It’s week 2 of the 2021 Riley Blake Quilt Block Challenge. I had fun making Block #2 that was released today. In this post I’ve got some helpful tricks and tools to help piece intricate blocks. I’ve also had a bunch of questions about my fabric choices and yardage requirements that I’ll try to answer as well.
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This week’s block is called Shining Star and designed by Bev McCullough at Flamingo Toes.
Tips for Piecing Intricate Quilt Blocks
This block was really fun to piece. While it looks complex the instructions are very doable. I do have a few tips that help intricate blocks piece together quickly and look sharp.
For a block with this many seams, using a Scant ¼″ Seam Allowance will make a big difference helping your block finish at the 10 ½″ x 10 ½″ unfinished size.
There are a lot of smaller units within this block where you are sewing on directly a diagonal line to create a half-square triangle block or corner triangle. (You don’t need to worry about a scant ¼″ inch when you are sewing directly on a line.) One tip that will save you a lot of time on this (or any future triangle block) is to use Cluck Cluck Sew’s Diagonal Seam Tape.
Thread weight also makes a big difference when piecing intricate blocks. I use a 100% cotton 50wt thread (Aurifil is my favorite kind) as it’s a lighter-weight (meaning less bulk in your piecing) but sturdy. Also, because I’m sewing with a darker background fabric, I’m using a darker or more neutral gray thread for piecing my blocks.
I also use a spray like Flatter or Best Press spray starch to help my blocks lie flat and look neat.
Fabric Requirements (or Suggestions)
I’ve had a few questions about the fabric choices that I’m using and as well as yardage requirements. I’ll do my best to answer those questions.
This round of the Block Challenge all of the blocks AND finished quilt have been pre-planned. (We’re all much more organized this year. 😉) While each block + the finished quilt design are a ‘mystery quilt’/ surprise, there is a published list of fabric requirements per block + finishing here.
Oxford Blue is going to be my background fabric for the whole quilt. In tallying up the fabric requirements listed for the quilt, I’m estimating 3 ¾ yards as a generous amount. (Might end up being less, but I’m erring on the side of having plenty.)
At this point I’m thinking of using Songbird as my contrasting Sashing and Binding – which would require an additional yard. I’m afraid I probably won’t make a decision about the contrasting corner stones fabric until I get the quilt laid out, so I don’t want to commit to one yet. I will choose a print or solid that is easily available at that point.
The prints I’m using are from my upcoming Notting Hill fabric collection that hits fabric shops any day now. I’m using the whites, blues, and reds from that line. (If you’re looking to preorder, and to make sure you don’t miss it, Stitches N Giggles, Lou Lou’s Fabric Company, The Fat Quarter Shop, and Fort Worth Fabric Studio have preorder status available.)
I don’t know yet which fabrics I’ll use for which block. I’m waiting to see what strikes me when I get the block instructions each week. So I’m sorry I don’t have it more planned out, but I’m going to go with what combination seems to work best when I start piecing.
If you’re wanting to get fabric now, a half-yard of the prints and the other solids (not Oxford Blues) should be plenty. If you want to use these prints but are also confident mixing in some of your scraps or fabric you already have on hand, a Fat Quarter of each should be enough.
I may throw in some scraps of my own, but we’ll see how this plays out.
It’ll be fun!
(Remember this IS for fun, not stress.)
Here are my first two blocks together. (You can read more about and find the link to Block 1 here.)
If ever you are looking for more information or links to past blocks, you can visit the RBD Block Challenge page here. And check out the #RBDBlockChallenge hashtag on Instagram to see what other quilters are making. It’s so inspiring.