by Christine Barnes
To those of you who also follow my Color Connection newsletter, forgive me for repeating parts of my last newsletter. What a crazy month it has been, all good, and after my last teaching gig of the year, in Paradise, the new-idea folder in my brain needs to be refilled. So allow me to offer a short tutorial on one of my favorite blocks, a design that is as versatile as it is simple.
This is my go-to block for creating luminosity and transparency. You may have seen my Luminaria quilt and perhaps have the pattern. Or maybe you’ve taken my transparency class and have played with this design. Take a look at these two sample blocks.
1. For my blocks I cut the center squares 6½” and the borders 4″ wide and a bit more than 10″ long; that is, four strips cut across the WOF, after you have barely removed the selvages.
3. With right sides together, pin the first strip to the center square, starting at the midpoint of the square and letting the end of the strip barely hang over. (The hangover is a smidge too big in the illustration.) Sew (do not backstitch), then trim the hangover, open out the unit, and press the partial seam allowances open. Seam allowances pressed open make it easy to join the units later.
4. With the unit right side up, add the second strip to the left edge. Open it out and press the seam allowances open. Trim the hangover along the edge of the square. No need to trim the hangover at the outer edge.
Here’s how the “real thing” looks after the fourth strip has been added.
9. Now the magic begins. Slice the block as shown below, making the first cut 3¾” from the left seam (NOT the outer edge of the block). Without moving the pieces, turn your board from the upper right corner clockwise, to the right, to make the second cut, again 3¾” from the left seam. A rotating 17″ x 17″ rotary mat is ideal for this step.
Tip: I use two rulers, one placed 3¾” from the left seam and one 2¼” from the right seam. Then I play with the rulers to split any small errors in my piecing.
For my Transparent Squares quilt, I made eight basic blocks, whacked them, and recombined the units. It always amazes me how rich and complex these blocks look when sewn into a quilt. You know me by now—I love modular designs! (The gray borders are cut from Gelato #714, available in my Store.)
With that, I wish you a warm and wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and your friends. And gratitude for the gifts—so many gifts!—we’ve all been given.