Michigan Beauty Block – How To Blog #1

Let’s jump right in to the hand piecing this amazingly simple yet stunning block. If you are new to hand piecing and need some guidance regarding tools and marking your fabric please check out this blog for that basic info. Or tune in on Sunday (or check later for the saved video under the video tab on the page) to the MDQuilts Facebook page for a LIVE segment regarding the tools of hand piecing.

My pieces are cut and I am ready to sew.

Let’s look closely at this block. As I stated before it is basically a Fancy Four Patch as I call these styles of blocks. So in today’s blog we will be just addressing the sewing sequence of one quarter of the block. You will need to repeat these instructions 3 times to make all four quarters.

The first two lengths to sew is joining the diamonds into units of 2 diamonds. I strongly urge you to lay out the quarter block design in front of you to help in orientation of the diamond edges to sew.

Here I have placed anchor pins in the corners of the sewing line and a small Karen Kay Buckley pin right on the drawn guide line.

Notice how off my seam allowance is on the lighter diamond vs the darker diamond below it. This is why we always line up our seams for sewing by anchor pins (just push thru vertically lining up points) in the corners and placing a pin on the drawn line. DO NOT line up by matching your edges. As you can see if you are off on your cutting of a piece this will interfere with correct positioning. Here I squeezed in a diamond on a piece of fabric knowing the seam allowance would be a bit scant but would still be enough.

Time to begin so sew. You will be sewing a thread or two ABOVE the drawn line. This line is a guide line and not a sewing line. Think of this as hand piecing a scant quarter of an inch. This method reclaims the width of what ever marking tool you used to make the guideline and thus keeps your block on pace for a correct finished size.

Use a rocking motion to make a running stitch. After every 3rd-4th stitch make take a backstitch to lock your stitches. As you can see the KKBuckley pins are so fine you can sew right above them – thus they make a great reminder to hover above the line and not sew on it.

Finish with a knot that is just outside the insecting line forming the corner. Remember scant quarter of a inch sewing!

With this next line of sewing the 4 diamonds will become one unit.

NOTE: for those who have done some hand piecing with me prior you may question why a “roundabout technique” is not called for at the end of the seam where all 4 diamonds meet. I will explain in the next step. Just sew the straight line forming the unit for now .

We are on to the final seam we will tackle in the blog today. This seam contains the Roundabout Technique that is going to make your hand piecing blocks just sing!

Roundabouts are indicated by the RED CIRCLE in the directions packaged with your templates. There are also written and visual directions specifically covering this technique included.
This is the Roundabout area on the actual unit.

Sew the seam line as you have done prior to just before you reach the intersection of all four diamonds and the half square triangle.

Now you want to work your way around this intersection by drawing the needle/thread thru two pieces of fabric at a time. You will work in a general area right at the point where all pieces intersect but not in the same “hole” as that would just pull the thread out without grabbing anything. So with each push of the need thru just move either to the left or right on thread. You will be working around this “intersection” much like you drive around a roundabout until you reach the jumping off point. In this case we need to get back to where we started so you can continue and finish the seam attaching the triangle to the bottom edge of the 4 diamonds.

pulling needle and thread thru one set of diamonds

Last two pieces to push thru and you are back to the triangle, take a back stitch and finish the seam

Look at the nice crisp set of points where the diamonds meet the triangle! This is the magic of the roundabout technique!

The finishing how to blog will post on Sunday morning. And at 1pm on Sunday central time I will be LIVE on facebook with a review and question/answer session of hand sewing tools that will I feel are worth their weight in gold. Then the Facebook LIVE sessions of actually sewing a block together will begin on Tuesday, May 21st. Watch for a time announcement on Facebook. I am hoping to do an evening session.

If you would like to purchase the templates to the Michigan Beauty block please click below to go right to the item in my webstore.

You may also wish to check out the other blocks already released and available in the Hand Piecing category.

Enjoy the day,

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