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Sew Along: BLOCK 10, 11, 12, 13 & Finish Sewing North to Alaska by Featherweight
by April Henry
Confession time and apologies... I somehow lost the photos to some of the step-by-step blogging I was going to use to finish this series as separate posts, and I sincerely apologize! Good news, though - this blog post will encompass as much of the remaining block photos I could find as well as the finishing touches to close out the series. So, if you are as anxious as me at seeing the finished quilt, scroll to the bottom of this post now and you can see all of them in a row!
Block 10 is essentially just like Block 7, but with swapped color & fabric placement. I will make you aware now that the layout of prints in Block 7 presents a fun challenge and having a second set of eyes to double check your work can be very helpful!
After last month's sewing, you should now have a total of 36 blocks sewn and set aside.
If you are just joining us and would like to participate at your own pace with your own fabrics (we do carry the Alaska quilt templates here and here), you can start at the very beginning and following along here.
As you know, each block is essentially made four times (with center block exception) with varying changes in fabric placement. I will caution you, however. All four of us who were sewing this quilt erred in missing our fabric color placement at one point in time or another. (The Alex Anderson wooden seam ripper 4-in-1 tool was our best friend on multiple occasions!) Learn from our mistakes and note that it is very easy to swap placement, prints, and orientation and these blocks can be quite the brain game! With this quilt being dependent upon all of these things for design accuracy, it is important to scrutinize your block construction extensively. If you have a friend sewing along with you, be block-checking buddies! Or ask your husband, friend, or neighbor to be a second set of eyes. We loved it when one of us saved the other from any "un-sewing".
Helpful Notions for Sewing these blocks:
- Aurifil 50wt thread - Dove Grey or Light Sand works perfectly to blend with all fabric colors.
- Glass Head Ultra Fine Pins
- Sewline Pencil
- Alex Anderson's Wooden 4-in-1 sewing tool
Additional Tools We Use:
- Sue Daley 16-inch Round Rotating Cutting Mat
- Rotary Cutter
- Scissors for trimming and snipping threads
- Seam Square
- Seam Guide (or Quarter Inch Foot of Choice)
- Quick Press Seam Roller
- Portable Iron
- Pressing Fleece (Wool or Alpaca)
- Template Set (Acrylic) for Alaska Quilt (optional - only necessary if cutting from your own fabrics)
The arrows on Edyta's pattern will show you how the pieces are sewn together and the direction with which the seams are pressed. Following the pressing guidelines will be very helpful for nesting seams, matching points and easier block assembly. Remember, the larger triangle seams will all be pressed in the same direction, all the way around the block...like a kaleidoscope or merry-go-round!
The video below is about 27 minutes long and addresses sewing all the block styles for the entire quilt. The block print and color placements may vary, but the concepts for each one are applicable to each variation.
The Featherweight Accurate Seam Guide helps keep the seam edges exactly in line with one another. You can see how my left hand guides it near the presser foot.
Nested seams perfectly aligned.
Block 10 ~ sew three more and you'll have a new set of four blocks finished!
PRO TIP: To achieve flat centers where all the points come together, use a seam ripper to take out just the few stitches and little bits of thread that extend in the seam allowance. Being a Kaleidoscope block, you will need to take out both the angled and vertical stitches on both sides of the seam allowance. This will open up the seam and allow them to be pressed open and the block to lay flat.
Remove only the few diagonal stitches...
... and the few vertical stitches on both sides of the seam allowance.
Block 11 was one where I lost photos of the process, but you can see by the layout of the block above that it is the same construction as Block 1 only with variation of prints and color placement. Please feel free to refer to the previous instruction for Block 1 for all the tutorial and additional sewing tips.
I'm so happy with some of the pictures that I took for this block, especially for reiterating the center point and achieving a flat center. It's such a fun little trick that it brings satisfaction each time I seam rip it!
Flat center achieved... could use a bit more work on the center points aligning, but it's close enough!
I was anxious to get to this very last block! Not only was there only one to sew (rather than four), but it was perfectly symmetrical and had all sorts of fun points to match. It was challenging, yes, but it gave me more opportunities to learn and improve on those point-matching skills.
In looking back through my photos, I noticed I must have taken this block step-by-step in photographing each section. First, I laid out all the pieces and then sewed around the block as I aligned them up for sewing.
Chain piecing is a breeze on the Singer Featherweight!
Pressing my seams flat... this is always the great revealing to see how close I came to aligning the edges. If I miss it, I make a mental note to try and improve on the next one.
Step-by-step-by-step-by-step.... slow and steady wins the race!
I sewed the corner triangles then sewed the smaller sections together to end up with the final four units.
Two units left....
Very, very carefully laying each block out to check for color and placement errors.
Whether I work left to right or top down in chainstitch fashion, I still prefer to divide my quilt top into two sections. It makes it easier for me to mentally cross the sewing finish line.
The design of this quilt is simply amazing and so visually stimulating to follow the lines and colors and patterns within the pattern. There are no curves in this quilt at all, but the illusion is there, just with the angles!
Left to Right: Jamie (she goes by "Just Jamie" for those in the know), Ashley (Marketing Director), Wendy (Business Administrator), April, Tammy (Wholesale Account Associate)