Sew Along: BLOCK 6 Sewing North to Alaska by Featherweight
by April Henry
Summer is nearly over and just yesterday a song came over the radio that reminded me of Christmas and the holiday season... my heart had a flicker of excitement as festivities and traditions are just around the corner! What about you, are you preparing for holiday sewing yet?
This Block 6, for me, was one more milestone, because it marked the four corners of the Alaska kaleidoscope. It replicates block 4, and after last month's sewing, you should now have a total of 20 blocks sewn and set aside. Let's now begin Block 6, with another set of 4! If you are just joining us, though, order a kit below, click back to Block 1 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 (the center block being the 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 6, the construction will be identical to Block 4, except the color placements are different, so lay out your fabric pieces accordingly and you will begin to envision the four visual "cornerstones" of your quilt.
For Block 6, the construction will form a beautiful star.
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 24 minutes long and addresses sewing this same block, but using solid fabrics. The construction is the same as what we already sewed for Block 4, but incorporating a different color at each of the side triangle pieces. Scrolling below the video, you can also follow along with some additional sewing tips on aiming for accuracy.
I like to lay out all my pieces for all the blocks and then begin the assembly line with pinning, working my way around each block layer as I sew.
A few of us took a mini sewing retreat and Tammy was our early bird, ready to sew first thing in the morning. She was so adorable!
When the seams come together, it is so satisfying!
ADDITIONAL PIECING TIPS BELOW
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. Chain-piecing is a great technique for working through the block sets.
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.
When the center seams match up perfectly, the quarter inch seam will end at the farthest tip.... notice the 1/4" distance between the top edge of the fabric and the tip?
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?
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.
Use the Alex Anderson's 4-in-1 Wooden Sewing Tool
to "quick press" the seams.
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.
Block 6 is now complete... sew three more and you'll have a new set of four blocks finished!
Remember to take time to oil your machine! You've been doing a lot of sewing thus far and this is a good time to take a quick break, clean out the lint from the bobbin hook assembly and follow along the oiling tutorial.