Spectrum QAL 2020 Block 4: Riley Blake Designs Blue Stitch

How did your Block 3 turn out? The Spectrum Quilt-A-Long (QAL) 2020 is so exciting to be a part of and I can’t wait to see the finished quilt.

I’m working with blues and whites from the Blue Stitch collection by Riley Blake Designs. A blue and white quilt is a classic, but the blues in this collection are so vibrant that they look very modern, yet the prints also come across as romantic and soft. Lots of options when working with this great collection designed by Christopher Thompson.

I’ll start by sharing the yardages for the quilt layout that I’m doing. The finished size of this on-point layout is 78″ square.

  • ½ yd (lengthwise cuts of 6½” wide for the border and lengthwise cuts of 2½” for the binding) for outer border and binding print
  • ¾ yd (crosswise cuts of 2½” wide) for inner border
  • 1¼ yd (crosswise cuts of 2½” wide) for sashing
  • 1 yd for setting triangles
  • 1½ yd in total of various whites for background for blocks
  • 2 yds in total of various light, medium, and dark blues for the blocks
  • 5 yds for backing

Here’s a picture of the quilt from EQ8 (Electric Quilt 8). I’ll have to remake one of the blocks for the center, or I might get creative and do something else in that center block.

An EQ8 drawing of my version of the Spectrum QAL 2020

Now let’s get started on Block 4.


Fabric A Background (white dot)

Cut four (4) squares at 2½” square (for half-square triangles).

Cut four (4) rectangles at 3½” x 6½” for flying geese units.

Cut four (4) squares at 2″ square for the corner units.

Fabric B Light blue dot: Cut four (4) squares at 2½” square (for half-square triangles).

Fabric C Medium blue floral print: Cut eight (8) squares at 3½” square for flying geese units).

Fabric D Second medium blue floral print: Cut six (6) squares at 2″ square.

Fabric E Dark blue with words: Cut six (6) squares at 2″ square.

Fabric F Light blue floral: cut four (4) rectangles at 2″ x 3½”.

I lay out all the pieces on my mini design board to check for colorings and contrast. I’m happy with these fabrics, so I’m ready to sew.

he pieces of Block 4 on the mini design board.

I like to start by making the components, so I start with the half square triangles using the 2½” squares of Fabrics A and B. These units need to be trimmed to 2″.

Trimming the half square triangles to 2″.

Now it’s time to make those flying geese units. If you need a refresher, you can refer back to my instructions in Block 1. Use the Fabric A rectangles and the Fabric C squares. There are several methods for making flying geese units, but I’m partial to this method, and I’ll show you why later. But, save those two little triangles that need to get cut off. I know that some people sew a seam on that little cut off before they cut it away, but I don’t. Just wait!

Carefully press the medium blue toward the outside of the rectangle. Make sure there are no folds or tucks at either end of the seam, which helps ensure that your points end up in the right place when the block is sewn together.

The first corner of the flying geese is well pressed away from the rectangle.

Here’s another tip about pressing. I always manipulate all seams with my fingers as I’m pressing. It’s like finger pressing first and then following up with a bit of steam to make the seam stay flat. If you’re careful, there’s no danger of burning your fingers. I’ve done this for years and never even realized how much I use my fingers when pressing.

Finger pressing the seam before pressing with a steam iron.

The next step is to verify that the flying geese units are the right size. If there’s anything to be trimmed away, this is the time. Use the diagonal lines on the ruler to help keep the block lined up.

Trimming the flying geese units.

Now that the components are made, I can place the 2″ squares of Fabrics A, D, and E, as well as the rectangles of Fabric F. I’m happy, so I’ll assemble the corner units and the center square.

All the pieces of Block 4 are now positioned and ready to sew.

I like to chain-piece all my seams as I sew. It speeds up the sewing process, and by keeping the chain going, you don’t have to worry about your needle coming unthreaded or holding the threads to get started. I sewed the four patches in the corners. I grabbed the first one, sewed the center seam, grabbed the next one, and so on. I twirled the seams on the back.

Chain piecing the corner units.

At some point, you’ll come to a seam in Block 4 that you can’t sew without breaking the chain. You could grab a block from another project, or you could now use those cutoff triangles from the flying geese units and sew one of those. And that’s what I’m doing here. It’s sometimes called an ender and a leader, as it ends or leads our chain piecing. I think it’s a brilliant idea.

Using the cutoff triangles as an ender/leader.

Here’s my four-patch in the center block. I’m using the dark blue fabric with words, so I’m careful to keep the orientation the same throughout the block.

he four-patch in the center of the block.

Of course, I try to twirl all the seam allowances, if possible. While there isn’t any bulk in that center seam, twirling the seams helps distribute the seam allowances, so the front of the block looks flat, and there’s no unbalanced look.

The twirled seam on the back of the four-patch.

If you’re unsure of your seam allowances, there’s nothing wrong with checking the components’ size as you sew them together. The center square and the corner units should measure 3½” unfinished. I did twirl the seam allowances on the corner units as well.

Measuring the components to ensure they are the correct size

Don’t forget to use your stiletto to help sew over some of those bumpy areas. Not only can the stiletto be used to assist in starting a seam (by giving the fabric a gentle nudge forward), but it can help to hold the seam allowances in place when you sew over them.

Using the stiletto to prevent the seam allowance from flipping backward.

Here’s an example that shows you where I’m using the stiletto to nudge the fabrics forward if the machine doesn’t want to start sewing over the diagonal seam allowance at the start of the seam.

Using the stiletto to nudge the fabric forward.

Now that my center square is together, I can check it for size. And yes – it’s 6½”.

The center square for Block 4.

Now that the main sections are together, it’s like sewing a nine-patch block together.

All the components are together.

Here’s another example where the stiletto is very helpful. I have to sew over some points of numerous components. The stiletto helps keep the seams under control and prevents the sewing machine from pushing my work to the left of the needle.

Using the stiletto to keep the fabric from shifting under the needle.

Here’s the front of Block 4 and it looks AMAZING!

Block 4

And the best part? The back looks just as amazing! The stiletto helped me to match up all the seams perfectly. No need to use pins!

The back of the completed Block 4

Remember those cutoffs from the flying geese units? They’re now all sewn together and trimmed to make half-square triangles. Remember that I’m keeping the half-square triangles created from all the flying geese units, and I’ve also kept the selvages. I’ll find a creative way to use them when the quilt is complete.

Half-square triangles from the flying geese cutoffs.

And that ends another session using the fabulous Blue Stitch fabric collection by Riley Blake Designs. It’s so nice to work with, and I love the classic look of this blue and white collection.

Be sure to check out Claire and Paul’s version of Block 4! It’s so awesome to follow along, as not only do we get to see the gorgeous fabrics that Claire and Paul are using, but we also get to see different methods for assembling the same blocks.

Don’t forget to send us pictures of your blocks! Post them on your social media with #TheSewGoesOn, I can’t wait to see what you’re making.

Have a great day!


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