The block this week is a simple one using only half square triangles and squares. However, for those who have the Corners Companion Qube, you might want to substitute the chisel die for a half square triangle and square.
Here are pictures of the original block and the one that is adapted using the chisel. I did not write instructions for the chisel die as that is a challenge for you. Hint: If you use the chisel, your construction will be in three rows as you will have to make the center as a pinwheel with the chisel units on either side.
For those who prefer to press their seams to one side, here’s a video that will be helpful to you in matching the center of the pinwheel points. Pay special attention as this will make a huge difference in your quilting.
There have been several Facebook posts of quilters who have selected and cut the wrong shape, e.g., a Shape 3 instead of a Shape 5 and not only did the shapes not fit but had to be re-cut. Reading the instructions really helps as the Shape #s are written on the diagram. Even so, it’s easy sometimes to pick up the wrong die. We talked about labelling the dies, but there is another step that really helps me.
Piecing the Block: First dies are selected and the shapes are cut from fabric. After the shapes are cut, I use a foam core board covered with a thin layer of cotton quilt batting to lay out the shapes so I can see that the block will go together as it should.
And then after making sure the correct shapes for the block are cut, I stack and arrange the shapes into the subunits that will be made. For example in this block, there are four flying geese, four Shape 2 Squares and one Shape 6 Square on Point finished with four Shape 5 HSTs. This allows me to chain piece the subunits in the block.
One quilter wrote on the FB group about cutting shapes from thin foam and labelling them with a marker and then laying them out so she could learn the different shapes. This is a great idea for beginner quilters and those who are new to the Qube system. It’s nice to have a chart so you can visualize the shapes and shape #s. AccuQuilt has a wonderful resource with a chart with all the shapes from the Qube sets with all 216 blocks. I highly recommend you download this and print the chart and always keep it handy.
There are times when designing a block or trying a new block and it’s nice to know how the shapes will go together before cutting into fabric. In that case, colored paper is a great way to see how the block will go together. A pack of colored construction paper is always near my library of Qubes so that shapes can be cut and arranged and rearranged. When it is important to cut directional dies, I use a marker and scribble all over one side of the paper so that I can tell which is the right side and which is the wrong side of the fabric.
If these terms aren’t familiar, you will find them in AccuQuilt’s Fabric Reference Chart describing cutting techniques for the Angles Companion Qubes. In the Angles Qube there are shapes that require one or the other of these methods. One is the Triangle in a Square shape which uses the Cut & Flip™ method and the Kite and Trapezoid shapes that use the Cut & Shift™ method. There’s also a great blog post on the AccuQuilt website that demonstrates these cutting methods.
For the Connector block in the Jan-Feb 2022 Qube QAL we are using the trapezoid shape which uses the Cut & Shift™ method. This is an image I created for the placement on the fabric strip. The trapezoid is not a directional shape so you can cut either from the right or wrong side of the fabric. However, for the dies like the Trapezoid or Kite that have only one shape on them, you will waste a lot of fabric if you fanfold on the die. The best way to do it if you have a lot of trapezoids to cut is to layer precut fabric strips and cut 2-3 at a time. This is the diagram that I created so that you can see how you cut a trapezoid, shift the fabric and cut the next one. You will see that on the end I flipped the fabric to get one extra trapezoid.
Another tip is that if you have questions about cutting, always cut paper to see how the die works before cutting into fabric. If you can do it with paper, then go ahead and use fabric.
This week’s block is a simple star block based on the tried and true variable star. The dark corner squares and Square on Point (SOP) center make it unique. Those dark corner squares are there to help create that overall ‘on point’ illusion in the complete quilt.
I encourage you to read the blog posts this week as I am going to offer some helpful tips, especially for those just starting out on this quilting journey. These tips are inspired by quilters who discussed their challenges on the Facebook group.
The first tip is a result of reading about one quilter who was remaking their entire first block because they picked up the wrong size die so their first block was too large. Another quilter wrote about placing the wrong die in the pocket of the Qube set and cutting the wrong size shape. There are many ways to solve this and each quilter will find their own way. This is how I store my dies in an easy to reach and identifiable way.
My dies are placed on a shelf as if they are books. Each die is labeled with the Qube size as well as the Qube die #. (You have to memorize the shape for each # or put a chart on the wall.) The Qube size and die # label goes on all four sides of the die so that it is easy to put away on my “bookshelf” and it is easy to see which die I have in my hand as I work. A piece of Painter’s tape is on the foam on the die with the size for the precut as well as the # of shapes I will get from a width of fabric (WOF) precut. I used to write directly on the foam or on the back of the die, but that is so permanent that I find Painter’s tape is a better solution. A black Sharpie is used for all marking. Silver can be used, but it sometimes bleeds onto fabric even after it is dry.
Here are pictures of my die storage. I am getting to the point that I really need a full size bookshelf for these dies. It would be nice to have them on a bookshelf with dividers for each size Qube, but so far the boxes have lasted for as long as there have been Qubes.
There are two options for piecing the Connector Blocks with the Mix & Match Qube. You can use half square and quarter square triangles or you can use a technique combining two shapes, stitching and then trimming to make a trapezoid. It’s a little less accurate but has been and is still used as an accepted method by quilters.
It’s been a challenge for many of us to finish block 2. For me, the hardest part was matching the center Shape 4 Quarter Square Triangle points in the middle of the block. I had to take the seam out three times before I got it right. A few more advanced quilters just converted it to half square triangles (HSTs) for the whole block to avoid using the parallelograms. And some don’t have a Qube and are trying to make the blocks without a Qube. Here are some options if you only have half square triangle and quarter square triangle dies. It is always best to use as few units as possible, but there may be reasons to use alternate piecing layouts.
In one option the parallelogram is split so that the center row of the block is made with two light-medium Flying Geese units and two dark-medium Flying Geese units. That splits the parallelogram into HSTs.
In the second option, the corners are made with dark-mediumHSTs and there are four light-medium Flying Geese units in the block.
A third option would be to make the entire block with HSTs, but that would be a lot of matching points, and I’m not even going to show a diagram.
And here’s one from the group from Sheila N. who made her block using all HSTs. Remember there’s more than one way to cook an egg.
For those who want to make more than one block per week, I am going to go ahead and post the instructions for the Connector Blocks. The connector block instructions will be on the QAL page. There are two sets of instructions, one for those with the Mix & Match Qube and one for those with the Angles Companion Qube. You can make one connector block every time you make a pieced block and at the end you should have enough connector blocks for your quilt.
Block 2 is available now and it is a lot of fun. Please read the information below before clicking on the QAL page link at the top of this page. I can tell by the questions that are asked on the Facebook Group that some readers don’t read this page first. I try to provide helpful information in these blog posts and that is why I link to the post rather than only the downloadable block patterns.
One of the first tips for this week’s block is about using the Shape 7 parallelogram from your Qube set. It can be a little confusing the first time you sew a parallelogram. The key to getting it right is to really look at the shape and to identify the long sides of the shape and the short sides of the shape. You are going to stitch the long side of the shape to the long side of a Shape 5 half square triangle. The short side just won’t fit and you’ll be very frustrated if you try.
Another tip for the Shape 7 parallelogram is that it is a directional shape. For this block you need both right and left parallelograms. The way to cut those is to fanfold the fabric on the shape.
One reader asked that I show a diagram of the quilt with the individual blocks separated. This is a new quilter and she was having a hard time visualizing where the blocks fit in the quilt. Here is that diagram. Block 1 is the upper left and Block 2 is the center block. The half blocks in the first border are not outlined.
Tomorrow I am going to post the pattern for the Connector Blocks. Some quilters will want to go ahead and make the connector blocks as they are making the individual blocks.
Here’s the QAL link again for those who don’t see it on the top menu.
Block 1 is ready for you. Click the QAL on the menu at the top of the page to get to the QAL page.
Block 1 is a simple block, but color placement is the secret. You can use the dark-medium-light scheme in the instructions or you can mix it up. Any color wheel scheme will work. My suggestion is that your light not be too light and your dark not too dark. Since this block is made up of half square triangles, try turning the colors so they are the opposite and see how that looks. Play around with it.
Tips: Press seams open and use pins to match seams before sewing. I use a pin straight into both seams at the quarter inch mark to align the seams and then holding the aligned seams carefully, pin at an angle across and then remove the alignment pin. That works well for me and keeps me from sewing across pins and possibly hitting one with my needle.
Several people have asked about fabric selections and whether to use prints or perhaps add another dark to the selection. I think it is completely up to the quilter. The connector block from the M&M Qube is shown below and perhaps that will be helpful to those who want to add another color. There are also some color combinations that may be helpful but as you know your color combinations are always more beautiful than the computer.
NOTE: The yardage chart is for three colors. If you use more colors you will need to adjust the yardage amounts yourself.
What a way to start our QAL on the first Monday of January 2022. Yesterday we had a big storm – first there was much thunder, lightning, and flooding rain with a 25 degree temperature drop and then big flakes of snow for four hours. In the late afternoon we had beautiful sunshine. Our electricity went off around 5 am and it didn’t come back on until 6 pm so we had a long, cold, dark day. Very obviously, not much stitching was done nor did we have internet connectivity.
Our QAL will start today on a Tuesday. I have created a new page where I will post all of the information. Please check the menu at the top of the blog for a page with links to each step in the QAL. Weather permitting, each new block will be posted on Mondays.