Sunday, June 2, 2019

Twisted Blocks Add Fun Texture

I just completed a wonderful project that incorporated the works of three artists--my friend Susan who created a very special anniversary quilted wall hanging; our friend Nancy who used that quilt as a backdrop for a still-life painting; and myself who created an original design quilted wall hanging that incorporated their projects into my own. The full reveal is coming real soon! The quilt was just delivered to be included in the judged quilts at the upcoming Kansas City Regional Quilt Festival and as soon as judging is complete, I'll be posting that quilt everywhere.

These are a few of the blocks that I added to the quilt that were different from my norm. The same blocks were used in the original quilt by Susan and I chose to add them to my project to tie the piece together. I've been asked for a tutorial on how to make these blocks and so here it is!

I call these twisted blocks, although they may be known by other names as well. I've used a similar layout in a larger size to make coasters (see the bottom of this post), so they aren't necessarily a new thing. It's just the first time I've put them into a quilt!

For this particular quilt I wanted smaller blocks similar to what Susan had used, so I started out with five 2.5" squares. One became the foundation for the rest that built in layers.

First, fold and press well four of the squares into triangles and lay them out around your foundation square. If you look at my layout, you can see where each square will be set into a corner of the foundation with the raw edges together on two sides and the folded edge diagonally across the foundation.
Continue adding the pressed triangles until three are on, working your way around the block.
To add the fourth triangle, fold the corner of the first one up and slip the corner of the fourth one under it and leaving the other end on top of the next triangle so the triangles are "woven" together. I pinned the first two triangles in place on the foundation so they wouldn't slip while I worked the fourth one in.
I added a drop of Elmer's white glue to the corner of each triangle to glue it to the foundation square in the four corners. Since I was working with smaller squares, adding a lot of pins wasn't feasible, so a little glue that was heat set with a hot iron did the trick to hold the pieces in place until they were all sewn. Once all four triangles are in place securely, I cut and stitch 1" borders on either side and then across the top and bottom.
I prefer to work with a seam guide of some sort--this seam allowance guide is attached to the machine with double-stick tape and placed along a 1/4" seam guide for proper placement. It helps keep my seams all consistent as I stitch. 
Once the borders are on all the way around, I then begin folding the bias folded edges back to create curves. Working one at a time and being sure the bias edge is folded back even underneath the next piece above it, I finger press each curve down. 

When all four seams are finger pressed, I then go to my ironing board and give them a good press to hold them in place. The result is a gorgeous little block that will add texture and movement to your project.

On my larger quilt I added these blocks as part of the border. The final step was to add some quilting to the blocks. I top-stitched each curve down on the exposed part of each curve, being careful to keep the curves in place even underneath the overlapping pieces. I also ditched around the center block and added some little curls in the frame. It really dressed up the quilt and tied the projects together to create Three Artists in Bloom: a quilt of a painting of a quilt.

Stepping back to 2012, I realize I used this same block. Using 5" charm squares, I made several sets of coasters for stemware. I pressed four charm squares into triangles, added them in the same manner to a base of a charm square, a piece of stabilizer, and another charm square. They were stitched together and turned inside out making a finished edge. I top stitched around the edges to keep everything in place. Instead of folding the bias edges back and stitching them down, instead I left them loose and the base of a wine glass can be tucked inside for a "take-along" coaster! 

At the time when I made these, I thought it was brilliant, but never imagined incorporating these blocks into a quilt. Now that I've taken that leap, I suspect you may see them again in future projects.

More snippets from the sewing room soon,