Week 5 - Making blocks
Welcome to week 5 of the quilt along! This week it's time to make the strip sets into blocks.
For that we'll be cutting the strip sets into block-sized units, trimming them to size and then cutting the sashing strips to fit that size before attaching them.
Cutting strip sets
Your strip sets will likely have one end where you more or less lined up all your strips, and a selvedge end where some strips are much longer than others.
Put your strip set on the cutting mat so you can trim off the end where all the strips line up, first.
Lay your ruler across the strip set, and line up one line on the ruler with a seam in the middle of the strip set (I used the seam under the 12.5" mark). Don't line the ruler up with the top or bottom edge of the strip set because those edges can be quite wonky.
Trim the edge off so you have a straight edge now to start measuring from.
I happen to have an 8.5" wide ruler, so I just flip the strip over so I can line up the left side of the ruler with the cut edge of the strip set, and cut along the right edge of the ruler. If your ruler is narrower than 8.5" inches, use the lines on the cutting mat to line up the strip set and ruler.
It's possible that your strip set is a bit bowed despite sewing in alternate directions when putting it together. Make sure to check the middle seam you used to trim the strip again before making your second cut. If the new cut edge is off (see below), just turn the strip set back around, trim again like you did in the first step, and then cut the second block from it.
If you have a decent sized leftover strip after cutting two blocks, keep them and use them for another project or on the back of the quilt.
Measure and trim blocks
Now that you have all your blocks cut, measure them to make sure they're 8.5" wide and 10.5" tall. If they're taller than that, trim them down to 10.5" now.
If they're smaller (which means your 1/4" seam wasn't quite as scant), you can leave them if it's a matter of less than 1/4". This can be fudged when we sew the sashing on. If they're smaller than that, though, trim them all to the height of the smallest block, making sure the center bar is still in the center.
Cut and add sashing
It's time to cut the last of the WOF strips to size. The tricky bit here is that these sashing strips require the full width of fabric, so 42". If your background fabric has less usable width, you'll need some extra here.
I like to line my still folded strips up on the cutting mat to see if they're longer than 21" between the edge of the selvedge (the holes, or where the print ends) and the fold.
Then I cut at the 0 mark, the 10.5" mark and the 21" mark on the mat, remove the extra bits and have 4 strips cut ready to go.
If your blocks ended up less than 10.25" tall, you can cut the sashing strips to the size that you trimmed your blocks to. If you'd rather just cut 10.5" sashing strips, you can also trim the excess off in the next step.
And if your blocks fall into the "fudging it" category above, here's how to do that:
Fold both the block and the sashing in half to make a little crease at the halfway mark on the side of the block. This should land in the middle of the middle bar on the block. Line up both of those marks and pin the sashing in place, then sew it on.
The extra sashing at the top and bottom of the block should be 1/8" of an inch or less. Some of this may get trimmed off in the next step, too, but if not, use the top and bottom of the sashing as your guide when pinning the blocks in place to sew them together. The "missing fabric" in between will be hidden in the seam allowance, which will still be large enough that nothing should come apart.
Trim the blocks
The last step is to trim the blocks to 10.5" x 10.5" square. Don't worry if they are smaller than that, just make sure you trim them to a square. So if you had smaller blocks before adding the sashing, you'll need to trim everything down to that smaller size because the sashing strips will now be a tad too wide.
Since none of the bars in the blocks need to line up directly with neighbouring blocks, having slightly smaller blocks won't make a difference, although your quilt will end up a little bit smaller.