Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Sunshine Quilt: Part 1

That's it!  I've committed!  We are starting The Sunshine Quilt in the studio today and I am super excited!  I've sat here for nearly a year now looking at this pattern and I just HAVE to make it!  I will document each step and put it here in the blog. The kits are available in our shop!

This pattern can be found on Amy Butler's website as a free download.  Make sure you read the instructions thoroughly before starting the project.  Especially if you've never foundation pieced before. 

Step ONE:  Make your templates.  You'll need 18 of each of the 10 templates.  While you are preparing your templates, pre-wash your fabric.  I have to be honest, I don't normally pre-wash but I wanted this project to be by the book!  So, your fabric is in the washing machine and you have your templates.  Make 18 copies of each template.  Two of the templates are too big to put onto one sheet of paper so you'll have to tape your template pages together and then cut them out.  Cut out the other 8 templates.  The directions say to cut them out on the dashed line but I cut mine just a little outside the dashed line.  Once my fabric has been pieced to the paper, I'll use my rotary cutter to cut on the dashed line. 

A note about the type of paper to use:
The instructions do not say you have to use foundation piecing paper, although it is available for ink jet printers!  I wanted to see how difficult it would be to use with regular copy paper.  Foundation paper is thinner, just a little heavier than tissue.  Copy paper is thicker.  Definitely start your project with a new machine needle and have a couple extra needles to switch out during your project.  Sewing through thick paper may dull your needle a little quicker.  Also, if you are using regular copy paper, it can get heavy!  The paper remains on your units through the entire project until the whole quilt top is sewn together.  It makes pressing a bit difficult with the weight.  When I make this pattern again, I will try it with actual foundation paper.

Here are a couple pictures showing how to make the larger templates.

Step TWO:  Cut your fabric.  First, you cut out four 3.5" strips from each of the 33 1/2 yard cuts.  Easy enough.  Then the instructions tell you to take a strip and lay it down on the pattern piece and cut a strip long enough to cover that area of the template.  Kind of time consuming!

Here's what I did: 
I took my ruler and measured each piece of each template at the widest part.  I wrote all of my measurements down.  I circled all of my measurements that were 10.5" to 12".  I had 5 template areas that needed a strip of fabric that was 3.5" x 10.5" to 12".  Multiply 5 by 18, since you have 18 of each template to make and you get 90.  So that means I need 90 3.5" x 12" strips, because a 12" strip will cover a 10" area.  Now, if you want to get super detailed, you can cut exactly the length you need for each area like they instruct.  I don't have that kind of time.  If a 12" piece will cover a 10.5" area with a little waste on each side, so be it!  My time is precious and I intend on stacking and whacking this beauty out as fast as possible!  I sure hope it works out!  It's a pricey kit!  That's why I'm testing it out for you!  Okay, so, now that I know I need 90 12" strips, divide that by 33 (total 1/2 yard cuts) and you get 2.72 (round that up to 3).  So I need to make sure that I cut 3 12" strips from each print.  That will give me 99, a few extras just in case!

I am going to make a long story short here!  I've done all the math for you.  Take your half yards to your cutting board (hint: I stacked my fabric 5 1/2 yards at a time.  If you are comfortable with your rotary cutting skills, go for it).  Cut each one into 4 3.5" strips and save whatever is left because you'll be using those for your binding!  In fact, if you want to cut your scrap strip down to 2.5" while you cut your 3.5" strips, that's saving even more time!  Love it!  Even after pre-washing and shrinking, you should have enough of most cuts to get a 2.5" strip.  You'll need a total of 8 yards of binding or 288".  Eight 2.5" strips would be enough but I think I want to make my binding scrappier.  Now that you've got your 3.5" strips cut, from those strips cut the following:

From each print cut:

3- 12" strips (total 99 strips)
4- 10" strips (total 132 strips)
4- 8" strips (total 132 strips)
6- 6" strips (total 198 strips)

I have 4 paper bags that I marked with each measurement and just threw the strips into their bags.  Then I went to my template pieces and marked what measurement I needed for each template area.  So I know what bag to grab from!  I didn't mark each of the 180 templates, I had one set of templates that were extra and I just marked the one.  I'll have it next to my machine when I start piecing.


Lay one piece down on place #1 covering the entire area.  Make sure that the wrong side of the fabric is down on the wrong side of the paper.  Pin your fabric to the paper (some people like to use a glue stick.  I've done both in the past.) and you can hold it up to a window to make sure that fabric piece covers the entire area.  

Lay the next piece down right sides together matching raw edges and pin.

Flip the piece over and sew on the black solid line.

Bring your unit to your cutting board.

Fold the template piece back at the seam line.  The amount of fabric you have past your seam line will vary.  Mine is pretty close to 1/4" but yours might be a little bigger.  This extra fabric needs to be trimmed to 1/4".  You can do this with a regular clear acrylic ruler but is much easier using a "Add a Quarter" ruler.  This ruler has a lip that will rest on the folded back paper and extends out 1/4".  Just take your rotary and cut like so:

There was a little bit to be trimmed.  Do this long enough and you can eyeball a 1/4" pretty well!

Once your seam allowance has been trimmed, open it up and press.

Flip your unit over and trim on the dashed line.

Here is your finished unit!

Those are your basic instructions on completing your units.  You have a total of 180 units in this quilt so it will take some time completing all of them.  This is not an afternoon project but I had it completed within a week.

A tip on the longer three piece triangle unit:  Place the third piece of fabric vertical on your paper.  It will cover better.

Placing it vertically will give you more wiggle room!


Just one more unit to go!

So pretty!  I love how grabbing a strip out of the paper bag made it so random.  I tend to over think projects.  Having the strips in bags forced me to be carefree in my fabric placement!  I did try not to place the same fabric next to each other and I'm pretty sure I accomplished that!

This whole pattern was very easy to follow.  You sew your templates together as instructed to make your units.  You'll piece 4 units together and the opposite 4 units together and then place those two pieces, right sides together and sew on the lines.  That will create your square (which is actually a rectangle!).  Piece nine of these and then put your rows together.  I did lay this out as I was sewing my blocks together so I could avoid too much of the same print touching.  It worked out great.  Remember, the papers remain attached through this whole process!

A note about seams!  Listen, with the paper and the MANY intersections in this quilt top, the seams can become very thick.  Wherever possible, try pressing your seams open.  I did not learn my lesson until the end of the project.  I think had I opened some of these seams, it would present less of a problem at the major intersections.  Like the middle of each block....whoo, is that thick!

I have covered A LOT of this project so we'll end it here for now.  If you have any questions, post them as a comment here so others can read!  Chances are, if you are wondering, someone else is too!

Thanks for following along!  We'll complete this post tomorrow!


Anonymous said...

Hi there, I am putting a block together now but it is not creating a perfect square, in fact far from it! I followed the pattern as per the website. Did you have any trouble making the squares so they fit the 22" by 24" guideline? Thanks and I loved your little tips. Lauren

A Joyful Soul Fabrics said...

Hi Lauren!
First, did you keep the paper on your units? That paper should remain on until the whole top is sewn together. It will help to keep things accurate. Your finished block should be 22" x 24". Are you saying that your corners are off? The only thing I can think of that would help keep the corners square is maybe pressing your seams open. With the amount of seams in this block, opening them up might help keep everything right. Let me know if that works or if you need any other tips! OH! And pin!! I hate pins so I fought it all the way but with this one, you really need to use them! And when you start putting everything together, it'll get heavy with all the paper so try and position your machine so the weight of the top is setting on your table and not hanging off. That was where I had some issues with seams not meeting. Had to do a bit of "un-sewing"! Okay, I think I gave you more than you wanted! Let me know if I can help with anything!

Athena4463 said...

I just wanted to thank you for posting this blog. I fell in love with an image of this quilt and wanted to find one to purchase but of course, everyone who went to the trouble of painstakingly crafting this beauty wanted to hang on to theirs! Long story short, I, a total non-sewer, have jumped blind into this confusing world, new rotary cutter and cutting mat and ruler in hand! :) I'm so glad that you shared your step-by-step process with pictures. It makes the whole thing seem perfectly do-able, if I ever get finished cutting all these tiny pieces! (Wish I had read your handy chart for how many of each size piece to cut before I got started on that). Any way, I just wanted to say thank you thank you thank you for doing the newbies of the world a huge service. Pictures are critical and your blog has tons. Thank you.