Building Blocks Quilt Along: Block 1

I'm a little behind on Leah Day's Building Blocks Quilt Along. The good part is that her videos are all up on her site and easily accessible. (And they are awesome!) Before yesterday I had pieced block one: Four Patch Block (three of them) and block two: Nine Patch Block (three of them)... I pieced them a good long time ago. Then life and other projects took over. :-) Here are the front and back views of my three versions of block one.

BBQA Block 1s FrontsBBQA Block 1s BacksSo yesterday, with The Boy home sick from school and the kiddos lounging in front of a movie, I decided to get to work on the quilting part of the quilt along. Yesterday I got the first block quilted and today I did the other two Four Patch blocks. With that, I'm caught up to the week of February 3rd. Woot! More importantly, I have momentum. I've gotten to do some sewing. I love sewing. And I LOVE free motion quilting.

The part of this project that I love the most is that it's about the journey. It's NOT about perfection. Some blocks are gonna look a little wonky. Some of the quilting will be outside the lines (of course, the lines I mark are washed out, so in the end that won't be so obvious) and at the end of the year I will have improved in my free motion quilting skills. Maybe that will even mean that I will choose a non-stippling pattern for my next quilt (that's been all/most of the free motion quilting on my last three projects).

Block 1.1 - Wiggly U Shapes

BBQA Block 1.1Part of my hold-up on not getting quilting on this project sooner was the need to mark the blocks. I have never marked quilting lines on a quilt before. I don't have a light table, so I did this:

my light tableThat's my front window. It worked pretty well, but generally it's been evening and dark when I've had time to work on my project. So daytime was key for this step. The one drawback is that my blue marking pen is the same color as my blue fabric. Oops.

first block markedOnce the block was marked, I made my quilt sandwich and pin-basted it. The unfinished block is 10" square, a nice easy size to work with.

BBQA Block 1.1 in progressAll in all, this block wasn't too hard for me. The wiggles are similar to what I generally do when I use large scale stippling to free motion quilt. I did have to break thread in the middle of quilting the block when I realized I'd started using my regular foot. Otherwise, it was SO much smoother and less frustrating to FMQ than my last couple projects where I had the thread break every few feet. I think the only big difference is that I used Isacord Polyester Thread to quilt it. I think I'm hooked!

Block 1.2 - Gridlines

BBQA Block 1.2There was a lot of marking on this one... but at least they were all straight lines, so I was able to use a straight edge to speed things up. It was a bit of an optical illusion to look at all those lines while sewing in the green sections.

BBQA Block 1.2 in progressI'm pleased with the results. In the course of quilting this block I could see myself getting better at stitching a straight line. I'll be interested to see once the project is completed and the whole quilt is washed how forgiving it is with regards to the little wiggles in my lines.

Block 1.3 - Spirals

BBQA Block 1.3This was certainly the most challenging one for me -- though that's the idea, that we are increasing in difficulty as we go. My machine doesn't seem happy to stitch in every direction, so there was a lot of turning as I went or stopping to rotate my quilt block. Sadly, I had an unfortunate, horrendous sound while quilting this one, resulting in the following on the bottom side:

BBQA Block 1.3 problemI did a fair amount of removing stitches after removing that mess so that I'd have ends long enough to properly tie off and hide my threads. Then I was a little more careful about which direction I "drove."

BBQA Block 1.3 with markingHere's another view of what I mean about not being able to see the markings on the blue fabric. In fabulous light and at the right angle, I could see them, but they are nearly useless. I used my purple disappearing pen on top of my blue lines to help myself out while I was quilting, but they disappear too quickly to be useful for marking a whole block. I'm reassessing what I'll be doing for the next set of blocks, as the blue is my dominant fabric for the entire project.


I’m linking up with Leah Day's March 21 FMQ Link Up.

7 thoughts on “Building Blocks Quilt Along: Block 1

  1. Pink marker would probably show up on your blue. I'm using the ceramic pencils myself, they look like this and I am using white on my black fabric and it shows up really well, so that might be an option too :) Your square look gorgeous! In the first photos they look quite perfect, it's only when you get up close and personal that you can even notice that you've gone a bit off the lines.

    1. sarah

      Post author

      Thanks Monica. I should give pink marker a try. I didn't think to order the ceramic pencil originally since I didn't think of my blue as a dark color. In general, I feel like I'm the only one noticing my mistakes. I try to resist the urge to point them out to others. ;-)

  2. Marji

    Wow, Sarah! I've been very curious about the FMQ and how it is done. This is a great tutorial overview. You can see your teaching skills are sharp as ever! Keep posting your progress and definitely get a pencil for the blue or you will be blind ;-) Do they still make tailor's chalk? I'm not sure it would be a fine enough line, but maybe that is similar to the pencils.

  3. JoAnne

    Beautiful work! Your color choices are really great. At the rate you are going you will be caught up soon.

    1. sarah

      Post author

      Thank you, JoAnne. I initially chose two blues by Kona (denim and regatta), but before I washed and cut them I decided they weren't fun enough... especially after seeing the colors everyone else was choosing. I'm enjoying working with these. I hope I can keep up the momentum. Ordered a Fons & Porter marking pencil today that I hope will work well on my blue. It arrives Monday. :-)


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