Anne Sutton of Bunny Hill Designs! She has a beautiful website and blog and I have always loved her patterns and her fabric. She does beautiful applique work and has great tutorials.
This year she is hosting a Scrappy Plate Club. It started in January and continues for six months and when you’re done you will have a beautiful Dresden Plate quilt! Each month she will give instructions to make a dresden plate block and quilt. Here’s what my fabric stash for this project looks like:
Don’t you just love chocolate and raspberry together? Me too! I have been waiting so long to make something from these sweeties!
Anne gives great instructions on how to make these blocks. Here’s what my strand of blades looks like after the first step of sewing:
Once you have sewn the blades together, you will get a circle that looks like this:
Notice the hole in the middle? That gets covered up with an appliqued circle. I machine appliqued my first circle.
Then I tried hand appliqueing the second circle, and I think I like it better.
I love these little plates so much that I just had to try them out before making them into a quilt! Here is one as a center piece:
And here it is underneath a candle:
And of course it would look great under a vase:
My sewing basket needed a pretty nest to sit on:
And don’t forget how nice a cup of tea would look:
O.K. Please don’t judge me:
Now we’re talking:
I hope you feel inspired to join the Scrappy Plate Club and give it a try. I’ll be back again with a progress update, so keep a look out!
The perfect 1/4″ seam allowance – some people call it “the great mystery” or “the never-ending battle”. Hopefully, I can help you call it “easy”.
I have two tools that I like to use myself and that I suggest for my beginning quilting students. The first tool is the Perfect Piecing Seam Guide.
This guide works in conjunction with the second tool, Qtools Sewing Edge, by Alicia’s Attic.
Here’s how I use them: I start with the Perfect Piecing Seam Guide and position it under my presser foot. There is a hole in the guide for your needle to go through. Once your needle is in the hole, make sure that the guide is lined up straight with your throat plate. Now, lower the presser foot.
Next, place a small piece (1″ – 2″) of Sewing Edge right next to the seam guide. Make sure it is in front of the feed dogs. If you have a top-loading bobbin case, cut a smaller piece that just covers the bobbin case cover so that you can open and close it.
I use tweezers to hold the Sewing Edge, or “purple tape” as I sometimes call it, as I put it in place. You want it to be snug and straight against the ruler.
Now you can remove the seam guide and you have a nice edge to guide your pieces as you stitch.
What we are aiming for is a scant 1/4″ seam allowance. Let me tell you why:
The thread that you use to make your stitches takes up space in the seam allowance. So does the fabric that gets folded over as you press it to one side.
So if you were to use a full 1/4″ seam allowance, your piece would shrink up just a bit because of those two factors. If you’re making a block that has lots of seams, you could end up with a block much smaller than you want. Sound familiar?
So now let’s test to see how accurate your 1/4″ seam allowance is. You will need three strips of fabric that measure 2 1/2″ x 6 1/2″.
I want you to sew the first two strips together with whatever guide you currently use to attain 1/4″ seams. I’ll be using my purple tape as my guide.
You might have noticed that I used a “starter scrap” which is that red piece of fabric behind the presser foot.
I like to start and end with one of these scraps because it does 3 things:
Tells me that my machine is working properly.
Prevents that thread nest from developing on the back of my fabric.
Forces me to clip my thread tails at the beginning and end of my piece.
Next you need to press the seam that you just made. Always start by setting your seam – pressing the seam just as it was sewn. This sinks the stitches into the fabric and smooths everything out.
With the darker fabric on top and the seam facing away from you, open the fabric up and finger press the seam before hitting it with the iron. Then use the iron to press the seam toward the darker fabric. Tip: Don’t use steam because it can distort the fabric and burn your fingers!
Now sew the other strip to the opposite side as before and press towards the darker fabric.
The back side should look like this:
Cross your fingers – you should now have a square that measures 6 1/2″!
If your square is less than 6 1/2″, then your seam allowance is too “fat”. You need to adjust your seam guide accordingly, probably a skooch to the left .
If your square is larger than 6 1/2″, then your seam allowance is too “skinny”. Again adjust as necessary, probably a smidge to the right.
Something that could also impact your final measurement is your pressing. Make sure that your seam is flat. It’s easy to have a tuck or fold at the seam if you’re not careful about your pressing.
Another thing to check is your rotary cutting. You should line up the raw edge of your fabric exactly on the desired line measurement of the ruler. The line should be straddling the raw edge, not completely on or off the fabric.
Do I sound like a person with OCD? I’m far from it! I do think little adjustments can make a big difference in your final product.
Check out my YouTube video to see how I set up my machine and more details of the perfect 1/4″ seam allowance:
I hope these tips help you to get perfect sized blocks and make piecing easier for you. Be patient with yourself – it took me years to get my seams just right (I’m sure you didn’t want to hear that)!
I made this quilt five years ago and it has been hanging in The Granary Quilt Shop all this time. It finally came home to me a few days ago – just in time for Valentine’s Day!
I love everything about this quilt. The fabric came from a Moda line by 3 Sisters and I love the soft yellows, pinks and greens. I also love the quilting, even if I do say so myself!
I used wool batting which really makes the quilting pop. The center heart motif came from Sue Nickel’s book, Machine Quilting: A Primer Of Techniques This is a great book if you want to learn free motion quilting.
The corner triangle hearts came from a stencil from my growing collection. I pick up new stencils whenever and wherever I can – it’s like candy, you know?
I even love the back of this quilt. I forgot that I had made this cute heart label – it made me so happy when I turned the quilt over and saw it! I really couldn’t remember when I had first made this, but now I know. Hmmm, maybe I should be more diligent about labeling everything – what a concept!
The pattern for the hearts in this sweet wall hanging came from It’s “El”ementary: Quilting Tips and Techniques (Quilt in a Day), by Eleanor Burns. This is a great book for beginning and intermediate quilters because she gives such detailed instructions and diagrams. The top of the hearts in this quilt are machine appliqued. The base of the heart is a simple log cabin variation block. The finished size of the quilt top is 23 1/2″ square. It’s a small enough project that you might be able to get one finished in time for Valentine’s Day! Yeah, in your spare time:)
Since I’m so new at blogging, I’m still trying to work out the bugs. If you have subscribed to my blog via email or an RSS feed like Google Reader, my recent posts aren’t formatting like they should be. I’m still trying to figure out why, but in the meantime, if you go straight to my website, www.thecraftyquilter.com, you will get the correct formatting. Thanks for your patience!
Welcome to my updated and expanded tutorial on how to make perfect quarter square triangle units. Since I first published it in 2012, this has been my most popular tutorial ever – thank you Pinterest! Now it’s 2018 and I thought it was time to give it a fresh look with better images and more detailed instructions. Plus, I’ve included a cutting chart that you can download and print out. Towards the end, you’ll find instructions on how to make the popular Ohio Star block which includes four quarter square triangle units. Enjoy!
Original quarter square triangle photo used for the Ohio Star:
Quarter Square Triangle Math
You start with four squares to make four quarter-square triangle (QST) units. First, let’s talk numbers (I know, it’s an evil necessity). In order to know the size of the squares to start with, you need to know the finished size of the unit, which is 3″ in this case (that’s because I want a 9″ finished size block). Add 1 1/4″ to that number and you have the size needed to cut your squares. So, 3″ + 1 1/4″ will give us 4 1/4″ squares.
Now, if I were a perfect quilter, I would use that number. However, things often get a little wonky on me, so I like to oversize my QST’s so that I can trim them down into the perfect size. So, I add 1 1/2″ to the finished size desired. For this unit, I will need (4) 4 1/2″ squares to start with.
First, draw a diagonal line on the two like-colored squares from corner to corner. Use a pencil or Frixion Pen (my favorite) and a ruler to draw your line. You’ll be stitching 1/4″ on each side of the line. If you don’t have a 1/4″ foot, you might want to draw the actual stitching lines. A special ruler called the Quilter’s Rule Quick Quarter II makes this step easy. Some people find it easier (and more precise) to stitch on a drawn line instead of 1/4″ away from a line. The following picture shows both ways:
With right sides together, layer each red square with another square and stitch 1/4″ on either side of the center drawn line (or exactly on the drawn lines if you chose that method). Cut apart between stitching lines and press towards the red square. You should now have four half-square triangles (HST’s).
Next, layer two of the HST’s together so that the center seams nest together and the red colors are opposite each other.
Again, you’re going to draw a diagonal line and stitch as you did in the previous step.
UPDATED TIP: It’s important to draw the line so that it’s perpendicular to the seam. Instead of only lining up the ruler with the corners, make sure to also place a line of your ruler on the seam when you mark your line. If the corners don’t line up exactly, that’s o.k.
I think it’s important to pin the seams that are nesting and to stitch with the top seam allowance facing up (towards the machine needle):
TIP: Why does it matter if the top seam allowance is facing the needle? Because if I were to start stitching at the top and the seam allowance was facing away from my needle, chances are the presser foot would push the top seam allowance down and away from the bottom seam. But because I have my seam allowance on top facing the needle, the presser foot still pushes the top seam allowance, but it pushes into the bottom seam allowance creating a more snug intersection. That’s a lot of information, but if you’re new to quilting it’s nice to know these little tricks.
Now you’re going to cut these apart between your stitching lines and, voila, you have your QST’s!
Now remember we still need to trim these units down to 3 1/2″ square. There are several ways of doing that. For the first two methods, you will need to press your seam before trimming. You can press to one side or twirl your seam allowances. I like to “twirl” my seam allowance because it makes the unit flatter and my ruler doesn’t rock when I’m cutting.
To do this, you’ll press half of the seam allowance up and the other half down. The center (where the 4 seams intersect) should pop open in the seam allowance, creating a mini 4-patch in the center of the wrong side.
Trim method 1
You will need a square ruler that is 3 1/2″ or larger. Place it so that the diagonal line of the ruler is along one of the diagonal seams of your QST. You need to make sure that you’re trimming the same amount equally from all four sides so that your center seam stays in the center. So, put the 1 3/4″ intersection of the ruler (that’s half of 3 1/2″) at the center seam and trim along the top and right hand side (if you’re right handed).
Now rotate the QST and line up the 3 1/2″ lines of the ruler with the previously cut edges. Trim the remaining two sides. You should now have a perfect 3 1/2″ QST.
Updated: Trim method 2
For the second method of trimming, I love the Tucker Trimmer 1 by Studio 180 Design. This ruler does a fantastic job of trimming down pieced squares accurately and easily. It can be used on HST’s and QST’s. There are two diagonal markings to line up with the seams on the QST which takes the guess work out of the ruler placement.
Trim method 3
This method uses a ruler that I’ve had for a long time – Quilt In A Day’s Triangle Square-up Ruler. The advantage of this ruler is you trim two sides at the same time, and it has two diagonal markings for easy placement.
Before pressing your seam, you will place the ruler so that the 3 1/2″ red dashed line is along the bottom stitching line and the perpendicular line is placed along the center seam. Now you just have to trim the two sides and then press!
Ohio Star Quilt Block
If you want to make a 9″ (finished size) Ohio Star Block, you will need (4) 3 1/2″ squares and (1) 4 1/2″ square of background fabric, (1) 3 1/2″ center square, (2) 4 1/2″ squares of medium fabric, and (1) 4 1/2″ square of dark fabric. (You can also interchange the medium and dark fabrics.) I’m using fabric from the Farmhouse collection by Fig Tree for Moda.
First, make the 4 quarter-square triangle units using the instructions above. Then arrange your squares as shown below and sew them into rows. Press seams toward the plain squares.
Now join the rows together. When pinning the rows together, make sure to use a setting pin at the intersections so that your diagonal seams will match and there will be a visual straight line as shown below.
Here’s how a setting pin works: Nest your seams together. Starting on the top seam allowance, there should be an “x” where the stitching lines are. Place your setting pin straight down through the “x” and then straight down into the bottom seam allowance’s “x”. Leave that pin straight up and down (perpendicular) to the seam. You can peak to see if the diagonal seams match up by pinching the intersection with your fingers and opening it up. Then pin on either side of your setting pin, close to the seam allowance. Remove the setting pin and sew your seam, making sure your stitching goes through the middle of the “x”.
2018 update: Using washable glue instead of pins has become very popular for matching seams. I recently purchased Seam Align Glue by Acorn Precision Piecing from The Quilt Show and I used it for this quilt block. I love it! It was easy to apply and it didn’t make the fabric stiff. My seams came out perfectly. Elmer’s Washable School glue would work also.
Your block should measure 9 1/2″ square.
I love making quarter square triangles and they’re so versatile! Maybe I’ll make enough Ohio Stars for a table runner (in my spare time!) or I might just quilt it as is and practice my free motion quilting (more likely). Thanks so much for stopping by!