Tag Archives: bee block


It’s time to present the last Scandibee block of 2015! Our Queen Bee was Hanne in Denmark, and she requested a block called X Marks the Spot by SewCraftyJess (tutorial). The background was to be scrappy low-volume, whereas the X should contain four different fabrics of the same hue as the centre square would be.

I chose pink, because there’s an abundance of it in my stash still. No matter how much I think colours aren’t gendered, some girls seem to believe princesses and pink are the way to go, so what can I do?

Nina With Freckles - Scandibee December 2016-03-12

Since I had quite a few low-volumes in pink, too, I chose those and red for the whole background.

We had agreed to make either one or two blocks of this rather complex block design, and I chose to make only one, partly due to inaccuracy problems. The blocks obviously need to match perfectly one another in size, and this design has a huge number of seams where everything can go completely wrong, so I opted to send only one block to Hanne.

If you’re following our hashtag #Scandibee on Instagram, you can peruse the pretty selection of blocks made for Hanne, and I personally can’t wait to see her finished quilt top!

Have you seen this block design before out in the wild?

As for Scandibee, we wrapped up our first hugely successful year after having spent many an hour at the sewing machine, creating a vast number of projects for each other, whilst trying several new techniques, colour combinations, block designs and more. I’d like to think we’ve also made great internet friends, since few of us knew the others in person, and in fact I haven’t even met any of the ladies in their physical appearance yet, but we hope to do so one day!



Moving on to yet another month of Scandibee block sewing, November! Queen Bee this month was Marica in Sweden and she chose for us a star block with low-volume background and a grey star in its centre. We could make it scrappy or go with one fabric only, and since I had grey fabrics with rather scrappy-looking patterns, I decided to use those. The tutorial for the blocks can be found here, at Clover & Violet.

The first edit I made was to enlarge where appropriate, to counteract the smidgen worth of problems I have with my inaccurate presser foot/needle plate combination. It worked very well, since we’re talking about fractions of millimetres here and there, and so in the end I simply had to square up by cutting at tad bit of excess low-volume background. This is something I do with each block I make now for others, if only possible, but needless to say, the extra calculations are a bit mind-numbing somehow. That makes me appreciate sewing complete projects, or sewing for myself, so much more!

But on to Marica’s star blocks. Here’s my first one with a lighter star:

Nina With Freckles - Scandibee November 1

As for star patterns in general, this is one of the more unusual ones, and for that I liked working with it a great deal. I can’t wait to see what Marica’s quilt will end up looking!

Nina With Freckles - Scandibee November 2

For some mysterious reason, when first starting my Scandibee journey, I was hesitant in regards to low-volume fabrics, but now I love the effect. Although I like all of them when combined, I think my most liked version is when the pattern is greyscale only, such as the light-grey patterns on white background above, or restrictedly, black on white as well.

I have some fabrics that could be categorised as low-volume due to having a stark white background, but the black pattern is so large, or thick, or both that it looks like it doesn’t blend in well with other low-volumes.

Have you jumped on the low-volume fanwagon yet? Are you going as far as to replace solids (solid white) as background fabric for your projects?


Hey woohoo, one whole month fast forward in one day only. It’s a miracle! Hrm, yes, it seems like the increasing length of day and the approaching Spring (can’t feel it yet, but we’re getting closer with less snow at least) makes me a bit giddy.

So, the Scandibee October blocks were for Belinda in Norway, and they incorporated flying geese, which are on my mind now, in particular as Anna Maria Horner has an absolutely gorgeous class on Creativebug. Belinda requested scrappy flying geese with low-volume birds, one-hued backgrounds, and as a final punch, a side panel with large motifs.

My sewing machine is a topic I’d rather not talk that much about anymore, so a photo will suffice. It does test my patience, but I suppose that’s what I’m supposed to be dealing with :)

Nina With Freckles - Scandibee October 1 2016-03-11

There was extensive troubleshooting on Instagram after I posted the same photo there, and currently I’m using leaders as often as possible. Leftover selvedges are perfect when cut up into small strips, by the way.

Nina With Freckles - Scandibee October 2 2016-03-11

Tadaah, that’s much better.

Nina With Freckles - Scandibee October 3 2016-03-11

Indeed it is! As for the leftover half-square triangles of the first block, I decided to use them in a mug rug.

Nina With Freckles - Scandibee October 4 2016-03-11

For some unknown reason I had cut the backing quite a bit larger, which gave me the idea to try a new binding technique. Oh, and what’s that hand stitching? Yes! It’s my first hand quilting! I had so much fun, and it was made possible courtesy of Aurifil’s lovely 28-weight box that I received a couple of years ago, but hadn’t had a chance to take for a test spin yet. I adore the texture, and in fact the Queen of hand quilting, Sarah Fielke, prefers this thread over Perle 8 cotton. Supposedly this behaves better when being pulled through layers over and over again.

Nina With Freckles - Scandibee October 5 2016-03-11

There was a bit too little of the backing despite my initial thought, but machine stitching it in place worked well enough. Due to its purpose as a mug rug, and the fact that the geese points with hand quilting were where they were, I wanted a very narrow binding anyway. As for the technique itself, I think I’ll stick to a separate binding in the future, but I’m very happy I have tried this at least once!

The HSTs from the second block are unused still :) Oh the possibilities…

The October blocks were fantastic and they certainly get done quickly, in case you’re in need of a quick block for some project. I tried to access the website with the tutorial we used, but Firefox claims it’s been reported as an attack site, so I’m not going to put a link here. The block finishes at 12.5”x12.5”, though, in case you want to do your own math. The side panel is 12.5”x4.5” to get you started.

The range of colours that Belinda has received is fantastic, so check out #Scandibee on Instagram if you want to keep track of the quilt!


There’s something curious about blogging in March 2016 about September 2015 blocks, but I’ll try just for the heck of it :D Granted, they were sent to Annika in Sweden in December only, but still…

Annika requested two blocks, which finished at 10.5”x10.5”, and while the background was quick and easy, the petals in pink became my nemesis of sort. Why, you ask? Needle turn appliqué. Sewing by hand. Oh dear. Before we continue, let me assure you that I’m quite eager to try English paper piecing at some point, so the story doesn’t end in blood.

She also had wishes in regards to fabric colours. The background was supposed to be a mix of white and green, whereas four petals, starting from a 2”x4” rectangle, were to be pink. All scrappy as per our general rules.

Nina With Freckles - Scandibee September 1 2016-03-10

To fit the background (you’ll see below), Annika asked we draw our own petal templates, and I decided to make mine as symmetrical as possible. I folded a piece of paper first in half, then another time in half. On one of the quadrants I drew a gentle curve along which I cut, then used the cut edge to draw on the rest of the quadrants, whilst folding and opening up the paper as needed. You can see my template here:

Nina With Freckles - Scandibee September 2 2016-03-10

There’s also two thirds of a Bohin kit bought via Massdrop. One chalk pencil with sharpener is for thin chalk (white on top, colours below in the box), another not showed is for thick chalk, and the third is a glue stick. I’m very pleased with the quality of these products! (No, I don’t get anything for saying this.)

And here’s my first block. For some reason I had forgotten my Craftsy class in which Sarah Fielke teaches needle turn appliqué, but using that knowledge all of a sudden made my mental block get unstuck. I won’t say it is easy nor fast to learn this technique, as the pieces are a bit fiddly to begin with, but gluing down each petal along its centre helped a great deal.

Nina With Freckles - Scandibee September 3 2016-03-10

Here’s a process photo of the second block, which petals I happened to draw first though. You might see the thin white chalk line on the bottom petal, and working with it convinced me that the violet line for the rest of them was a smart choice. While it is reasonably visible in its flat state, when turning the seam allowance the colour disappears almost completely against the white background.

Nina With Freckles - Scandibee September 4 2016-03-10

In case you never heard of needle turn appliqué before, perhaps it’s beginning to sound less tricky already? The point is to finger press along a line, which will work as the seam line, and once you sew, aka turn the seam allowance with the needle, the quarter-inch worth of fabric will get tucked under.

My bee members did various versions of hand appliqué, but based on what I saw – cutting up two layers and folding inside out, or using aluminium foil to press down the seam allowances – I still think this technique seems the most straight forward as long as you know what you’re doing. I kind of detest hand sewing, but found a rhythm halfway through the first petal, believe it or not!

Nina With Freckles - Scandibee September 5 2016-03-10

The lighting in winter evening conditions is dreadful once again, but such is it. As for my two blocks for Annika, once they finally were sent to her, I was pretty darn proud of them! The only thing I’d do differently is to have a better needle for the purpose. Sarah Fielke uses long, thin needles and I need to hunt them down, because the crystal ball tells me there will be more appliqué in my future.

The mind works in mysterious ways sometimes, but if I ever doubted my Craftsy classes, this particular case shows just how important they are to me. I like learning at my own pace, and with the chance to rewatch something I found difficult, or simply didn’t catch the first time when the phone rang, and so I will keep being a happy occasional customer.

Scandibee August quilt for me

Nina With Freckles - Scandibee August Quilt - Quilt mockup 2015-08-09

Since August is my month as Queen Bee of Scandibee, I thought I’d present to you the project I have in mind. I’ve worked on my own blocks for a while now, and only two days ago received the first blocks in the mail, a very exciting event indeed! Somehow amidst planning of the quilt and working on posting fabric photos for the ladies I had managed to forget that I’ll also be receiving pretty things from them!

From the quilt mock-up above you can see that there’s a rainbow, but I’d love to talk a bit more about my thoughts behind choosing this particular pattern. First of all, you can make your own quilt like this using the Starflower block tutorial by Jennifer Mathis of Ellison Lane.

I’ve made the slight alteration to ask for low-volume fabrics for the background with a fairly even colour distribution (nothing overly black popping up all of a sudden here and there), which would be easier considering the white fabrics in the different stashes most certainly would vary quite a bit. Also, the starflower rainbow colours should preferably be tone-on-tone to create as “flat” a look as in my mock-up above. The good news is of course that you only need one set of each colour, since half-square triangles work to produce double the amount of units for each triangle set, so to speak. In other words, I’ve told them not to make two different blocks this time, but to send similar blocks. It is a rather particular request after all to be as specific as tone-on-tone only.

Nina With Freckles - Scandibee August Quilt - Block 2015-08-09   Nina With Freckles - Scandibee August Quilt - Block assembly 2015-08-09

I also asked to put pink in between purple and red, since that’s where I believe it should go in the rainbow. It’s no huge harm done, however, if someone were to place it between red and orange.

The beauty of half-square triangles (HSTs) is that they are quite quick to make. If you have a larger table around your sewing machine, there’s a nifty trick you can use, which involves masking tape and three lines drawn on it a quarter inch apart, but my sewing machine doesn’t come with such an extension table. What I did, however, was to chain piece.

Nina With Freckles - Scandibee August Quilt - Chain piecing 2015-08-09

I prefer to have the drawn diagonal move along the right edge of the presser foot as were it the edge of the fabric. To make chain piecing happen, I therefore sew all HST sets on one side first, leaving that little string of thread between each, then turn the stack around so that the diagonal is still on the right side of the presser foot.

Were I to use the masking-tape trick, I’d do the same kind of chain piecing then, rather than clip threads between each HST set, and in fact I’d only need two lines, the centre line (to line the tape up correctly with the needle) and another one a quarter inch to the right of it (to move the diagonal along).

And finally, here are a couple of photos of my progress on my own blocks. I have to make eight blocks altogether, since I get 11×2 blocks from the ladies, and so far I’ve cut for six blocks.

Nina With Freckles - Scandibee August Quilt - Fabrics 2015-08-09

Nina With Freckles - Scandibee August Quilt - Starflowers 2015-08-09

I think tone-on-tone fabrics are magical somehow. Some people seem to dismiss them as boring, but look what you can achieve with them; a subtle movement and interest despite the colour itself being rather even. Don’t get me wrong, I love patterned fabrics with huge motifs and lots of different colours, but they have great limitations when you want to make a certain type of work in the spirit of solids without choosing actual solid-coloured fabrics. In other words, I’m really excited about this quilt!

Scandibee July blocks

Nina With Freckles - Scandibee July blocks 2015-08-05

July Queen Bee of Scandibee, Nina aka bossyoz, asked for two houses for Scandibee Road. I immediately jumped at the chance to try two house patterns already in my collection, namely Dwell by Camille Roskelley in her Simply Retro book, and one of the houses in Johanna Masko’s Houses wall-hanging quilt.

The Dwell block finishes at 9” x 12”, so I had to add borders. If you look closely at the original pattern, you’ll see how I have chopped off some of the house. The block didn’t look nice enough with grass only on the sides, so the rotary cutter got to sing unexpectedly. Nina encouraged us to put stuff in windows and add other quirky details, so I wrote a little story about my Dwell-based house, with a fancy lady collecting watches in her sitting room, whilst the cook was baking in the kitchen. And the Snowy background gave the name for my block, The First Snow. The red/white house and door colour is a nod to a Nordic tradition of painting cottages and such red with white corners.

The second block I made has no name, but the story goes such that there’s a minimalist family living in the house. Perhaps the father is dealing with a stressful situation with kids and barking dog and the whole suburban experience by trimming his lawn each evening. You see, Nina commented on how neat everything looks behind the row of trees, also planted in organised manner.

Anyway, construction of each block was interesting, and I learned new things in particular when making the second block, more specifically its paper-pieced section. It contains parts that need to be constructed before adding to the rest – which I hadn’t done of course – and so I had to rip a few seams, cut the template into sections, and start again. Very interesting indeed. These situations arise when one doesn’t read instructions properly… *eyeroll*

I have to give myself some positive feedback, too, to counteract the negative. The Houses quilt is a continuous pattern, but I decided to copy only a part of it, then start tweaking away. The only thing I knew when starting out was that I wanted this house to be in the middle of my block, but the rest was improvisation. I recall when making the first cuts back in the day with my rotary cutter, completely freaked out that I’d mess stuff up somehow, but now I’m happily chopping here and there without much worry.

Not only did I think of fabric as being more holy somehow, but I also was a bit reluctant to cut into my pretties. So there’s happened a clear development for the better in both how I view the materials and how I fearlessly try new things. I can’t say the latter about myself in all other areas of life, but oftentimes I notice rings over the water at some later point in time. Waltzing outside of the comfort zone is good.

Another conclusion I keep arriving at whenever I sew with the help of paper is how FPP is such a nice technique for me to use whilst I have the silly sewing machine I can’t trust completely to sew accurate seam allowances. Because FPP is about creating said accurate seam allowance only after you’ve already sewn the seam! So nifty.

I was very late at sending Nina her blocks, only a couple of minutes before the postman emptying the box for evening mail, and so I didn’t have time to throw in some extra fabric. I have something for her cooking, though.

So, you and houses? Have you seen how popular they are currently? They come in all shapes and sizes!

Simplicity – Block 10 Stripes

NM Patterns - Simplicity - Block 10 Stripes main 2015-08-03

NM Patterns - Simplicity blog button 2015-05-18Oh wow, this was a challenging one! And hello, happy Monday, too :) Welcome to the tenth block, Stripes, of the Simplicity quilt. I realise I’ve forgotten to mention in quite a few posts the hashtags you can use for instance on Instagram, #simplicityquilt and #simplicityquiltalong.

We have just stepped into August, which means there are only two more blocks after this one, but first let’s look at the graphic version of Stripes.

Nina With Freckles - Simplicity - Block 10 Stripes graphic 2015-08-03

The reason I picked two green hues and orange is once again the colour wheel, this time two secondary colours. Also, orange happens to pop more than violet does, when paired with green. But make it your own!

Cutting pieces

Instead of cutting a lot of thin strips from a larger piece, I started by cutting a rectangle for each set of green stripes, then subcutting it further into strips.

If you wish to do that, cut as follows:

  • Vertical stripes (dark green): One (1) piece 10.5” x 8.5”
  • Background (light green): One (1) piece 9” x 8.5”

For the block, eventually you will need:

  • Background (light green):
    • From the above cut 9” x 8.5” rectangle:
      • Two (2) pieces 1.5” x 8.5”
      • Six (6) pieces 1” x 8.5”
    • For top and bottom borders:
      • Two (2) pieces 12.5” x 2.5”
  • Vertical stripes (dark green):
    • From the above cut 10.5” x 8.5” rectangle:
      • Seven (7) pieces 1.5” x 8.5”
  • Horizontal stripe (orange):
    • One (1) piece 1” x 12.5”

If you’re using directional prints, please recall that the first length of a piece is the width on the x axis (horizontal), whereas the second one is on the y axis (vertical). If print direction doesn’t matter, as usual, go ahead and cut however is the most logical in relation to your fabric.

Now we sew. I kept saying that a few times when constructing the block, so I thought I’d share this with you, too. Sharing is caring as they say.

Block construction

The block is constructed in a few steps, and there are several chain piecing opportunities. The only hickup at first could be regarding the left and right background borders of slightly wider size, but otherwise it’s sort of about pairing dark greens with light greens. Sew with a quarter-inch seam allowance.

NM Patterns - Simplicity - Block 10 Stripes construction 2015-08-03

Construction steps:

  1. Sew the whole mid-section of pieces together, press all seams in one direction. Chain piecing works beautifully here.
  2. Cut through the middle of the panel. It is 8.5” tall, meaning the halfway point is at 4.25”.
  3. Sew the orange stripe in place. It helps if you run the seam allowances as suggested in piecing tips mentioned in earlier block blog posts, pointing away from the feed dogs. When sewing one seam, you will therefore have the orange piece on top, whereas for the other seam, it will be at the bottom, closer to the feed dogs. There’s relatively much bulk in the stripe panel and so it makes sense to press both newly sewn seams toward the orange.
  4. Sew the top and bottom borders of background fabric in place, and press as above, away from the bulk, toward the border.

Press the block and admire your work.

The finished block

This Stripes block of Simplicity has been yet another example for me to pay proper attention to. While the look is smashing, a bit like Fibonacci earlier, the thin pieces are no walk in the park to deal with. As a result, my block is a bit crooked, but who cares. We are here to learn new things, including what doesn’t work for us to include in the future. I still like my block, though!

NM Patterns - Simplicity - Block 10 Stripes finished 2015-08-03

Are there some questions or comments perhaps? How has the speed of posting blocks this summer been for you? Happy striping!

Simplicity – Block 8 IQCB

NM Patterns - Simplicity - Block 8 IQCB main v2 2015-07-20

NM Patterns - Simplicity blog button 2015-05-18This week I’m pleased to introduce to you IQCB, the inset quarter circle block, of my Simplicity quilt. I can’t claim credit for this design, because circles have been known to man since, well, man, but what I can own is how I explain the stuff to you.

There were so much words, graphics, and concepts popping up that I’ve decided to post a circle article at some point, like the one on hexagons. Circles are as cool as hexies, and if you understand the basics of them, you can with a compass, pencil, and ruler make inset quarter circles of any size you want. This includes the background and circle sizes, which means no specialty rulers are necessary to invest in. Before jumping into more theory, let’s take a look at the graphic version first.

NM Patterns - Simplicity - Block 8 IQCB graphic 2015-07-20

The sharp-eyed reader will notice that the original design was a slightly smaller circle, but if you, like me, are working with circles for the first time (yep, this is how I roll, believe it or not, write a tutorial whilst learning as you go), it might be nice to have the circle a tad larger than 7” (with a 3.5” radius).

To help you have success with your block, I’ve taken many photos this time, but there isn’t that much text to read. The sewing itself was done in artificial lighting, so apologies in advance for less than optimal quality of those.

In this post:

  • Tools
  • Making the templates
  • Cutting pieces
  • Block construction
  • The finished block

* * * * *


The tools you’ll need for making templates are:

  • Freezer paper (or normal paper if you don’t have any)
  • Compass
  • Pencil and sharpener
  • Rulers you’re comfortable working with
  • Rotary cutter
  • Cutting mat
  • Paper scissors

NM Patterns - Simplicity - Block 8 IQCB - Template supplies 1 2015-07-20

I use this less advanced rotary cutter for projects involving paper, whereas the deluxe model is “nicer”, but Carol Doak in her Craftsy class says she’s consulted manufacturers about cutting paper and supposedly it won’t dull the blade, but the latter is an urban myth. Go ahead and cut your freezer paper accurately in other words!

And another photo, just because I got a bit carried away with the macro once again. It’s been such a long time since taking photos of jewellery now.

NM Patterns - Simplicity - Block 8 IQCB - Template supplies 2 2015-07-20

So what’s a compass? It’s a device that will allow you to draw any size of a circle up until its largest possible radius, which in turn depends on the length of its legs and the largest angle between those. Maybe there’s a more accurate definition, but for the purpose of quilting, you need to recall radius and diameter of a circle. Check the hexie tutorial if you are unsure about these.

NM Patterns - Simplicity - Block 8 IQCB - Template supplies 3 2015-07-20

Sharpen your pencil and put it in place, with the two tips next to one another. Make sure it won’t slide in the compass or your templates won’t be accurate. Mine is of the school type, bought when in school still, and I don’t think there were any less expensive ones available on the market, but if the cheapest type seems flimsy, this will defeat its purpose completely, so cough up a few more coins right away.

Next up is the freezer paper. If you ever travel to the other side of the pond, buy a whole roll of it, because the price per metre here in Europe is ridiculous. It may be heavy in your suitcase, but I don’t think I’ll ever have to restock! (I wish. Hopefully I will, and I’ll have a reason for trans-Atlantic travels :) )

NM Patterns - Simplicity - Block 8 IQCB - Template supplies 4 2015-07-20

Notice how one side seems matte and the other has a sheen to it. The sparkle is glue. Don’t glue your iron, okay. I hear it’s messy to clean up. We’ll write on the easy, matte side, so hopefully this will help you remember, too. If you don’t have freezer paper at hand, regular copy paper will do, so don’t stop reading.

Making the templates

Now we’re ready to make our two templates. We will make:

  • One (1) 6.5” square for the block background, from which we cut out a circle of 3.75” diameter.
  • One (1) 4.25” quarter circle.

We can use these templates for all four 6.5” block units (for a 12.5” quilt block when sewn together), since the freezer paper is reusable a few times, so we only have to cut one set.

!!! EDITED TO ADD: Pre-shrink your freezer paper first! I only learned this tip on 2 August 2015. In other words, cut 7 inches or more, iron it on the matte side, and proceed as per the rest of my tutorial !!!

Start by cutting a 6.5-inch strip of freezer paper, “width of fabric” (WOF) if you like. If the paper slides heavily under your ruler, you can try rolling out a bit more and turning it around so the matte side faces you.

PART 1: For a 6.5” square template with 3.75” markings, we will do the following steps. Cut a 6.5” square from the “WOF strip” and grab your compass and small ruler.

NM Patterns - Simplicity - Block 8 IQCB - Template supplies 5 2015-07-20

For maximum accuracy, since a pencil will never reach as close to the ruler edge as a rotary blade will, we first slide one of the ruler lines along the template side a tad below what would be a quarter inch from the perpendicular template side. Draw a short line up from the “quarter-inch seam allowance” line on the ruler.

Turn the paper and do the same for the perpendicular direction.

NM Patterns - Simplicity - Block 8 IQCB - Template supplies 6 2015-07-20

Why? Because we need a starting point for the 3.75” quarter circle that we want to cut out from this background template. Due to mathematics and stuff we can’t start from the template corner, but need to begin from where there is no seam allowance but actual block fabric, and the quarter-inch corner marking we just did will be our accurate starting point for drawing with the compass.

Why 3.75”? Well, we want the inset quarter circle to be 4” on top of the 6” background piece, and maybe a bell is ringing already regarding quarter inch seam allowances? :) This is fun!

Moving on to drawing quarter circles!

NM Patterns - Simplicity - Block 8 IQCB - Template supplies 7 2015-07-20

You can place your compass metal tip at the ruler corner, but I found it really wobbly, so instead I put it at 3.75” and slid the pencil tip to the ruler corner. This will draw a 3.75” radius.

NM Patterns - Simplicity - Block 8 IQCB - Template supplies 8 2015-07-20

Go ahead and draw! And check the size, too, if you like.

NM Patterns - Simplicity - Block 8 IQCB - Template supplies 9 2015-07-20

Note that you start measuring from the quarter-inch corner, not the template corner.

As per Cheryl Arkison’s tips in her Craftsy class, I’ve marked both the background template (6.5” becomes 6” finished) and the extra quarter-circle template I will have if cutting neatly (3.75” becomes 3.5” finished).

Cut the 3.75” quarter circle out, and set it aside. We will not need it in this block! If you cut neatly, you can use it in another project, though.

PART 2: Next up is the 4” quarter-circle template. Cut a piece of freezer template approximately 5”x5” in size.

Measure 4.25” on the compass to include seam allowance, start from the quarter-inch corner marking, and draw a 4.25” quarter circle.

NM Patterns - Simplicity - Block 8 IQCB - Template supplies 10 2015-07-20

Check that your circle is of the right size. Add scribbles to your templates as per the photo below.

NM Patterns - Simplicity - Block 8 IQCB - Template supplies 11 2015-07-20

Notice that I added a visual aid to the background template in the shape of a square. I also wrote the size of the inset quarter circle needed, 4”, and a quarter circle next to the number.

The side-by-side comparison of the two quarter-circle templates might make you think there’s something seriously wrong with the 4.25” template. Stay tuned…

NM Patterns - Simplicity - Block 8 IQCB - Template supplies 12 2015-07-20

See, perfect overlap of half an inch in the seam-allowance area.

If you measure the length of what remains of the 6.5” inch background template, you’ll find it to be 2.5”, or 2” + 0.25” seam allowance for one side + 0.25” seam allowance for the other side (when the 12.5” block becomes a 12” block). Also, 2.25” + 4.25” = 6.5” (created during the circle seam sewing), just how we want one of our block units to be.

This is why I love mathematics on a practical level, and quilting with its easy quarter inches here and there really make it approachable somehow. In other words, you can mix and match by removing half an inch, less or more, on one template, then adding this length to the other template.

First I thought I’d provide you with downloadable templates, but I really think you ought to make them yourself. If you follow these instructions step by step, you will get the hands-on experience whilst learning by doing (unless you’re already well-versed in circles of course). I watched Cheryl Arkison’s class and thought I knew exactly what to do, but as I was about to draw my own templates, I needed to consult my notes for this block more than once. It’s quite similar when learning how to foundation paper piece actually, and yay hooray, we’ll make one of those blocks later in the sampler! (Don’t worry, it’ll be fun and doable.)

Cutting pieces

Because of the volume of photos, I’ve made them into collages from now on. The original size is larger than visible in this blog post, so feel free to open that one for closer inspection.

New tools you’ll need: fabric scissors, marker pen, possibly appliqué pins.

Once you’ve made your template, press your first fabric and place the templates on the wrong side (step 1). I don’t think water is a good idea nor too much heat, so I kept the iron dry and on a low-heat setting. The template adheres quite quickly to the fabric, after which you don’t have to keep pressing anymore. I’m also thinking heat and glue isn’t too great a combination out of a chemicals perspective, so even more reason to make this step a swift one. Finally, I noticed shrinkage due to too long a pressing, so had to make a new set of templates.

If you don’t have freezer paper at hand, trace with a pencil or marker pen around your template, then cut out as above.

NM Patterns - Simplicity - Block construction 1 2015-07-20

Use your rotary cutter and ruler for the straight edges, and a fabric scissors for the curves to cut out your fabric (step 2). Repeat with the remaining three fabrics. Admire your fabrics (step 3). Place the fabrics how you want them to be positioned in the block (step 4).

Block construction

Start the construction from the lighter block units.

NM Patterns - Simplicity - Block construction 2 2015-07-20

Grab the first background piece and fold it right side together to create a crease in the middle of the curve. Bring the red dots together and finger press (step 1), then draw a small line within the seam allowance of the right side (step 2). To create quarter marks, bring the curve corner to the mark you just made, finger press (step 3), and draw another mark. Repeat for the other side (step 4). Do the same to the three other background pieces.

On the really dark fabrics, you may have to help by drawing on the wrong side of the fabric. I did this on all the dark pieces or I wouldn’t have seen the markings.

NM Patterns - Simplicity - Block construction 3 2015-07-20

Make similar markings on the quarter-circle pieces (step 1). As you can see, the markings don’t “match”, but recall the overlapping templates earlier, and trust that it will all fit if your templates have fit together earlier when testing.

Place circles on backgrounds with right sides facing one another (step 2), whilst matching up the centre markings. Recall that you’re working with bias edges on both curves, so be gentle.

Start by pinning from the middle a small amount of fabric, find the quarter markings on the right and pin, and find the outside edge and pin (step 3). Move to the left side, wiggle the pieces gently until you can match the markings, and pin (step 4). Grab both fabric piece with one hand, slide the layers until the curve corners match up, and pin (step 5). Steps 6 and 7 show the pinned pieces from different angles. It’s supposed to look really weird.

Now we sew.

NM Patterns - Simplicity - Block construction 4 2015-07-20

The key to a successful quarter circle is slow sewing with almost constant adjusting of fabrics during the process. Contrary to usual piecing, the fabrics can’t lay flat against the sewing machine, but will bunch up interestingly and you’ll need to use both hands. Your fingers are the pins at the seam allowance.

Place the quarter circle on top and presser foot down (step 1). Sew a few stitches, and stop, adjust fabrics (step 2). Sew a few more stitches, stop, and adjust. Repeat. Cut threads, remove, and inspect (step 3). (I had to sew again two seams, but be careful during ripping the seam. Don’t ask.) Flip open and inspect again (step 4). Repeat for three other units.

I know that some other people prefer the quarter circle at the bottom. I haven’t tried that yet, but will for the sake of comparison.

When pressing the curved seams, press toward the background for one diagonal (white and black background pieces) and toward the quarter circle for the other diagonal (light grey and dark grey backgorund pieces). This way you’ll have seams that nest when sewing block units together. Sew the rows, then the final seam. Pin generously the latter in particular.

The finished IQCB

This Inset Quarter Circle Block sure tested my skills, but once flipping open the whole thing after sewing the last seam I couldn’t help but crack a smile. The centre point isn’t perfect but whatever. Despite a couple of mishaps along the way, I think circles of various shapes and sizes will be in my future. I hope you’ll try inset quarter circles at least once, and maybe you’ll like them too!

NM Patterns - Simplicity - Block 8 IQCB finished 2015-07-20

What do you think of the block? Scary? It scared me a lot to include the design in my sampler, but now I’m so pleased I had the courage to throw it in. Stepping way beyond my comfort zone is the best expression for how I felt when making this block, but now I feel excitement only.

Please comment and ask questions if there’s anything at all on your mind! Happy Monday :)

* * * * *

EDIT 2.8.2015: I have added a blurb about pre-shrinking the freezer paper into the section about making the quarter-circle templates.

Scandibee June blocks

Nina With Freckles - Scandibee June blocks 2015-07-07

The Scandibee June blocks for Queen Bee Anne were fun to make. She asked for a few criteria to be filled and they included a grey fabric, a dotted fabric, and a cheerful colour scheme. She also specified the size of the square in the middle as well as the amount and width of frames around it. The rest was up to each bee member to decide.

My stash isn’t huge in the grey section, so I decided to pick the two grey fabrics first. Next, I went through all dots, and apparently I don’t have huge numbers of those either. Once all supporting fabrics were picked, I decided which border would have to be wider compared to the other ones, and maybe you would have come to the same conclusion regarding the folk birds and herringbone patterns?

Fussy cutting is probably the wrong expression in this case, but the most time-consuming step was to cut all the strips in a way that would make sense also later, once Anne has chopped up these blocks into four smaller squares. No matter what, I’m almost unable to sew lines in a crooked way, so it did pay off to cut carefully. At least the order-loving part of me approves of the result :D

There were a few seams to unpick once again, and I did curse at my sewing machine. Had I sewn these blocks for myself, I’m not sure I would have erased a step and started a seam all over, but the presser-foot / feed-dog situation is very much an issue still, and I’m praying for a lotto win. One of the first things I’d do, would be to buy a Bernina, but I’m sounding like a broken record at this point, so suffice to say there’s fighting and cajoling going on behind the scenes with my machine.

If you want to do some gentle improvisation, I think this is a great place to start. Set yourself some limitations, but work freely on the rest, and you might be surprised. I had no idea of how my blocks would turn out, only a hunch, and in person these look even better. (A note to self is to use my point-and-shoot Canon instead of the phone camera. I’m just a bit lazy with the uploading, since sending an email to myself with only a photo or two is quicker.)

Anne already let me know she had received my blocks together with a small stack of scrap fabrics, so all is well!

Simplicity – Block 6 Rectangency

NM Patterns - Simplicity - Block 6 Rectangency main v2 2015-07-06

NM Patterns - Simplicity blog button 2015-05-18We are halfway through the Simplicity quilt with this block, people, and I’m pleased to introduce Rectangency to you. Yup, Rectangency. Rectangles and transparency. There’s a lot more cutting in this block compared to previous ones, but if you follow the diagrammes and lay out the pieces on your cutting mat or other surface, then grow the block units methodically, I’m certain you’ll have success with it.

Here’s the graphic version of the block first.

NM Patterns - Simplicity - Block 6 Rectangency graphic 2015-07-06

You need three colours for the rectangles with transparency. If you don’t go for monochrome, I suggest you pick three neighbouring hues from the colour wheel, and put the colour in the middle in the overlapping square areas of the block rectangles. If you want a matchy-matchy block, pick a background colour from the same region of the colour wheel, or if you want to go for drama, perhaps choose a hue from the opposite side of the wheel. In my case, it could be orange to oppose the blue of the transparency effect.

Cutting pieces

  • Background (light blue):
    • One (1) piece 3.5” x 5.5”
    • One (1) piece 5.5” x 5.5”
    • One (1) piece 3.5” x 3.5”
    • One (1) piece 5.5” x 3.5”
    • Two (2) pieces 4.5” x 1.5”
    • Two (2) pieces 1.5” x 4.5”
    • One (1) piece 3” x 3.75”
    • One (1) piece 3.75” x 3”
    • One (1) piece 1.75” x 3”
    • One (1) piece 3” x 1.75”
    • One (1) piece 3” x 3”
  • Rectangle 1 (violet):
    • Two (2) pieces 2.5” x 1.25”
    • Two (2) pieces 3” x 1.25”
    • Two (2) pieces 4.5” x 1.25”
    • Two (2) pieces 1.25” x 3”
  • Rectangle 2 (green):
    • Two (2) pieces 1.25” x 2.5”
    • Two (2) pieces 1.25” x 3”
    • Two (2) pieces 1.25” x 4.5”
    • Two (2) pieces 3” x 1.25”
  • Transparency areas (blue):
    • Four (4) pieces 1.25” x 1.25”

If you’re using directional prints, please recall that the first length of a piece is the width on the x axis (horizontal), whereas the second one is on the y axis (vertical). If print direction doesn’t matter, as usual, cut two pieces of the same size straight away.

Block construction

The Rectangency block is constructed in units, visible below.

NM Patterns - Simplicity - Block 6 Rectangency units 2015-07-06

I warmly recommend placing all the pieces according to this diagramme to avoid confusion regarding sizes listed during cutting. And now the suggested piecing order:

NM Patterns - Simplicity - Block 6 Rectangency construction 2015-07-06

If you click on the assembly diagramme, you can download for your personal use a larger version (1000 px) with larger numbers.

Sew with a quarter-inch seam allowance and a matching 50-weight thread. Or use white like I do, it’s my go-to thread colour and works fine. Press seams open as you go.

Piecing tips

Do pay attention to points. If you find sewing accurate points difficult, please try my pinning trick presented in the first block tutorial, Boxes.

If you feel like it, keep the assembly diagramme nearby, and do chain piecing of block units in such a way that you take them “one step at a time”, if it makes any sense? That’s how I did mine, too, and sewing it was quite swift.

The finished Rectangency block

Edit 23.7.2015: I will have to take another photo with the “real” camera, because this usual one just looks bad. Violet is notoriously difficult to shoot and that happened today in cloudy conditions once again. Here’s my finished Rectangency:

NM Patterns - Simplicity - Block 6 Rectangency finished 2015-07-06

As for the Simplicity gallery (link up on top via quilt-along logo), it’s updated as per block 5 now.

Questions? Comments? I have to run, have a film to catch! Happy Monday :)