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Color Outside the Lines Quilt-Along: Weeks 2-6 Tips

Weeks 2-6 of the 2019 Quilts & More Quilt-Along start on 5/13. The assignments are to assemble all the blocks. Below you'll find some helpful tips for cutting, pressing, and sewing these blocks, and some answers to questions we've been getting. See more about the Quilt-Along here.

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First things first. What should I do before I even start cutting?

Change your rotary cutter blade if you haven't done that recently. That will make the cutting process much easier. Clean off your cutting surface and have a bin handy for the trimmings. Make sure your ironing board and iron are clean. Iron cleaning products are available at your local quilt shop or chain store. If you need something right now, try this simple solution. Wipe off the iron with a damp cloth to remove dirt and dust. Remove as much as you can from the soleplate. Turn the iron on hot. Grab an old towel and rub the ironing surface over it until all the buildup is removed. When the iron cools off, wipe it again with a clean cloth. The soleplate will be as good as new!

 

How do I prep my fabric for cutting?

Iron your fabrics using the right heat setting for the type of fabrics you're using (consult your manual if you're not sure). You can use steam or no steam -- it's up to you! Iron your fabrics flat (mist with water if you have a stubborn crease), then lay flat to cool. You can also choose to use starch to keep fabrics crisp while cutting.

 

I don’t work with templates very often. Do you have any tips for using them?

We posted a video to walk you through the process of making and using the templates for this quilt. Check it out here.

 

Does the template of Pattern A proivided in the magazine have a mistake?

Yes, it does. The piece labeled Pattern A is actually Pattern A Reversed. The good news is that the piece is the correct size, so to make it Pattern A, just flip it over. We suggest writing A Reversed on the front so that you remember to flip it. (If you bought the pattern from APQshop.com, the pattern piece is correct.) An easy way to tell if you have the correct pattern A is if the straight line is on the right, Pattern A is right!

Here is the the updated pattern template as a PDF. If you don't think you'll remember this change as you come to it, please print this for your records!

 

When I cut my squares twice on the diagonal to make the four triangles, my ruler slips a little. Any suggestions?

1. Slow down. If you feel your ruler moving, stop immediately, reposition your hand and the ruler, then start again.

2. Try using a ruler grip or non-slip adhesive on the back of your ruler. 

3. If your fabric seems to be shifting, try starching it to keep it crisp and flat for easy cutting.

4. Try marking the diagonals with a fabric marker and then cutting on the lines with fabric scissors. If the ruler slips, you can re-draw the line. After all, measure twice, cut once!

 

Getting a 1/4" seam is important for this quilt. How do I get consistent seams?

Maintaining an accurate seam allowance is essential to assembling this quilt properly. If your seams aren't accurate, the pieces may not line up correctly. See a video of 4 tips for getting perfect 1/4" seams here. If you have a 1/4" presser foot, this is a great time to use it. If you don't have a 1/4" presser foot, you can make your own 1/4" guide with masking or washi tape. See the process of making your own seam guide here.

 

I’m having trouble with the triangles warping out of shape when I make the Hourglass blocks. Any suggestions?

1. Make sure you are pressing, not ironing. Bias edges stretch easily and should be handled as little as possible.

2. Use starch or a starch alternative. It will add body to your fabric and help the triangles keep their shape.

3. Try adding a lightweight stabilizer to the back of the squares before you cut them into triangles. This will stop the stretch after you cut and piece them. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for adhering the stabilizer. Some stabilizers will wash out of the quilt, but others stay in the quilt and will give it extra body/stiffness.

See a video of tips for working with bias edges here.

 

What's the trick to pressing the star points without distorting the fabric?

1. Set Your Seams: Before pressing a seam open or to one side, first just press the seam as it was sewn, without opening up the fabric pieces. Doing so helps meld or sink the stitches into the fabric, leaving you with a less bulky seam allowance after you press it open or to one side.

2. Keep It Straight: Straight seams should be pressed from the right side of the fabric with the iron parallel to the straight of grain. This helps avoid pressing tucks and pleats into the seam.

 

I did my first block, and I think I got this down! Any tips to make the process a little faster?

1. The triangles for the Hourglass units are cut from a 6-1/2" square. This is a fairly common ruler size—if you have one it makes rotary-cutting the squares a snap! Or try a die-cutting machine like the Go! By Accuquilt,  which has a have 6-1/2" square die.

2. Try chain piecing! It's the process of feeding pairs of pieces under the machine needle without lifting the presser foot or breaking thread. You can see a video of this technique here.