Salty the Seahorse is the very last sea creature to make in Elizabeth Hartman's Awesome Ocean quilt. I can't believe it - but I'm also pretty excited to be so close to finally being able to lay all of my blocks out in the final arrangement.
Here are my tips for making Salty:
1. Get organised and prep for success
The list of pieces to cut is pretty long - I mean 43 pieces is a LOT for a 6 x 12 inch block right?. The time spent being systematic and cutting in layers will really speed things up when you sit down to sew.
Cut multiple layers at once
I talked about this right back in the first post in the series when we were making Ocatvian the Octopus. I cut through four thickesses of fabric at a time. I find any more than this I get a tiny bit of movement and inaccuracy, and that is the last thing you want when cutting small pieces like the 1" squares.
STOP! There is a small error in the pattern
When you are cutting the background pieces, you will need to cut two 'R' pieces for each block, not the one that is outlined in the cutting list. 'R' is used in the head fin unit as well as for making the snout.
When cutting the Reef fabrics (Fabric 2) for the seahorse bodies, it pays to double check which direction the pattern is running as you layer the fabrics ready to cut. The little fish print doesn't matter as much as the pattern looks fine running horizontally or vertaically just as long as you are consistent, but you really want the seahorse prints to be standing up straight.
As you cut these Reef Fabric prints you will need to cut two 'G' rectangles. One needs the pattern running vertically and the other horizontally, so take a moment to study the cutting diagram on the bottom of page 21 in your pattern booklet carefully.
Label the pieces
I saw this great tip on Elizabeth Hartman's Instagram feed. She uses sticky dots to label the pieces - just one on the top of each stack.
You can check out her post here
I didn't have any of those pretty multi-coloured dots on hand so I just chopped up some Avery printer labels and it worked a treat.
2. Work on multiple sections at once
Like I said before - there are a lot of pieces in these blocks, and as my iron is at the other end of the house, I chain pieced different units at a time and pressed them all in one hit.
Here you can see the body, dorsal fin and neck units all pieced and waiting to be ironed. As none of these seams intersect, I have sewn all of these units in the one sitting, just finger pressing as I worked. Once pressed the block starts to come together quickly.
3. Working with those directional prints
Wherever you sew a straight seam along the edges of the block pieces, getting the correct alignment of the directional fabrics is fairly intuitive. Its another matter when sewing the angles though
Sewing the the angle on the snout unit
I've cut the school of fish fabric so that the fish are facing upwards.
When piecing the 'FRF' unit, to get the angle correct for that 'bridge of thenose' piece you want the heads of the fish to point to the right, tails to the left (see above).
To be perfectly honest - it probably doesn't really matter if you don't bother to go to the trouble for the seahorse fabrics because of the larger scale. BUT, because they are smaller, the school of fish fabric will show up if sewn in the wrong direction, particularly if sewn perpendicular to the rest of the patterned fabrics in the block.
Here's a couple of pics showing my process as I chain pieced them:
Salty Seahorse's snout units are pretty small, so use the seam allowance on the left of your pressor foot as a guide, rather than the raw edges on the right like this.
I've covered this in more detail in the Preppy the Whale blog post. You can pop back and check it out here.
There were even more angles to manage when making the inner curves of the tail unit (WFFF).
You will need to place the 'F' squares on the top right and bottom left so that the fish are 'swimming' to the right. The bottom left corner needs to be reversed like this:
You may find it easier to add a dot of glue to the corner which will eventually be cut away to secure all three pieces at once before stitching. Once again, its only this school of fish print that you really need to fuss over.
Take the time to double check your placement by folding the corners back before trimming the corners.
Once you have all those angels stitched, with a bit more snappy chain piecing the rest of the block comes together pretty quickly.
Happy sewing everyone