Thursday, May 23, 2013

Flower Basket: W18B1

Today's blog is about the Flower Basket Block from the Farmer Granddaughter's Quilt Along.  This quilt along is one of the groups on the Forum part of the Missouri Star Quilt Company's website.  I am a guest presenter on this block; I never truly appreciated all of the effort Meli puts in until I worked on my "first" block.  So, please be understanding and be sure to leave comment questions in the Forum if I am unclear.

The Flower Basket Block needs a background color, a medium color, and a dark color.  When you read the description for my block, the background color is cream with (almost invisible) gold dots, the medium color is an aqua flower print (thanks, Meli!), and the dark color is red.

If you use the templates, this is what you will be cutting:

Background color: three #1, one #39, and two #3 (but please read the entire blog entry before you cut #39).

Medium color: two #3 and one #105 (but please wait for the special instructions before you cut #105).

Dark color: one #39 (but please read the entire blog entry before you cut #39).

However, (and there will always be a "however" with me), I have coordination problems, no matter how hard I try.  That meant I did not cut two #3s of the medium and of the background color.  Instead, I decided to use HSTs and cut one 2-1/2" x 2-1/2" square of the background color and one 2-1/2" x 2-1/2" square of the medium color.

I always cut my HSTs 1/8" longer in both length and width than I theoretically need because I have learned that my HSTs will turn out imprecise.  My method of coping with my lack of skill is to cut the HSTs a little big; then trim them to the correct size.  This does waste a little fabric, but I end up much happier with the results.

Here are the pieces of my Flower Basket Block laid out.

The squares for the HSTs are on top of the block.  I left gaps in the layout where your #3 background and medium pieces would go if you used the templates.  You can't see it in this photo, but I pressed a diagonal line on the background color square for the HST.  I watch most of Jenny Doan's tutorials and have found that Jenny's method of pressing a diagonal line rather than drawing a line with a pencil works much better for me.

This is when I noticed that template #39 yields a triangle that is LARGER than it should be.  Aarrrgh!  I tried to find a more accurate template in the book, but, if it is there, I missed it.

When you sew the background #39 and the dark #39 together, you want to end up with a 4-1/2" x 4-1/2" HST.  The easiest way for me was, of course, another fabric-wasting one.  I just sewed the two #39 pieces together, pressed the seam toward the darker fabric, and then trimmed the resultant square to 4-1/2" x 4-1/2" square.  If you do not like trimming, you can cut a 5-1/8" x 5-1/8" square along the diagonal.  (Please check the measurements before you cut the fabric in case I am wrong.)  That will give you an extra triangle of the background color and of the dark color.  If you have a better method for correcting the problem with the size of the template, please leave a comment in the Forum.

Here are my two HST squares sewn together with a 1/4" seam on each side of the diagonal crease.

If you look at the lower left-hand corner of the photo, you will see some blue fabric peeking out.  It shouldn't be, but I am not good at perfection.

Here are my two HSTs cut along the diagonal line and pressed open.

Immediately after I took the above photograph, I trimmed both HSTs, so that the length and width of each one was 2-1/2".  Here is a photo of my layout.  If you used the templates and sewed your #3 triangles together, your layout would look like this, too.

Just before I took the above photograph, I remembered that I had completely forgotten about the #105 piece for the basket handle.  (Edit--24 May 2013: When I wrote this blog, I completely forgot that many quilters are not as locked into using their sewing machine as I am.  If you prefer to sew by hand and use the needle-turn method, please remember to leave a seam allowance when you cut out your basket handle. Template #105 assumes you are not going to turn under the edges.  End of Edit.)

The curved piece on the bottom of the photo is a piece of the Warm & Company's Lite Steam-and-Seam 2 with the outline of the #105 template drawn on it.  I left roughly 1/4" around the pencil lines.  I looked at the photo of the Flower Basket Block in the first part of the book.  I don't know if the author fused her handle onto the large background triangle before she attached the handle.  But I did.  Of course, you do not need to use my fusing method.  I'm just going to try to explain it in case one of you is unfamiliar with the method.

I pressed the Steam-and-Seam 2 onto a scrap of my medium fabric.  Then I cut along the pencil lines to get my handle piece all nicely backed with adhesive.  (Actually I reshaped the handle a bit when I cut it out because I didn't like how it should have looked.  That's another problem I have; I am always changing the pattern a little.  But, no matter how you cut out the handle, the rest of my method should work.)

Then I realized that the template did not yield a handle that seemed as big as the one in the photograph in the book.  I decided I could live with the handle I had, but I looked at the photo of the Flower Basket Block in the book to see exactly where the author had placed her handle.  

From the tiny sliver of fabric showing, I could tell that the author had placed her handle on the edge of the seam line.  I preferred to have my handle look more attached to the basket, so I drew pencil lines 1/8" from the hypotenuse edge of the background #39 triangle (i.e., the pencil lines were within the triangle's seam allowance).  I folded both the triangle and the handle in half.  This let me center the handle on the triangle.  I put the edges of my handle on my pencil lines.  When I pressed the handle onto the triangle in order to fuse the two pieces of fabric together, my center lines disappeared.

If you do not like how I attached my handle, please use a method that pleases you.  There are no quilting police; and, if there were, they would more likely visit me than you.

Here is what my layout looked like after I sewed the two #39 triangles together.

Next I sewed each of my HSTs to different squares next to the dark triangle.  (I pressed the seam allowance toward the medium fabric.)  I then sewed one of the HST-square sets to the side of my dark #39 triangle.  Because the seam allowances were beginning to pile up, I pressed the seam toward the HST-square set.

The last square was sewn to the other HST-square set.  I pressed the new seam toward the HST, so that it would nest well with the seam connecting the dark triangle #39 to the first HST-square set.  I then sewed this piece to the piece with the dark triangle.

Wow!  I squared up the edges.  The block was finished and really much easier to piece than the length of my directions might indicate.  (I was just trying to help any novice quilters in our group.)

Only I hadn't completed the block.  I like my seam edges finished.  (This is just another one of my personal quirks.)  I could leave the handle fused as it was, or I could finish the edges.  I chose to use a buttonhole stitch on both sides of the handle.

(I'm sorry the photo is a little out of focus,  My camera is either not good at shooting closeups, or the camera suffered from a great deal of operator error.)

If you don't like how I finished the edges but you do want to finish the edges, please use your preferred method.  A lot of people use a satin stitch; if you do, I recommend you use a narrower satin stitch than a wider satin stitch in order to conserve on thread.  But, once again, that's just my preference.  You might prefer a wider stitch, and that's what you should do.

So now I was really finished with the Flower Basket Block.

The Flower Basket Block was actually one of the more relaxing blocks in the book.  The next block is the Flower Garden Path Block.  I had trouble with it, so the directions for W18B2 will be really late.

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