I have nothing to show for today! I spent some time on my laptop finalizing Block Nine of the Block of the month quilt, Round the Year, which will be posted on January 1st. I also cut the fabric for the Dusk version of Block Four, Sapphire Fire. Just to remind you, I had made this block in only the Rainbow colourway.
This is a fairly simple block, though a bit tedious to piece. The results, though, can be quite stunning!
What gemstone will your block depict? A garnet, a golden topaz or an emerald, perhaps?
Sapphire Fire is the fourth block in the Dusk colourway in the Block of the Month Quilt, Dreamcatcher Round the Year. The templates and instructions for the other colourway “Rainbow” have already been posted last week.
Like the previous three blocks, this one is also paper foundation pieced and finishes at 18″ square with a 15″ inset circle. The pattern, fabric requirement and piecing instructions can be downloaded from the links at the end of this post.
I am yet to make this block in this colourway. I plan to use 4 shades of blue fabric from deep to light in this block, contrasted with 4 fabrics ranging from deep orange through light orange and gold to yellow. The background is planned in 2 shades of grey. Here is a look at some of the fabric I have been auditioning for the block! It is Fossil Fern by Benartex – I just love that fabric!
Meanwhile, I am utilising this post to list out of a few do’s and don’t’s to keep in mind when paper piecing the blocks from this quilt!
Reminder – the templates for the Round the Year quilt blocks are printed mirror images.
Check to see if the templates are to be printed in portrait or landscape mode – adjust the printer setting accordingly.
Take print outs of the Template file with printer settings at 100% or actual size.
I often have people ask me if they can increase the printer settings to, say, 120% if a larger block is needed. It does not work that way, if you have the ¼” seam allowance added on to the template ( as is the case with the Dreamcatcher Round the Year block templates). You will end up increasing the seam allowance also to 120%!
4. I hate all the paper wastage involved when printing the templates – often one template occupies one whole page! Where possible, I like to use my unthreaded sewing machine to needle punch up to 7-8 templates at a time from waste paper stapled to a printed template. Tissue paper works great!
5. I like to cut the templates a bit larger on all sides and trim them after piecing. It may be just superstition, I don’t know! I just like the thought of some margin in case things go wrong somewhere!
6. This can never be stressed enough – starch and press your fabric! It makes all the difference between a block that looks like it has been pieced by an experienced quilter versus a beginner! Every minute spent on this stage will be well worth it!
7. What I love about paper piecing is that you don’t have to be very accurate when cutting the fabric. All my fabric requirement charts give you plenty of margin. Personally, I like to keep a boxful of all the scraps from the quilt blocks to look into before I start cutting fresh fabric.
8. After cutting the fabric pieces, I can save a lot of heartburn if I remember to pin the pieces to the respective templates! At this stage, I also get a chance to check if I have missed out on a piece or two.
9. I like to sort out the templates shape wise unless specifically asked not to. There is a possibility you can chain piece them and why miss the opportunity?
10. Set your machine stitch length to 1.5 (or about 15-20 stitches per inch). You want to be able to tear away the paper, without getting the stitches all loosened up.
11. It may sound obvious, but please remember to begin with piece #1 and #2 when you start piecing a template!
Now to the piecing itself:
Place fabric piece #1 with the wrong side touching the paper on the unprinted side. Hold it against the light to see that the entire area of piece #1 is covered plus a ¼” seam allowance.
Place piece#2 on top of piece #1, right sides together. ALWAYS – right sides touching each other. Align the edges of the two pieces at seam between #1 and #2 – overlapping ¼” beyond the seam line.
Pin the two pieces together before flipping to printed side of paper and stitching on seam line.
Trim the seam allowance to ¼”.
Press open fabric piece #2 and hold the template against light to check that it covers the printed area #2 plus ¼” seam allowance on all sides.
We are now ready to stitch piece #3…repeat as for pieces #1 and #2!
Repeat for all the numbered pieces – in the correct order, till the whole template is pieced.
12. When all the templates are pieced and ready to be assembled, trim the templates to the right size – to the outer dotted line in the case of my block templates.
13. Each of the block patterns includes a Master Template, which is a guide to how the templates are to be assembled. REMEMBER – The Master Template is also a mirror image and shows the printed side of the paper templates.
( You can also use the Master Template to try out your own colour schemes; use colour pencils! )
14. Unlike in the case of the templates, numbering or alphabetical order does not work here! So that it is not necessary that A is joined to B is joined to C etc…Follow the assembly instructions given in the pattern (Instructions File). In case of confusion – yes – refer to the Master template.
15. There are several alignment markers in the form of crosses and tiny lines cutting across the seam line. Use these to pin the templates together.
16. You can tear away much of the paper before you start assembling the templates, especially if it does not have any alignment markers!
17. What you need to be careful at this stage is which edges you join and which template is on top when it goes under the needle. How do I know? Guess!
I think I have listed all the things to be taken care of when paper piecing these blocks! In no time you should have a perfectly pieced and assembled block. If you can think of anything else, do share it here!
Before I forget, here are the promised pattern downloads for the Sapphire Fire Block! The files are huge, and may take time to download. You need Adobe Reader on your system(downloadable free online) to be able to view/ download these files. Happy piecing and quilting!
Instructions – for Sapphire Fire, Block Four of Dreamcatcher Dusk Round the Year Quilt.
Paper piecing templates – for Sapphire Fire, Block Four of Dreamcatcher Dusk Round the Year Quilt.
Please note that the downloadable patterns and instruction files for the Dreamcatcher Round the Year quilt blocks are being migrated to my store MadsPatch and will not be available for download for free from 15th November 2020 onwards.