Sew Along: BLOCK 5 Sewing North to Alaska by Featherweight
by April Henry
I am so excited about this month, because it is an exact repeat of what we did on Block 2, except it gets turned 90 degrees counter-clockwise! It feels like we are coasting for a little bit but I love that feeling of "Oh! I know what to do here... I can do this!". Granted, we still have work to do with these four blocks, but it will be a great time to hone our skills and see if we can make any improvements on those quarter inch seams and matching points, learning with each block!
After last month's sewing, you should now have a total of 16 blocks sewn and set aside. Let's now begin Block 5 with another set of four! If you are just joining us, though, order a kit below and sew along with us!
Click the images below and select your quilt kit in Blue or Holiday (while supplies last). And, BONUS! All the fabric pieces are pre-cut by laser - perfect and beautiful. Pieces don't fray, they're uniform and we can sew right away!
Each block is essentially made four times (with center block exception) with varying changes in fabric placement, so please feel free to work ahead if you want to construct all the same style blocks, all in one chain-piece sitting. 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, though, 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". LET'S BEGIN!
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)
For Block 2, you will notice that we are still working with a kaleidoscope style center arrangement. The construction will be similar to Block 1, but there are two additional smaller pieces (A & B) that we will be working into four of our larger center triangles. This will add two more sewing steps in the process, and help us learn more about nested seams and accurate points.
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. For Block 2, however, and working with the precut laser-cut pieces, you will only need to watch it from timestamps 15:05 through 23:07. Scrolling below the video, you can also follow along with some additional sewing tips on aiming for accuracy.
Step 1: Sew pieces D (small corner triangle) to pieces C. You can mark them according to Edyta's instruction using the little plastic templates included with the kit.
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.
Note where the needle is and where it is going to end up at the very end of the seam.... see the little point sticking out? The needle will end up going off that point, which is exactly at the quarter inch mark according to how the pieces are laser cut.
Step 2: Now let's align the A & B pieces so that a perfect quarter inch seam is achieved and that they will align properly when pressed open. In the photo above, take note of the points of the two pins. This is where the pieces must match up when pinning the two pieces together.
See how nicely the top piece presses open and over and how the edge aligns evenly between the two pieces? Using the Sue Dayley's rotating cutting mat accentuates the quarter inch measurements, making it easy to line up each of my pieces for pinning as I'm sewing along.
Now align the opposite side according to the pin points above. Pin, sew and press!
You can trim the little tips off, if you wish.
Now let's align the two larger triangle units together. Again, take note of the pin points and where they need to meet on the quarter inch measurement. If it helps, you can even draw a line at your quarter inch mark to make sure they are going to meet at the right place.
Now we have four units sewn!
Following the pressing guideline arrows allows for this nicely nested seam. See how the two sections will join together with the seams facing opposite directions? Pressing the large triangle seams all the same direction, as Edyta instructs, allows for the seams to nest when sewn together like this.
Nested seams perfectly aligned.
Block 2 is now complete... 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.
We will see you next month for Block 6 on August 23, 2021!