I am no longer actively blogging here but I’d love if you could join me at my new creative lifestyle blog A Girl in Paradise.
I hope to see you soon.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Building Blocks with Friends - Em from Sewing by Moonlight

Good morning A Girl in Paradise readers! My name is Em and I have been blogging just since January at Sewing by Moonlight. I have two small, exceedingly energetic daughters who keep me busy all day and most of the night. Whenever do I find time to sew, you wonder? (I know the suspense is killing you!) ... by moonlight! After I finally get those sweet, loud, darling mess-makers finally (finally!) tucked in bed for the night, that's when I make myself a cup of tea and close myself in my sewing room where I drink my tea and sew, usually with just the soundtrack of my sewing machine and the voices in my head.

This summer, my family will be out of town for nearly two months and traveling through 16 different states for a wedding, a Masters thesis defense (my husband's), a trip to Glacier National Park, a reunion with some college friends, visits with family, and a whole pile of other national parks. Since I just started Sewing by Moonlight a few months ago, I don't want to leave it languishing for two months with no posts. Since I also don't want to lug my heavy and expensive Bernina 330, Tori, into the Wilderness, I bought a half size Janome Sew Mini specifically to bring on the trip. Her name is Trixie, and she will be helping me host my first every quilt along, the Summer Road Trip Quilt Along.

Each week for 16 weeks, beginning June 1st, I plan to post a block associated with each of the 16 states we will be traveling through this summer. I would love it if you would join me. But today, I have a tutorial for the block I designed for the 4x5 Modern Quilt Bee on Flickr. Let's make a Double Staircase quilt block!

You will need: Focus fabric: Eight (8) 1.5-inch x 5-inch rectangles

Background fabric: Eight (8) 1-inch x 5-inch rectangles Four (4) 2-inch x 8-inch rectangles Four (4) 2-inch x 5.5-inch rectangles Four (4) 2-inch x 3-inch rectangles Choose your focus fabric and cut out eight (8) rectangles, 1.5-inches x 5-inches.

You might choose 8 different fabrics or a combination of a few fabrics in your desired colors. Since these pieces are 5 inches wide, this is great project to use some charm squares.

Now, cut out the fabric for your background. For each 12.5-inch block, you will need 2 strips of background fabric 2-inches x width of fabric (WOF). Iron the fabric (you can still see wrinkles in mine, but trust me, it lies flat) and fold it in half so the selvage line up. You might have to slide the fabric along the selvage a bit so that the fold is even. Place the background fabric on your cutting mat, lining up the fold with one of the guide marks. Trim off any uneven excess perpendicular to the fold.

Now line up your clear ruler with the horizontal guide marks and cut two, 2-inch strips of background fabric.

Lie the two folded strips of background fabric on top of one another so that you now have 4 layers of fabric (two stacked strips, each folded in half).

Cut the stack of strips in the following lengths (you will have 4 rectangles of each size): 8 inches, 5.5 inches, 3 inches, 5 inches. I love this block because with these two 2-inch strips, you get all the pieces you need with very little waste. This is all that's left at the end of the strips:

Cut the 5-inch strips in half lengthwise, so that you have eight rectangles that are 1-inch x 5-inches.

Now you have all your background pieces cut. This is what you will end up with (the leftover is the little bit in the bottom right of this photo):

Match each of the eight 1-inch x 5-inch background pieces with one of the 1.5-inch x 5-inch rectangles of focus fabric and sew them together along the length.

When you're finished, iron the seams either open or to the side.

Decide on the arrangement of your steps. You can construct the block so it appears to have the same structure right side up or upside down. In this case, the lower four steps will be arranged so that the background fabric is toward the bottom. The upper four steps will be arranged so that the background fabric is toward the top.

Alternately, you can arrange the steps so that the background fabric on the steps is always to the same side. With this arrangement, you will have the effect of a continuous staircase across several blocks, should you choose to put more than one together.

Add the rectangles of background fabric to the focus fabric.

I usually only pin the pieces with a rectangle of background fabric on either side so that all the pieces stay together.

Line up your pieces and chain piece them together.

When you're finished, you will have to attach the other side of background fabric to those pieces with background on both sides of the "step".

Iron the seam open or to the side and sew the rows together.

Between rows, I actually prefer to iron seams open for this block. It makes the block lie flatter and you don't have to worry about the direction of the seam if you are putting more than one block together. I sew the rows together in pairs, then sew sets of pairs together, then sew the top half of the block to the bottom. Trim to 12.5-inches. Finished!

In the block I used to take the photos for this tutorial, I arranged it so that the background fabric with each step (the "space" between the steps) was toward the outside of the block. The block has the same look right side up or upside down. In the blocks I made for this baby quilt, I wanted the steps to continue across the quilt, so the space between the blocks is always on the lower side of the focus fabric.

I made a mistake when I was putting the blocks together for this quilt. Did you notice right away? Can you see it now that I mentioned it? (I'll show you in a minute.) I think I like the back of this quilt as much as I like the front. Each piece of the rainbow solid has the addition of two charm squares in that color.

I quilted it by following the step pattern above and below as well as 1/4 inch into the white space in the border pieces.

Remember that mistake I mentioned? Here it is. On one block, I accidentally flipped the bottom half of the block so that there is no white space between those two steps when the quilt is put together. I didn't notice when I put the block together and I didn't even notice when I put the quilt together. I didn't see it until I was actually quilting it, and there was no way I was going to take all that stitching out!

I love it. I love it so much I almost want to have another baby who will use it. Ha! In any case, I don't think I can give this one away. I still need to bind it, though. I'm thinking red. What do you think?

If you'd like to see more photos of this delicious quilt, come over and visit me at Sewing by Moonlight!

Thanks Em, what a great block.  I wouldn't have even noticed that "mistake" if you hadn't mentioned it.  I can't wait to see what you have in store for us with your Road Trip Quilt Along.  That sounds like lots of fun. 

Thanks for joining us for another edition of Building Blocks with Friends.  If you are interested in showcasing your block here, just let me know, I would love to hear from you.   

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  1. Very pretty, It looked so complicated until you broke it down in pictures.

    1. I know. She did a great job explaining it. Didn't she. :)

    2. It's a really straight forward block to make actually. A lot of pieces, but it goes together really easily!

    3. It's actually a really straight forward design. I love that you can use charm squares and that the background is just two strips of fabric. There are a lot of pieces, but it goes together really easily.

  2. neat block, thanks for the tutorial!

  3. What a gorgeous block, and it makes such a lovely quilt. Thanks for showing us how!

  4. I'm sewing my first quilt with the Mommy By Day quilt along- excited to get my confidence up enough to try some other stuff, too! Thanks for linking to Things I've Done Thursday!

  5. The blocks quilt looks really nice.. Thanks for linking up at friday fun party..

  6. That,s all right. My mother n law said that you should make a mistake on every quilt, that it brings good luck. I also read that in a book once.

  7. Your rainbow steps are beautiful! And I can just imagine a little boy walking up the steps and then so excited that he gets to jump up a step. And he does so with all his might!

  8. the quilts are so pretty and I love the rainbow steps most! really love the colors. thanks for sharing and it's nice meeting you here @ A girl in paradise. have a fab weekend!

    Lelanie @ to-sew-with-love.com


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