Saturday, March 5, 2016

Focal Point (TSS 006)

Another block completed in The Splendid Sampler quilt-along.  I'm loving Natalia Bonner's Focal Point - can you believe it's only 6" finished?!? 36 pieces with most of them measuring 1" finished. I had to pull a few tricks out of my hat for this finished block.

Pressing not pins

For the smaller piecing, I prefer not to use pins, if possible, to avoid distorting the fabric. As I'm piecing cotton on cotton, I will align right-sides together and press them together. The cotton will hold in place during sewing.

Take steps to avoid the shred.

Small pieces versus feed dogs can shred easily, but there are certain steps you can take to avoid this. 

Swap out your throat plate with the oblong opening to one with a round opening. As you sew, it's harder for the fabric to get pulled down/pushed down into the bobbin area and shred. 

Use a scrap piece of fabric as a "leader". I will feed this leader at the beginning and ending of all chain piecing. It keeps the threads taut, and you can use it to guide the pieces as you sew.

Don't start sewing from the tip of the small square towards the center.  Reverse that. Otherwise, it's much easier for the tip of the fabric to get pulled down into the bobbin area and shred. 

Trimming and pressing.

Notice how I trimmed below. I don't cut the background fabric before pressing. That way....

... if the flipped fabric (the blue one in the image below) comes up short, I can use the background fabric as my guide when I align the next section for joining.

Look how beautifully this 1 1/2" x 2 1/2" section went together! Like others in the group, I'm an advocate for using starch (personal preference Mary Ellen's Best Press) for these small pieces. One thing I would warn is to be careful when pressing. Especially when wet, press and not iron - you don't want to stretch these tiny pieces out of shape. 

6 inch finished = 6 1/2 inch unfinished.

That seems to be the confusion in this quilt-along. When pieced into the larger top, the blocks will be 6 inches. Unfinished, however, there is a 1/4" seam allowance all around. Many quilters have been trimming their unfinished block to 6" and then have to remake or add a border. To prevent this mistake, I keep my 6 1/2" square ruler nearby. I know never to trim a block smaller than this ruler. Personal note: I prefer this brand and it has little grippers on the underside of the ruler to keep in place while trimming. 

For the free pattern, visit The Splendid Sampler website for Natalia Bonner's Focal Point.


That's a lot of pieces!

I've decided to keep a counter at the bottom of these posts to track them. 
The totals are based on the original patterns and not on deviations.

Hearts Aflutter = 9
Wings = 46 
Lots of Love = 48
Happy Happy = 11
Simple Simon = 12
Focal Point = 36

Total to Date: 162 pieces

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