Monday, 15 June 2015

My Small World Quilt-Along: Constructing Part Two

Welcome to part two on the construction of the My Small World quilt-along and if you've been busy working away you should now have a good idea of the challenges that you will come up against making this quilt.  You can read John's post for part one and he mentions a few cheat ideas that may appeal to some of you.  From what I've read from magazine stockists, the Spring Special edition of Quiltmania was the last of these kind of Spring Specials, it is sold out at Quiltmania and this magazine is being replaced by other specials like Simply Moderne which comes out at the end of June.  It is still available at some UK stockists, including Contented Cat.  Quiltmania have removed the errata section from their website but the PDF link is still live and another here and you can refer to Katy's extensive list here

So far, I am loving it but I like small piecing, templates and scrappiness so it is all happy happy in my quilty world!  I have been using my vintage Bernina with a generic Bernina quarter inch foot to piece and it really helps with accuracy.  I am going to work through some of the features of part two in the order they appear in the instructions.   I made all my sky sections in advance so I am working below that point.

For the appliqué circles I like to use Karen Buckely's perfect circles.  The largest circle from her small circle pack was the right size for the template.   Her method can be seen here.  I used the brass 'Wonder Wheel' guide to create the seam allowance.  For the background fabric on any of the appliqué blocks and sections, I like to cut larger and trim down afterwards.   You can see in the picture bottom left, I traced the actual size of the finished square on the reverse and which helped me position the circle.  I also like Clover appliqué pins and Jeanna Kimball's Foxglove cottage straw needles are my favourites for appliqué. 

Alternatives Methods
  • Use raw edge appliqué and fusible web
  • Silver foil and card (good for other curved shapes
  • Freezer paper can be used for the perfect circle method.  Freezer paper can be used as a double layer if you want it thicker.  Place two layers together, the second layer goes waxy side against paper side of the first layer so there a paper side remains on top and a waxy side underneath when they are joined together.
  • Interfaced applique

Sewing Applique
Matching your thread to the fabric you are appliquéing on to the background.    With a knotted thread, I push my needle from the back so the needle point comes out in the folded edge of the circle.  Then, the needle point is positioned immediately just outside the place it has come through and into the background fabric so the stitch is tiny.  The needle travels underneath by just over ⅛" and less than ¼" before it comes up again in the circle's folded edge.  The needle goes down as before and the stitching continues.  The front has tiny stitches that you pull tight as you go and the back has long stitches where the needle travels on the back.  Once the circle has finished, trim the square to the required size keeping the circle central.

I used the templates for the triangles.  The pencil line provides precise points to pin when you join the pieces.  I pin using this method.  You could also foundation paper piece if you prefer by using the templates to draw a foundation.  Sarah of Pixelsandstitches has done this and is offering a free template which could easily be traced and adapted to create the strip of triangles in one template.  With all the blocks, I check the size as I sew and trim down if needed.  Some of the pinwheels from part one came out slightly big so I trimmed down to size.
The Arched Shape

Back Basting
I thought I'd try a couple of methods for this shape to see how they worked.  I tried back basting which I haven't done before so this is a beginner's explanation of the method.  I drew the actual size of the squares on the reverse as a guide and then around the template where I wanted the final arch to be but again on the reverse. 

Then, the fabric to be appliqués is pinned on so that the wrong side is lying against the right side of the background.  Stitch a line of running stitches on the pencil line.  Mine are in lime green.  On the right side, trim the appliqué fabric ¼" away from the stitches to provide the seam allowance.  It helps to run chalk over the top of the stitches and stitch line too, use something that will easily brush out.  Then the tricky bit!   Undo a few stitches at the bottom right corner- around an inch, and using the needle tip, push the fabric underneath.  With your appliqué thread matching the fabric, sew the beginning of the arch shape to the background stitching as with the circles. 
That is the basics of the method.  The curve is tight so it does help to snip into the seam allowance to allow the fabric to turn in more easily- the clip just stops short of where the fabric will fold.  I found this method a little fiddly and it made my hands ache.  The reverse side will have long stitches on as with the circle.

I also tried the freezer paper method.  I iron the freezer paper replica of the template on to the reverse of the fabric and using my fingers to press the fabric around the edges of the shape.  Then I squirt some non aerosol starch into a container and paint this onto the seam allowance and use the tip of an iron the fold it over being very careful of my finger tops.  I then press from the front and allow to cool before removing the freezer paper and pressing again.  Then I pin in place and sew on as before.  I prefer this method.

Orange Peel Shapes
I use the freezer paper method for the orange peel shapes but you could use the alternatives suggested for the circle.  Other tips:
  • Trim the corners to a slightly smaller seam allowance.  These are hard to turn neatly and without bulk.
  • Use a larger square for the background and mark the actual square size on the reverse, as with the circle.

  • Press the diagonal lines on the square to help alignment- see diagram.

  • It seems to work better in the centre if there is a light gap between the orange peel pieces rather than actually touching.   
  • I sew starting near the start of the centre point, sewing up to the point, tucking the excess fabric under the point and stitching round.  More stitches are needed at the tip of the points.

I haven't included the churn dash, triangle and arrow blocks as they are more basic quilt blocks and piecing methods are easy to find via Google.   It is worth noting that the centre square in the churn dash blocks is a B square not an A and this is not mentioned in the cutting instructions.   The only other thing I took care on was getting each block to the desired size.  I haven't stitched my first two sections together yet but you can see how they look.  It is a bit of a scrappy mish-mash but a very happy one!

Before I start part three which looks pretty straightforward, I am prepping the various hand sewing sections from parts four, five and six for some forthcoming trips away.  How is progress for you?  You can post your pics on Instagram using the hashtag #mysmallworldqal or add to the Flickr group.

sib blog


  1. Thank you for all the tips and tricks! I’ve made 4 of the 5 sky parts. I should have thought of using my Singer Featherweight because it’s the only machine I have that consistently stitches a 1/4" seam allowance. Sometimes it feels like my computerized sewing machine isn’t always accurate.

  2. Having never done needleturn applique before, my opinion is probably null... but I read about a freezer paper method where you iron the piece to the right side of the shape, and use the edge of it to turn the fabric under. It's really helped me! Thanks for linking the FPP triangle templates, awesome! Now, if I could just muster up the energy and know-how to create FPP templates for the triangle rainbow curved bit....

  3. I found that the link to the errata from John's blog post still worked at the weekend despite it no longer being on the Quiltmania website. Hope that helps somebody else -:-)

  4. I have updated my posts with the direct links, thanks for that!

  5. Ooh, I too use Karen Kay Buckley's circle templates, but I always just eyeballed it to add the seam allowance. Your post reminded me that I bought one of those little seam allowance wheel doodads a few years ago and it has been forgotten and languishing in my drawer all this time. Thanks for the reminder! Your blocks, as usual, are delightful. :-)

  6. I've been using Karen Kay Buckley's circle templates as well, they make the circles so easy. I've been getting a nice scant 1/4" SA on my Bernina 750 by shifting my needle over 4x to the right. It has been really helpful reading all the little hints and tricks from everyone.

  7. love your version - really appreciate all of your tips and techniques. I used freezer paper for the arched shape and it turned out really well ! thanks for the tip about the quilter's wheel earlier - I was able to get one on-line in Australia and it was delivered last week - looking forward to using it to add seams !!

  8. I am so far behind and struggling with the orange peel blocks. I do not get a perfect point like you guys got😪😪😪😪.

    1. Hi Ute, it is a tricky shape to appliqué. I've worked with this shape a few times so I've had practice but it is always a challenge. An alternative would be to use fusible web and raw edge appliqué the shape instead by machine - a different look but definitely easier.


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