Written by: Natalie Crabtree
Hello quilters, and welcome to Month 5 of the Words to Live By BOM! I may say this every month (there are so many wonderful blocks and panels!), but Month 5 features my absolute favorite block and panel. I enjoyed making this block so much, it brought me joy. I hope it brought you a bit of sunshine during these gloomy winter months.
Let’s dive right in with the gorgeous hand illustrated sun created by Stacie Bloomfield. I have to admit, this panel was hard to trim up! Not due to complexity but because I wanted all the glorious golden detail around the perimeter of the sun panel. So, one of my goals with this block was to create and continue the golden sunshine rays and incorporate them into the piecing. Of course, we have the perfect golden accent fabric (Fabric K) and a low volume white with golden detail (Fabric Q) to help us create that!
Before we start our strip set, let’s talk about fussy cutting.
When trimming a panel down significantly from its original size, you want to center the illustration as much as possible for an even, balanced look. You can achieve this using one of two methods:
Divide the width of your trim size by 2. In this case, our trim size is 8 ½”, so half of that is 4 ¼”. Align the 4 ¼” mark of your ruler with the very center of the illustration. This will mark the very center of the panel. Trim excess fabric from the right side of your ruler. (If you’re right-handed like me, that means you’ll be trimming the right side of the panel first. If you’re left-handed, you might trim the left side of the panel first.) Then, flip the panel around and measure 8 ½” from the trimmed side of the panel, and trim excess fabric from the remaining side of the panel. Repeat using the same techniques to accurately trim the height of the panel.
Center the panel illustration under a large ruler. Aim to center the panel so that there is equal amounts of background/negative space around all edges of the illustration. Measure the approximate space between the edge of the centered illustration and the size you wish to trim the panel to (8 ½”). In this case, the space measures approximately ¾” around all sides. Once you are satisfied with the placement of the ruler and it feels balanced, trim each side of the panel one at a time. Carefully remeasure and align the ruler each time you turn the panel to trim.
The lovely sunshine rays are achieved using a strip set. Reference Steps 2-5 of the pattern. If your block or quilt requires a lot of tiny alternating or checkerboard squares, strip sets are a wonderful way to save time and thread.
Strip set assembly may seem fairly easy (and it is!) but sometimes the strips can go wonky. To avoid wavy strips, starch your strip set before pressing to make sure that the strip set will lay nice and flat. When pressing, be sure to press and not pull the strip set as this may result in a wonky, wavy strip set. Flat strip sets are much easier to subcut.
Check out the awesome unit backs when using strip set assembly and chain piecing! Thread waste is minimal, and the seams are beautiful and neat!
Even though attaching the strip set units to the panel seems straight forward, I still pinned either end of the strip set unit to the panel before sewing to avoid any stretching. Press toward the panel for less bulk.
When sewing two flying geese units together side by side, sometimes it’s a challenge to perfectly align the points at the top of the units, particularly because the seams generally don’t nestle. I have a solution for you!
Our muscle memory tells us to always press toward the corners when completing flying geese units. However, to get the Fabric I points to perfectly meet and align, I pressed half of my flying geese units toward Fabrics G/I and the mirror image set of flying geese units toward Fabric Q! See the image below for more detail. Pressing toward the center on flying geese units in this situation won’t compromise the flying geese unit, but it will help you to perfectly align the top Fabric I points as shown in the second image. It just takes a bit of thinking and organization! It felt great to get those points perfectly aligned at the top of Block 9.
After I trimmed my flying geese units, I was going to discard the excess corner fabric, but then realized that those were perfectly good triangles that could be made into HST units! I made 8 - blue/white HST units and 8 - pink/white HST units using excess fabric from flying geese assembly. I trimmed them to 2” x 2” unfinished. Stay tuned for Month 6 to see what I do with my HST units!
Once you sew the flying geese units onto the center panel unit, Month 5 of the BOM is complete! What a fun, easy month!
Next month, we’ll marvel at the delicate butterfly panel and enjoy some new piecing techniques!
Have a wonderful month, and thank you for following along.
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