Improve Stripes and Braid Blocks Tutorial

Welcome back to Part 2 of the Improv Stripes and Braids tutorial series. We’ve already completed our Improv Stripe block, so let’s get right into the Improv Braid block. Left over from last time, you will need the following:

  • 3 sheets of copy paper/lightweight paper large enough to be cut into two 12 1/2″ squares OR freezer paper
  • Pencil
  • Paper cutting scissors
  • Ruler
  • Water soluble glue stick (if using copy paper)
  • Fabric
  • Thread
  • 5″ half square triangle left over from Part 1.

In Part 1, we used the copy paper and the foundation paper piecing technique to sew the Improv Stripe block, but for this tutorial we’ll be using freezer paper to mix things up. If you’re using regular paper, assemble your template as in Part 1 and skip on to step 2. Then be sure to subsequently sew through the paper as normal rather than sewing next to the fold. (more…)

Hello again, it’s me, Swampy, and I’m back with a two part tutorial to make scrappy improv blocks using strings.  In these tutorials, I’ll talk you through assessing the value of your fabrics and how to use basic foundation paper piecing techniques to create blocks for a dynamic quilt design.  I’ve split the tutorial into two parts because this design is laid out using two alternating blocks to create an overall pattern similar to my last tutorial about the Greek Cross Alternate Block.

Improv Stripes and Braids Tutorial Part 1 of 2

For Part 1, we will prepare our paper foundations, choose our fabrics and arrange them in value order, and finally, sew the Improv Stripes block using regular copy paper.  In Part 2, we’ll sew the Improv Braid block using freezer paper and look at some possible layouts for our blocks.  Let’s get started!


Rainbow Mane Prep

So you’ve got your unicorn pattern and you want to make a rainbow mane like my example?  Here are some tips for making a 13-colour rainbow mane.

First, pick your 13 colours and give them names.  I’ve named mine pink, fuchsia, purple, blue violet, blue, aqua, green, yellow green, lemon, yellow orange, orange, red, and maroon.  This sequence of colours starts from the bottom of the mane and repeats the pink and fuchsia at the top.

Next, cut out all your pattern pieces and relabel the colours according to the following chart.  If you are using different colour names, you will want to print out the chart and insert your names into the blank column provided.  You may also want to give some indication of which fabric is which if you think you might get confused.  For example, purple (Allison Glass sun print), fuchsia (Blueberry Park), etc.

Be sure to differentiate between the yellow mane and the yellow background if you are using yellow as one of your colours.  I called the yellow in my mane “lemon” for this purpose.  I also labelled piece S1 as the horn to differentiate between oranges.

Rainbow Mane Chart

Once all your pieces have been relabelled, it’s time to sew.  Follow the instructions on the pattern and you’ll have a rainbow-maned unicorn in no time!

Rainbow Unicorn

Unicorn Pattern Giveaway! (closed)

Want to sew a unicorn but have been holding out purchasing the pattern?  Here’s your chance to score one for free!  I will be giving away a copy of the pattern to one lucky blog reader next week.

But wait… there’s more!  My fellow kiwi quilting ladies have been so generous and helpful promoting my new pattern, I’ve decided to giveaway a second pattern plus a special scrap pack of fabrics from my stash to one New Zealand resident.

Here’s how to play:

  • All readers of my blog are eligible, all you need is an email address.
  • Comment on this post to enter the draw!  Be sure your email address is correct so I can contact you!
  • Please do not comment more than once.  If you have not commented on my blog previously, your comment will not appear right away.  Don’t worry, it worked, just be patient!
  • Indicate in your comment if you are a resident of New Zealand to be entered in the draw for the scrap pack.
  • For a second entry, pop over to my Instagram and repost the giveaway photo with #unicornquiltblock – Let me know your IG username in your comment here so I can tell who’s who!
  • Entries close at 8PM NZDT (+13 UTC), Sunday January 10.
  • Winners will be notified via email and announced on the blog sometime Monday (probably shortly after I roll out of bed)
  • New Zealand winner must be prepared to provide mailing address to receive their fabric prize.

Good luck!

Stitching with Swampy: Swamp Patch

Hello, I’m Swampy, and this is Stitching with Swampy. Let’s get started. Today we’ll be making a 12″ (finished size) swamp patch block. This block is made up of 4 corner triangles (HSTs), 4 set in triangles (QSTs), and a square which is a good opportunity to fussy cut some of that fancy fabric in your stash.  For this block, you’ll need 5 different fabrics.  I used two solids, a pukeko novelty print, and two floral prints.

Swamp Patch Pieces

Start by cutting your fabric into squares.  You will need the following:

  • two 4 7/8″ novelty fabric
  • one 4 1/2″ novelty fabric (this is the center square which you may want to fussy cut)
  • two 4 7/8″ blue floral
  • one 5 1/4″ green solid
  • one 5 1/4″ red floral
  • two 5 1/4″ navy solid

Next, set aside the 4 1/2″ novelty square and match up the other squares to make these pairs, placing them right sides together:

  • novelty + blue floral (there will be two pairs like this)
  • green solid + navy solid
  • red floral + navy solid

Swamp Patch pairs

Draw a line diagonally across each pair.  I use a regular pencil for this rather than a special fabric marking tool because it is more precise, and it doesn’t matter if it washes off the fabric or not, because you’ll never see this line on the finished block.  I also don’t use one of my quilting rulers for this, because the ruler will get some graphite on it, and I don’t want to unintentionally transfer that onto my fabric somewhere down the road.

Swamp Patch stitching

Stitch a scant 1/4″ along each side of the drawn line, then cut each pair in half, using the drawn line as a guide.  I use scissors for this, because there’s no point in dulling your rotary cutter blade on something that doesn’t need to be perfectly straight or accurate.  But if you want to rotary cut, by all means, rotary cut.

Swamp Patch HSTs

Set your seams and press all your pieces with the seams open. At this point you should have 9 pieces: 8 HSTs and your 4 1/2″ center square. Using a small square ruler, carefully trim the four novelty + blue floral HSTs down to 4 1/2″ square.  They should be pretty close already!  Set them aside with your center square.

Swamp Patch makin' QSTs

Take your four HSTs with the navy fabric and sort them into two pairs, each with one green solid triangle and one red floral triangle, and place them right sides together like in the picture above.  Make sure the navy triangles are opposite each other and the seams match up.

Swamp Patch draw a line

Like before, draw a line diagonally across each pair, perpendicular to the existing seam.  Pin, and stitch a scant 1/4″ from each side of the line.  Before cutting the pieces apart, look inside and ensure the seams match up.  You don’t want to be unpicking once the pieces have been cut on the bias.  Adjust if necessary and then cut along the drawn line.  Set your seams and press everything with the seams open.  Trim blocks to 4 1/2″ square.

Swamp Patch layout

Now it’s time to lay out your block (the exciting part, we’re almost done now)!  It should look like this.  Pin and sew each row together.  Set your seams, pressing them toward the outside on rows 1 and 3, and toward the center on row 2.  If you’re confused, please see the next picture.

Swamp Patch press the seams

Pressing the seams like this will help you to match the seams on your rows.  Pin and sew the rows together.  Set the seams and press toward the outside.  And you’re done!

Completed Swamp Patch

Here is my completed swamp patch block (on the right, obviously).  Robyn made the one on the left.  You may have noticed that because I was using a directional print, some of the pukekos are sideways on my completed block.  If you want to use a directional print or stripes and this bothers you, the issue can easily be remedied by making two blocks at the same time using the same fabrics.  When laying out your block after making all the pieces, use all of the “sideways” HSTs for one and the right side up ones for the other.  After rotating the center square accordingly, the print will be right side up on both blocks!

Thanks for reading and good luck with all your swamp patches!