Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The 16-Square Block

By Brandi M. Seals

Creating your own quilt can be really easy or really difficult. The difficulty of the design combined with your experience level will greatly determine how well you do.

If you are just starting out and want to make your very first quilt, the 16-square block quilt is for you. You can make the quilt in any size that you want, just keep in mind that the blocks you will be working with measure 8 inches on each side.

You will need two different fabrics to create this quilt. Make sure the two go well together and are not too similar. Next, wash, dry and iron the fabric. If you have never made a quilt before, trust me that you do not want to skip these steps. If you do, you very well could end up with a completed quilt that bunches at the seams with fabrics that have bleed together.

With a piece of the freshly laundered fabric in hand, fold it in half. You will want to fold it so that the manufactured finished edges are together. Lay the folded fabric out smoothly on a self-healing mat and cut out 2.5 inch strips using a rotary cutter. If you do not have these items you could try to use scissors but most of us do not cut that straight, so go to any craft store and pick these items up. Keep in mind you will also need a ruler to make sure you cut a straight line.

Repeat the last set of steps with the other piece of fabric. Take the 2.5 inch wide strips of fabric and begin cutting them into 2.5 inch squares. The size of your quilt will dictate how many 2.5 inch squares you will need. Keep in mind that each block uses 8 squares in one color and 8 squares in the other.

Once all the required squares have been cut out, make sure all the squares measure 2.5 inches. If any of them are off, it will throw off the whole quilt. You will need to trim them to the correct size or re-cut them.

All of the measurements given include an extra quarter of an inch seam allowance on all sides. When you begin to piece your blocks together you will want to make sure you are sewing a true quarter inch seam. Again, if this is off, your whole quilt will be off. If you are not sure if you seam is a quarter of an inch, sew a scrap piece of fabric and measure the space between the seam and the edge of the fabric. If it is not right, practice until you get the right distance. It may help to place a piece of tape on your sewing machine that you can line up with to achieve a quarter inch seam.

You will want to begin sewing the squares together into rows of 4. Alternate the squares as you go. I find it easiest to sew together all the rows before I begin to put together the blocks. For the pictured block I would make one row that starts with the purple. The next row would start with white. I would continue like this until all the rows are completed.

Before piecing the blocks together, lay out the rows and lump them into piles to represent the blocks that they will become. Each pile should have two strips that begin with the purple color and two strips that start with white.

Once all the blocks have been made, you will need to sew them to one another. Again, do rows first then sew the rows together. Pay special attention that you are keeping the pattern going.

You could do all blocks for your quilt top or incorporate a border around all the edges. I like the quilt better with a border but do whatever makes you happy.

Once the quilt top is done, congratulate yourself. If you are not quilting the piece together yourself, then you are done with the hardest part. If you will be quilting your own quilt, prepare yourself for some quality time in front of the sewing machine. If you have never quilted before, do some sample pieces first before starting on your quilt.

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