Sunday, March 27, 2011

March Block 1 - Turnstile Piecing

Sorry on a couple of fronts.
Sorry for taking so long to get these instructions out....
And double sorry for actually suggesting an incredibly tricky block this month!!

I've sewn my 3 blocks together, and they proved to be very tricky to get right - not quite what I was after this month.  The biggest problem with this block is that the final seam results in a very precarious situation of trying to match multiple points.  Not at all ideal for beginners!

My suggestion is that you pop this one aside until after you have done the Ohio Star.  But - if you are still keen for a challenge (or maybe just a glutton for punishment!) read on....

Step 1 

Lay your blocks out somewhere flat.  You will keep coming back to this layout, so it needs to be on your sewing area.

Step 2
Fold the smaller triangles on top of each other and pin the seams that you need to sew.  When you pin, make sure that every part of the triangle is matched.  The pieces are the same size, and there shouldn't be any overlap.

Step 3
Sew the pieces together using your 1/4" seam allowance.  As you sew, try to avoid stretching the fabric as it is on the bias and it will affect your final result.

The next image shows a good result when getting to the end of a triangle seam.  Corners still matching!

Take a great deal of care when sewing the end of any triangles.  This is where your pointy bits will open up, and if they do, it will affect the size of the square you are making (2 isosceles triangles make a bigger triangle, and then two more make a square.....)
This image shows how the corners spread and its going to need some gentle manipulation to line them back up again.

This is also an ideal block to practise your chain piecing - where you sew a number of pieces together in a chain, and then cut them apart at the end.

I find with triangles its usually easiest to sew from the square side - not the pointy side.

Step 4
Cut the pieces apart, and iron out flat.  Usually press to the dark side.  You can see that at the top of the triangle there is a piece sticking out.  This isn't needed and you can cut it off.

 If you are interested in buying templates that avoid this step, I thoroughly recommend Marti Michell's system of templates.  They are fabulous!!!  I have a couple of sets, and they make piecing patchwork far more accurate than you can ever get using paper pieces.

Step 5
Return to your flat layout and look at the next pieces to sew.  Here you will be sewing the larger triangle to the pieced triangle.

These pieces SHOULD be the same size.  If they aren't, you have a problem.

Overlap them carefully.  Ensure every side matches - they are all important when you are making a square.  Pin in at least 3 places and sew. 

Take a great deal of care when sewing these pieces.  Not only are they possibly on the bias (so they are stretchy), they are also teeny tiny, and you need to keep them perfectly aligned.

Step 6
Open your four pieces up and iron flat.  You will see this time you have 2 little pieces that can be cut off.

Check for their squareness.  Look for any wobbly sewing.  You could even measure the pieces here on a ruler and check for squareness if you are really worried.
Return to your flat layout and assemble.

Step 7
This is the tough bit.  If you have made any mistakes before now, it will be blaringly obvious when you try to do this next seam!
Now you will sew 2x2 squares.  Its tricky because in the corner of one seam you have points to match.  If you have ironed all your seams to the same side, you should be able to butt the seams against each other and ensure that your point will match.

Pin the corner, and then check the rest of the square.
Remember - these squares should be identically sized, so its important that you align all the edges of the pieces.

From here you will end up with 2 rectangles, again they should be the same side, but mirror imaged.

Before you put the right sides together, have a close look at the centre of the block.    There will be a point in the middle, and from there to the edge should be a perfect 1/4".  When you seam these pieces together, your seam allowance will ensure that all the triangles meet in the middle.

Often I find that one of my seams is slightly larger than the other.  So I usually pull the seam open and double check what sort of overlap I might need to design into the sewing to ensure a nice match.

When you are happy that your final point is going to match, pin along the seam, ensuring that all sides of the pieces are aligned.  If they aren't, you will need to ease the seam when you are sewing to get the best result.

When you are sewing the final seam, stop just before the middle.  This is where the most impact comes from the design, so its important to get it right.
In this picture, and on your block, you will see where the last 2 seams overlap.  Its actually where you will see the point on the right side.  So you need to stitch right on that cross (x marks the spot.....).
Depending on the bulk of the fabric, sometimes you can sew a bit to the right of the cross, but never sew inside the cross otherwise you truncate your points.

Open out your block and see what the result is like!  This was my first effort - I wasn't happy so I unpicked either side of the central line and resewed it.

Step 8
Press flat and admire!
If you get this right, big ups to ya!  Its a tricky block, and I'm not sure why there are a number of seams where you sew on the bias and the grain.

Out of my 3 blocks, I was actually only really happy with one.  The pink one was the worst by far.  Its WAAAAAAY out!  I'm even too scared to measure the final dimensions in case its completely stuffed.

This last one I took alot of care sewing the seams and matching pieces very carefully before pinning.  I'm pretty happy with it.

So - sorry's all around.  I'll get onto my Ohio Star this week in case some of you want a more gentle introduction to triangles.....
Happy sewing, and please remember to ask any questions or leave any comments.  I'm feeling a little lonely on this project, so I would love your feedback.

1 comment:

Fiona said...

Just checking on how things are going for you this week - thinking of you.
Big hugs