Thursday, November 25, 2010

Ringed Double Circle Block : tutorial

 We're still recovering a bit, so Thanksgiving has been postponed until tomorrow.  That gives me a bit of time to post my circle block tutorial.

When I received the drawing of this block to make for a swap, I had no idea how I was going to make it.  Nor had I even pieced a curved seam before.  So it was quite the challenge - but fun.  To make sure I remembered how to do it later, I photographed all my steps.  So glad I did, as it worked wonderfully!

This is long and has a ton of pictures.  Please let me know if anything is confusing.

 Here's the drawing I received - with a note to make it into a 12" block.  It wasn't to scale, nor did it have the individual pieces with seam allowances. 

So I went searching for my compass kit.

Then I grabbed a file folder to make my pattern pieces.

Draw a corner, then mirror it with your 1/4" seam allowance.

I did some math and figured out how much to enlarge one section of the pattern on my photocopier.   To just make up your own, decide what the finished block size should be, and halve it (12" block = start with a 6" square)  Then make your ring - this one is about 1" wide.
See those two circles I added on the right?  We need to make marks for the seam allowance on each side of them.

 Grab your ruler and make pencil marks 1/4" to either side of both lines.  I have arrows pointing to all four marks I made.

 Now we're going to transfer these marks to the file folder, creating pattern pieces that include seam allowances.  I'm going to make the inner wedge first.

Remember how to use a compass?  Don't stab yourself.

Put the paper on your cutting mat, then poke the pointy part through the corner of the block.  Turn that little wheel in the middle until the pencil part of the compass lines up with the mark just outside of the inner wedge. 

Lift your compass, but don't touch the wheel!  Then stab your compass into the corner you drew on the manila folder.

See how I stabbed it into the inside corner, not the outside one?  If you're confused about that here's why: the pattern is a corner of the finished block.  We want the circle to look like a round circle when we're done, and if you don't add the seam allowances or make your circle ON the edge of the seam allowance, when you sew them together you're losing a half inch of your shape on each edge.  You'll end up with a rumply, non-round circle which I suppose you could FORCE into a flat circle,  but I'm going with the nice, mathy geometry so that it works out the first time.

 Keeping the point in your mat, swing the pencil part back and forth to cross your outer seam allowance.

Don't hold it by the wheel!  That will change the circle size.

 On this same piece of folder, you can make the outside wedge as well.  (You can't make the thin ring, it overlaps)

Here I labeled each of the three pieces, along with the mark that you use to draw each pattern piece.  So we used #3 to draw the inner circle, now set your compass up on #2 to make the outer wedge.  (You'll use #1 and #4 to make the thin ring)

 Poke and draw. 

I also squared off the outside corner.  I want a finished 12" square and I'm big on cut-extra-square-up-later.  So the outside edge is 7.25" out instead of just 6.5" 

That worked out really well!  I highly suggest it.

 Grab another bit of folder, make your starting corner again, and use marks #1 and #4 to create the thin ring.

Carefully cut them all out with you non-fabric scissors along the outside seam edges. You can see in this photo that I marked the 45deg diagonal on each to find the middle of the pieces.  I ended up not using that at all.

 VERY carefully, cut out all you pattern pieces.

Here's what I did.  I held down the folder bits really tightly, then rotary cut double layers of fabric.  Ended up with a deep slice in the edge of my thumb.  I didn't bleed on any fabric, so that was good.  Not sure how else to get perfectly smooth edges....keep your fingers out of the way!

 So, you have a big pile of pieces now and have to join them together.

Finger press the center in each part, then lay them just like this.  It looks like a smile up, under a frown down.  Don't try to start with the curves going the same way.  It doesn't work like that.

Place a thin ring that curves in - right side up, and an inner circle that bumps out, right side down - match up those two center points - and pin.

 Since I was only making two of these blocks, I decided to go that lots-of-pins route.  Didn't want to experiment with other methods and use up my cut fabric, especially after taking that chunk out of my thumb.

I pinned the middle, then the ends, then worked in the edges in between.  It doesn't seem like it will fit, but it does.  You know, geometry and all.  Here are a couple all pinned and ready to go.

 I stitched with the convex (bump OUT) piece on top. Slowly keeping my 1/4" seam, and pulling pins as I went.

Pull it off the machine, flip the edge, and HOLY COW!  It lays perfectly flat.  I pressed all seams toward the print.  This helped a lot when it came to final block construction.

Smile, dance, and show all your family - explaining how totally cool it is, as they won't understand.

 Make your way through all four quadrants.

Now it's time to line up that inside ring perfectly.

You want the inside wedge to be exactly square and the same size for all four parts.  Take your ruler, and place the same mark on top of each side of the ring's edge.  You can see for my block, that I placed both sides right on the 3.5" mark.

Hold firmly, and rotary trim just those two edges on every square.  Don't worry about the other two edges right now, we'll square them up at the end.

Join up your four blocks with the 1/4" seams.  I pressed them open .

Happy - Happy - The rings all line up!  Square up the outside to your final block size.  If you made the outside wedge tad larger as I did, you'll have just a bit to trim on all four sides to end with a perfect square.

Iron and dance some more!  I did! 
A bit of a project - but a wonderfully, satisfying challenge.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Mom! It was Taco Day Today!

NOT what one wants to hear as you're sitting with a bowl and the stomach flu.

As one child began the whole thing, and knowing the doom was coming for me, a marathon of basting - quilting - binding got my Advent Tea raffle quilt done at 11:00 the night before I was hit.

One more kid to go, and he's holding strong.  Let's hope it's over and I can stop cleaning and washing - I have quilt photos to edit and post!

Thursday, November 04, 2010


edit:  Here's the best tutorial for the fabric balls I have below: Knitty Gritty Thoughts 
I would love to have a basket full like her!

Things have been crazy with lacrosse team travel plans.  

I've been making stuff, but haven't bothered to take pictures of most of it in the past month. 

A Spoooooky Pumpkin

But I do see that I have a fun collection of three holidays on the camera right now.

These fabric covered balls were fun to make, and used a good amount of stash for each :)  Nearly a half yard for the larger one.

Thanksgiving Table decoration

But I should have used a thimble.  After a billion pushed in pins, it hurts!
Christmas Ornament