Saturday, May 31, 2014

Solstice prism for December 2014

Last year's year-long Rainbow Connection was one of the more popular swaps & it probably never would have happened if this idea had occurred to me when I was choosing blocks.  I was trying to put together a single block that had the complete ROYGBP that is the quilters rainbow & could did come up with one until after the Rainbow Connection had already begun, so I back-burnered it until a year had gone by.  This is the traditional quilt block "Northwind" with a rainbow twist.  It is also a big block; the block will be 12.5" unfinished/12" finished.  The pieces within the blocks are also big (in my version the smallest square you deal with is 4.5") but that is where the simplicity ends.

Which brings me to a caution:  this is not an easy block.  It has a lot of wide open bias edges, the sizing of the pieces is weird (all 1/8" stuff if you use the Quilters Cache version & "match this edge to that corner & never mind the extra" if you use mine) & so forth.  If you have never done an open bias to bias block before your should expect to make one just for practice because I guarantee something is going to get squished, stretched or somehow damaged making the block unswappable.  Even ordinary mistakes that can be fixed with a seam ripper are a headache in this block (because ripping a bias edge ALWAYS stretches it).  On top of all that you need to keep track of what colors you are using where because while one half of the fabric will be a background, the other half will be one each o red, orange, yellow, green, blue & purple.  I am not trying to discourage anyone from trying the block, I am saying there is a learning curve. 

To begin, I am pointing you towards directions in Quilters Cache, which are perfectly adequate, but we are making a few changes.  The block is North Wind (if this link does not work, you can go to Quilters Cache, find the list that includes blocks that begin with "N" & scroll to North Wind).  Even if you plan to use my directions, do yourself a favor & go to Quilters Cache & print these as well.  My directions are specific to our color scheme, but otherwise they are not necessarily easier. 

For our swap, instead of a straight two fabric block, one half of the block will be your background fabric, which is either black, white, black-on-black or white-on-white.  You are likely to get a mix of black or white blocks back; I will not be sorting only black to people who sent black, etc.  So far, so good. You will need five smaller pieces (for the images below I cut 5" squares) & one larger (I used a 9.5" square). 

The other half will require one scrap each of red, orange, yellow, green, blue & purple.  You will need more of one of them; all together they make the other half of the complete block.  Again, you can follow the Quilters Cache directions or you can use these-whatever works.  You will need five smaller pieces (for the images below I cut 5" squares) & one larger (I used a 9.5' square).  I don't care which color is larger; I used whatever I happened to have the most of & leftovers for the others. 

Below are the pictures/directions for making it my way.  Again, you can use the Quilters Cache way if you prefer so long as you use our colors: a single background fabric of black, black-on-black, white, OR white-on-white & one each of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple.

I paired three of the 5" colors with three of the 5" backgrounds & made six 1/2-square triangles.  take one of each color combo & out the other aside (this is not a block you can make many at once, at least not at first).  Press these blocks open, either all towards or all way from the background & cut down to 4.5" square.  From the remaining background & color pieces (two 5" squares & one 9.5" square) I cut corner to corner making open bias triangles.  I put aside half of them & then laid out the pieces to make sure I had one of each color.

Divide the center part into three columns.  One column will be a 1/2-square triangle & a background triangle, one will be a 1/2-square triangle & the third (the center column) will be a 1/2-square triangle with both a background triangle & a color triangle. To make these columns, line up the right angle of the triangle piece with the corner of the 1/2-square triangle square.

If you find yourself stitching a color edge to a color edge or a background edge to a background edge STOP.  There is no such join in the entire block.  Then lay everything out & check it again.

I suggested that you press either to or away from the background (depending on whether your background is black or white).  If you did that, then you can lock the seams of the two outer columns with the center column.  Your straight edges will all square up & you will end with a piece that looks something like this.

Now it is a matter of snipping those dog ears from the center & lining up the center of your end triangle with the center of your strip of piece triangles & 1/2-sqaure triangles.  I found what worked for me was pressing a crease from the right angle to the bias edge but this can be tricky as any stretching is a bad, bad thing.

When it all goes together you might need to square it up to 12.5" unfinished, but you might just have to clip the dog-ears & be done. 

Blocks are due in-house the last Saturday in December which is December 27, 2014.  Because mail gets slower around the holidays (even if there are a lot fewer holiday cards being snail mailed, there are also a lot fewer postal employees & they take time off just like the rest of us!) I strongly suggest getting everything in the mail no later than the Friday before Christmas which will be Friday, December 19th. 

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