Monday, December 21, 2009

Floral sunny lanes for April

The second 2010 Facebook Quilt Block Swap block is more complicated ( & more obscure) than previous blocks.  While the group has a good mix of brand new beginners & very advanced artisans & everyone in between, for the first year we did either simple blocks or people could find their own level.  For example the first swap was 9-patch of any kind & there were 9-patches of all kinds, some simple & some complex.

For our April block everyone will have to 1) work with some smaller-than-usual pieces & 2) deal with 1/2-square triangles.   I will lay out the directions so anyone who is new to the triangle-thing can learn it, but obviously you should feel more-than-free to use whatever method works for you.  All that matters is the block you end up with.

Without further ado, I choose a block called Sunny Lanes & for the purposes of this swap at least one fabric needs to be a floral print of some kind.

Sunny Lanes Brackman number is 1144 for those who are interested (the floral thing was just something I threw in there).  I had received many requests for something more challenging,  as well as something that worked with other blocks for an overall effect. One of the specific blocks named as meeting these criteria was Jacob's Ladder & I would have gone with it except it would have meant we would be doing nothing but 9-patches for the first 1/2 of the year & I thought maybe I could do, well, not better but different.  For the purposes of this swap at least one fabric needs to be a floral print of some kind.

Sunny Lanes is a 4 patch with four patches & 1/2 squares triangles in it.  You will need light & dark fabrics to make the triangles & medium fabrics for the smaller 4-squares.  In fact, for this block to 'work', the half square triangle MUST be dark & light & the 4-patches MUST be medium, so please choose your fabrics with this in mind.  It is perfectly OKay to use scraps for the entirety so long as the lights go in the light spots, the darks in the dark spots & the mediums in the medium spots.  Again, for this swap at least one & preferably more of the fabrics you choose should have a floral print.  The block will be 12" finished/12.5" unfinished.  The block requires eight (8) half square triangles & eight (8) mini-4patches.  So lets begin Floral Sunny Lanes.

Part One- There are gazillions of ways to make the half square triangles & as long as you end up with 3.5" half square triangles it does not much matter which technique you use.  I am providing the steps how I make them I make them this way because it is the easiest & most accurate way to use up irregular & smaller pieces of fabric:

1. Cut four 4" squares from you light fabrics & four 4" squares from your dark fabrics.  You can use the same light & same dark throughout the block or you can use up scraps.   On the back of the light square, with a pencil or marker that will not run make a straight line from one corner to the other.  Ultimately this will be your cutting line, so you do not need to worry about it washing out or fading.  Pin the other two corners.

2. Stitch 1/4" from this line on either side.  I find the easiest way to do this without getting the points jammed into the machine is to chain piece (just keep stitching without stopping to cut in between) while alternating which side of the line you are stitching.

3.  Once you have sewn 1/4" on both sides of the line, unpin & cut on the center line.  Press open.  It is possible your triangle will need to be squared up, remember the size you want it to be is 3.5".  Also, cut away any threads (if you did not chain piece) & trim the pointy-bits from the ends of the seam. 

Part Two- The mini 4-patches are not so complicated.  The hardest thing about them is their diminutive size.  As with each half square triangle you want to work with a 3.5" unit.  Therefore, each of the squares within the mini 4-patch begins as a 2" square. Again, you can assemble these as you wish, you can strip piece them, you can use up smaller scraps, you can make conventional 2 fabric 4-squares or use a unique fabric for each square.  The only rule is that ALL of the fabrics comprising the mini 4-squares should be medium shades.  If you are not sure whether or not your fabric is a medium, put it between the dark & the light you have selected for your half square triangles.  If you are still unable to confirm it is a medium, you should consider whether or not the dark or the light you have chosen really medium.  Just like the half-square triangles, you will need 8 mini 4-patches for each block

Part Three- Each block is made up of 4 smaller units, there are two layouts for these smaller units (although they are both made of  2 half-square triangles & 2 mini 4-squares).  You will need two of each for each block. While both have half-square triangles &min 4-squares opposite each other, one as the dark sides of the triangle both pointing to the center, the other has the dark triangles pointing one direction & the light triangles in the other.

After choosing the block, working out the unit sizes, etc. I found there was another version of it on-line at Quilters Cache, an excellent resource if you have not yet discovered it.  You might note that the triangles are handled differently than I have described or is diagrammed in the Encyclopedia of Quilt Patterns, from which I took the block.  There is nothing wrong with this variation but because this is such a busy block, it would probably be better if everyone did the same version.

Finally, If you not currently part of the swap group, but you are interested in joining our swap group, you are very very welcome BUT it would make my life A LOT easier if you joined through Facebook.   Log into Facebook, search "quilt block swap" & find the Group.  There will be a picture of the current block as the profile photo.  Ask to join & you should be approved within a day or two.  If you are not on Facebook, but still interested, go to this post & leave a comment there.

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