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Sunday, July 1, 2012

Quilting, Civil War Blocks

I'm working my way through a Craftsy.com class on Civil War quilt blocks. Actually it is a class on classic blocks, most made with half square and quarter square triangles, and traditional pieced units. Although we are piecing by machine, and some of us are using specialty rulers to cut the pieces out, what we are doing is all very traditional in how it looks.

 This was the first block I made. No triangles in this one. The idea was to learn a method of machine piecing that did not involve lots of pressing. In fact this block hasn't seen an iron at all at this point. The second thing we were supposed to learn is how to have an accurate 1/4 inch seam. If we did the block would come out 12 1/2 inches. 

And it did. In fact so far all the blocks have come out 12 1/2 inches. There are two schools of thought in machine piecing. One is to be very accurate in how you cut and how you sew. The second is to cut everything bigger than you need it to be and then cut it all down to fit. 

I used the second method in the blocks in the bed scarf. It ended up almost perfect, but I HATED all of that finicky cutting so it would work, and the specialty ruler I was using for that process didn't work all that well. I find I like the method I'm using in this class better. There is still a lot of being very careful when you cut happening, but once you have done that you don't go back and do it all over again.

This is the second block. It also is a very easy block intended to teach how to put something relatively easy together perfectly. It also came out 12 1/2 inches on the first try.

I suddenly figured something out when I was putting this block together. Back in the hand piecing days we did not iron a block until it was all put together. I am not sure why most teachers send us to the iron after every seam just because we are using a sewing machine instead of a hand needle.

Or maybe I do know. When rotary cutters first came in we weren't using them to cut out pieces and put them together the way I am in this class. At first we made strip sets. That made quilts, that had been very difficult to do by hand, extremely easy. I never made a Trip Around The World or one of those big King Sized star quilts, but with strip sets, anyone could make one. But in order to cut the strips accurately once they had been sewn together you had to press them so they would be flat.

 This is one quarter of the third block. Things are getting more difficult, but as you can see all of the points are sharp, and there is no question that it is all going to go together very well.
And it did. And yes, this one is the right size as well.

Remember when you look at these blocks that none of them have been pressed yet. I've decided to wait until they have been put together with other blocks, or other units.








I'm learning a great deal from this class. I'm also taking several others at the same time. I bought a third machine quilting class, for example. I find that I learn using this online method extremely well because I can go back and watch again before I actually do whatever is being taught. And machine quilting was something I've been wanting to do for decades, but didn't have the guts to try. I've learned something important from each of the teachers I've watched or read about, on Craftsy or other parts of the Web, both about machine quilting and about other aspects of quilting.

And at this point I haven't paid full price for anything except the first class at Craftsy. That is one of the reasons I've been comfortable about getting so many of them. After that I waited for sales. I get the notice of the sales multiple times because I'm on mailing lists for Craftsy, Interweave and Quilting Newsletter. So I check out the classes when they come out and try to figure out which ones I'm going to want, and go from there.

I'm also taking the free Block of the Month class. It isn't the same quality as the classes I've paid for, but the young teacher is fun to watch, and she is learning a lot as she learns how to teach using this online method. That is something I've noticed with the older teachers as well. Their second classes have all been better than the first ones were because they were more comfortable with the camera.

Most of the early classes I bought were art quilting classes. I've got one art quilting class in progress as well. I like learning a lot of techniques, so all of this is a lot of fun.

Take care all.

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