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Welcome to Section 4 of the My Small World QAL. There’s a little bit of everything in this section – Clam shells, Economy square, pin wheel, 60 degree triangles, Orange Peel, and embroidery! I’ve gotten off to a slow start with this quilt after choosing my fabrics but once I got into my rhythm I’ve loved working on this. The tiny pieces are fun and challenging.

One of my hurdles in getting going was template making. There are a lot of tiny templates for this project and I was overwhelmed every time I sat down to trace and cut them.  In the end, I took paper copies of the template pages to my local print shop and had them laminated. It cost me less than $4 and I have quite a bit more confidence in the accuracy. Plus they’re labeled!

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There are three things I couldn’t live without while working on this project – 1. Frixion pen, 2. Add a quarter ruler, and 3. Ziploc bags for keeping each section sorted. I trace my pieces with the laminated template and Frixion pen and then use my rulers and rotary cutter to add the 1/4′ seam. For applique shapes, I cut around the template, eyeballing the seam allowance.

Which brings us to my next hurdle – the applique. I’ve tried several methods in the past but my favorite has always been freezer paper. It involves quite a bit of prep but the results are pretty fantastic. Very crisp edges and perfectly shaped pieces. (Jan Patek has a wonderful video tutorial for this method.) If you have a Silhouette Cameo, I wrote a very basic tutorial on using it to cut your shapes that you can find here.

This summer hasn’t allowed me much extra time for applique prep so I’m keeping it simple with back-basting and needle turn. It took me a few rounds to feel like I was back in the hang of it, but now I’m in love with needle turn. It’s also VERY portable.

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I use a bit larger seam allowance than most tutorials mention. Anything less than 1/8″ seams makes my edges fray and I can’t poke and prod it into submission.  Here’s my prepped applique piece – seam allowance marked and basted onto my background with a contrasting thread. I’ve marked lines on my background as well for a placement guide.

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A quilter’s knot holds my applique thread in place (no, I’m not using a matching color. It doesn’t show since you work the stitches in the back.). I pull the needle up right at the basting thread.

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An important tip is to keep the thread perpendicular to the fabric edge. If you are bit haphazard your shape can get skewed and wonky. I fought those wonky stitches in the binding of my first few quilts and they always looked twisted and ugly.

Then you sweep the seam allowance underneath the shape with your needle and take a stitch, hiding your thread in the fold you create with the fabric. Press with your finger as needed. You may also need to cut out the basting stitches as you travel around to give you room to push the fabric edges underneath.

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Here’s my finished block of orange peels and you can see a peek of my clamshells (which I just adore!  I want to make and entire tiny clamshell quilt.)

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Excuse my untrimmed threads.

There are a few things that have helped me while working on section 4:

  • Edge-stitching each section as I completed it and going around the entirely of Section 4 once it was finished. This will prevent too much fraying on the edges and keep all those seams together while I work on the rest of the quilt.
  • Don’t press your background/sky as you sew. Just use your fingers to nest the seams as you go and press the whole thing once it’s all pieced.
  • Trim and square up as you go. Even the tiniest pieces! I can see a big difference in my pinwheels that I squared up versus the ones I just sewed together. Will it matter in the long run? No, but it makes me feel more accomplished to have perfect little points.
  • Pay attention to the pattern. I had to recut several pieces because I cut with abandon instead of paying attention to the direction of the template.
  • And there is a little cheat if all of the tiny pieces are keeping you from starting this quilt! The pattern shows with dimensions of the subsections of each section to help you keep things accurate. You can use some cheater fabrics or larger pieces cut to these dimensions. If applique is not your thing, put in a favorite print instead!
  • My main challenge with this quilt is honestly choosing fabrics. The pieces are quite small so many medium-scale prints won’t work and forget large-scale! I am trying to cut down the time I spend staring at and fondling fabrics by choosing colors that are similar to the original. There’s no such thing as the perfect fabric combination with so much going on in this quilt. You really can’t go wrong.

The only bit of Section 4 I have left to do is the embroidery. I have to think more on my plan for quilting before I get to that, though. I imagine I will add the embroidery on the top layer of my finished quilt.

I hope you are inspired by this wonderful Jen Kingwell pattern! Don’t forget to check in with my co-hosts on their blogs and especially on Instagram. There are so many lovely inspiration photos in the #mysmallworldQAL hashtag, as well.

Happy Sewing!

Cindy of  Live a Colorful life  {@liveacolorfullife}
Megan of Lucy and Norman {@lucyandnorman}
John of Quilt Dad {@j_q_adams}
Danielle of Mes Petits Elefants {@petitselefants}
Kerry of verykerryberry {@verykerryberry}