Thursday, April 25, 2013

Bloom Bloom Pow: Finishing the Top

Welcome back to the Bloom Bloom Pow Quilt-Along! Today's an exciting day, because we're going to take all those triangles we cut last time and sew them together into a finished quilt top! You'll finally get to see some results after all this work, which is always a good moment. : )

Bloom Bloom Pow Triangle Piecing
The very first thing we're going to do is sew like-colored triangles together into groups of three. We're going to do this before we worry about our layout, which is unusual, of course. But like colors will be together in the final quilt layout anyway, so by piecing them into groups of three first, we'll have fewer pieces to worry about when we put the quilt up on the design board (or down on the design floor, in my case). 

Piecing equilateral triangles really isn't hard once you get the hang of it, and if you know a few tricks, which fortunately I'm about to share with you today. : ) So grab a group of three same-colored triangles and let's jump right in.

Piecing the half-hexagons:
IMG_21Bloom Bloom Pow Triangle Piecing00
1. Arrange the three triangles so that the darker "petals" radiate out like spokes, as shown.

Bloom Bloom Pow Triangle Piecing
2. Working from left to right, pair up the triangle on the far left with the middle triangle, right sides together, as shown. Just line up these first two triangles neatly, corners matched.

Bloom Bloom Pow Triangle Piecing
Any time you're matching up a pointed corner with a notched corner, it should look like the picture above. The sides of the pieces should still line up—the pointed corner should just look like a continuation of the notched corner.

Bloom Bloom Pow Triangle Piecing
3. Sew a 1/4" seam along the right-hand side of the matched-up triangles, as shown.

Bloom Bloom Pow Triangle Piecing
4. Press seam allowances open. Now it should look like this. You've sewn your first two triangles together!

Bloom Bloom Pow Triangle Piecing
Hey, see these little triangles that are sticking out, now that you've sewn the first seam? They're called dog ears. Don't trim them off! I know it's tempting, but you're going to use them as a guide when you add the next triangle.

Bloom Bloom Pow Triangle Piecing
5. Next, add the third triangle by laying it on top of the middle triangle, right sides together, as shown. You're going to line up the bottom corner of this triangle with that lower dog ear.

Bloom Bloom Pow Triangle Piecing
6. Sew a 1/4" seam along that right-hand side, just like we did for the first seam. If everything was cut and aligned correctly, your 1/4" seam should go right through the intersection where the dog ear meets the straight edge of the first triangle, as shown above. See that? If your seam hits right at that sweet spot, your triangles will line up perfectly. (If your seam didn't quite make it to that spot, no worries. This is actually a pretty forgiving block, since there are so few seams that actually need to line up. Close enough is good enough!)

Bloom Bloom Pow Triangle Piecing
7. You should now have a half-hexagon that looks very much like this. These half-hexagons will be sewn together in straight horizontal rows to make up the quilt top. So whatever you do, do not piece these triangles together into full hexagon groups of 6! You'll make things a whole lot harder on yourself if you do—half-hexagons allow you to piece the top together in rows, while making full hexagons would require Y seams. Nobody wants that. LOL.

So just keep sewing those triangles together into groups of three until all the triangles have been turned into half-hexagons. Once you've done that, it's time to actually lay out your quilt top!

Piecing the rows:
Bloom Bloom Pow: Piecing the Triangles
This is the fun part! You're going to take all those half-hexagons and come up with a final layout. This part is really up to you—if you're using Pearl Bracelets, you can follow my color scheme above, or you can do your own thing. It's up to you! Whatever you do, here are a few guidelines for deciding on a layout:

- There's no wrong answer! Much like the light and dark value/color pairings that you decided on earlier in the quilt-along, this part of the quilt-along is entirely personal preference. The ideal layout is the one that you like. : )
- I tried to distribute light/dark values and warm/cool colors as evenly as possible across the quilt. I also tried to keep like colors from touching each other. That's not always possible, but I tried my best!
- Take a picture and convert it to black and white to check value placement—much like we did in the design strategy post when we were deciding on our light/dark value pairings. Darker and lighter blocks should be scattered evenly across the quilt top.

1. Once you're satisfied with your layout, it's time to sew the top together! (You might want to snap a picture of your layout before you start, just in case the layout gets mixed up, your dog walks across it, etc.) You're going to work your way across the quilt, piecing straight horizontal rows.

Bloom Bloom Pow: Piecing the Triangles
2. To piece two half-hexagons together horizontally, it works very much the same way as piecing the triangles did earlier. Grab your first two half-hexies from the top row.

Bloom Bloom Pow: Piecing the Triangles
3. Lay them out, right sides together, along the seam to be sewn, as shown. Again, align the corners of the triangles and sew a 1/4" seam along the raw edges (where the pins are in the photo above).

Bloom Bloom Pow: Piecing the Triangles
Again, your seam should hit right where the straight triangle edge meets the dog ear. Sometimes, if you're dealing with a notched triangle edge (as is the case in the photo above), there won't be two dog ears to line up, but it still should be fairly obvious where the dog ear would have been if it weren't for that notch. That spot is where the seam should go through.

Bloom Bloom Pow: Piecing the Triangles
4. The pair of pieced half-hexagons should look something like this when you're done. Keep on piecing those half-hexagons together to create the horizontal rows.

Putting the rows together
Bloom Bloom Pow: Sewing the rows together
Now that your rows are pieced, all you have to do is put the horizontal rows together to create the top.

Bloom Bloom Pow: Sewing the rows together
1. Put two rows together, raw edges aligned, right sides together. When the two rows are neatly lined up, I pull back the top layer just a bit at each place where seams come together in a point, as shown above. I do this to make sure points are matched up, as shown above. Ideally, you want your points to touch, and when you sew the seam, your seam should go right through the point. Pin right through the points when everything is lined up the way you want it.

Bloom Bloom Pow: Sewing the rows together
2. I highly recommend using a walking foot or dual-feed foot to sew your rows together. There are two reasons for this. One is that you'll find there is a lot of seam bulk in certain spots along the rows, so a walking foot or dual-feed foot will help you get over that bulk. The other reason is that a walking foot doesn't push the fabric as you sew, which makes it easier to force seams to line up in certain places along a long seam like this. I have the quarter-inch dual-feed foot for my Janome 7700 and use it for piecing in situations like this all the time. Another hint is to leave the pins in place as you are sewing, taking them out at the last minute (or don't take them out at all—I sew right over pins and have never had a problem with it).

And that's it! Keep sewing those rows together until you have a completed top. Next week, I'll show you how to trim the top so that it has straight edges, and we'll talk about different quilting, finishing, and binding options. And that's it for this QA! I can hardly believe we're already almost done already!

It's been so much fun quilting along with you lovely people, and I can't wait to see all of your finished creations. In fact, I'm planning to feature some of your projects here on my blog—I may run photos of finished tops and quilts, or I'll host a linky so that people can show off their work and check out others'. I haven't decided exactly how to do it just yet, so if you have any thoughts, please share! In the meantime, enjoy piecing your triangles, and I can't wait to see you all back here next week for the final QA post! : )

P.S. For all those who asked, yes, the Bloom Bloom Pow Quilt-Along instructions will continue to be available online indefinitely! So if you didn't have time to do the quilt-along with all of us, you can still come back and do it later, any time you're ready!

Bloom Bloom Pow Quilt-Along schedule
March 21 - Introduction
March 28 - Design strategy
April 4 - Cutting your fabric
April 18 - Cutting the triangles
May 2 - Quilting and finishing
May 9 - Wrap-up and link-up


MsMidge said...

Oooh! How exciting! I fixed up my dodgy block today so I'm all ready to rumble tomorrow once the kids are at school! Yeh!

Kristy @ Quiet Play said...

OOh looking forward to this next part! Love that we can avoid the dreaded y-seams when putting this together!

CityHouseStudio said...

Hooray! This looks easy!
I just need to get a few more triangle made, and then I'll start piecing.
Thanks for a wonderful quiltalong!

Lorna McMahon said...

Great quilt along, Lee! The pictures and instructions are clear and fun!

sharpie said...

Lovely!!! Also, I have to say I love that you're using "QA" (what does the L even stand for?!)

Rachel said...

Wow, your quilt is so pretty! I had too many WiPs to join the quilt along, but I may have to add this to my to do list of quilts.

~Diana said...

*LOVE* this! I've seen a line of polka dots that would be great for this! Thanks for the tutorial!

laurelar said...

I like linkies so we can see everyone's (I've been looking at the supernovas), but please leave it open for a bit if so. I am held up waiting on my triangle ruler and I am slow at finishing. :D

Anita said...

Yay! I was hoping it would be like this with rows and not Y seams. Deep down I knew it just couldn't be Y seams. ;) I'm getting to work on this right away. Thank you!

Franziska said...

thank you. I'll try it out soon.

Kelly Vetch said...

woohoo! I missed a whole week because of house guests, so I'll be cutting and sewing all this week. Can't wait to see everyone's tops!

Anita said...

Love it!

Nilya said...

This is such a Fun pattern, cool

My kids' mom said...

Thank you so much for this QAL! It was absolutely perfect timing. I designed a quilt similarly and was trying to figure out how to do it myself. ( Reading this shows me all the mistakes that I made lol.) Luckily I'm only an eighth of the way through. Thanks!!!

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