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Thread: Small Pieced Blocks ~ Any Advice Would Be Appreciated

  1. #1
    Aimee G's Avatar
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    I am working on a pink sampler quilt, traditional (mostly) blocks, 6" finished. I've done most of the "easy" blocks, & have started on the harder ones. I was feeling pretty good about myself, until I tried the Kansas Trouble block. Sheesh. 5 days, 6 ruined blocks, & I-won't-even-tell-you how many ripped out seams later, it's done. No where near perfect, but it's as good as it's going to get :(.

    any tips or advice on how to make smaller pieced blocks with teeny tiny pieces would be greatly appreciated. I need to have the top done by mid June so I have the time to quilt it by mid September, so can't spend 5 days on each block. Thanks in advance.
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  2. #2
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    I cut and sew a little bigger, then trim the half square triangles to the right size, using a small rotary cutter and a 2 1/2 inch ruler. Then I square up each of the four blocks before joining them. Go slow and sew your seams carefully. What's funny is how simple sewing bigger blocks will be after you complete this project. Good luck.

  3. #3
    TXyankee's Avatar
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    Your K-troubles block is beautiful! I admire your persistence! I gave up on that block after 3 attempts. Have you considered paper piecing for those little blocks? I'm new at it but have had some success with 5 inch blocks. Your quilt looks great so far!

  4. #4
    Power Poster Rhonda's Avatar
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    If you show what blocks you are going to work on they may work with my cut down method. It depends on what the quilt blocks are.

    Here is the section with my shortcuts
    http://www.quiltingboard.com/virtual...jsp?vsnum=1020

    I can probably show you how to make them easier if I know what you want to make.

  5. #5
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    Your blocks look lovely.

  6. #6
    Super Member maine ladybug's Avatar
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    I agree with Redmadder, it's easier to make the pieces a little larger, sew parts together, ( like your half square triangles ) then trim them to the correct size. Once all your pieces are ready, sew them together to make the block. They should come out the correct size that way.

  7. #7
    Aimee G's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rhonda
    If you show what blocks you are going to work on they may work with my cut down method. It depends on what the quilt blocks are.

    Here is the section with my shortcuts
    http://www.quiltingboard.com/virtual...jsp?vsnum=1020

    I can probably show you how to make them easier if I know what you want to make.
    Great tutorials & I'll have to read them more carefully tomorrow. The next block will likely be a Flying Swallows (if I'm able).

  8. #8
    Aimee G's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TXyankee
    Your K-troubles block is beautiful! I admire your persistence! I gave up on that block after 3 attempts. Have you considered paper piecing for those little blocks? I'm new at it but have had some success with 5 inch blocks. Your quilt looks great so far!
    The strips along the side are paper pieced. "Genius" that I am, I didn't figure out to LEAVE THE PAPER IN til finished until I'd ruined, oh, three blocks.

  9. #9
    Aimee G's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BETTY62
    Your blocks look lovely.
    Thank you. I'm trying :)

  10. #10
    Senior Member connie_1936's Avatar
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    next to paper piecing starching works best. with lots of bias cuts heavy starch makes it easy. beautiful quilt

  11. #11
    Super Member janedee's Avatar
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    the blocks look really good - I think I would paper piece them

  12. #12
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    One thing about Rhonda's way, you never have to worry about those little seams matching, Good luck and happy quilting.

  13. #13
    Super Member sewcrafty's Avatar
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    Here's a site for HST's. The only thing is the smallest is a 1" finished block. If you print the 1" off at 75%, it'll hopefully make them a finished size of 3/4".

    http://www.blockcentral.com/a-halfsq...glepaper.shtml

    If worse comes to worse, PM me and I can e-mail you the pp'ing directions from EQ.

  14. #14
    Super Member quiltmaker's Avatar
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    I do my half square triangles the old fashioned way. Your block really looks beautiful. I am definately not a paper piecer so I can't offer any help to you other than to go slow and line everything up as perfect as you can. I am a starcher also expecially witht the smaller blocks.

  15. #15
    Super Member janRN's Avatar
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    I've been doing the FWS quilt and the blocks are very similar to what you're doing. Your blocks are lovely. In addition to what the other gals have mentioned, I've found some seams need to be pressed "open" instead of to the side. This helps the block lay flatter and comes out truer to size for me. Just another suggestion.

  16. #16
    Power Poster Rhonda's Avatar
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    One tip I have is I like to tack my seams together or the sides of a pair of HSTs when I am joining them. When you are working with minis every little thing is magnified. so a 1/16" off looks like a half inch off. I match up my seams and run a stitch through them twice. Then I look to make sure the seams are matching before I sew the HSTs together.
    A stitch in time saves nine! LOL It does save frustration later on.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Janquiltz's Avatar
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    Hints for working with small pieces of fabric for miniatures:

    Single hole plate useful
    Use a Sharp needle size 60 or 10/11(instead of quilting needles give better stitch, but may cut thread. Universal #11, okay
    Avoid loose weave fabric if possible - tighter weaves are easier to work with when doing miniatures.
    Scant seam
    Press seams open before trimming
    Cut down to generous 1/8th after sewing
    Use thin silk pins and 3/8th" or 1/2" applique pins
    Use 2-ply, 60 weight thread = strong seams but less bulky(embroidery, orafil, metrocene cotton)
    Try 12-15 stitches per inch and backstitch a few stitches at the beginning and at end of each seam.
    Use same ruler for same project
    Batting to use low loft

    Paper piece when possible, sew strips of fabric together and cut seqments for 4P's or 9 P's or make two-color HST's.

    Use tweezers, awl, or seam ripper to guide pieces though needle.

    Use tweezers to pick up small pieces - especially applique. Washable glue is always helpful to hold fabric in place when the pieces are too tiny to pin. Will post more if I think of any more hints.

  18. #18
    Super Member running1's Avatar
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    I don't have advice, but am noting all this great advice! I want to try some small blocks, but haven't yet. Your persistence is inspiring and your quilt and last block are beautiful!!

  19. #19
    Super Member Lori S's Avatar
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    When Working with small pieces... starch... starch and starch. I buy the concentrate and dilute one part starch to one part water. Starch and let dry prior to cutting. It make a HUGE difference. I also like to press seams open on the little units.
    You may also want to think about using Thangles for your half square triangles especially for the tiny ones.

  20. #20
    Senior Member quilter1943's Avatar
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    I think it looks great but it must have been difficult on those points. As others have said, paper piecing is always the best result with points especially on pieces that small. It would be an easy block to draw out too. It will be a lovely quilt.

  21. #21
    Aimee G's Avatar
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    Thank you all for the advice; will definitely give these things a shot. Hadn't thought of glue for the applique pieces. I know there are a few applique blocks on my list I've been wondering how in the world I'd do them; guess I know now :)

  22. #22
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    If it's not a paper piece block, then I would make it one, it's not hard to convert them as a general rule. Definitely starch even if you paper piece.

  23. #23
    Power Poster joyce888's Avatar
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    I agree with previous posts - make the hst bigger then cut them to size. Also I press all seams open - I especially think it works best for small blocks.

  24. #24
    Senior Member vickimc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by redmadder
    I cut and sew a little bigger, then trim the half square triangles to the right size, using a small rotary cutter and a 2 1/2 inch ruler. Then I square up each of the four blocks before joining them. Go slow and sew your seams carefully. What's funny is how simple sewing bigger blocks will be after you complete this project. Good luck.
    I agree, also add a little Best Press or starch. keeps the pieces from stretching all over the place.

  25. #25
    Super Member fireworkslover's Avatar
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    I'd paper piece the smaller blocks you want to make. Finely woven fabric, starch if you want, use a smaller machine needle. I use a Microtex Sharp needle size 70/10. I paper piece a lot and have done several with really small pieces. Trim seam allowances to 1/8", use a short stitch = size 1.5 or 2.0 if not paper piecing. Press seams after each seam carefully. Some seams need to be pressed open if lots of seams will be piled up on top of each other. This is not possible when pp, tho, unless you use the freezer paper method and aren't sewing thru the paper. If fusing really small pieces, use a good tweezers or 2 of them to help you out. Work with no interruptions, while doing this fusing or you might make an error.

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