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The Next Stitch News

Making Puffy the Puffer Fish

Making Puffy the Puffer Fish

For month three in our Awesome Ocean Block of the Month we are making Puffy the Puffer fish. 

I really enjoyed making these little guys and love their soft colours.  I think in the overall quilt they provide a nice counter-balance to the brighter, more saturated colours in the Octavian blocks.  It was also nice to dive a bit deeper into Elizabeth Hartman's Reef collection and introduce some more of the prints, plus new kona and Essex linen coordinates.


This bit is important

Before you start cutting, there is a small error in the pattern for Puffy.  Piece G should be 1.5 x 2 inches, not 1 x 2 inches

If you want to double check Elizabeth Hartman has included a pattern correction on her website, and you can read the details here

Don't stress if you've already cut piece G too smal. You should have enough fabric left over in your pack to cut another piece if needed.

My tips for speedy cutting

 Awesome Ocean puffy the puffer fish

Speed up your cutting time and cut the pieces for the blocks in layers.  Unless you have a super-duper rotary cutter, I suggest splitting the 8 fabrics in each group in half and cut the pieces you need 4 at a time. 

I think I mentioned this last month but thought I would show you this time.  As I cut each shape, I lay them out at the top of my cutting board with a little label.  Nothing fancy here -  I'm just using Post- Its.

I've seen somewhere on Instagram someone use pretty painted wooden clothes pegs that are marked with numbers.  You could also use binding clips if you wanted.  For now though, pins and a scrap of paper is woking just fine.

Making the Fins - tips for nice straight seams

After making Octavian last month I feel like I'm getting into the swing of things so constructing the face and body units went just like clock work.  Of course I chain pieced each seam, so they seemed to fly together.

The strips we are using to make the fins are only 1/2" finished, and with the white Kona Snow in the centre, any wobbles in your seams will be quite noticeable.

My method requires pressing these seams open.  Even if you normally press yoru seams together, its not a problem to have them opened out in this part of your block. 

Trust me - grab some scraps and try out this way first.

  1.  Sew either E or I to one side of the white piece L and press the seam open.  
  2. My patchwork foot is 1/4" from the centre needle position on both sides.  For the next seam I used lined the opened out seam allowance as a guide along the edge of my 1/4 inch foot, NOT the edges on the right side like I normally would. As you can see here, my first seam must have been the teensiest bit narrow as there is about 1/16th of an inch on that right side.  Following the seam allowance means that I am correcting this as I sew and that bright white strip will be bang on 1/2" when finished. 

Press that last seam open as well.  Another advantage of those open seams in the fin units is that you will be 100% certain that you wont have any shadow from the coloured fabrics shining through.

 Here you can see my nicely nested seams at the back of my fin unit - and yes.... I'm flashing my backside ;-)

reverse side puffy

When you sew the corner squares on, make sure that you  get those angles going the right way. Somewhere along the way I got mine in a tangle and flipped one the wrong way, and of course I didn't notice until after I had trimmed the excess.  

So don't be a dummy like me - split your fin units into two sets and double check those angles.

Despite this boo-boo, Puffy is a lot of fun to make and my little school of puffer fish is pretty sweet don't you think?  If you are loving these cute little guys ( and who wouldnt?) there's still some spots available in our BOM  for $55/month.  Join here and sew along with me 


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My top 3 ways to make Half Square Triangles

My top 3 ways to make Half Square Triangles

'Theres more than one way to skin a cat', or so they say.  There's also a lot of different ways to make HSTs. 

Everyone has their favourite method - even designers.  That's why you see so many different methods popping up in patterns.  

In the Pixie Medallion pattern, Sharon gets us to cut pairs of squares diagonally and then stitch the triangles together.  I used to do them this way, but changed after discovering my expensive computerised machine liked to gobble up those pointed ends in the feed dogs. 

So here is a round up f ,of three different methods I find reliable.  I have included the cutting dimensions for everyone stitching with us on the Great Pixie QAL ,so that if you want an alternative you can pick your favourite and whip up your HST blocks for the centre star. 

Dont forget to post a picture on social media of your progress.  You never know - you might even win one of our great prizes.  

    HST - two at a time

    Unless I have a lot of triangles to make, I often tend to make them two at a time by stitching a pair of squares together with a 1/4 inch seam either side of a ruled diagonal line.  

    HST two at a time

    Making them just two at a time is great when you want to inject a lot of different fabric combinations into your quilt block, or only need a handful of HSTs.

    The best thing about this method though is that your HST will be on the straight of grain, and you've avoided those stretchy bias edges.

    You can check this method out here in a previous blog post where I've shared a heap of pictures.  I find it much easier to be accurate by sewing those seams across the bias before cutting.

    To make the HST triangle units for Pixie's centre star using this method you will need to start with 3" squares.

     HSTs - 4 at a time

    This is the perfect method if you have some 5" charm squares you want to include in your Pixie.  It's also super quick and easy as

    • there are no diagonal lines to mark and
    • you are stitching along the grain of the fabric instead of the bias.

    Cut two 4 inch squares and place them right sides together.  Stitch a 1/4" seam along all four sides of your pair.

    Make HST 4 at a time

    Cut twice diagonally.

    HST 4 at a time

    Press and trim the units to the required size (2 1/8").

    trim HST

     HSTs - 8 at a time

    When I need to make  a heap of HST, I make them eight at a time. This is also the way Merran has made the HST units for the centre star of our Pixie Medallion.

    make HST 8 at a time

    Cut two 6" squares and stitch right sides together with a 1/4" seam either side of diagonal lines. Cut across the seams, and then cut along the diagonal lines and voila!.  

    HST 8 at a time

    Press your seams either open or toward the darkest fabric, and trim back to 2 1/8"

    There's a really great video tutorial by Fons and Porter demonstrating this method.  Wait till you hear the chipper music  It will make you want to jump up and march over to your cutting board.  Just don't go swinging those arms with an open blade  - yikes! 

    Watch the video here .

    Avoiding the quilt math

    If you are making the Pixie Medallion with us, I've worked out the math for you in the examples above so you that making those triangles for the feathered star is super simple (If you haven't started a Pixie, its not too late to join in and you can purchase a pattern here )

    So what if you want to make a HST block in another size for a different project?

    Happily Suzy Quilts has some really handy tables on her blog.  Suzy's done the calculations for all of three of these methods so that you can make any size you need. 

    Which ever way to make them, I hope you have fun.  Happy stitching everyone.

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