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Spectrum QAL 2020 Block 1: Riley Blake Designs Blue Stitch

by Elaine Theriault

I barely had time to enjoy the beautiful Blue Stitch collection by Christopher Thompson for Riley Blake Designs before I started cutting the first block.

I love all these fabrics together, and instead of doing a one to one substitution with the fabrics in the original pattern, I’ll select fabrics each month that I like for that block. GASP! I know – I hate following a pattern, and I think this method will work just fine.

However, I set aside the fabrics for the border, binding, sashing, and the backing so they don’t inadvertently get used.

I’ll admit that I’m a technical quilter. What the heck does that mean? I like to provide tips on how to make it easier to sew the block together. So that’s what I’ll do. I can’t help myself – it’s the teacher in me coming out.

You might remember my version of the Spectrum quilt is square, measuring 92” x 92”.

Elaine Theriault’s version of the Spectrum Quilt for the QAL2020 on QUILTsocial.com

Elaine Theriault’s version of the Spectrum Quilt for the QAL2020 on QUILTsocial.com

And now onto Block 1.

I started by selecting five fabrics for the block.

Five fabrics from the Blue Stitch collection by Christopher Thompson for Riley Blake Designs; QAL2020

My fabric selections for Block 1

The fabrics are chosen and now onto the cutting. OK – I confess that I added a wee bit to some of the pieces so I could trim down. It’s a disease!

  • Background (Fabric A & B) – white with the blue dot. I cut one square at 7¼”. And four squares at 3½”.
  • Star Points (Fabric C) – dark blue with white. I cut four squares at 4″. (slightly larger than the original instructions)
  • Half-square triangles (Fabrics D) – the dark blue with white dot and the medium blue with flowers. I cut two squares of each at 3″.
  • Corners for the pinwheel block (Fabric E) – the light blue with flowers. I cut two squares at 4″ (slightly larger than the original instructions)
The pieces for the first block using the Blue Stitch fabric collection by Christopher Thompson for Riley Blake Designs is positioned on a small design board

My pieces for Block 1 are cut.

I made the half-square triangles for the center pinwheel in the traditional way. I cut 3″ squares and sewed a scant ¼” on either side of the diagonal line.

The squares for the half-square triangles are sewn and ready to be cut apart; Spectrum QAL2020, Blue Stitch Fabric Collection

The squares for the half-square triangles are sewn and ready to be cut apart

Then I trimmed those dog ears off. I love ears on a dog, but not dog ears on my quilt blocks! I trimmed my squares to 2⅝”.

A trimmed half-square triangle made with medium and dark blue fabrics; Spectrum QAL2020, Blue Stitch Fabric Collection

A trimmed half-square triangle made with medium and dark blue fabrics; Spectrum QAL2020, Blue Stitch Fabric Collection

There are loads of different ways to make and trim half-square triangles, but honestly, I love this traditional method, and I use my regular ruler to trim the units. Make sure you use the diagonal line on the ruler to match up with the diagonal seam. Easy peasy!

A square ruler sitting on the half-square unit for trimming; Spectrum QAL2020, Blue Stitch Fabric Collection

A square ruler sitting on the half-square unit for trimming; Spectrum QAL2020, Blue Stitch Fabric Collection

As I’m sewing and pressing, I keep all the block components on my little design board. I carry this board back and forth from the cutting table to the sewing machine and the ironing station. I don’t lose block components and it helps to keep the pieces lined up.

The pieces of a quilt block displayed on a design board; Spectrum QAL2020, Blue Stitch Fabric Collection

The pieces of a quilt block displayed on a design board; Spectrum QAL2020, Blue Stitch Fabric Collection

I also chain piece wherever I can. So, I was sewing the half-square triangles together at the same time I sewed the flying geese.

Chain piecing the elements of a quilt block; Spectrum QAL2020, Blue Stitch Fabric Collection Block 1

Chain piecing the elements of a quilt block; Spectrum QAL2020, Blue Stitch Fabric Collection Block 1

You can see the two halves of the pinwheel block are attached because they were chain pieced. The block components stay in the correct orientation when you leave that little thread between the two halves of the pinwheel. Oh my – the coloring is awful in that picture. Trust me – those blues are so vibrant.

A line of stitching connects the two halves of the pinwheel block; Spectrum QAL2020, Blue Stitch Fabric Collection, Block 1

A line of stitching connects the two halves of the pinwheel block; Spectrum QAL2020, Blue Stitch Fabric Collection, Block 1

As Claire Haillot did with her Block 1, I love to twirl the seams on the back to reduce bulk in the center. Before you can twirl the seams, you NEED to clip that thread that joined the two halves together. Then take your seam ripper and release the vertical stitches in the seam allowance, which allows the seam allowance to be split and twirled on the back.

Removing the vertical stitch in the seam allowance; Spectrum QAL2020, Blue Stitch Fabric Collection

Removing the vertical stitch in the seam allowance; Spectrum QAL2020, Blue Stitch Fabric Collection

To help position the corner triangles onto the pinwheel block, I gave each one a pinch press on the longest side and lined that mark up with the seam line on each side of the pinwheel block.

Lining the pinch press with the seam on the pinwheel block; Spectrum QAL2020, Blue Stitch Fabric Collection Block 1

Lining the pinch press with the seam on the pinwheel block; Spectrum QAL2020, Blue Stitch Fabric Collection Block 1

After sewing two of the triangles to opposite corners of the pinwheel, I trimmed the dog ears on both sides of the block and then added the last two triangles.

Trimming the dog ears off the corner triangles; Spectrum QAL2020, Blue Stitch Fabric Collection Block 1

Trimming the dog ears off the corner triangles; Spectrum QAL2020, Blue Stitch Fabric Collection Block 1

Next up was to trim the flying geese units. I know, I just can’t let anything go without trimming. Notice how I’m using the diagonal lines on a regular ruler to trim the flying geese unit.

Trimming the flying geese units with a regular ruler; Spectrum QAL2020, Blue Stitch Fabric Collection Block 1

Trimming the flying geese units with a regular ruler; Spectrum QAL2020, Blue Stitch Fabric Collection Block 1

Now all my components are pieced (and trimmed), and it’s time to sew the block together.

The block components on the small design board are ready to piece; Spectrum QAL2020, Blue Stitch Fabric Collection Block 1

The block components on the small design board are ready to piece; Spectrum QAL2020, Blue Stitch Fabric Collection Block 1

I’ve got one more tip for you. There’s a LOT of bulk where the points meet along the seam. Your sewing machine will want to push that bulk out of the way, and your seam allowance will go wonky.

I use my quilter’s awl or stiletto to keep the fabric where it’s supposed to be, and thus, I get a straight seam over that heavy intersection. It’s OK to be somewhat aggressive with your fabric to keep that seam straight.

Using a quilter's awl or a stiletto to keep the seam allowance from shifting as you sew the seam; Spectrum QAL2020, Blue Stitch Fabric Collection Block 1

Using a quilter’s awl or a stiletto to keep the seam allowance from shifting as you sew the seam; Spectrum QAL2020, Blue Stitch Fabric Collection Block 1

One last tip for today about pressing those bulky seams, I prefer not to press the seams open. I manipulate those seams with my fingers BEFORE I press them. Then I add a little bit of steam.

Using my fingers to manipulate the bulk of the intersection a bit of steam to set it; Spectrum QAL2020, Blue Stitch Fabric Collection Block 1

Using my fingers to manipulate the bulk of the intersection a bit of steam to set it; Spectrum QAL2020, Blue Stitch Fabric Collection Block 1

The front of the blue and white quilt block; Spectrum QAL2020, Blue Stitch Fabric Collection Block 1

The front of the blue and white quilt block; Spectrum QAL2020, Blue Stitch Fabric Collection Block 1

I’m sharing the back of the quilt block as well, so you can see how I pressed all the seam.

The back of my quilt block; Spectrum QAL2020, Blue Stitch Fabric Collection Block 1

The back of my quilt block; Spectrum QAL2020, Blue Stitch Fabric Collection Block 1

Thanks again to Riley Blake Designs and Christopher Thompson for making my version of the Spectrum QAL2020 possible. Show me your version of the QAL 2020 Block 1, by commenting below or sharing it on #TheSewGoesOn.

I promise that the remaining blocks will be timelier as I now have all the fabrics. Join me for Block 2 in two weeks.

Have a great day!

Go back to: Spectrum QAL 2020: Riley Blake Designs Blue Stitch

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