Friday, July 15, 2011

Birds in the Air

Since I've decided (sort of) to follow along in the Farmer's Wife Quilt Along, I should update my progress.  You should know I don't have the book and am doing this without benefit of templates -- so I'm more of a common-law wife, I guess.  I think there are a lot of quilting skills that are in the public domain, and analyzing quilt blocks so I can reproduce them is a skill I have that I'm happy to share, so you're welcome to follow along and make them with me if you like.  They go fast. I made the first 6 blocks in one day.
Birds in the Air is the 7th block in the series (gotta love alphabetical order!).  A 6" finished measurement (6.5" from raw edge to raw edge, ideally) means this breaks down into a 4-patch, each of the smaller squares finishing to 3" (3.5" unfinished).  So, knowing that the "magic measurement" for half-square-triangles is +7/8", I cut two 3 7/8" squares from the pink fabric.  (I'm choosing something vintage, thrifted, or upcycled for each block of this quilt: this block has pink from one of my late mother's shirts and the green fabric is a small scrap from my stash - probably almost old enough to be considered vintage).  Then I cut them diagonally in half and set them aside.

The real challenge is the tiny HSTs finishing to 1" - if I cut individual triangles for all of them, it would be very difficult to piece them.  For the 12 finished squares made of HSTs, I chose to draw a grid of 1 7/8" squares on graph paper to use as a stitching guide, which I pinned to the fabric sandwich.  This tutorial shows the concept; I've used this method many times, but usually I draw the grid directly on the fabric; this time I decided to use the paper in part to provide extra stability while stitching those super-small triangles.  After I stitched my grid of 6 squares (if you need 12 HST units, draw a grid with 6 squares), I cut them apart on all the solid lines.
Then I set up an assembly line and ironed them; pressing towards the dark side.
Finally I stacked 3 or 4 together and cut off the mouse ears with the rotary cutter.  Getting rid of that little bit of extra bulk usually helps when you're stitching the pieces together.
The pattern still needs 12 individual green triangles; I cut 6 squares to the 1 7/8" measurement and cut them on the diagonal.  Then I laid them all out in the pattern, being careful to line up all the green triangles so that their directional print was going the same way within each quarter of the block, because I'm strange that way.  And I sewed them together.  If you're careful with every step of the process and make sure your seams are consistently a quarter inch, lots of tiny HSTs are nothing to be afraid of.
Although, after making this quilt 4 years ago, I'm okay with most of my projects these days being HST-free.  Delectable Mountain Star, from the epic Mom Memorial Quilt Project.  You can see some of the pink fabric in there, actually.

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