Thursday, February 19, 2015

Irish Chain Twist Quilt-A-Long - Improvisational Piecing Blocks

**  NOTE  - This post is part of a series of posts for the Irish Chain Twist Quilt-A-Long.  If you would like to join (and have a chance to win $100.00 or $75.00 Gift Certificate grand prizes sponsored by The Intrepid Thread and Fat Quarter Shop ) you can find a list of the post links here :)  Here is the schedule:

Improvisational Piecing Units
Improvisational Piecing Block - Feb 19th
Twists on Tradition Units - Feb 26th
Modern Patchwork Block - Mar 5th
Appliqued Chains Block - Assembling - Mar 12th
Appliqued Chains Block - Stitching - Mar 19
Piecing Top and Grand Prize Linky - Mar 26th
Parade and Grand Prizes - April 23rd

Before we get any farther,  we need to pick a winner for last weeks Improvisational Piecing Units assignment.   And great job to everyone that finished up their units!!! It is so fun to see the first of everyone's quilts coming together ;)

The cutting  assignment winner who gets a My Sunshine Charm Pack from  Discover Fabrics is . . .
# 37 -  Timberlands1 !!! - Congrats :)


So here we are, ready to start trimming!!! I am so excited, Let's get right to it :)  If you are just finding this QAL, it's never to late to join in the fun :)  Just see the schedule above for the posts you missed and start quilting along ;)  


Now that we have your fun units made, it is time to trim then down and turn them into a block.   Playing with angels can be so much fun, just try not to overthink it.  Relax and have fun.   So let's get to the first part of today.


Each of your Improvisational Units will now be trimmed down to a 5 1/2" x 5 1/2" square quarter block.  The fun thing about trimming today is that we are purposely trying to make our blocks "wonky" so no need for centering.  The more you play with the angles, the more wonky your X's will be ;)  The extra fabric on your background triangles will really allow you to play up those angles.   Just remember, the key is to have 2 corners on background fabric and 2 corners somewhere on the Print Rectangle ;)

So, take any size square ruler that is larger than 5 1/2".  The 6" and 6 1/2" ones will probably be the easiest to use (unless you have a 5 1/2" square ruler, shown later).  Lay your ruler on your Improvisational unit.  You will be checking 3 places for alignment before you cut.  First ensure that the bottom left end 5 1/2" marks (white arrow)  are on your print rectangle.   Second, ensure that the 5 1/2" mark on the side and top of your ruler (black arrows)  are still on the background fabric.  When those three places are aligned, go ahead and cut along the rulers edge on the left and top of your unit.

Now spin your unit 180 degrees.  Align the 5 1/2" marks on your left hand side and bottom of your ruler with the newly trimmed edges of your block.  And trim the remaining 2 sides of your unit.   Now you have a wonky Improvisational quarter block.

And remember, playing with the angles makes it fun.  So above showed you Angling Up and below shows Angling Down.  Just like before, And notice, in the white arrow on this block, I am just barely in the Print Rectangle.  I really played up the angle in that corner, but as long as it is touching, it will be good ;)  Just more wonky ;)

Just keep trimming each unit to 5 1/2" x 5 1/2" square.

And if you do happen to have a 5 1/2" square ruler, all you have to do is place the ruler on your unit, ensure that 2 ends are on the print rectangle and the other 2 ends are on background fabric, and then trim around all 4 sides.   And like above, remember to angle up, and angle down.

And don't forget to play with some Center-ish cuts as well ;)  You don't always have to go to the extreme with your angles.  More variety creates more fun ;)

Now just keep trimming, just keep trimming ;)  And before you know it, you will have stacks of wonderful 5 1/2" x 5 1/2" Improvisational Quarter blocks.  And you are ready to get sewing again ;)


We will be turning your Quarter Blocks into Half Blocks now.  To do this, we want to make little arches, or upside down V's :)  If you are doing scrappy, don't stress to much about the Fabric pairings, just try not to get 2 the exact same paired together ;)

Place one Trimmed unit onto the other with right sides together.  You know they are aligned right if the 2 Print Rectangles are on top of each other running the same direction.   Then simply stitch a 1/4" seam along the edge.   I didn't bother to pin these, but if you are new to sewing, a pin in the top and bottom will help keep things aligned ;)

And after you have sewn your first pair, you want to continue to chain stitch pairs one after another.  I know, you are an expert at chain stitching after last weeks assignment ;)

And just a little hint, it is much easier if you put the print rectangle end in first.  You can sew your blocks like the one on the left, but then you have to deal with keeping that seam from flipping up when you get to it ;)  Print end first is just a little easier ;)

Once you have all your pairs chain stitched clip your threads and make a paired stack ;)

And it's time to move to the ironing board ;)  I like to press these seam allowances open.  But I know some people aren't particular to open seams, and if that is the case, press them to one side.  But press them all the same so that they will nest later ;)

And now, you guessed it, time to turn the Half Blocks into Blocks!!!   Take two half units and lay them at as shown below to create an X.   Again, if you are doing scrappy, don't stress to much about fabric groupings, I try to have variety, but you are going to have the same prints in the same block.  I like to put them diagonally across from one another, but don't overthink it.  Just have fun ;)

Place the top half onto the bottom half with right sides together.  Align and pin your center seam as well as your two edges ;)  I like to sit and pin all of my sets together at one time.  Good time to watch a favorite movie ;)

Then, take your pinned sets to the machine, and once again it is Chain Stitching time ;)  Sew a 1/4" seam along the pinned edge.   And I don't always do it, but pull out your pins before you run them over, it is safer on your machine and your eyes ;)   Also, you will note that this time you have to take a little care to keep that print rectangle seam down when you come to it ;)

Once you have all your pairs stitched, clip your threads and move to your ironing board one last time ;)   Once again, I like to press this seam open as it helps to make that center where all the seams are coming together lie flat ;)   Now press, press, press.

And just like that your Improvisational Piecing Blocks  (or X Blocks) are all done!!!!  They will measure 10 1/2" x 10 1/2".  Aren't they so fun and wonky!!!  I love all of the fun angles ;)

And just in case you are wondering, here is how many Improvisational Piecing Units (the wonky squares above) you should have when you are done.  (but you don't have to count them, if you ran out of units, you should be good ;) 

And with your Assignment all complete, you are ready to link up for a chance to win the Weekly Prize!!!!

This weeks Weekly Prize is being sponsored by Shabby Fabrics and a huge thanks goes to them for their support of the Irish Chain Twist Quilt-A-Long.

This weeks prize is an Autumn Lily 6 Fat Quarter Pack and an Autumn Lily Mini Charm Pack!!!

So what do you have to do for a chance to win these fabric goodies?  Simple . . . Just link up your Improvisational Piecing Blocks at the end of this post :)  You can link to a blog post, flickr picture, Instagram, Facebook . . .  or whatever.  Just make sure to link up by next Thursday morning as I will be announcing a winner at the beginning of next weeks post :)

If you don't get your improvisational piecing blocks done by next week you can still link it up :) (just not in time for the prize :)    The linky will remain open until the end of the Quilt-A-Long.  So if your out of town, or just had a busy week, no worries!!!  Just link up when you can :)

And Don't forget to add your sewn units to the Happy Quilting Quilt-A-Long Flickr group and to post it on social media with using #irishchaintwistqal.    I am so excited to see your blocks!!!!

So let's get to some trimmin and stitchin!!!  And if you have questions, don't hesitate to email me at  Have a Happy Quilting Day!!

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  1. Fab, I look forward to seeing each new post! I'm really enjoying my first quilt-a-long. :0)

  2. Working on this week's assignment right now! My daughter and I were wondering....what size are you making? I apologize if I missed it in one of your blog posts! LOL!

    1. Stephanie, I'm being purely selfish. I'm making me a lap quilt. I chose fabrics that I had fallen in love with. Since buying my new Janome, I've made a quilt for both my grandchildren, my youngest son and my oldest, and a few smaller gifts like bed runners and table toppers. I wanted something for me. This is my first quilt-a-long and I've been working on it in-between my oldest son's quilt. Love the experience! What are you working on?


Thank you so much for your sweet comments. I just love hearing from you!!
Have a Happy Quilting Day :)