to fish out the old wooden spool of thread handed down to you from great-granny's sewing basket, but don't. Treat yourself to some thread that was made in the last 10 years. Just like a builder wouldn't use old mortar to lay bricks, don't use old thread. (On the topic of thread, you may like The Difference Between Cotton and Poly Thread: A Hard-Hitting Interview and The Best Quality Sewing Thread.)
- Press well. If you're into quilting vernacular let me tell you the difference between ironing and pressing. When you pull fabric out of the dryer and run a hot steamy iron back and forth over its surface you are ironing. When you press a seam open, first open up the seam with you fingers then lay the hot iron on top of the seam. If you're very bold you can gently nudge the seam open with the nose of your iron but ONLY if you do it gently. Pressing seams is a NO STRETCH ZONE.
Check out this post for a full pressing tutorial - How to Press Seams in a Quilt (with Video Tutorial!)
The main takeaway is not to make stretchy seams – not with a long stitch length or crummy thread or an aggressive hot steamy iron.
I use some extra supplies in this pressing tutorial, however you don't need any of these unless you like collecting sewing gadgets and notions. I do, however, highly recommend getting a tailor's clapper.
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Tip #2: Chain piece everything.
Especially when making the block parts and then later when assembling the blocks, if you are able to batch sew and chain piece, do it. It will save you time, thread and make the edges of your blocks stronger because they are closed from chain stitching rather than open from starting a new seam.
Tip #3: Don't forget to flip your strips when slicing triangles.
I mention this in the pattern, but even with that I still managed to mess this up while slicing my strips into triangles. Ooops! Good thing there's extra fabric left over in the FQs! Now someone hand me another cup of coffee.
If making the multi-colored version, it's important to lay out your strips like I do below so that the strips vary in location in the HSTs.
In this next picture I rotated all of my strips 180-degrees then cut my triangles by lining up the edge of my last cut with the guidemarks on my ruler.
Tip #4: Pair your triangles and pin.
The seam that you will be sewing is on the bias so you should pin and then sew a little slower than usual. I also like to raise the pressure on my presser foot so there's less drag on the fabric.
Tip #5: Pick your favorite way to trim the HSTs.
I typically opt for trimming my HSTs by using this Clearly Perfect Slotted Trimmer. However, one thing I noticed was that since my background fabric is a slightly stretchier woven, it was getting distorted after pressing my blocks open.
That discovery had me pivoting to my second favorite way of trimming HSTs – a rotating cutting mat and a square ruler the same size as the unfinished block. In this case that's 6 1/2". Luckily I already had one on hand from making the Kris Kross quilt pattern.
2 Ways to Trim HSTs:
- Trim before you press the blocks open. The easiest way is with the Clearly Perfect Slotted Trimmer. Here's a blog post with a video tutorial on using that.
- Trim after you press the blocks open. I like to use a rotating cutting mat with this technique so I don't have to cut at weird angles or move my block and ruler. Check out this blog post for a tutorial on that.
If you do not have a 6 1/2" square ruler, you can still trim your blocks easily. See below.
Tip #6: Avoid drawing guide marks by using tape.
Fig. 10b on page 8 mentions this, but in case you needed more of a visual on where to put the tape, see the pics below.
Line up this edge of the tape with your sewing machine needle, not the edge of your presser foot. I'm using this snazzy tape with seam allowance guides, but you don't need anything fancy. Masking tape or washi tape works just as well.
Tip #7: Make some extra HSTs!
This is completely optional, but if you want to have some finished HSTs after trimming your stitch-and-flip blocks, sew a second seam 1/2" away from your first seam. Trim right down the middle between the two seams and presto!
You have two adorable HSTs. Pillow party anyone?
Finish a Pillow 3 Different Ways!
Week 3 Sponsor & Prize
This week's prize is a $100 gift card to Saltwater Fabrics! Wahoo! Currently they are having a summer sale, so even if you don't win the prize, you can still grab some beautiful fabric at a great price.
How to Win
- Post a pic to Instagram. The photo prompt for Instagram this week is to post a picture of your cutting or sewing progress. Use #NewHorizonsQuiltSA in the caption.
- You must have a public Instagram profile to participate.
- Each photo posted is an entry and you can enter as many times as you want in a single week. Once the week is over, those posts do not count in the next week's giveaway. Every week we start fresh.
- Your photo must be posted between NOW and 1:00 p.m. CST on Tuesday, July 20. The winner will be picked randomly from all qualifying posts and announced at approximately 4:00 p.m. CST on Wednesday, July 21.
- This prize is open to internationally.