When you first saw the brooch in the inspiration photo, did it remind you of anything? To my mind, it has always been the map of a swank, mid-century mod housing development. All curvy roads and tiny, angular buildings. The kind of neighborhood where there are no frozen pizza dinners, only cocktail parties. No sweat pants, only dressing gowns. Everything is immaculate and the conversation is witty. Clearly imaginary, but fun to visit, nonetheless. So I’ve added some of those buildings to this month’s block, since it’s the closest I will ever get to a swank, sweat-pants free lifestyle.
Are you with me? Excellent. If not, feel free to go back to your hors d’oeuvres.
The angular corners of these buildings present another appliqué skill to tackle: points. Most of the points in this block are obtuse or right angles which are much easier to stitch because there is more room for the seam allowance to fit easily under the appliqué. There is one that is slightly acute though, which requires a bit of a different approach to stitching.
Begin by printing out a copy of the template, making sure the scaling on your printer is turned off. The large cut-out template should be around 2 ½” x 6 ½” and the smaller one should be around 5/8” x 4 ¾”.
Whether you are making the wall or lap sized quilt, this month’s block is the same for both.
- From background fabric: Cut one 10 ½” square
- From appliqué fabric(s): Trace around and cut one of each template shape, placing the top ends along the cut edge of your fabric and leaving a fat 1/8” seam allowance on the remaining 3 sides.
Tip: For information about tracing templates and cutting appliqué pieces, refer back to the “Marking” section in the March post.
Lay the larger appliqué piece on your background, with the left stitching line 4 ½” from the left side of the block, aligning the top edges.
Beginning at the top of the left stitching line, stitch down to the first drawn point.
Tip: For all straight edges like these, it is helpful to finger press your seam allowance under before you stitch, folding along the drawn line. You can also do it by needle-turning the seam allowance under as you go, but I find finger pressing gives me a less wobbly finished edge.
When you get to the corner at the end of your stitching line, take an extra stitch right at the corner to secure it.
Then, while pinching the point between your thumb on the front of the block and your index finger from behind, use the side of your needle to sweep the seam allowance under the appliqué from right to left. Only let go of the point long enough to sweep the needle under it as needed, then pinch it again. Adjust the seam allowance as needed, easing it back out with the side of your needle from left to right this time, until the fold falls on the stitching line.
If you aren’t happy with how it lays, pull the seam allowance back out with the needle and try again.
Tip: You may get some frayed threads during this process. Don’t let them freak you out. Just keep tucking them under. They are just another part of the seam allowance.
Once you are happy with how your seam allowance lays, continue stitching along the angled edge until you get to the next corner. When you have stitched right up to it, repeat the steps above. Continue around the third corner and down the remaining long side, finger pressing as you go.
Place the smaller appliqué on the background square to the right of the piece you just stitched, leaving 1/8” between the right edge of the sewn piece and the left stitching line on the new piece. If you’re seam allowance is narrow enough, they will just touch.
Stitch down to the first point and repeat the extra stitch at the corner point. This corner is a much shaper angle, so it helps to remove a bit of the extra seam allowance to reduce bulk. Fold back the left side of the appliqué piece, exposing the seam allowance at the point. Trim off just the tiny dog-ear corner of the seam allowance as shown.
See how tiny that is? You don’t want to take off too much or you could affect the integrity of the appliqué piece. But in such a tight corner, every thread counts.
Then use the method above to sweep the seam allowance under and stitch across the short end, turn the next corner (which doesn’t require trimming) and stitch the remaining side. Your finished block will look like this:
Your new block will go here in the final quilt layout (wall, then lap size):
As always, if you have any questions about anything here or would like more information, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or come find me on Instagram at @bespokeoutlaw.
We’ll do more acute angles next month, learn how to butt two pieces together, and use an over-lay to help with appliqué placement.