We’ve reached Block 4 of the Puzzle Quilt and you will be half-way through when you have made these ones. This time the block is based on a 9-patch grid (the earlier ones were 4-patch) and has two new units to tackle – the quarter-square triangle (QST) and a stripped unit. Just for a change, instead of merely telling you to download the instructions and leaving you to get on with it I thought I would walk you through making these blocks pointing out various things as I would have done in a step-by step demonstration in class. But feel free to simply download the instructions and get on with making blocks if you already have a fair bit of experience under your belt.
Firstly, after downloading the instructions, you need to choose your fabric placements – colour in the blank blocks (you can print them out again if you need to) and write your colours on the worksheet in place of mine.
Now we can begin, starting with cutting out the triangles. Cut the number of squares that you need for each fabric and then cut these into four across the diagonals. As your triangles are (probably) all different colours it is easier to make QST units this way than try to fiddle around with ‘quick-piecing’ and sewing before you cut. When you cut your squares into quarters make sure you move yourself and the ruler, not the fabric. So put your square on the cutting mat and place the ruler across the diagonal from one corner to the opposite one – you can line the square and ruler up on the lines of the mat if you wish so that the diagonals of the square are along the 45 degree lines on the mat as this can make it easier. Cut along that first diagonal. Carefully pick up the ruler and reposition it and yourself so you can cut across the other diagonal. Resist the temptation to touch the fabric or move it until you have completed the second cut. If you are brave and have a sharp blade you can stack your squares and cut through four at a time, but be very careful that they are lined up accurately and don’t slip while you are cutting.
Lay out your triangles in the pattern you wish to make according to your coloured block(s). Pair them up ready for sewing. It is easier if you stitch from the ‘square end’ to the ‘pointy end’ as this reduces the risk of the points of the triangles being sucked down into the machine and shredded (this is why we often use ‘leaders and enders’).
Keep those same triangles on the top as you take them to the iron and press the seams to one side. This will ensure that the seams butt up to each other as you sew these resulting larger triangles in pairs to complete the units with beautifully matching centre seams. You can also ‘twizzle’ the seams on the reverse when you press to make the unit lie nice and flat. Check that these triangle squares measure 4½ inches – if you feel the urge to trim them try not to trim off the seam allowance or you will lose your points.
For the strips you will need about an 18 inch length of each one – so a fat quarter strip (or cut a full width of fabric strip in half. I have given the measurement of one and seven eighth inches – this is the nearest we can get to the correct measurement with a rotary ruler but adjustments will be made later! Cut your strips and join them into a new stripped fabric according to your colour chart. One of my blocks will have a white/red/white unit and the other will have a green/red/red unit. Remember when joining long strips to alternate the direction of the seam – up for one set and down for the next. It’s not quite so crucial for only three strips but it can be once you start joining lots of strips – take care with the pressing too as you don’t want to introduce a curve into your strip.
Cut your strips into 4 four and half inch units. Line the ruler up along the seam line rather than the long edge of the strip as the seam line is (should be) straight and double check you have the right measurement before you cut. If you need to straighten the short edge of the strip after a cut or two, don’t worry, just straighten it and carry on cutting.
Now you may need to trim these units along the long strip sides to 4½ inches – you should be about one sixteenth(ish) of an inch too wide on both sides. Trim these little shreds off to make nice 4½ inch square units.
Once you have done that it’s time to lay your blocks out ready to stitch them together. It is usually easier to do this next to the sewing machine if you have room, otherwise it is another way of getting your exercise for the day by laying them out on the cutting mat across the other side of the room instead. Double check you have the triangles and strips facing the right way! Stitch the units into three pairs first. Press to the strip units.
Now sew the third unit to these pairs to make your three rows of three units and again press to the strip units. When you come to join the rows together those seams will butt right up to each other and you will be able to ‘twizzle’ them where they meet when you press, making sure everything lies flat when you press – no lumps to catch the needle when quilting – and perfectly meeting seams as well..
And that’s it – you’ve made your blocks. Award yourself a pat on the back and a beverage and biscuit (chocolate, of course – it’s good for the brain, or so I tell myself).