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The Delightful Quest to Construct a Quilt, Part 2

Time for an update on the quilt that I am making for our bedroom. I have accomplished a few things since the fabric was purchased two months ago. Since I'm not in a big hurry to finish this quilt, I just work on it when I can in between doing quilts for customers and Quilts of Valor. Here is what I have done so far:

When I bring fabric home from the quilt shop I almost always pre-wash all of the fabric that I use for quilting so that less shrinkage happens when the finished quilt is washed. The only exception would be pre-cuts or fabric that I would use for a wall hanging that would never be washed. I start by dividing the fabrics into lights and darks and washing them on the "quick wash" setting on my machine. I add a Color Catcher to each load so that the colors in the fabrics don't bleed. I also take time to iron each piece and fold it carefully so that it only needs a bit of ironing when I'm ready to cut out the pieces for the quilt.

The next step in the process involves cutting the fabric. I use a rotary cutter, cutting mat, and a 3"x18" ruler and a 6 1/2"x24" ruler. The striped border fabric needed to be specially cut so that the stripes would be centered in the middle of each border. I measured and marked each cutting line and then cut with scissors instead of the rotary cutter. It was a tedious process, but will be worth the extra time in the end.

There are three different blocks that are pieced in this quilt and I have finished two of them -- 48 pinwheel blocks and 72 Star point blocks. I made the 196 half-square triangles needed for the pinwheel blocks by making 8 of them at once. Two large squares, one of each fabric, are placed right sides together. Then I marked two parallel lines from one corner to the other using Fon and Porter's quarter-inch seam marker and the graphite lead in the Bohin pencil. I also used my rotating cutting mat to turn the blocks 180 degrees so that I could easily mark two parallel lines on the other diagonal. I then stitched close to each line so that I had a scant 1/4" seam. Finally, I cut the blocks between the parallel lines on the diagonals as well vertically and horizontally in the middle of the block. The result -- 8 half-square triangles! It is so nice to have efficient ways of piecing blocks -- making that many half-square triangles one at a time would have taken much, much longer.

I should also add that when the 48 pinwheel blocks were completed, there were four of them that had one block that was too small. So I got out my trusty seam ripper and took those blocks out. I made four new blocks larger than required and cut them down to the desired size. It added a bit more time to the process, but again, I know that I will be happier with the results in the end.

The star point blocks were finished next by placing two squares at the end of rectangle and sewing on the diagonal using my Angler 2 tool. I also stitched a scant 1/4" on these seams so that when I pressed the seams to the dark side, the block is the exact size needed. If you use an exact 1/4" seam, it can result in a block that is slightly smaller than required.

I have to admit that I have always known about the scant 1/4", but never thought it would really make that much difference. Boy, was I wrong! The blocks I have made so far for this quilt look so much more uniform. I am now a believer!!

It may take another two months before I can get back to working on this quilt. It has come together very nicely so far and I am really excited to see the finished project. I guess I will just need to be patient! Until next time -- Happy Quilting!

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