Monday, September 08, 2008

A slight diversion

My nephew's birthday is coming up soon and I thought I'd get the 12th installment in his freedom quilt out of the way while I continue to ponder the next step on the TIFC quilt for August. To learn more about this project and see another block made for it, go here. While looking for a suitable block to represent something in his life this year, I came across a block called Twister by Michael James (it can be found in his book, The Quiltmaker's Handbook, copyright 1978). This is a perfect combination. My nephew lives in the part of the country frequented by tornadoes, oftentimes referred to as twisters, and Michael James is one of my longtime quilt idols. Plus I thought my nephew might be a little more interested in my quilting if he knew GUYS do it too.

This is a fairly simple block based on a 5 division grid. Just rectangles, triangles and a single square. My BlockBase program prints out the block and rotary cutting directions. I made the 1/2 triangle units by starting with squares placed right sides together. One is larger than the other simply because I pulled from my box of pre-cut 3-1/2" squares for the dark, but cut the other to size (3-1/4") from yardage. I'm not one to buy every gadget to come on the market, but there are a few specialty tools I feel worth the price and Quick Quarter 2 is one of them. You line it up with the diagonal of the square and draw along both sides to mark your sewing line.

When I sew, I err a bit to the left (or towards the center of the square) of the line. I usually have to square these units up a bit and this will make sure that your unit does not end up a little too small. You can chain stitch multiples of these, running down one stitching line, then swinging the group around to sew down the other. Then cut through the middle to separate what are now two 1/2 square triangle units.

I pressed the seams toward the dark as this will make opposing seams where units meet up. And then I can do any trimming. This kind of unit is easy to square up with a square up ruler - just aline the diagonal on the ruler with the diagonal seam on the unit.

Using the printout diagram for reference, I arrange all the units in order and sew them together. The center is essentially a nine-patch, the outer round forming a sort of border. Viola! Twister! When set side by side in a quilt top. pinwheels form where the blocks meet.

I admit this isn't the most exciting block with these fabrics, but there's a reason I chose them. The background and center fabrics are some of his mother's scraps from dressmaking - another level of meaning I try to add to each block. It will also go well with the fabrics I've used in the previous 11 blocks.

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