Thursday, February 12, 2015

Sewing Spool Blocks with Inset Seams

Probably everyone has their own way of doing these, but I thought I’d show how I sew the inset seams of the spool blocks. NOTE: I set the stitch length on my sewing maching a little shorter to help the accuracy of sewing to exact start and stop points. Also, I do not press the block until it is completely finished, not even finger pressing along the way.

1.  First, I use the stamps I purchased from Cindy Blackberg.

2.  Next, I use Judy Martin’s Ultimate Point Trimmer to trim the corners off the central square. This step isn’t necessary, but it does make lining up the patches easier.

 3.  To begin sewing, line up the square against one of the light outer patches and sew along the stamped seam line. Do not sew into the seam allowances, not even a wee tiny bit! You are better off stopping a wee bit short of the intersection point than sewing past it. (NOTE: it doesn’t matter if you choose to sew to the light or dark patches first — I’m just saying to use the light side because it’s going to be easier to distinguish light and dark patches in these directions).
4. After adding the patch on one side, repeat on the opposite side of the square.

5. Place one of the remaining dark patches in position.

Flip it over and line it up exactly over the light patch on the left side of the block.

6. Pin the inner square so that the seam allowance is tucked out of the way. Sew from the outer triangle points to the inner square — while you sew through the seam allowance at the outer edge, do not sew into the seam allowance at the inside.  NOTE: I like to sew from the outside in since then I don’t have to worry about the outer triangle tips shifting. If you prefer to sew from the inside out, flip the block over and sew on the other side.

7. Flip the dark patch over so that it is aligned with the other light patch. The seams that are already sewn have a tendency to pull at the patch, so to make alignment easier, I pin along the outer edge. (As you work the block, it will be the light patch on top.)

Then I line up the center and make sure that the seam allowance of the inner square is out of the way.

8.  Once again, begin at the outer triangle points, sew through the outer seam allowance but stop before sewing into the inner seam allowance. Be careful not to sew past the previously stitched seam. Remember you are better off stopping a little short than sewing past. NOTE: Since the pins can distort the block while sewing, I pull them out as I approach them.

9.  Now you need to sew the the final inner seam. Line up the patches and sew from stitched seam to stitched seam along the stamped line. Once again, be careful not to sew past the already stitched seams. NOTE: if you have trouble lining up the patches exactly at this stage, it’s most likely an indicator that you crossed seam lines somewhere and stitched into the seam allowance. Look for where the problem is and simply take out the offending stitch.

After sewing that final seam, your block should look like this.

10.  Repeat steps 5 thru 9 for the remaining patch.

11.  Since I want the seam allowances to lock when I sew the blocks together, I press accordingly. There are two common layouts for this block. One aligns the outer patches light to dark.

The other stacks the spools, dark to dark.

If you want the light to dark variation, then it makes sense to press all of the long seam allowances (those that go to the outer edges of the block) to the dark patches. If you are stacking the blocks, then half the blocks will press to the dark patches and half will press to the light. NOTE: within any given block, the pressing is consistent, the long seam allowances all pressed to the dark or all pressed to the light.

Since I think the block lies flattest when the seam allowances open in the center, I pick the direction for the first long seam allowance and then pivot the other seam allowances (the inner square) in a circle from there.

So, for instance, in the picture below, the block on the left presses the long seam allowances to the light outer patches. 1. Press the long seam allowance to the light patch. 2. Circle around and press the short inner square seam in towards the square. 3. Continue to circle around and press the next inner square seam out to the dark patch. 4. This will open up the seam allowances at the center intersection. Simply press them flat.  NOTE: as you press the patches in any given block, the direction of the circle will alternate between clockwise and counter-clockwise — though this should be obvious once you are actually doing it.

Whew! That probably sounds pretty complicated in the directions, but in actuality, the stamped sewing lines make this block really quite easy to sew. I can have one sewn and pressed in a little under ten minutes.

And because I am a woman on a mission, I finally finished my wee twister quilt. All I needed to finish was a little stitch in the ditch and binding. Sheesh. But, I’m happy now because it’s all done, sitting on the table by my office chair, and making me quite happy as a little mug rug.  Yeah for finishes!

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