Sewcial Bee Sampler Block #5

Can you believe week #5 puts us a fifth of the way through the Sewcial Bee Sampler sew along!?!? Time flies when you're having fun.

Don't worry if you're just joining us, it's never too late to start sewing along. You may want to start at the beginning SBS post and work your way to the present. That way you won't miss any of my tips and tutorials for piecing the block and perfecting your patchwork skills. 

My co-host Maureen Cracknell and I cannot get over how different the same block can look with all the variations of fabrics and placement. You guys are amazing! Keep on posting and using the hashtag #SewcialBeeSampler so we can see all the makes (on your public account) and of course using the hashtag will also keep your name in the hashtag pool for the weekly giveaway drawings. Don't forget to head over to Maureen's blog to see the blocks she's working on with her AGF fabric lines she's designed!

Download the free PDF pattern for the July Fourth block on my Sew Along page

July Fourth Block

Be sure to cut all pieces accurately and square. Use a true 1/4" seam allowance when piecing your patchwork. For a cutting and sewing review, see my Perfect Patchwork post

No-Waste Flying Geese Units

This week we introduce a new technique. There's several ways to make Flying Geese units and during the course of the SBS sew along we will work with two different piecing techniques. Block #5 uses the no-waste method to make 4 Flying Geese from the most economical cuts of fabric. 

1. Draw a diagonal line on the wrong side of (4) A squares (see block instructions for sizes). Noting placement and orientation, place 2 marked A squares on the diagonal corners of the B square as shown. Note that the small squares should overlap in the center. Pin pieces in place, if desired, however do not sew over the pins. Instead, sew up to the pin, stop with the needle in the down position, remove the pin, then continue sewing. 

Tip: If you're uncertain about your seam allowance being a true 1/4" then draw seam lines on either side of the center diagonal seam. Use a fine tip fabric marking tool as thick marked lines can cause you to sew too wide of a seam. Test marks on scrap material before using, some marking tools will become permanent once exposed to the heat of an iron. Read the manufacturer's instructions before using. 

2. Sew a 1/4" seam on each side of the center drawn line. Press. Cut apart on the line. Press seams open. Note: The pressing instructions in this post are the way I pressed my block and totally optional if you press your seams open or the the side. I like to use a mix of the two types of pressing in my patchwork. Trim dog ears. This makes 2 Flying Geese sections.

3. Noting orientation of the drawn line, place a marked A square right side together on the fabric B side of the Flying Geese section as shown. Sew a 1/4" seam on each side of the drawn line. Tip: When sewing on either side of the drawn line, the sewing machine needle should enter where the "V" or valley created by the square placed on top of the Flying Geese section. See tip of the awl in the close-up photos below.

4. Press flat then cut apart on the centerline to make 2 Flying Geese units. Press seams open and trim dog ears. Repeat Step 3 with the remaining Flying Geese section and remaining marked A square for a total of 4 Flying Geese units. The Flying Geese units should measure 2-1/2" x 4-1/2". 

5. Refer to the step-by-step Half-Square Triangles tutorial from the Block #2 post for making the HSTs for this block. Press HST seams open and trim dog ears. HST units should meause 2-1/2" square.

I've divided block #5 into quarters rather than sewing the pieces and unit into rows. Arrange one Flying Geese unit, one HST unit and one 2-1/2" square as shown to make a quarter section. 

6. Sew the HST unit to the 2-1/2" square. Press seams toward the square. Sew the HST/square section to the Flying Geese unit. Press seams toward the Flying Geese unit. In the same manner, make a total of 4 identical quarter sections. Tip: By pressing the seams as I've done the seams will nest and lock when piecing the block in Step 7.

7. Referring to the Block Assembly Diagram on the instruction PDF and noting placement and orientation, sew the quarter block sections into 2 rows of 2 sections each. Tip: Nest and lock the seams of the sections and place a pin diagonally across the two seams when sewing. You can sew right up to the pin, stopping with the needle in the down position, remove the pin and continue sewing. Note: To achieve a sharp point on triangles, have seam lines intersect when crossing, landing exactly on the 1/4" marks.

Press seams on rows to one side for nesting. Join rows then press the row seam open.

8. Your patchwork block should measure 8-1/2" square. Add the frames. It's okay if you're still unsure about what material to use for the frame, after all, we are just five blocks in. Just remember that the blocks are different sizes and the frame sizes will also vary accordingly. The blocks should measure 12-1/2" square once framed (if applicable) and before being set into the sashing and quilt top. 

I've started two sampler quilts because it's just too much fun playing with all the possible fabric combos and placements. The materials used in this tutorial block are part of my newest fabric collection for Art Gallery Fabrics called Bountiful. I'd picked up this sweet pot of jonquils over the weekend and this July Fourth block made me think of looking at the petals of these happy yellow spring flowers. 

The second SBS sampler quilt is being made from a curated selection of fabrics from my first four Art Gallery Fabrics collections: Gossamer, Sketchbook, Coastline, and Tapestry with the addition of two newly recolored prints for the new AGF Fusions lines. You can see my fabric lines and find your favorite online shopping source for my prints on the new Shop Fabrics page on this blog. Here I've organized links to shops by collection. If you're a shop owner or have a favorite fabric shop that carries my prints, drop me a line if you don't see their name on my lists. 

Also, don't forget that Friday is Giveaway Friday and this week I will be hosting the giveaway on this blog. We've got a great giveaway planned from Dritz I know you'll not want to miss! In fact, you saw just a few of the goodies we'll be giving away already in the tools I was using in today's tutorials.  

Aurifil      Circa 15      The Intrepid Thread      Fat Quarter Shop      Omnigrid      Llama Fabrics      Color Girl     Lady Belle Fabric      Needle in a Fabric Stash      Dritz      Knotted Thread    NeedleandFoot      Stash Builder Box

Sewing Tips

Just a quick hello! Today I'd like to share a few easy sewing tips and fun (and cheap) sewing hacks. 

1. Be Organized 

Since I cut out my patchwork piece on our dining room table and transport them upstairs to sew, I've found having inexpensive trays to organize the cut pieces not only makes moving them easier, it keeps everything in one place while I'm sewing as well. Here, I have two trays to separate the light and dark pieces. I've also started making swatch cards for my quilts. This particular quilt will use 17 different fabrics from different fabric companies as well as from my stash of vintage fabrics and a simple card stock sheet with 2'' squares printed (or drawn) on it gives me a place to glue scrap swatches as I'm cutting out for the quilt. I could even punch holes in the card stock and place into a binder along with any other information about this quilt.

2.  Needle and Thread

Be sure to use the right sewing machine needle for the job and change that needle often! Manufacturer's recommend changing your sewing machine needle after every 4 hours of sewing. Now, I must confess, I don't change my needle that faithfully, but I do so after every two projects. You will save wear and tear on your expensive sewing machine and a fresh needle is also kinder to the fabrics.

Be sure to use quality thread when sewing. Good thread not only has less lint that gunks up your sewing machine but seams will also stand up to use and your quilts and other projects will hold up longer over time. 

3. Diagonal Pinning

I've done A LOT of sewing and over the years I've discovered that pinning your patchwork seams on the diagonal works the best for holding the pieces in place and achieving perfect piecing.

Place pins diagonally across butted and nested seams, catching the seam allowances on each side. Pinning from right (where pin enters) to left (where pin exits) allows you to sew very close to the pin, catching the leading seam allowance before removing the pin and continuing to sew. This also works for pressed open seams. I'm right handed, so pinning in this manner is very natural for me. Any lefties out there will have to let me know how this works for them. 

4. Sewing at Large

Speaking of sewing a lot, I've recently advanced to a large Aurifil cone because I use a ton of thread. My machine does not have a way to attach a cone so it's kept me from using these large spools--till now! 

I had a plastic CD container I was about to toss in the recycle bin until I saw some potential in the base. I actually saved the top too because it would make a great table top thread catching bin. Anyway, the base is wide, has a center spindle and is perfect to hold a cone of thread for use with a domestic sewing machine--yay!!! 

5. Office Supplies

Back-to-school means school supplies are everywhere right now. I don't have any kids in school any more but each year I can't help but look at all the fun notebooks, pencils, and fun items with fond memories of buying supplies with my kids. I seem to pick up at least one item each year just out of habit. This year, I found this neat plastic pencil case at Office Depot for $1.00. It has a clear, sliding tray that snaps to the outer sleeve. The case is the perfect size to hold a rotary cutter and possibly some other small sewing tools. Having a container like this to store your rotary cutter is nice when traveling or just to keep out of harms way around your work space. 

I also use office supply binder clips for holding my binding. Washi tape is great to have handy for taping blocks to a wall for a quick design wall anywhere. 

What are some of your favorite sewing tips and/or sewing hacks? Let me know by leaving a comment on this post. I'd love to feature your tip/hack in a future blog post. xxxx