Monday, January 6, 2014

Snow Buddy Paper Foundation Quilt Block Tutorial

This whimsical snowman quilt block with dimensional hat and scarf tie
is constructed using machine paper foundation (MPF) piecing.
The foundation patterns will soon be available as a print & cut download design.
Follow the piecing tutorial steps here to create your own blocks, 
then check out one wall quilt sample that uses this block
by following this link to another post on this blog.

Step 1. Purchase and download the "snow buddy print & cut paper foundation quilt block" file. Because this file includes some necessary construction notations, it will be a bit sluggish in Silhouette Studio. Some of the text was eliminated to make it work at all. All the information left off will be included here in this tutorial.

On the left are the 3 piecing sections, plus the hat and scarf sections. At right are the templates for added "border" strips (these can be rotary cut for ease), plus extra applique shapes for variability, and stencil or guidebmark templates which can be cut in a regular manner.

Step 2. Use the print and cut features of your Silhouette machine and software to arrange the piecing Sections 1-3 on an 8.5 x 11 inch page size, apply cut registration guides, then send to your printer. After printing, you can send them to the cutter for the trimming out. (See tutorial for print & cut here.)

ALTERNATIVE: After printing, use rotary equipment to trim 1/16" beyond the OUTER solid lines of the 3 sections.

Cut the templates you wish to use in the regular fashion.

It may be helpful to review the basics of machine paper foundation piecing (MFP) by reading through this tutorial on the log cabin block here on this blog before beginning.

Step 3. Pre-fold the piecing sections. Use a straight edge such as a bookmark, postcard, or very thin ruler. Lay ruler edge along each of the interior solid stitching lines on the face up section, then fold the paper over the edge and crease. 

Step 4. Identify patch 1 location and fabric.

Step 5. Cut an over-sized patch and attach to the back of the section behind the area of #1. Use a glue stick dab, then place the BACKSIDE of the patch to the BACKSIDE of the diagram . 

Trim excess patch by turning the work over so fabric is FACE down on cutting mat. Fold diagram back (face side to face side of diagram) on the side patch crease/seamlines and trim fabric 1/4" beyond fold edge. Do this for all stitching solid lines that are boundaries for patch #1. Fabric excess should REMAIN extending beyond the section edges (at bottom, in this case).

This is how the work should look at this point, seen from the fabric side of the section under construction.

Step 6. Locate the tiny sections for patches #2 and #3 near the bottom of the head. The color notation is in the lower seam allowance, indicating these two patches are "background." Continuing piecing the rest of this patch in the regular MPF methods.

Before removing paper, transfer the hat tip location dot, eye dots, smile location, cheeks shape and location, etc. OR, you can use the cut template/stencils to do this at a later step.

This image shows Section 1 with center section piecing completed.

 Step 7. Sections 2 & 3 include a "COMBO PATCH 4" which will require a slightly different approach. Join patches 1-3 in the usual manner.

Identify the "joint" line of the two pieces of fabric that will be attached to the block foundation in one seam, indicated here with the arch connector line, and the red echo pencil line. You may wish to make sure this line is creased in Step 3 above, or highlight it by tracing over it with a colored pencil, ball point pen, etc. so it can be seen from the backside.

Identify the target line for the Combo Patch 4, indicated here with the green echo line. Fold the diagram back along this line (face sides together).

Step 8. Cut (2) snowman "white" patches 2.75" x 1.25" and (2) scarf fabric patches 2.75" x 3.5". Join them as shown at right with a regular (non-shortened stitches) seam, then press the seam toward the scarf strip.

This is now the COMBO 4 patch that will be added to the diagram, one for Section 2 and one for Section 3.

Step 9. With the combo patch face side up on work surface, position the section on top of it so that fabrics will be face sides together.  Align the "joint" combo line exactly over the patch seam that is underneath. Here the line is traced with red on the diagram backside for clarity.

Adjust the position of the diagram so that all of the lower portion is contained within the white patch and all of the upper portion is contained within the dark patch. I have highlighted the areas in question with green for clarity, but you will probably be able to "see through" the paper well enough to observe the proper positioning.

Step 10. Without allowing any slipping, carefully unfold the diagram as shown.

Carefully transport the diagram and patch to the sewing machine. Stitch on the target line (shown green here) in the usual fashion with the shortened stitch length.

Step 11. Press back the patch and check before trimming. Note that the combo seam should again line up with the "joint" seam of the diagram (seen on the back, of course). If you are satisfied with your success, fold back the COMBO 4 patch and trim in the usual manner. Re-fold into position. Add a dab of fabric glue under the patch at the top, then carefully align the seam with the joint line to preserve your efforts for the eventual final trim.

Complete the rest of this section, then complete the other lower section. Trim excess of all sections on outer trim lines. Remove paper.

Step 12.  Adjust sewing machine stitch length to your regular seam settings. Join Sections 2 & 3 with regular seam and press open. Join the upper section to the lower assembly and press seam downward.

 Step 13. Prepare sections of face-together folded fabric for tracing and cutting dimensional scarf and hat. Position the dashed line edges on the fold, trace and cut. 

Step 14. Stitch 3 sides of scarf (leave a turning opening at center), 2 edges of hat, locking stitching at seam ends. Trim points and corners, then turn face side out, work corners and points out fully, and press flat.

Step 15. Position the hat with raw edges even with hat band of Section 1, and pin in place. Note that the fold edge is at the right, and the seam edge crosses the vertical seam 1/4" from upper raw edge at left. This should allow the hat side edges to line up well with the hat band when the upper strip is stitched in place.

Step 16. Cut the border strips:
upper 1.75" x 5.5"
(2) side 1.75" x 6.75
lower 1.75" x 8"

Step 17.  Join the upper strip to the top edge of assembly. Press seam toward the center of block, with hat and strip extending upward as shown.

Step 18. Use the cheek painting stencil to paint the rouged cheeks. Place the lower edge of stencil along seam, place perf lines on head side seams (note arrow cutout is up). Use one or more masking tape strips at lower edge to secure and protect block from over-painting.

I am using acryllic paint and brush here. Other applicators may also work, but take care that you use "dry brush" techniques (Google it if necessary).

Here the still-attached stencil is swung back to observe the density of the paint that I am applying, as feedback about when the process is complete.

Step 19. When the stencil paint is dry, use the marking stencil, positioned so that the painted cheek circles shown through and align, to TEMP mark the eye and hat tip position dots. Also use 05 black Pigma pen or equivalent permanent ink to create dashed cheek outlines and smile.

Step 20. Add finishing touches to block.
Fold hat over so that tip reaches marked guide dot. Tack in place by hand, then attach tassel button star. Attach 5mm or larger black bead eyes. Attach carrot nose (or prepare alternative fusible machine appliqued nose and cheeks using the "extra" shapes provided in the design file. Tie the scarf in an over-hand knot at the center, arrange ends so they hang together, then position and hand tack invisibly in place at the left end of the scarf patch.

NOTE: If you can't find carrot nose buttons, you can make your own with FIMO or SCULPY home-oven baked clay.

Consider making a center panel from a combination of blocks, like the four that are used here.

See the isolated Snow Buddy block below that has contrast strips substituted for the matched background strips of the block constructed in the tutorial.

FYI, frame strips (blue) are cut 1" wide, inner border strips (red) are cut 1.25" wide, outer borders are cut 3.5" wide, and post squares are cut 3.5" x 3.5".

Hope you have
a flurry of fun piecing and quilting
your own Snow Buddies quilt project!

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