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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Arrowhead Block tutorial

I highly suggest you do at least one block completely my way before making the process your own for the following blocks. All seams are going to be 1/4" and I advise using "needle down" if your machine offers it.

I hate to waste my beloved & expensive Masterpiece thread so I work on 2 blocks at a time, always leaving something under the pressure foot or sewing something for my leaderEnder project which is what is shown in the red record bowl. Please don't ask what the other piles are. I will only fess that the green trug holds scraps that needs to be trimmed and the garbage bag is $10 worth of fabric bought at a yard sale.

Ok, so lets ask the quality control officers to finish their inspection and we can get started...

Start you arrowhead block by cutting out two 8" squares of fabric - I'll be using a neutral and red. Lay the neutral square on top of the red and GENTLY press with the iron. I like to iron with steam but you must be careful in this case not to distort the blocks.

We are now going to sew the two squares together. Do as I say and not as I forgot to do for the photos - use your walking foot so there is no distortion. We will start sewing 2" down from the top right corner. The easiest way to determine 2" is to place a 1.5" x 2" sticky on the corner and begin sewing at the edge of the sticky. Continue sewing down the right side and stop 1/4" from the bottom right corner. Lift the pressure foot and rotate the block 1/4 turn counter-clockwise. Sew to the end of what is now the right edge of the block. We are going to repeat this process for the remaining two sides by lifting the needle/pressure foot and pull the block/thread out about 1 to 1.5", place the sticky again and sew the two sides as before. The fabric will curl a little but as long as you start to sew at the edge of the sticky all is good after you snip the thread. All pictures are clickable but be sure to at least check this one sew you can check the seam pattern as the picture shows the 4th side being sewn.

I give the blocks a good iron press and move to the cutting board. Place the block in front of you so the "open" corners are top right and bottom left. Place your ruler as shown in the photo, so that it is going thru the sewn corners and cut the block into two half square triangles. Take the top right tri, rotate it 180 degrees and stack it onto the bottom left tri, matching seams.

Using your ruler you are going to cut a 2" strip from the left side of the tri - note that the 1.75" line is on your seam line. Be careful that you are not putting the 1.5" line on the seam - ask me how I know. Leave the pieces together but we now need a similar 2" strip from the bottom of the tri.

Gently move the stacks apart to make sure all the threads were cut and take the pieces back to the ironing board. All pieces save the one shown will be pressed towards the red. The exception is so that all the seams lock together when we begin piecing.

Arrange your pieces next to your sewing machine as shown. I always keep a finished block at my work area so I can arrange them the same every time and not have to really think about it. The piece with the seam pressed to the neutral is in the bottom left of this picture.

Do see that this is really a 9-patch?
What if you tilt your head to the left?

I start by stitching the center twosies into a 4 patch. Press the seam to one side and replace it in the layout so that the newest seam runs left to right when your head is tilted to the left and the seam is pressed towards you so the seams will lock with its neighbors.

Sew the top neutral tri to it's neighbor by flipping the tri to the left, right sides together. I suggest you start at the corner or "center" since the corner should be a perfect match and the points will be trimmed off later. Repeat for the other two rows by flipping the right piece to its left, matching seams as needed.

Return those twosies to the layout  - you'll notice the bottom row is partially missing because it's still under my presser foot to save thread. Now sew on the left most pieces. Press seams for the top and bottom rows out towards the points and seams for the middle row in towards the four patch. Sew the top and middle row together, matching seams before sewing and pressing towards the point. Add on the bottom row and again press towards the point.

Give your block a good press and back to the cutting board we go. Lay the block in front of you, hopefully on the corner of your table. Pull out your 9.5" square ruler. I have placed pink glow line tape to accentuate the 4.5" intersection point on my ruler and I always have the 1" marks on the bottom right side. 

Position the 4.5" point on the center of the 4-patch and try to place the 45 degree lines on the corners of the block. You can see that mine isn't perfectly lined up because my block is a little skewed - I just do the best I can to make all 4 corners as even as possible. I use my rotary cutter to trim the right side then swing my body around the corner (clockwise) to cut what currently shows as the bottom. You may need to change position depending on what corner of a table you are working on.

Now pick up your block and rotate 180 degrees. Place the 9" intersection of the square on the top left corner of your partially trimmed block, making sure the 4.5" point is still in the center and the top and left 9" lines are on the edges of the block. Trim the remaining two sides.

This shows how the back is pressed when it's done.

Wala - that was was quite wordy but I hope you learned how to make a neato block or at least a few sewing tips.

Please feel free to let me know this was as clear as mud or you need another picture of something...


Denise :) said...

Well done! Your blocks look really pretty, too. And I *love* your QC inspectors!! :)

Karen said...

Hi, Sarah: I am admiring your sewing cabinet. Is this a ready made cabinet or was it custom made?