Monday, January 11, 2010

Brielle's Quilt - The Tester

I'm new to quilting and don't quite trust my instincts or skills yet, so I like to make "testers" when I do a quilt project. Basically I make a block or four with the fabric I'm using so I can get a sense for how it will all work together in the final project. That way I can be experimental and try out some ideas without risking messing up the "real" quilt.

I decided to make a tester using four of the seven fabrics I bought, 2 dark and 2 light of each purple and green. I decided to make the blocks 10" wide, and to do a 2 block by 2 block version of the first format style I listed in the previous post (the simplest one).

I looked up online for some tips on how to piece a bento box block. I found how the 20 pieces of the block are to cut individually and sewed one by one from the middle out. It was the intuitive way I would have done it if I had no other instructions.

But then I found a really nifty shortcut on this blog.

First you make a courthouse steps block (cutting 9 pieces instead of 20):

Then you cut them into fourths:

Then you rearrange them (I thought it was fun to see what other arrangements could be made with these same blocks):

Finally, you sew them back together:

What I learned:

I got the size right. The final quilt will have blocks that are as wide as these, but I will make it 3 blocks by 4 blocks.

If I decide to use this format style (and I think I will) where the dark values make hollow squares inside the block, it is more important to line up the dark value pieces than the corners (see photo to the right).

Flannel is quite thick and I found the intersections where three or four pieces came together to have too much of a bump. I think I will have to press the seams open. This will prevent me from being able to stitch-in-the-ditch when I quilt it, so I'll have to think about that.

Also, I didn't pay attention to the shapes of adjacent pieces that were the same fabric because I didn't think it would be noticeable, but it is. The diagram below demonstrates what I mean. The block on the right is radially symmetrical through the center point, but the one on the left is only symmetrical on the horizontal axis. All four of my blocks were some variation of the one on the left. Not only do these odd seam lines look sloppy on the finished product, it also causes more 4 piece intersections when the blocks are pieced together.

The background fabrics I used in the tester were too similar in value and their checkerboard pattern is too subtle. Unfortunately the other fabrics I have are the same value or different colors, so I will have to pass on the checkerboard motif and just have a scrappy random background probably using all 5 of the background fabrics I've got.

1 comment:

Crystal said...

I love your test blocks! I'm so happy my tutorial worked for you! I can't wait to see the finished quilt. :)