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Finishing a quilt block to size: Here’s what it takes

Finishing a quilt block to size: Here’s what it takes

by Paul Leger

For those wondering what other SCHMETZ needles I enjoy using, well, they’re the SCHMETZ #1794 Twin Needle Carded – 80/12 – 4.0mm.

I use twin needles in two ways: when I want to use bias and need to sew down both edges (the 4.0/80 twin needle is the perfect size to sew down both edges at once), and when I want to make a decorative stitch (they’re great for making parallel lines when sewing or machine quilting)

Like other SCHMETZ needles, the twin needles also come in different sizes. They’re available with wide or narrow spacing between the needles.

A package of SCHMETZ twin needles next to a twin needle out of the package

SCHMETZ twin needles

Over the last three days, I demonstrated three easy and quick methods to make great tree blocks, including yesterday’s block on how to use strips of fabric to make the tree part of the quilt block. In doing so, I pieced two blocks per day. Because I need nine blocks for this quilt, I sewed together three more blocks last night using Monday’s improv method, which is my favorite.

The next step is to trim. I always wait until all the blocks are completed before trimming. Why? Because, depending on the angle of the diagonal cuts, the fabric size, and perhaps because of one or two more factors, the blocks will be different sizes. After I complete the blocks, I measure them all. I find the smallest one, then trim all the blocks to the same size. For these tree blocks, I’m comfortable trimming them at 9” x 9”. I also always start the trimming with the bottom of the tree.

A square quilting ruler lays on top of an untrimmed tree quilt block comprised of an inverted triangle (point down) in white printed fabric and green fabric on both sides as background; the block is on a gray cutting mat with red grid lines

Trim blocks starting at the base of the tree block.

Trim all nine tree blocks.

Nine tree quilt blocks in white blue and green fabrics are trimmed to a 9” square and lay on top of each other on a gray cutting mat with red grid lines

Trim all blocks to the same size.

With the tree portion of the blocks done, there’s one last step to finish the quilt blocks. All trees need a trunk. Once you add the tree trunk, the blocks are no longer square; they’re rectangular.  How long or how short the tree trunks are is up to the quilter. I’d say at a minimum, they need to be at least 1” long. I want my quilt to be longer than it is wide, so I’m making 3½” long tree trunks.

I chose a checkerboard layout for the quilt, using 5 blocks with the green background and 4 with the snowflake background. Now that I know my layout, I need to cut the following for the tree trunks.

·         Two brown strips, one measuring 1½” x 20” and one measuring 1½” x 16”.

·         Two green strips, each measuring 4¼” x 20”.

·         Two snowflake strips, each measuring 4¼” x 16”.

Create strata by sewing a green strip on each side of the 1½” x 20” brown strips, and then sewing the snowflake strips to the 1½” x 16” brown strip.

A brown strip sewn between two snowflake and two green fabric strips lay on top of a gray cutting mat with red gridlines

Sew a brown strip between two snowflake fabric and two green fabric strips.

Cut each stratum set down to 4” sections.

2 stacks of rectangular shape blocks, one with a brown strip and snowflake fabric on either side and one with a brown strip and green fabric on either side, lay on a gray cutting mat with red gridlines. There’s a rotary cutter and quilting ruler above the fabric blocks

Cut strata sets down to 4” sections.

Sew the tree trunk section to the base of the tree block. In most instances, the tree trunk is not centred. Don’t worry about that, it adds to the whimsicalness of the blocks.

2 tree quilt blocks next to each other on a gray background. The first block has a white snowflake tree with a brown tree trunk and green background. The second block has a green tree with a brown tree trunk and white snowflake background

Sew a trunk section to each tree block.

With the tree trunks sewn to the tree, the blocks are done. The blocks now measure 9” x 12½” unfinished.

This week, in addition to demonstrating how to make cool tree blocks, I also wrote about SCHMETZ needles. I know many sewists only use one needle type or size at a time. Now and then we all work on a project which requires needle changes during the creating process. When this happens to me, there’s a little tool I use to help me keep my needles sorted while working. It’s the Grabbit myPad Machine Needle Organizer. It even has a spot for pins. It’s a very nice tool to have. Anything to help me stay organized is a plus.

A Grabbit myPad to keep all sewing needles organized on a gray background

The myPad by Grabbit

Another day finished. There’s only one more step to finish the quilt top. Come back tomorrow to find out how I add some lattice to the quilt blocks.

This is part 4 of 5 in this series

Go back to part 3: What to do with leftover fabric: Sew a tree! [TUTORIAL]

Go to part 5: Adding lattice to your quilt top: A tutorial


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