Monday, May 15, 2017

May Homestead blocks: Patchwork Quilt Along with Fat Quarter Shop

It's the middle of May, which means it's time for another update on the 2017 Patchwork Quilt Along with Fat Quarter Shop.  Last month I shared my six Star & Cross Blocks, and this month we make our Homestead blocks. These blocks are much easier to put together, as there aren't any tricky seams to match.   

I am using the Fleurs collection by Brenda Riddle (Moda) for my quilt. Every month when I pull out this fabric, I fall in love with Fleurs all over again.  It's so soft and dreamy, and Brenda's tiny floral details are perfect! 

10 Piecing Tips

I've received a few emails asking for tips on how to get nice crisp blocks with matching points and so forth. At 5 1/2" finished, these Patchwork Quilt Along blocks can be a bit challenging. I thought I'd share some of my tricks of the trade with you. You may have different techniques that work for you! I figure we can never have enough ideas on how to perfect our piecing. Here's a short list from me to you:

1.  When making small blocks, I always use spray starch to press my fabric before cutting, but I do not use it while piecing or when the block is finished. In my experience, starch can slightly shrink fabric, which can cause headaches in blocks this small! I love Mary Ellen's Best Press in the Caribbean Beach scent.  It smells heavenly and is non-aerosol.

2.  Be precise with your cutting. Change your rotary cutter blade if it is dull and take your time when cutting. If you cut a piece slightly off, don't use it. We're all tempted to do that (we don't want to waste fabric), but don't.  Good piecing starts with good cutting.

3.  Change your sewing machine needle with each new project or after several hours of sewing smaller projects.  A sharp needle is important to good piecing! A quilting friend told me this years ago, and she is so right!

4.  Use a good quality thread.  I always piece with Aurifil.  It is smooth, doesn't knot up or break, and it keeps my machine clean inside.

5. Always square up pieced blocks, like half square triangles, per the instructions even if it doesn't appear that you need to. Just an extra hairline of fabric may make the difference!

6. Use a quarter-inch presser foot if you have one. On my Bernina, I use my Patchwork foot #37. It is designed for straight-stitching and ideal for sewing 1/4" or 1/8" seam allowances due to its size and markings.

7. I do not use a scant quarter inch when sewing. It's just my personal experience, but when I move my needle over to sew a scant quarter inch, I find that my seam allowance on points is just too small and leads to errors (and a very unhappy Taunja).  Instead, when I'm sewing I try to make sure that my fabric runs "just shy" of the edge of my quarter inch presser foot.  You can see in the picture below that fabric is not visible outside the right edge of my presser foot.  

8. On small blocks such as these, I nearly always press my seams open.  I've never had a problem with seams pulling apart. (If you are concerned about that, simply reduce your stitch length a bit.) Pressing open allows your blocks to lay flatter and also makes them truer to size.

9.  I pin, A LOT!  Seams don't really "nest" when you have them pressed open, but they are easy to match visually.  So I press open and then pin!

10. Finally, when my little blocks are completed, I lay them on my cutting table and stack heavy quilting books on top of them overnight.  This makes them nice and flat.

You should join the fun!

In case you are a new reader, this annual event hosted by Fat Quarter Shop is a charity quilt along.  The patterns are free and are posted on the 15th of each month on the Jolly Jabber. Quilters are asked to donate $5 for each block pattern that they download.  All proceeds will go to the Make-A-Wish Foundation!  What a great opportunity for us all!

It's not too late for you to join in the fun. Here’s a link which provides all the details:

Several other bloggers are quilting along! Please visit their blogs too!

Amanda from Jedi Craft Girl (@jedicraftgirl)
Amy of Diary of a Quilter (@diaryofaquilter)
Andy of A Bright Corner (@abrightcorner)
Bonnie of Cotton Way (@bonniecottonway)
Camille of Thimble Blossoms (@thimbleblossoms)
Debbie of Happy Little Cottage (@happylittlecottage1)
Greg of Grey Dogwood Studio (@greydogwoodstudio)
Heidi of Buttons and Butterflies (@buttonsandbutterflies)
Melissa of Happy Quilting (@happyquiltingmc)
Melissa of Oh How Sweet (@ohhowsweet)
Pat Sloan of Pat (@quilterpatsloan)
Sedef of Down Grapevine Lane (@downgrapevinelane)
Sherri of A Quilting Life (@aquiltinglife)
Sondra of Out of the Blue Quilts (@sondradavison)
Taunja of Carried Away Quilting (@taunjalynn)
Tina of Emily Ann's Kloset (@emilyannskloset)
Carrie Nelson/Miss Rosie of Moda Cutting Table

Thanks for stopping by! Remember to share your progress on the 2017 Patchwork Quilt Along Facebook group! And be sure to post your own blocks using the hashtag #patchworkquiltalong on Instagram!   



  1. Thank you for this information. I was having issues with my blocks turning out either too small or too large (when I tried to do that "scant thing").

  2. Once again you have taught me something new to try & a reminder of what not to do๐Ÿ˜Š. Your tips & techniques are really good and all these steps, I've found, lead to nicer quilts! Thanks friend๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ’•

    1. Oh thanks Pam, and you're welcome! We all learn from each other, that is for sure! I've learned so much from quilty friends over the years!

  3. I love your tips!! I already do #7 & #10. I feel like I'm already ahead of the game. :) Your blocks are lovely. I wish I could do this sewalong. I've enjoyed watching your quilt come together every month. Can't wait to see the finished product. Enjoy the rest of your week!!

    1. Thanks Tuki! When I read your comment I thought, boy I really should lay out all the blocks so far and see what's coming together! This Fleurs fabric is such a joy. Have a great week!!

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