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Piece & Quilt Sampler tips for April

Hey everyone! I know many of you are following along with Fat Quarter Shop’s Piece & Quilt Sampler Quilt Along. Today, I’m sharing the blocks for April along with a few tips. If you’re not participating, you’ll still find these tips helpful because they can be applied to most of your piecing projects.

The April blocks are here for the Piece & Quilt Sampler QAL hosted by Fat Quarter Shop.  Julie at The Crafty Quilter shares her version along with some tips!

There’s still plenty of time to join us! You’ll need the book, Celebrate With Quilts, by Susan Ache and Lissa Alexander to get started. and there’s an info packet that you can download here. The book is a treasure trove of 60 quilt blocks and 12 quilt projects. The quilt blocks are all traditionally pieced and the sampler quilt comes together in a beautiful quilt that finishes at 72.5″ x 91.25″.

April blocks

This month we’re making (12) 3″ Shoo Fly blocks and (1) 6″ Dandy Star block. These are very traditional blocks that are combined to make one larger 12″ block. I made my Shoo Fly blocks in mostly neutral colors which allowed the center star block to pop.

April blocks completed for the Piece & Quilt Sampler QAL.

I’m using a fat quarter bundle of Starberry by Corey Yoder for Moda Fabrics for this quilt along. I’ve had my eye on this collection for so long and I was thrilled when I was able to get an advance bundle (thanks to Fat Quarter Shop and Moda Fabrics). I’ve also added some fabric from my stash that coordinates with it.

Piecing tips for April

NOTE: I won’t be giving specific measurements or cutting instructions. You need to purchase the book to get the full instructions if you want to follow along.

The first thing I like to do before starting is to starch and press my fabric. This gives stability to my fabric and more accuracy during cutting and piecing. My favorite starch product is Magic Quilting & Crafting Spray. You can ready my full review of it here.

I usually do the starching as I work through the fabric, but this time I did most of it at once. I’m using a pants hanger to hold my fabric so it won’t get wrinkled. It’s perfect for fat quarters and half yards.

Shoofly Blocks

The Shoo Fly blocks are made with half-square triangle units (HST’s). When I’m making a lot of HST’s, I like to make them 8-at-a-time. This requires you to start with two larger squares which you then draw a diagonal line in both directions (forming an “X”) on the wrong side of one of them. Then you stitch 1/4″ on both sides of the line and cut it apart into 8 pieces. Once you press the seams, you can trim them to the correct size.

I LOVE my Omnigrid rotating cutting mat. This one, specifically, is the bomb. Those scalloped edges make it incredibly easy to rotate! I’m using a square Bloc Loc ruler to trim the HST’s. For more information, I have a detailed blog post on my favorite tools for trimming HST’s.

Shoo Fly Blocks made by Julie Cefalu for the Piece & Quilt Sampler QAL. Instructions from the book, Celebrate With Quilts, by Susan

You can also strip piece the center row of the Shoo Fly Bloc if you’re making enough of them with the same fabric. As you can see above, I have four different groups of fabric combinations that I’m using. Two of them had four block, so I used the strip piecing method in stead of cutting and sewing together individual squares.

Dandy Star block

This block is pretty straight forward and you only have to make one of them! The star points are made with “stitch and flip” corners. I find that people either love these or hate them. I’ve made my peace with them and have found a technique that works well for me.

I use a Folder Corner Clipper ruler by Creative Grids to cut the stitch & flip corners and then sew the seam. This gives me accurate results and I don’t have to draw any stitching lines. I never thought this technique would work for me, but it does. I didn’t remember to take a picture of the ruler steps, except the one below left. Also, I like to chain piece when I can, so I’ve done that as well.

Dandy Star Block made by Julie Cefalu for the Piece & Quilt Sampler QAL. Instructions from the book, Celebrate With Quilts, by Susan Ache and Lissa Alexander.

Putting the blocks together

Once all the blocks are made, I make sure they’re all the correct size. I take the time to trim each one if necessary. Sometimes that means I’m only trimming a few threads. That’s the hope anyways!

I really like using a design board when I’m assembling blocks. It helps to keep everything in order when I go from the sewing machine to the pressing table. You can make your own design boards with poster board and flannel or batting, or you can purchase these cute ones from Fat Quarter Shop.

Design boards are great for keeping your piecing in order.

As far as pressing goes, I feel like I could have done a better job with that. The back of my block is kind of a hodge podge of seams going in different directions. I like to press seams to the side when I can (love those nesting seams) and press open when there’s too much bulk. Below you can see what the back of mine looks like, not that you’ll glean any tips from this. More like what NOT to do!

Those are my Piece & Quilt Sampler tips for April. What I love about sampler quilts is that you get to make a variety of blocks instead of repeating the same block over and over. And I like the pace of this quilt along because it allows me to focus on one block at a time. I can work at perfecting my piecing skills and I’m always learning and trying something new. I hope you are too!

Piece & Quilt Sampler tips for April are here! You can use these tips for any piecing projects you have.

Remember to post a photo of your blocks on Instagram and use the hashtag #piecequiltsamplerqal so we can all see. Plus, this will enter you in the giveaway each month! Let me know in the comments if you have any questions.

Happy quilting!

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