Wednesday, June 11, 2014

WIP Wednesday - My MM Challenge Blocks: A Fiddly Process

Small is cute, right?
So this is the little block I'm using for my Michael Miller Fabrics challenge. It finishes 6" square.
Michael Miller Challenge Block
Those orange bands are 1/2" wide; each wedge is 3" long.  These 6" blocks are very fiddly to assemble. I developed the block in EQ and printed out template pieces for it.

Here's my process:

I started with 3-1/2" cut strips of print fabrics, and added 1" cut strips of orange to each side. I combined the template pieces for the orange and the wedge into a compound template* and cut orange-trimmed wedges. This was much easier than trying to cut and assemble those tiny pieces of trim on the narrow end of the wedge!
Strip with trim, cut with template

I sewed wedges into pairs, then into fours, and pressed the seams open, making a quarter-circle arc.
Wedges sewn together

I cut 6-1/2" squares of the grey background.  Then I cut them to shape with these templates* by tracing the shaped line and cutting with scissors. I added notches to aid in matching seams. (*See more about templates below; these are glued to one layer of template plastic.)
Templates for background
I pinned the background piece to the wedges, matching the notches to the seams, and pivoted at the seams as I sewed.
Background pinned to wedges
Pivot at match points. Tucks visible
in photo are not stitched and will open flat.
I wanted all my seams pressed toward the orange, to fill it in and create dimension there while keeping the background flat. The seams naturally wanted to be pressed toward the background, so to make them go toward the orange, I pulled the last few stitches of each wedge seam apart.
Pull seams apart

When pressing, the seam allowances overlap a bit at each point.
Press with overlap at points

Here's the front, with the seam allowance pressed toward the orange:
Front, pressed

Next I pulled open the seams at the small end and pressed the seam allowances under 1/4".  If you try this, don't use steam, and use tweezers or something other than your fingers. Ouch!
Press small curve seam allowances under

I glue-basted the corner background in place and hand-appliqued the small end of the wedge onto the background.
Hand applique

14 blocks later, I was able to play with layouts. Check out Monday's post, below, and let me know which layout you prefer.

These little blocks were fiddly because they were so small. If they were 12" blocks they'd be much easier!  Maybe I should have added seams in the background and paper pieced them....oh well, hindsight.

Amazing designs can be created using blocks with an arc. In my gallery tab, check out Loop in Motion and Celtic Lullaby, both of which use blocks with arcs in them.

* Templates: I've often made my own templates and I've had good success with this method:
-Draw or print out the block and the template at actual size. Add 1/4" seam allowance if not already included.
-With glue stick, attach the paper template to template plastic.
-With rotary cutter and ruler, or scissors if needed for curves, cut out the template. A single layer template is fine for tracing onto fabric to cut with scissors, but a thicker one is needed for rotary cutting.
-Glue the single layer template to another layer of template plastic and cut it out again. With care you can use this double-layer template for rotary cutting.
-If you want it to be sturdier for rotary cutting, glue it to a third layer of template plastic and cut it out again.

Linking up with WIP Wednesday over at Freshly Pieced; check out all the quilty inspiration over there!


  1. Fantastic blocks! (I'm nervous about curved piecing.) I like your "Layout #3" from the post below - like the natural meandering of a river!