Minimal Day Sampler – Block Nine: Private Drive
Alright everyone, this is it. The LAST Minimal Day Sampler appliqué block. And of everything I designed in the process of working on this quilt, this is my very favorite bit. I hope you like it too.
The inspiration for this one takes us back to the beginning of this block of the month and my great uncle’s brooch. Back to that swanky housing development I told you about in May with the “Buildings” block. I find that place absolutely fascinating. (Probably because my weird imagination created it, and I love thinking about what might happen in a place like that, but whatever. Please just hang in here with me for a couple paragraphs and I promise we’ll get to the sewing.)
Within that particularly swanky little enclave, the design is sparse and deliberate. Restrained, yet full of texture and ideas and opinions. Sleek and artistic and interesting. Not an elastic waistband for miles. Ahem, anyway… This time, we’re on a very curvy private drive with an angular house off to the side. This house has the best parties. Not so much because they are particularly elaborate, but because the guests are so intriguing and the conversation lingers and lasts, turning and swelling like the curves of that drive.
And those curves, for stitching purposes, are no joke.
They are tight and back to back. We’re talking hairpin type curves here. BUT if you can manage these (and you can) then you can do circles too. Even tiny ones. Circles are the only skill I didn’t include in this sampler because they just felt forced everywhere I tried to put them. So I offer you instead, my most humble apologies for omitting them, as well as all the circle-making tips and tricks I know, upon request. Really. Just ask. I will happily show you any time.
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 6 ¼” x 6 ½”.
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 fabrics:
- Cut one rectangle 1 ¾” x 3 ¾” this includes seam allowances.
- Trace around and cut out one of the larger template shape, leaving your “fat eighth” inch seam allowance. DO NOT CUT OUT THE CENTER PORTION YET, but do make a small slit somewhere in the center so you’ll be able to more easily trim it away later. (You’ll notice in the example photos that I forgot to do this until much later. Save yourself the bother and do it now.)
Tip: Consider putting the template on the bias. I recently came across this technique and gave it a try for the first time on this block. It seems to really allow for more ease when turning under all these curved edges. Definitely helpful for any of the more complex appliqué shapes.
Lay out the appliqué pieces, layering the rectangle over the curved piece, as shown, so the whole thing is roughly centered.
Set the rectangle aside and baste the main appliqué in place.
Begin stitching on the straightest portion.
Stitch toward the first convex curve. When you begin to round that corner, be careful to turn under only enough seam allowance to take a SINGLE stitch each time. If you turn under too much or try to take too large of a stitch, the curve won’t be smooth. Take your time and move your stitches closer together as the curve gets sharper.
Tip: Remember that even though this is a dramatic curve, you should never need to clip on a convex curve. If the seam allowance won’t turn under smoothly or is causing the surface of the appliqué to be extremely lumpy, then the seam allowance is likely too wide. Try trimming off a tiny bit and see if that helps.
After you finish stitching the curve, continue to work your way toward the inner, concave curve. Stitch until the seam allowance starts to resist being turned under. Then clip a few spots (4 to 6) up to the drawn line to help it turn under smoothly.
Continue stitching around the entire outside of the shape. Once you’ve finished, it’s time to cut out the interior portion. We didn’t cut this out earlier because the appliqué shape is very thin and would be rather floppy and easily distorted. It’s much more stable and easier to deal with if you wait to remove the inside until after the outside has been sewn down.
If you happen to have appliqué scissors (those funny, half swollen looking ones below) and like using them, go for it. (Though I had difficulty getting mine to fit in that thinner portion and switched to the Fiskars for that section.) If you don’t have appliqué scissors, they are certainly not necessary. Just use any pair you feel comfortable with. Starting from the slit we made at the beginning, and being sure to leave a seam allowance as you go, work your way SLOWLY around the inner shape, being very mindful not to accidentally cut through the background.
(In the photo above, you can see the slit I made for the first time. Yeah. Don’t wait until this stage. Trust me on this one, it’s panic-inducing.)
Tip: If you do have a pair of appliqué scissors but have never used them or aren’t sure how, there are plenty of videos that will show you the technique, but basically, the duckbill (rounded) side goes between the layers. It helps to prevent accidentally snipping through the background while you cut away the layer on top. (Cutting into the background at this stage, at least in my house, always results in swearing and sometimes even tears, if I’m being perfectly honest.)
Tip: If you do happen to snip into the background, consider adding another appliqué shape to cover it. No one will ever know it wasn’t meant to be there and I certainly won’t tell. It’s called “creative license”. Embrace it. It’s your friend. Invite it to all your parties. You’ll never regret it.
Again, starting on the straightest portion, stitch around the inside of the shape, taking your time with each of the curves, clipping the concave ones as you get to them.
Tip: A good rule of thumb is the sharper the curve, the more often you’ll need to clip. Keeping in mind that you still only want to clip as much as you absolutely have to, in order to help the fabric retain as much stability as possible.
Once you’ve stitched the whole appliqué down, place your rectangle appliqué so it straddles the right side of the first shape and the top edge is roughly at the half-way mark or slightly below.
Baste and stitch down the rectangle. You can mark it ahead of time if you like. I did in this case, just to keep my edges as straight as possible.
Tip: Because it has only right angles, which don’t require clipping or much fiddling at all, you can finger press all of the edges under before you stitch if you choose.
Your finished block will look something like this:
It 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 email@example.com or come find me on Instagram at @bespokeoutlaw.
Next month we will talk about filling in those last few holes and putting the top together. AND I will finally get to show you the original quilt! It’s been a loooong wait my friends, and I am really looking forward to it.