I am freshly back from my Quilt Guild’s annual retreat, fresh being a relative term since it’s been a couple of weeks. Where does the time go? The partial quilt in the photo is the project I decided to work on at the retreat. It is a pattern from Nancy Rink called El Camino Real, each block being named after one of the California missions. Since we live in a replica of a mission, I thought it would be an appropriate quilt to make for our home.
As you can see, the blocks are very intricate and each one is slightly different. Nancy’s pattern calls for sewing a lot of little triangles onto other tiny triangles, but being the simple person I am, I always look for the simplest way to do things. So I thought about all the tools I have in my arsenal, some of which I profiled in another recent post, and I remembered my Square in a Square tool designed by Jodi Barrows.
This is a wonderful tool. All of the components you can make with it are simply made from squares and rectangles, with the exception of the Diamond in a Square and related shapes. You can see in the photo a bit of two of the prototype components I made that are incorporated into the blocks.
The component on the left starts out similar to the piece on the right. I got the colors in the wrong order on the piece in the right, which is why I always make a prototype and use scrap fabric when trying something new. The flowered fabric should have been the square in the middle. To do the technique, you start with a square in the middle, add the right size rectangles on all four sides, cut with the Square in a Square ruler as instructed in the book (in this case on a 90 degree angle), then add one more round of properly sized rectangles trimmed up after sewing as instructed. Then when you cut the piece on the diagonal, you get two of the components on the left. I did have to add the large dark blue triangles, but it was a lot easier and a nicer result than doing the triangle thing through out and it is more accurately sized than I can get by flip and stitch techniques.
This is another component that I had to make. As you can see, it is just as simple using the Square in a Square system. Once again, I had to add the final triangles, but I was able to make four components more easily and more accurately than if I had done it the old fashioned way.
There are a lot of other components that I made using this system. Jodi’s book is full of photos of how the different options look once completed, so I simply had to page through and pick the one I needed.
Another tool that I used in this quilt for piecing the center portions of the applique blocks is the Corner Pop tool from Deb Tucker.
This is only the second time I had an opportunity to use this tool, and it worked like a dream. Instead of doing the flip and stitch technique, which as I say, I have a terrible time getting proper alignment and accurate seams and enough seam allowance where the pieces intersect, following Deb’s sizing instructions, you cut the corner off the main piece of fabric, then sew on slightly oversized triangles, then trim the piece down to the right size using this tool. As shown here.
As you can see, the results are perfect. No crooked corners.
And plenty of seam allowance so you don’t cut off your corners when incorporating it into the block.
One of the other quilters at the retreat was so impressed by the Square in a Square tool that after borrowing mine to make some tiny components that was taking her forever, she immediately ordered one for herself. If you do order one, be aware that the booklet that comes with it doesn’t have the instructions for all the possible options, so be sure to order Volume 1 of Jodi’s Technique Reference Book. It is well worth the additional investment. Volume 2 of the Reference Book focuses exclusively on the Diamond in a Square option and all the different options you can make with it. I also highly recommend you practice making the component you want with scrap fabric to make sure it comes out the right size and you get everything in the right order without wasting that perfect fabric that you have for your quilt.
My usual disclaimer, I have no financial or other interest in any of the tools I talk about. I simply like to share easier ways to do things with my fellow quilters.
Now, I’d better get back to making little teeny applique pieces for the rest of the applique blocks. Heavy sigh.