Thursday, August 30, 2012

Noche buena for December 2012

Just about every block swapper in the Facebook Quilt Block Swap group knows that I do my best to avoid religious holidays in the bi-monthly block swaps.  We have had christmas & hanukkah specific side swaps, & we could of course have others, if someone wanted to make a suggestion, but for the whole group I avoid anything that says easter or passover or whatever.

That being said, I know someone is going to look at our December block & say "Wait a minute!", but first hear me out.  Poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima botanically or as they are also known in their native country "noche buena") are seasonal here in the southern US & while it is true they mostly appear in northern households in connection with christmas, they are really just a December flowering plant.  Kind of like a christmas cactus.  I am hoping that people who don't celebrate christmas in a big way, or even at all, will find something to like about this month's block.

I should also mention that this block is a COMPLETE RIP-OFF of the Block Lotto African Violet block.  Alas the directions for that block have been swallowed by the internet.  I am sure they will reappear, but in the meantime I reverse engineered from my existing block lotto blocks to create our poinsettia block for December.

The basic block is a 4-patch so for each block you will make 4 "petals".  For each petal you will need a main poinsettia color, an outer leaf color & a little flower color .

The main poinsettia color is usually a red, BUT they can range all the way from blood red with black or magenta to salmon or even pale pink & you sometimes see them in greenish or goldish cream.  This fabric does not need to read-as-solid however ALL the colors in it most be appropriate together (i.e. you might have a lovely crisp cream & blue stripe, but there is no such thing as a cream & blue poinsettia so please don't use that, a pale pink & blood red plaid however would be just fine).

The outer leaves should be shades of green, leaning to the darker end of the spectrum, but black or brown would be acceptable if you just don't have any dark green.  Again, it does not need to read as solid so long as all the colors visible are within the range.

The actual flowers of the poinsettia are those clusters at the center of the red leaves.  These are often yellow but can also be light green, gold, white, cream or even a paler-than-the-main-color shade of red. 

For each block, you will need four (4) petals, for each petal you will need:

one  4.5" square of the main fabric
two 2.5" squares of the outer leaf fabric
one 1.5" square of the center fabric

You can use any color combo that would be found in a real poinsettia.  HINT: there is no such thing as a pale poinsettia with a dark red center, but there are cream poinsettias with green or gold centers).  I have included a couple of links to images of poinsettias above & a link to traditional color combos right here; I am confident that there is something to be found for every scrap bag.

Making the block is straightforward:

To make one petal take each background leaf square & mark a line (with pencil or your iron or however) from one corner to the other.

Put one of these over one corner of the main fabric, right sides together & stitch along that line.

Fold back, press & repeat on an adjacent corner.

On a third corner, do the same with the smaller center color

NOTE:  while I was first making this block -the african violet lock lotto block- I made myself CRAZY trying to keep all my flowers turning in the same direction.  I was lucky enough to win that particular block lotto & got a handful that turned in the other direction.  So long as all the petals within an individual flower all turn together, it doesn't matter one bit whether they all go clockwise or counter-clockwise.

Assemble four petals with the small corners together, each petal rotated one turn (see picture at the top).

As always we swap in sets of FIVE (5).  Please send your five (5) blocks to arrive the last Saturday in December & remember to include a stamped self-addressed envelope so blocks can be sent back to you.

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