• Different Size Blocks

    What to do when you have different size blocks. No matter how carefully you piece there are always slight variations that occur when machine piecing. Sometimes it is simply a factor of using a different machine or a different presser foot. But whatever the cause having the blocks not all exactly the same size can be irritating.

    Sometimes you are assembling blocks that were stitched by different individuals. Usually these blocks will have more variations than when they are all stitched by one person.

    First measure all the blocks and then decide what you are going to do about the differences in sizes. If there is a very small amount of variation such as 1/8" you might find that you can simply stretch and ease the blocks to fit together.

    While the blocks could be trimmed to the same size sometimes that is not a workable solution because then you would be trimming off your points from your piecing.

    When trimming is not an option you will need to add coping strips. Coping strips are simply strips of fabric that help you cope with the problem of different size blocks. Coping strips are added to all four sides of the block and then pressed. The block is then trimmed to a specific size usually a few inches larger than the original block.

    For most coping strips you might begin with a two inch strip. Simply stitch a strip to each side of the block and then stitch a strip to the top and bottom. If you wish to miter the corners you may. Press the blocks with seam allowances toward the coping strips.

    Place the new block with coping strips on the cutting mat and trim all blocks to a new uniform size. You will find a square acrylic ruler is very helpful for this procedure. When the newly resized blocks are combined in a quilt the variance of the width of coping strips is usually not noticeable.

    This is a very good way to make all your blocks a uniform size for placing in your settings. Try this method of coping with the problem of different sized blocks -- use coping strips.

    Putting Colors Together For Your Quilt And The Value Of Value

    Sometime quilters feel they need a little help putting colors together. We think color theory is a science that we don't fully understand. There are many books available about color and some of them are quite extensive. Learning color theory does not make it easier to choose fabric for a quilt. There are some basic things to help a quilter improve her color selection that are very simple.

    The easiest way to choose colors is to start with a multicolored fabric that you like. It could be a smashing floral or other geometric multicolored print. Notice the little colored dots along the selvage. These are the colors that are in the fabric. Simply take those dots and find fabric that matches. You don't want to overmatch -- so choose fabrics that are the same colors as the dots but are of a lighter or darker value. You may find after you finish choosing colors that you don't even use the print you began with but you had a starting point.

    The reason this works is most fabric designers know how to put color together. They know the color wheel and rules of color design. Trust them and your own quilts will show the same color expertise.

    When we are studying color we tend to look at all the colors on the color wheel and get overwhelmed. And while color is important the reality in quilt making is that value is really more important than color. You need value difference in your quilt -- value is light fabric, medium fabric and dark fabric. You need all three for the quilt to show contrast.

    I once saw a wall quilt that was made from a navy blue print which you would think was a dark fabric. With it was a deep pink solid. The colors were great together because the same deep pink color was printed in a portion of the navy print. You would expect there was enough color change from the navy to the deep pink. And although the quilt was beautifully executed and hand quilted, it lacked something. As soon as a crystal vase was placed on the table in front of the quilt it came to life. The crystal vase was the light value necessary to make the quilt look good. Take away the crystal vase and the quilt looked dull. It lacked a value change. The problem with the quilt was the fabrics were of the same value. If a light value fabric would have been used in the quilt it would have had value difference and the colors chosen would be secondary.

    "Blended Quilts" have become popular in the past few years. These quilts use many busy floral fabrics of medium value. The fabrics tend to "mush" together and while the quilts may be beautiful, the individual fabrics and value differences are not noted. This type of quilt is made to be a certain style and while it is not "wrong" it definitely does not show large value differences. If you wish this type of quilt that is fine but if you are expecting your piecing to show different areas of the quilt you will need to place fabrics of different values in individual areas of the quilt.

    When choosing fabric at the quilt shop place the bolts in a pile on the counter and step back and look at the colors from a distance. If you are nearsighted, simply take off your glasses and the fabrics will appear like you are at a distance. If all the fabrics look the same from a distance, they are of similar value and there might not be enough contrast in the quilt. Replace some of them for lighter and darker value colors and check again. Not only are you looking for color coordination but you are looking for value difference.

    So when you are choosing fabrics for your quilt trust your own color sense. If you like the colors together in a stack of bolts, and there are noticeable value differences you will probably like the quilt. Relax and enjoy your quilt.
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