Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Squaring up Blocks

A friend recently asked me to look at a quilt pattern she had tried, but just couldn't get the points to match. I have to say, the pattern was pretty vague in the technique department! The blocks are made up by placing pairs of rectangles right sides together, drawing a diagonal line just off centre, and sewing  ¼” away on either side. You then cut down the drawn line, and viola, you have two blocks. This same technique can be used to make up HSTs (half square triangles), but like my friend, I have found that my resulting blocks are never as square as they should be. So I thought I would share with you today my tip for squaring up these kinds of blocks using your quilter's ruler and rotary cutter.

So once I'd sewn and cut down my diagonals, this was the result.... as you can seen the edges are far from even and the diagonal points are a bit off.

Firstly lay your block on a cutting mat, and take your quilter's ruler - it must be one with a 45degree diagonal mark, I find the square rulers much easier to use than the long ones.

The first line to worry about is your diagonal, match up the one on your block with that on your ruler and this will ensure you have sharp points at your corners when you come to cut.
Now think about what size your cut block needs to be - when I'm cutting my own HSTs I tend to add on an extra ¼” to the squares just to give me a little more trimming room. In this case, I want my finished cut size to be a 4¼” square, so I need to check that my block more than covers that area under my ruler by bringing the top and right side edges down and slightly over the 4¼” mark. You should check that the 4¼” mark on the diagonal line is also covered.

As this block has a centre square, you also need to line up these points with the ruler, this will help loads when you come to sew these blocks to each other! So in this case, I've lined up the  21/8” ruler mark with both sides of the small square. Now you're all lined up, trim down the right side and across the top with your rotary cutter. 
Once trimmed, turn your block 180deg and line up your ruler marks again, first the diagonal, then the 4¼”marks, this time lined up accurately at the top and right side, and finally the 21/8” marks on the centre square. When you're happy trim down the right side and across the top. You should now have a perfect square like so... I went on to cut a few more blocks...

And when sewn together in groups of four, you get this block... do you see how accurately lining up those 21/8” marks and the points on the diagonal really helped me match my points?!

I hope you found this post helpful, if you have any questions, please leave me a message and I'll reply as soon as I can.
For the first time, I am linking up with Late Night Quilter's Tips & Tutorials Tuesday

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