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Think Inside the Block

Angela Walters shares a method for adding interest to your quilts by thinking inside the block when machine quilting.

"Hi, I'm Jennifer in the American Patchwork & Quilting sewing studio, here with Angela Walters, Handi Quilters ambassador. We're talking about thinking inside the block. Often when quilters are planning their quilting, they think about the block as one unit, instead of thinking of the individual pieces inside the block. But what I love about your style, Angela, is that you think about these individual units that make up the block, particularly like a Log Cabin block or a square-in-a-square. You use that as an opportunity to showcase three different kinds of quilting." "Absolutely. I'm not against allover quilting designs by any means, but I think of it like makeup. I wouldn't put blush all over my face, so I like to use quilting to really enhance the actual quilt pattern. Plus, I have a little quilting ADD. I get bored, so switching up the designs keeps it interesting and fun. But I'm not really talking about using the hard designs or going all out custom. I'm just saying, pick a few different designs and alternate between them for that little bit of interest in your quilt. But the think I'm also going to show you is how you work your way into the block and then out without starting and stopping." "And that's the trick: when you're using multiple quilting designs, you really do have to have a plan to get started for how you're going to get from the outside of the block into the center and back out again so you can do the adjacent block." "Yes, we don't want to start and stop, because that takes too long. So let me show you how we would go about doing that." "Let's do it." "So using this block, which is kind of like our mock up. We're going to pretend that it's a block that we're quilting. We're going to start in the corner, and I'm just going to quilt a different design in each area. So in the outer area, I'm going to do that square chain that we learned in the geometric quilting video. The trick is to allow yourself space to get into the center and come back out. So what I'm going to do is just quickly quilt around the bottom with a couple different ones. Again, this is a nice, easy design. It's not too complex. And I'll work my way up partially to the other side." "Now, I think my inclination would be to follow that gray border strip all the way around and complete it, but that's not what you're going to do, right?" "No. We're going to go ahead at this point and just hop on over and start quilting the other part. Now you can do this at any part of the block. I like to do it sooner rather than later, because, like you said, if we get all the way to the end, then we've kinda closed off the center. So at this point, I'm just going to go right over the line and go right into the next design. Now if you're using thread that blends, it's going to be fine. You're not going to see that as much. And just that one little line that goes across is just going to keep track of where to start and stop. So for this next row, I'm going to do just an easy back-and-forth line. I like how it contrasts just a little bit different than the square chain that we did. It's nice and easy. Just work my way around. And then in the center, I'm just going to do just an easy, continuous curve line. And I think that's just a great, easy design to do, especially for the smaller blocks. So when I get to the corner here, I'm going to go ahead and fill this in." "And again, not continuing around it. I guess I have a completion issue. I always want to finish the whole way around. But this is the secret." "Don't finish it until you're already done in the center. So let's say I just do a nice curved line from point to point. You could even, if you're feeling ambitious, do it a couple of times.  And now we're going to go ahead and fill in those sections that we left uncompleted. So, I'm just going to work my way around here." "Do you have a favorite color of quilting thread when you're working on a project like this where you're crossing multiple colors in a block so you don't have to stop and change thread?" "Yeah, I try to find a thread that blends really well. So for this one I might use a nice light yellow thinner thread that blends. But just whatever works. So now, I'm just going to go right into this and finish out my outer row like we did." "So you really had a plan before you started for how to get in and out of the block and if you have another block off to the side here, you could just go into that space and just continue on." "Absolutely and what you'll find is usually a pattern to the quilt, so you'll have more than one block like this. So once you have your game plan figured out, you just need to repeat it through the whole block." "And if you had a setting square in between them, you could make the line cross over at the corner." "Yep. Again, when you're done with that quilt, no one will see that you kind of jumped over. And it keeps you from starting and stopping, which just kills your efficiency. You get done a lot quicker if you're not doing that." "Right. And sometimes what do we want to be? We want to be done." "Yes, finished is better than perfect." "See how fabulous it looks when you're done." "So at this point, if you were working on another block, you could just just stitch along here and just go into the next one. Let me move the machine out of the way and we'll look at our block. Again, the designs aren't hard. It's nothing that's super complicated, but just using different designs really enhances the quilt pattern." "It absolutely does. So if you're thinking about your blocks differently, I invite you to take this opportunity to get outside of your regular box and think inside the block to create some fabulous machine quilting."