Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Construction of 'An Arrangement of Small Pieces' block or Tools of the Trade

I finally started on my 'Arrangement of Small Pieces' block.

Just looking at one of the four triangles that make up the 9" finished block, the EQ 7 program provided the following instructions:
  • the 2 smaller triangles can be cut from two 4 1/4" squares cut on both diagonals to yield 4 small triangles per colourway
  • the two parallelograms to each side of the small triangle are 2" x 3 3/4".
  • the middle trapezoid shaped strip is 2" x 7 1/4"
There had to be an easier way to approach this. I bought a fairly inexpensive ruler last year...the Companion Angle (10" size) by Darlene Zimmermann. This can be used to cut 1" to 10" quarter square triangles. Triangles are cut with the longest edge on the straight grain. You align your (in this case) 2" strip on the solid line where it says 2" with the little arrow down and cut your triangle shape which in this case will give you a triangle that will finish up at 3".

Initially I thought I would construct this block by strip-piecing the triangle unit together, i.e. constructing a Flying Geese Unit with longer flaps on the side and just joining 2 more strips to the unit, then use the Companion Angle to cut the triangle unit to the right size. While this worked when I tried it out, it produced some inaccuracies, so the matching of points was a bit hit and miss. While I don't mind a bit of inaccuracy here and there, I did not fancy having each of the quarter units let alone the blocks not align properly. This would not only be unsightly but also become an issue for the actual quilting of the quilt later on apart from also being a hassle to piece together. I am not one of those quilters who likes to spend hours on one block. Given that I will make probably 30 or more  of those blocks they do have to come together neatly and with ease so that I actually can enjoy making them.

So, I decided to use the Companion Angle to cut out my units individually

I then used one of the corners of a Marti Michell template (that had the right angle ) to trim the corners to make  alignment of the pieces easier. You could just eyeball that but that never works out really well for me. You can find the link to Marti Michell's website HERE if you are unfamiliar with the concept. I just saw that you can actually buy a little corner trimmer...
I use Marti Michell's templates in the construction of my favourite star, the 54 -40 or Fight star and cannot praise them enough. I think they are the best thing since sliced bread.

Anyway, this worked a treat (I only cut part of the corner away as I am not fitting Marti Michell template pieces together) and gave me a very straight unit (sorry, colourway changed as I was working along)

Next step was to align the trapezoid shaped strip above

See how the trimming of the corners make the piece fit perfectly

The next part is easy. I folded the top white triangle in half and put a grease along the long side and also marked the middle of the completed unit

and here is the completed quarter unit. Looking good so far!

I finger pressed my seams as I went along (in one quarter unit all the seams were pressed up and in the next one I pressed all seams down) as the unit has bias edges all along the short sides and is therefore quite unstable. After joining the quarter blocks in two's, I then joined the two halves together abutting the seams and joining the intersections. It all fitted together very nicely and I had (almost) no issues with the joining up of the units.

Here is what the completed block looks like. I managed to get it pretty much right at 9 1/2" (in some spots I am a bit shy of this but that is pretty much normal for me). Block sits nice and flat after I pressed it with the iron and with a bit more practice should come together quickly. Once completed the block is stable as all the edges are on the straight of grain.

Now, you have to like the stark geometric shapes to get excited by this...probably not everybody's cup of tea, but I am thrilled.

Consider the possibilities!

Alternate colourway and set on point...I think this looks awesome. Discovered this by accident the other day. Late at night, playing around...usually brings out my best ideas and I have not even yet played around much with colours and tones. Will explore this a bit more...there is another quilt in the making. But, I stand firm, I am making my first lot out of Thirties fabric.

This little unassuming block has heaps of potential.

Until next time


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