Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Continuing On - Twilight Gardens Block 2

If you have read through the pattern for Twilight Gardens, and looked carefully at the photos of the quilt, you may have noticed that block 3 of the quilt is the same pattern as block 1 and block 4 is the same as block 2. Of course the fabrics will change, but the construction steps are the same.  It is fun to see the same block made with different fabric choices, so you might be giving that a little thought before selecting fabrics for next month.  I like to lay out a few fabric possibilities and view them next to the blocks that have already been made.  After all, they will all reside in the same sampler quilt once finished. I think you will find that if you do this, you will easily be able to select a few fabrics for your next block.

When choosing your fabrics for block 2, remember it's placement in the quilt is top and center.  Your eyes are drawn to this position, and having a block with a little more contrast and color may balance out some of the focus on the Daylilies and Twinkling Stars in the bottom two corner blocks.  I made sure to choose a couple of red toned fabrics for my center star, and I used pure black as my darkest fabric. I wanted a very high contrast between all the outer star points and my background fabric, so I picked one of the lightest tans for star points to set against the black.

As I mentioned in my last article, I try to incorporate one or two patterned fabrics into each block as well.  Many of the fabrics in this quilt read as simple solids and textures, so the use of a patterned fabric will stand out, and give your block a lot of visual interest.  One of the patterned fabrics I chose for this block was the red plaid.  I put this right in the very center of the inner star.  I used one other patterned fabric, a nice medium scale brown/gray plaid that I used for the 4 outer block corners.

Follow the cutting directions carefully.  It is very important that you cut some of the triangles as half square triangles (square cut in half once diagonally), and some as quarter square triangles (square cut twice diagonally, yielding four triangles).  Not only does this affect the size of the triangles, it also affects which sides of the triangles are straight of grain, and which are bias edges.  We always try to keep the grain of the fabrics going the same direction in the block if possible. It will yield a block that is more stable with less chance of distortion.

At first glance, Block 2 looks like quite a complex block, but it is made from very simple units, and as you see each step, you will realize it is not difficult at all.  The designer does make one very good suggestion with this block, and that is to press your seams open.  I did this throughout most the block, and it made construction a lot easier. Note the open seams in these two photos. You will also see seams pressed open in later photos as we begin to put the units together.

Begin by making large and small half square triangle units A/B and a/b.  These are cut a little oversized and then trimmed down to the correct size as in the previous block.

Note the diagonal direction

You will then make rectangular units F/G by lining up a square G over one end of a rectangle F, right sides together.  On 4 of these, draw a diagonal line corner to corner on the back of square G.  Sew on this line and clip extra corner fabric away leaving just a 1/4" seam allowance.  Repeat these steps with the other 4 rectangles, but draw the diagonal line in the opposite direction, so you end up with 4 right hand units and 4 left hand units.  They will be mirror images of each other. Flip the triangle corners and press.
Lay out the block corner units using one large and one small half square triangle unit, and one each left and right handed rectangle unit.

Press the seams open to reduce bulk.
You will then make 4 large hourglass units from quarter square triangles C, D, and E

The seams on this unit can be pressed in rotation, like a pinwheel.  See on the back photo the 4 seams are pressed in a counter clockwise direction.  This allows the center seam intersection to lay flatter.  This can be done just about any time you have a 4-way corner in piecing.

Our next unit is the Flying Geese.  They are made the same way as the rectangle units above.  Lay a square d over one end of a rectangle c, right sides together.  Draw a diagonal corner to corner on the back of the square and sew on this line.  Trim the excess triangles leaving a 1/4" seam allowance. Flip and press these triangle corners.  Now add a second square d on the opposite end of the rectangle c. This square will slightly overlap the corner of the previous piece.
Draw the diagonal line in the opposite direction to the first one, as seen in the photo above.  Sew on this line, trim and press the corner.  Your finished Flying Geese units should have a 1/4" allowance above the point.
You will assemble 4 side units, each from one Flying Geese unit, and one Hourglass unit. Then lay out your side units, corner units and the large center square to form the block.  Sew together in rows, pressing the seams open.  This is important.  There is just too much bulk generated from all the seams in this block.  As you sew the final rows together, press the seams open again. 

 You may have noticed that I have changed the placement of two of the fabrics in this block from the original pattern.  I rotated the small half square triangles in the corner units so the gray is joining the red inner star points rather than the black.  When I was laying out this block, I just liked the way this looked better.  I just point this out to show you that you can make whatever changes you want during construction of your blocks.  It is your quilt, and a pattern is only a guideline, and the layout is not set in stone.

Have fun with these blocks