My Secret Garden - Block 4 with Joy

February 19, 2019

My Secret Garden - Block 4 with Joy


Can you believe it? We have tipped past the half way mark and I hope you are enjoying this quilt as much as I have.  I love the elegant colors and the imaginative flowers that unfold with each block.  This one looks a bit like a star flower.


Last time I used specialty rulers to increase my accuracy. This time, I did use one specialty ruler but all the pieces are cut as per Sherri Fall’s instructions.


Let’s take a look at the grid though...just to practice what we learned last month.  I find it is a good check and balance scheme to rely on my “figuring” skills just a bit to verify the pattern is written correctly. This time I spy a 6 x 6 grid.  Remember divide the finished square size by the grid and you will determine your unit sizes…..( and then you must add your seam allowances).


The first step is to cut several 2 ½” squares.  I cut my strips and the fabric is two layers in each section.  Carefully lay them out without any gaps and making sure they are square to each other.  You can cut across more than one strip at a time to cut more pieces at one time.  Be sure to double check the size and the markings…

The specialty ruler I chose to use this time is Doug Leko’s “Simple Folded Corners” ruler.  Rather than mark a sewing line on the diagonal, I chose to use the ruler to verify my alignment on all sides and cut the corner off prior to sewing. I find this to be far more accurate than a pencil line to sew on and use this ruler for all stitch and flip instructions.

As I cut the units, I clip them together to prevent shifting between the cutting table and the sewing machine. Since we have a few to prep this works well for me.

Chain piecing is another technique I always use...Chain piecing is leaving your needle in the down position….as soon as you near the end of your seam, feed the next block in to the feed dogs.  There should only be a short stitch between each of the units. When you chain piece your seams will naturally stay straighter at the beginning and the ends of your seams.  The feed dogs have something to pull though and the old and the new blocks keep things tracking straight on the way through.  This increases your seam accuracy and eliminates thread snarfles. (Bonus….less thread waste and less thread scrap to clean up).

Since I had finished up the little triangle corners, I fed in the 4 patches to keep the chain piecing flowing. I frequently alternate distinctly different parts of my block to keep the chain piecing flowing without confusing my pattern as I work.

So, that meant back to the cutting table to add the next background square.  The previous triangle is pressed towards the triangle.  Again, I love this Simple Folded Corners Ruler because there are so many alignment options. It’s way too easy to add another square and have it slightly skewed….the ruler is a terrific cross check.


Meanwhile the 4 patches continue.  If you always sew the seams so the seam on the bottom has the raw edges toward you and the top seams have the raw edges away from you….you can spin the seams on the back for an extra flat middle seam.  This sight always brings a smile to my face.

As I sew, I begin to lay out the pieces just to make sure everything is looking as it should.  I made the outer sections this time first.  Since 4 of the pieces had stitch and flip corners, I wanted to get that section accomplished early on in the process.


Even though the middle is not finished yet, I know that I always sew my side seams first and then my top and bottom rows next.  The top and bottom rows each have 3 segments to be joined together before they can become a row that can be sewed to the whole. In my sewing studio, that means they become the section that will alternate with the middle seams to keep my project moving forward and keep the chain piecing flowing.

This is an in progress photo.  The middle section has a left and right columns….they always will go on first in my sewing process….then the top and bottom row will get added…..ever notice in patterns it is the same with borders….side seams always go first then the top and bottom rows.

Here you can see the top row is all sewn together and I have just finished the center section.  The side pieces will get sewn to the center section next.  There are a few ways to do this but when angles are involved I usually put the angle side up.

Here the angle side is up and the clip is simply there to match up the seams.  Angled seams are more likely to shift and shimmy and I like to keep an eye on them so that they don’t fold over or distort…..hence the reason for putting them on top where I can see them.  Also, I can double check the intersection as I approach the seam and correct as needed.

Again, I am not much of a pinner but I have found that a wonderclip here and there keep things straight as they are feeding through.  Again, I took a moment and decided that the side that had two angled seams rather than one should be the one that is on top when making the final seam.

Pressing…..I find that my squares usually tell me what way they would like to be pressed….how you might wonder…..well, which way are there more seams….pressing likes to take the path of least resistance and this usually results in flatter, crisper seams.


In the center section that is to be sewn yet, the seams will press towards the checkered middle section.  If you look close, you will notice all the angle seams coming together in one spot would be more challenging to press back on themselves….therefore, they are asking very kindly to press towards the middle section.  Fortunately, in the row above, the center section wanted to press towards the 4 patches.  That is total cooperation.

Here ends another block in our Secret Garden.  


Until next time, Happy Sewing from Bernina Joy!

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