Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Thangles {Shoo fly} : a tutorial

I think everybody has their favorite HST making method. My favorite is to sandwich two squares, sew the diagonal twice, then cut apart. Thangles are kind of like that, but you don't cut the squares. (I'm not a Thangles seller or anything - just a new thing I wanted to share)

Last October my local quilt shop started up "Buck a Block". You signed up and chose a color scheme: modern-red/white-batik : plus purchased a package of Thangles papers. Then each month you go in and for $1 you get a package of two WOF strips and a pattern for a half square triangle style block.

Interested in trying out something new, I signed up and chose modern. After a few months I realized that perhaps they weren't really modern quilters, and bought the block but didn't assemble any. Each individual fabric was nice, but the pairs were horrible in the context of two-patterned HST blocks.

So I decided to pair each with Kona charcoal instead and send them out to my bee buddies, and hopefully they will enjoy learning a new technique!

So here's how it goes. How to make a shoo fly block with Thangles....

I sent everybody two pieces of Thangles 2.25 paper, a 2.75x18" solid strip, and a 2.75xWOF print strip.
To use Thangles, you cut your strips 1/2" wider than your finished square size - that finished size is printed on each paper.

From the WOF print strip, cut and square off a tiny bit of the folded end, then make four 2.75" square cuts - you get eight total squares since you're cutting the doubled fabric.

Cut two single 2.75" squares from the solid fabric.

On your cutting mat, place the solid fabric, then one strip of the print fabric right-side-down on top. Line up the long edges nicely.

Close to one end, place a Thangles paper on top of your strips. Line up the edges nicely, again.

Without moving your little stack, carefully pin it all together in each triangle section. Run pins parallel and to the side of the dashed stitching lines.

They say that making your stack and pinning in place on your met will make it easy to have everything nicely lined up.

The Thangles are made on paper that is supposed to be easy-tear and they say you do not need to shorten stitch length. But I did a bit, just to make the removal process even easier.

Sew right on top of each dashed line.

Now, you need to cut them apart. See that solid line - when you get close it's actually a double line. This cut actually makes the outside edges the correct finished size, so the cut needs to be accurate.

Aim for the white down the center of the double line.

The diagonal lines are in the seam allowance, so they aren't that critical. Just cut.

One strip of paper gives you four triangles at this point.

The way the shapes sit, one of the dog ears is already gone. The remaining point can easily be trimmed perpendicular to the long edge, at the end of the stitches.

Time to iron!
Thangles say they are printed with heat proof ink, so you can press right on the printing without making a mess. So just set the stitches first.

{When I started quilting, I saw this set-the-stitch press thing and thought it was a silly time waster. But I found that it really does help with seam-size accuracy}

You press the block open with the paper still attached to help avoid seam distortion. Usually an open-seam gal, but the side press is easiest here.

Lay the blocks solid-side up, open up and press the solid flat.

Four nice, square 2.25" blocks from one Thangles strip.

Carefully pinch the end, so your stiches don't pull out, and just rip off the papers.

Make eight blocks, using both pieces of Thangles paper.

Almost done!

Lay out your HSTs and the squares we cut at the beginning in a nine patch-shoo fly shape.

Sew them up! Twice.....

Two Shoo fly blocks!

It's not as complicated as the million steps seem.

My thoughts on Thangles: The paper pinning and tearing add a few steps. I think it may be a bit more fiddly than making the HSTs my normal way.

BUT, the finished HST block is much more consistantly square (without having to trim square them up) than any other methods I've tried so far. Less stretching when sewing along the bias and elimnation of variation that happens when original patches aren't cut totally square.

Thangles are made for finished block sizes of .5" to 6" in steps of a quarter or half inch. I'm not sure I would use them for large sizes, as I just square them up easily. But if you're making a bunch of small HST blocks, they might make your final creation easier to assemble with nicely square pieces!

I can't wait to get the shoo fly blocks back from my bee partners - I will be interested to see just how precise the Thangles generated blocks end up.


Terriaw said...

Great tutorial! I have some Thangles, so I can't wait to try this block for our quilting bee!

Leslie said...

it is great to see someone use these. i am sure they are not hard but i have a package that has been sitting around collecting lint in my sewing closet....

Rene' said...

I, too, have a package of Thangles that have never been, where did I put those? ;-) Thanks for the tute.

gale said...

I love thangles!! They are super easy and if you chain piece, they're super fast too.

Dee said...

you have just inspired me to try the pack of thangles someone gifted to me! thanks!

jacquie said...

what is the finished size of the block?