I know that the 'slow and steady' saying relates to tortoises, but I think the same applies to making Tony the Turtle. There's a lot of pieces (over 50 in fact) so even with cutting layers and chain piecing, making all 8 turtle blocks for our Awesome Ocean sampler took a while.
Read on for my approach to making these turtles.
1. Start with the shell
In your pattern Elizabeth Hartman starts out making the head units, but I actually suggest that you make the shell unit first.
This is because
- the pieces are larger
- it gives you the chance to make sure that your seam allowance is bang on,
- and you also get to practice cross cutting strips as make the checker board before launching into those teensy-weensy eye pieces in the head unit.
When making the shell, once you have stitched the Reef fabrics to the coordinates from fabric group 5, you will need to cross cut them.
Before you cut double check that you have those directional fabrics going the same way.
When doing cross cutting, line the marks on your ruler up with the seam lines like this.
This will really help you keep them straight so that you end up with a neat checker-board. If you line your ruler up on the edge of the pieced panel, any inaccuracy will be magnified on the opposite side and you might end up with the dreaded parallelograms.
Once you have cross cut those strip sets, you will have the shell unit pieced in no time - but once again, keep an eye on those directional fabrics like the kelp and seahorse prints.
Making the eyes and head unit
Now you have your strip piecing and cross cutting game on you are ready to tackle the head unit.
After piecing the BHC units in each colour, you will have more cross cutting to do. Once again line up one of the marks on your ruler with the seam line, rather than the edge like I am in the image below.
As you sew the eye detail units to the main head piece, make sure that the Kona Pepper detail fabric lines up exactly with its partner on the other side. If you just match at the ends your eyes might end up a bit crooked.
Any minor differences at the top and bottom will be sorted in the seam allowance, and your eyes will be perfectly straight.
Trimming the eye units
Remember how last month we had to trim the strip for Preppy's mouth back? If you want to go back and check it out, you can find it here
This month we build on that skill and will be trimming back those teensy eye units on the side of Tony's head. Its the same process, but this time we are cutting back a pieced unit (pieces BHC) instead of a straight strip.
Just like with Preppy's mouth unit, you will need to line up the 1/2 inch mark on your ruler with that long seam.
I have to admit that I had a heart attack after I made the first cut as it was obvious that the finished eye piece was going to be rectangular after taking into account the seam allowance. It was a relief to check the pattern and find that Tony the Turtle is the only block in Awesome ocean that doesn't have square eyes. Phew!
Making the Flippers (the leg units)
You will want to make sure that you get those angles going in the right direction for Tony the Turtle's leg units and double check your placement before trimming the corners back.
In previous months I have blogged about the way I visualise the Sydney harbour bridge when sewing many of the angles in this block of the month. It worked again for me for the flippers.
Check i=out my 'harbour bridges' here in my post about making Chuckles the clown fish.
Just like when making Chuckles, I found it easiest to divide the fabric pieces into two stacks and chain piece one side at a time. I then stopped and had a visual check of where I was up to before reversing the angles to make the opposite side.
I've actually got the flippers back to front in the picture above,so make sure you place the body in the middle and have one last check of diagram in the pattern before sewing those final long seams.
At bit more chain piecing for the tail units and I was ready to sew my blocks together. Have fun with these sweet fellows.
Next month we will be tackling Mr Manatee. If you'd like to make your very own Awesome Ocean quilt, why not sign up for our block of the month.
All of the BOM details are here