Ironwork* QAL finish

Not MINE, of course.

Patti at Retired to Quilt made a beautiful Ironwork* quilt – go check it out. She’s calling it “Off the Grid.” Great name, huh?


Ironwork* Quilt Along: Part 3

The next step is turning the + blocks into * blocks. For the smaller quilt, both the small and large blocks use 1″ cut strips for the “iron” or black fabric. The large quilt uses 1″ cut strips for the smaller blocks, and 1 1/2″ cut strips for the large blocks.

Start by cutting the blocks diagonally.

If you are making the large quilt, the jumbo block is a little more challenging to cut diagonally. Fold it in half diagonally, corner to corner, and align the folded edge with a line on your cutting mat. Slide left or right until the point lines up with a perpendicular line. Place your ruler (in this photo I’m using the straight edge that comes with the cutting tool, but you can just use a regular ruler) on the fabric so it aligns with the line on the mat that goes through the point. Make sure it aligns with that same line at the folded edge as well, then cut.

Sew one half of the block onto a black strip, chain piecing just as you did in the last post. Add as many as you can to a single strip, but leave a little extra room, maybe an inch, between the pieces. For the larger blocks (the ones that finish at 20″) you might want to increase that 1 1/2″. Remember, only sew half of these to the strip!

Cut the pieces apart and press to the black fabric. Here’s a little trick I found to help line up your strips:

Lay the piece WRONG SIDE UP on your cutting mat, aligning the piece with the 45 degree lines on the mat.

Place your ruler on the block, aligning the markings on the ruler with the markings on the mat, and with the edge of the ruler at the very tip of the color fabric in the block. For the smaller two block sizes you can trim on this line, or use a ceramic pencil or other tool to mark the point all the way across the black strip. On the largest block you MUST draw a line – do not cut! (There’s a line at the 2″ mark in the photo below. Trust me.)

This is where you will line up the point of the other half of the block. In the picture below, I’m showing how the other half of the block is lined up so the tip of the point just touches the edge of the black fabric.

Sew each of the second halves to the blocks and press to the black.

For the jumbo block in the large quilt, it may help to extend the lines on the cutting mat with a ruler, as shown below.

The two pressing photos below illustrates how much “play” there is in the seam allowances. The first photo of the smallest block looks like the seam allowances are going to bunch and overlap. With a little nudging and pressing, instead they lay completely flat.

After you’ve sewn and pressed each of the blocks, repeat the diagonal cut in the opposite direction. For the largest blocks, you may want to lightly press it in half to give you a straight edge to line up on the cutting mat.

As before, draw the line (or trim for the smaller blocks), sew one half to the black strips, leaving a little space between them, then sew the other halves to the opposite side of the strip.

Trim your blocks to size. They should be pretty close already – the smallest blocks are 5″, the medium sized blocks (used in both the small and large quilt) are 10″ and the largest blocks are 20 1/2″.

In the photo below of the largest block, you can see why you want to draw the line rather than trimming to the point – if you’d trimmed, you would have cut off fabric at the corners!

Trimming the largest blocks are a challenge – just work one side at a time and use the lines on the mat to keep your block square.

And here they are: one block in each size!


Ironwork* QAL: Part 2 (Addendum)

I have part 3 nearly ready to go, but I need to  share a little extra info (plus a recommendation).

Recommendation: Be very, very careful cutting your small quilt from fat quarters. Twice I’ve lined everything up and started cutting, only to realize that I’m cutting the wrong direction. It really does matter if you’re cutting the 18″ side or the 20+” side.

I have not sewn all of my blocks yet, but either I’m not following my own instructions very well or I accidentally used extra fabric left over from my first  experiment piecing the smallest blocks. You *may* have an extra block or two. But better too many than too few!

Here’s what you should have when all of your blocks are sewn and your plain sections are cut:

Color A Color B Color C Color D Color E
1 large block 1 large block 1 large block 1 large block 1 large block
3 small blocks 2 small blocks 2 small blocks 2 small blocks 2 small blocks
0 large squares 1 large square 1 large square 1 large square 1 large square
2 rectangles 0 rectangles 0 rectangles 1 rectangle 0 rectangles
3 small squares 2 small squares 3 small squares 1 small square 2 small squares

Any questions so far? Please let me know! I’ll be gone this weekend on a quilty road trip, so I may not get back to you until Monday. And, because a blog post just isn’t as fun without a picture or two, here are some more colorways (I surfed my Color Palettes board on Pinterest):

Logo Color 17 Logo Color 16
Logo Color 15 Logo Color 18
Logo Color 14 Logo Color 13
Logo Color 12 Logo Color 11

I just can’t get enough of coloring this! If you are curious about how a particular color palette would look in this design, leave me a comment with a link to the color palette, and I’ll pop it in EQ7 for you.

Sew into Solids

Sew into Solids

Jane at Sew Create It and Katherine at Sew Me Something Good are doing a Sew Into Solids Quilt Along. It’s very informal – choose your own pattern and your own colors, just do it in solids. They have a Flickr pool for you to share your projects, and they’re making inspirational posts on both of their blogs as they progress through their own solids projects.

Now, you KNOW I don’t need to be doing something else, since I’m struggling with my own QAL commitments already, but the small Ironwork* quilt I’m working on is, conveniently, made entirely from solids! Here’s the colorway I’m working on:

Logo Color 5

It is TOTALLY not my color palette – in fact, of all of the EQ7 mock ups I created, it’s the one I was least drawn to. However, it’s also the most masculine, which is good because the large version I’m doing is in floral prints. You don’t get much more feminine than that. I wanted to stretch a bit, and I’m enjoying working with the colors so far. I have all of the mustard blocks done, and am working on the blue and brown blocks now.

Hop on over to Jane and Katherine’s blogs and join in if you’re doing a solid Ironwork* quilt or are looking for inspiration for another solid quilt!

Ironwork* Quilt Along: Part 2

The next step is the block construction. The most common construction method I’ve seen for the asterisk block starts with a square that you cut corner to corner and insert the black strips. Instead, we’re going to strip piece the + block, then cut the diagonals. If you’re making a lot of identical blocks, this is especially easy because you can sew entire width-of-fabric strips together.

Each block size is constructed exactly the same way. The largest block uses larger “iron” strips, while the two smaller blocks use 1/2″ finished (1″ cut) strips. I tried using skinnier strips for the smallest block, thinking that the proportions would look better. They did, but the block was much more difficult to construct because the seam allowances overlapped. When I switched to the 1/2″ finished (1″ cut) strips, the block went together easily and it still looks good.

The photos below are of the 9 1/2″ finished block. I pressed all of the seams toward the black strips, which I think results in the cleanest finish. Here’s a photo of the back of the block:

We’ll start with the 9 1/2″ blocks since both quilts use this size block. This uses the 5″ strips of colored fabric. If you’re doing the small quilt, cut all of your 5″ strips in half so you have two 5″ wide strips that are 10″ long (or slightly longer). This is indicated by the blue line on the cutting diagram. If you’re doing the large quilt, cut the 5″ strips for fabrics B – E into two 5″ wide strips that are 20 – 21″ long (blue line on the cutting diagram). You may have a little excess fabric left over from the strip – you can discard the extra. Fabric A is slightly different in the large quilt, since you need to make an extra 9 1/2″ block in that fabric. For fabric A, cut the long strip into three 15″ segments. The small 5″ strip should also measure 15″.

Place a black strip right sides together with one 5″ wide colored strip. Sew along the long edge until you reach the edge of the colored strip, then place another (different) colored 5″ strip with the black strip, leaving a small gap between the colored pieces, and continue sewing. You should be able to fit two 20″ strips (large quilt) or four 10″ strips (small quilt) on each black strip.  By sewing these long seams, you’ll save a little time over sewing smaller individual pieces. Remember, you are only sewing HALF of the colored strips to the black strips! 

Press toward the black strip, then line up the edge of the other 5″ piece in that fabric and sew it to the other side of the strip.  I like to keep the black side on top so I can control the seam allowance. As you can see (below left), the edge of my sewing machine foot just catches the seam allowance from the first seam. This can cause the fabric to be pushed slightly to the side, which throws your block off.  Instead, lift the seam allowance so the foot runs under it.

Press toward the black strip. Because this block has such close seam allowances, you need it to fit together just so.  I found that pressing the fabric, then spraying it lightly and gently pressing again gave a crisp, flat edge that helped maintain an accurate seam allowance. You can use plain water, spray sizing, spray starch, or my favorite concoction of 3 parts water to 1 part vodka. Yes, I said vodka. Be careful not to scrub across the fabric with the iron as this can distort it. Just gently press, guiding the seam allowances flat with your other hand.

I also found that pressing from the back worked better, especially for the smaller blocks. The two seam allowances should lie flat, without any overlap.

After pressing, cut the strip set into 5″ sections.

Sew half of the sections to a black strip, just as you did in the first step. Be careful crossing the seam allowances so they don’t flip back and get caught by the needle.

As before, leave a small space between the segments. Make sure the segment fits on the black strip before sewing – you don’t want to sew half of the piece on and realize that the black strip is an inch too short!

When half of the sections are sewn to the black strips, trim them apart.

Sew the second segment to the other side of the black strip. Spend a little time here lining up the center strip. You might even choose to pin here. I did on the largest blocks.

You will end up with cross blocks. Although the photo below shows four identical blocks, this was just my practice session to see how the construction method worked. You should have one of each color if you’re doing the small quilt, and two or three of each color if you’re doing the large quilt.

The blocks are not done – we still have to do the diagonals – but this is a good stopping point. Go ahead and sew all of your 9 1/2″ finished blocks to this point, then continue using the same method for your larger or smaller blocks.

For the large quilt, follow the same steps with your 10″ wide colored strips, this time using 1 1/2″ cut black strips. When you cut the strip set into segments, cut them at 10″.

For the small quilt, follow the same steps with your 2 1/2″ wide colored strips, again using 1″ cut black strips. The smaller block requires a little more attention. Sew scant quarter inch seams (a thread or two less than a quarter inch) and be diligent in your pressing. The first time I pressed the small block seam, it overlapped and I thought it was a disaster. I tried pressing it again from the back using a little misting of vodka water and it made all the difference – the block laid perfectly flat and the seam allowances did not overlap. When you cut the strip set into segments, cut them at 2 1/2″.

I’ll be back this week with the diagonal step for block construction. It’s fairly obvious, but I have a couple of tips that will help with accuracy.

Ironwork* QAL: Part 1

Iron Work* Quilt Along Button

Okay, the bugs have been worked out and we’re ready to start!

First, I made you a coloring sheet that has color placements noted with red letters. You can download a PDF by clicking on the image.

Because of the size of some of these pieces, especially in the large quilt, you need to be careful about how you cut things. I laid out the cutting placement for you, and you can either view these photos (click to see them larger) or download a PDF of the cutting instructions.

Large Cutting Images:

Click to download the Large Cutting PDF

Small Cutting Images:

Click to download the Small Cutting PDF

Important: For the larger quilt, the strips are cut the length of the fabric, not the width. They will run from cut edge to cut edge, NOT selvage to selvage! Make sure you have at least 42″ of useable fabric after squaring it up. This will give you the most efficient use of your fabric, and will give you a little wiggle room when sewing the blocks. That extra inch or three makes a big difference. If you have wider fabric (useable fabric from selvage to selvage is MORE THAN 42″), you can cut selvage to selvage if you like. For the smaller quilt, watch placement on the long side vs. the short side of your fat quarter!

You’ll notice that some of the pieces on the diagrams are in white and some are in grey. The white pieces are used as is – no additional cutting/piecing. The grey pieces will be used to assemble the Ironwork* blocks. I suggest cutting all of your pieces then setting aside the white diagrammed ones so you don’t get them mixed up with the ones you need to work with.

You also need to cut your ironwork strips. There are approximately 87 million strips. Okay, that’s not quite true, but it seems like it. There are three different block sizes – 4 1/2″ and 9 1/2″ finished (5″ and 10″ unfinished) for the small quilt, and 9 1/2″ and 20″ finished (10″ and 20 1/2″ unfinished) for the large quilt. For the small quilt, all of your ironwork strips are cut at 1″ wide. For the large quilt, you’ll cut the smaller block ironwork at 1″, and the larger block and sashing at 1 1/2″. I prefer to cut a few at a time rather than all of the strips at once, so I don’t have strips laying around that could potentially be thrown away by mistake (Hi Mom! Love ya!). If you really want to precut all of your strips, here’s what you need. (Okay, I’ll be honest, these counts are not absolute. I did the calculation real quick just now, and I really should double check the numbers but I wanted to get this post up this morning!)

Large Quilt Sashing:
Cut (38) strips at 1 1/2″ wide
Cut (14) strips at 1″ wide

Small Quilt Sashing:
Cut (26) strips at 1″ wide

Once your fabrics are all cut and organized, we’ll get started on the Ironwork* blocks!

Please let me know if you have any questions, or if you find an error!

Unavoidable delay

I’m having a little trouble with the Ironwork* instructions for the smallest block. I’m working on it, but it looks like it will be another day before I can get the blocks tested and then get the post out. There isn’t a lot of excess fabric on some of these, so I don’t want to put information out there and then have it be wrong. Sorry for the delay! Here are some additional colorways to distract you:

Logo Color 10

Logo Color 9

Logo Color 8

Logo Color 7