Do you remember the excitement that you felt as a child when a birthday, Christmas, or other major holiday approached? That is the feeling that best describes how I feel when I start a new project in my quilting studio. There is so much anticipation as I look at the fabric and think about all of the potential! Now that I work at Pine Needles, I sometimes get to do samples for the shop. We are so fortunate to be getting some smaller cuts of fabric before the entire line comes. I feel like a kid in a candy shop when I get to work with those special fabrics!
We have all of these fabrics as a kit with all of the fabric you need to complete the project. It is packaged in a matching bag and includes the book as well. The kit is available in the shop or we do have it in our webstore. Post the following link into your browser or type in “Shine On” to purchase it online.
I hope you’ll get the book and fabric and sew along with me. I’ll offer my best tips and tricks along the way!
If you’ve ever read or followed along with me in the past, you will know that I am a HUGE fan of the speed and accuracy that I get when I use my Accuquilt cutter and dies. While there are a lot of pieces that can’t be cut with Accuquilt, the Beehive block with those half square triangles can definitely take advantage of the Accuquilt system. This eliminates the extra steps of drawing a line on your fabric (which is difficult to do without stretching it) and the trimming after you sew. Above you can see all of my pieces for the three Month 1 blocks cut and ready to go!
This pattern does a beautiful job of telling you the size of each subunit as you sew pieces together. This makes it easy to use the Accuquilt chart showing the sizes of all of the Qube Dies. Most of the dies I used were from the 8” Qube. If you are in doubt, make a sample of the pieces or draw them out on graph paper. For visual learner, this may be easier to wrap your head around than thinking about math.
Have you ever pressed your seams open when quilting? That is what the directions recommend. I will admit, for a very long time I was resistant to this technique. When I first learned to quilt, I was told that you always have to press to one side, preferably to the dark. During the last 4-5 years, I have tried pressing open more often and I must admit, I am a convert. But it did take me a long while to get to that point. I love how flat my block lay and I don’t have big bulky seams that create bumps and have parts that flip back.
The next photo is to show you the settings that I use on my machine. The most important thing to note is the reduced stitch length that I use when pressing seams open. I also have my dual feed quarter inch foot and my 0mm stitch plate which I always use when piecing. I find that when I am stitching on quilting cotton, I also like my presser foot pressure reduced from the factory standard so you will notice that it is yellow as well. Make whatever adjustments you need to on your machine so that it works best for you and how you sew.
I HIGHLY recommend making the Beehive Block and Bliss Block first and check your accuracy as you go. Here you can see how well those Accuquilt cut half square triangles match up. The single hole stitch plate prevents the tip of the triangle from going into the needle area and the dual feed helps to keep that bias edge from stretching.
After you sew a few, press them and measure them. As I mentioned above, a great thing about this pattern is that after EACH step, they give the size of that unit and I strongly recommend checking each one out along the way. If your pieces are consistently accurate, you can be a bit more lax about doing it at each step, but if they are not, figure out what is going wrong. It’s possible that your cutting isn’t accurate or that you are taking too much or too little of a seam allowance. Measure along the way and make the appropriate adjustments to ensure that your sewing is as accurate as possible.
This may sound counterintuitive, but I don’t do a lot of pinning and I actually think this can help with accuracy. Many times when we pin, the fabric is shifted as we insert the pin sideways into the fabric. On shorter seams, I place my finger at the match point and apply pressure to keep the two pieces together. After I pass that point, I will do the same at the next match point or at the end of the unit to keep the edges together. I find that I can be pretty accurate with this technique and it’s a bit of a time saver. You’ll also notice that I rarely cut thread. I will work on multiple blocks or units or have a leaders and enders project nearby.
Why so much talk about accuracy, well, when you get to the Bee’s Knees Block, you will definitely see the reason. On this block, there are a LOT more pieces needed to make that complicated shape with squares, triangles and rectangles. The bee’s antennae finish at only ¼” wide! This is another good reason to press those seams open. Imagine the bulk and how that would distort your piecing if those were pressed to the dark.
Hopefully, by the time you piece the bee, you will have worked out what you need to do to achieve this accuracy. It is worth it to make such an adorable block. Have fun sewing my friends and please share your progress in our Pine Cone Peeps Facebook Group.
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