threaded quilting studio

Snowflake QAL: Week One

Jessie ZeiglerComment
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*** Minor, little baby pattern errors found! ***

Special thanks to Jan Kaye for spotting this error, it affects the 16" blocks for both the Snowflake Sampler and the Feathered Star Blizzard patterns:

Pages 22 & 23 referenced incorrect square measurements in the color guide, it's not material to the pattern, but it could be confusing, so my apologies! NOTHING NEEDS TO BE RECUT! To update the pattern, I removed the exact dimensions on the color guide, all you really need to know is whether to use the bigger or smaller square sizes where referenced.

 

We've FINALLY arrived! Week One is here!

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to make:

Snowflake Sampler: two 16" No Y Seam Feathered Star blocks

Star Flurries: two 20" No Y Seam Feathered Star blocks or Fierce Feathered Star blocks*

Feathered Star Blizzard: three 16" No Y Seam Feathered Star blocks

*Star Flurries people: any time I refer to the 20", please know that you have the choice of constructing the blocks with paper piecing (NYSFS) or conventional piecing (Fierce Feathered Star). Use whichever method makes you happy and since there are 9 blocks, maybe you'll get bored and want to try both ways!

Let's begin, shall we?!

Printing: You'll need to print the paper piecing sections onto your preferred foundation paper. I use regular printer paper, but please use what you're most comfortable with. The most important thing to remember is to print at 100% or "actual" size, making sure your print dialog box is not set to auto-scale. A test square of 1 inch is provided on every page so that you can ensure accuracy.

You may want to get all of your printing out of the way at once or you may just want to print one week's worth at a time. For me, I printed one star at a time so that I wasn't emotionally overwhelmed with ALL THE PAPER! :) You do you, as the kids say.

TIP! If all of your blocks will have the same coloring, you may want to print one set, note the colors on each section and then make your required number of copies.

TIP! Using a marker or colored pencil to note the section also works well (not really applicable before making copies unless you're using a color copier).

Cutting unit templates: Make sure to cut around the templates outside of the dashed line. The space between the solid line and the dashed line is the seam allowance. I use a dull rotary blade to cut my templates apart.

Cutting fabrics:  I've written the cutting instructions by block so as to not overwhelm you with ALLLLLLL of the fabric cutting at once, but again, this is your preference.

There are a few square sizes that are very similar, it might help to label them. 

Sewing: If you've never foundation paper pieced before, I highly encourage you to watch my video tutorial series that will show you step-by-step how to complete this pattern. If this ain't your first paper piecing rodeo...  well, giddyup! ;) You should be just fine following the instructions in the pattern.

USE A SHORTENED STITCH LENGTH! Sorry to shout, but this is important. I'm using a 1.2 stitch length which is tiny, tiny, tiny. Anything 1.5 or smaller is okay. I'm also using the aforementioned regular copy paper which is kind of thick. I also use a strong poly thread, so I don't have thread breakage issues, and I use a 90/14 Microtex needle from Schmetz. Feel free to adjust any of these factors until you're happy with sewing and how the papers tear away.

Does your sewing machine have a thread cutting feature or button? If it functions properly: USE IT!!! I paper pieced for years before I started using mine and it was a game changer! The nature of paper piecing is sewing a bunch of small lines, starting and stopping frequently. You could chain some pieces together, but it's a little awkward. When you use the thread cutter, you don't have to hold your threads as you begin the next seam. That is a wonderful thing! You'll end up using less thread, too.

I could stop now and say "Go for it!", but... I want to do everything to make this super-enjoyable for you so I have in-progress pictures + captions from last summer's QAL.

While it doesn't really matter which order you sew all of the units (21 total), if you're just getting back into the groove of paper piecing, you may want to start with Unit I (as in igloo) shown in the next photo.

 I used a dab of fabric glue to secure the center square positioned in the center of the template, covering the seam allowances on all sides. Place your folding aid (an expired insurance card here) along one seaming line, fold the paper back , align the Add-A-Quarter ruler and trim  before  adding your triangle accent pieces .  It makes the alignment of the triangles a bit easier.

I used a dab of fabric glue to secure the center square positioned in the center of the template, covering the seam allowances on all sides. Place your folding aid (an expired insurance card here) along one seaming line, fold the paper back , align the Add-A-Quarter ruler and trim before adding your triangle accent pieces. It makes the alignment of the triangles a bit easier.

 When aligning a triangle piece along its bias side as illustrated here, imagine a straight line traveling from the corner of the area you will be covering, with the right angle of the triangle you're adding, like shown above. Use this technique with all applicable units.

When aligning a triangle piece along its bias side as illustrated here, imagine a straight line traveling from the corner of the area you will be covering, with the right angle of the triangle you're adding, like shown above. Use this technique with all applicable units.

 Unit A (but this applies to all units that have pieces adjoining on 2 sides). Try not to stitch into section A8 (where my stiletto is pointing) because it'll affect how you fold and trim when the time comes to add the fabric for A8.

Unit A (but this applies to all units that have pieces adjoining on 2 sides). Try not to stitch into section A8 (where my stiletto is pointing) because it'll affect how you fold and trim when the time comes to add the fabric for A8.

 BEWARE!  Avoid  lining up fabrics as shown above. This is Unit A, but it applies to most units. When adding a  lighter  fabric, make sure that it completely covers the dark piece beneath. Otherwise, you'll get shadowing (dark fabric in the seam allowance is visible from the quilt top through the light fabric). If the piece shifts while you sew and you do experience shadowing: Before sewing the next piece, carefully trim small amounts of the dark fabric away until it no longer extends beyond the lighter fabric on top.  Watch a quick video showing this.

BEWARE! Avoid lining up fabrics as shown above. This is Unit A, but it applies to most units. When adding a lighter fabric, make sure that it completely covers the dark piece beneath. Otherwise, you'll get shadowing (dark fabric in the seam allowance is visible from the quilt top through the light fabric). If the piece shifts while you sew and you do experience shadowing: Before sewing the next piece, carefully trim small amounts of the dark fabric away until it no longer extends beyond the lighter fabric on top. Watch a quick video showing this.

 YES! This is the same piece from the previous photo sewn successfully. This is what you want. :)

YES! This is the same piece from the previous photo sewn successfully. This is what you want. :)

 When I'm piecing spines, I think in terms of covering the "upright" triangle (outlined in red dashed lines). I make sure the new triangle is "leg-down". Also, it's important to note that I'm making sure I cover the 1/4" seam allowance on both the right (unmarked) and left side of this spine.

When I'm piecing spines, I think in terms of covering the "upright" triangle (outlined in red dashed lines). I make sure the new triangle is "leg-down". Also, it's important to note that I'm making sure I cover the 1/4" seam allowance on both the right (unmarked) and left side of this spine.

 Once it's sewn in place and finger-pressed, you can see how it's in perfect position.

Once it's sewn in place and finger-pressed, you can see how it's in perfect position.

Most units will use the sewing sequences shown thus far. The exception would be Units J, K, L & M. I have a quick video here showing how to align those fabrics quickly and easily. For some reason, it's easy to get turned around in this unit.

Once all units are sewn, they'll need to be seamed together. Refer to the diagram in the pattern to arrange and seam the pieces together. Here's one short video tip showing how to avoid a common mistake when sewing the units together.

PIN!

Assembling sections: Pinning is important, if you're into accuracy. There's no other way around it. I've made sooooooooo many stars over the years and I still pin (a lot) every time. I promise it's worth it. Adequate pinning can make ALL the difference in not having to unpick seams. And let me tell you: It's not fun to unpick stitches sewn at a 1.2 length!

I start pinning at the point-matching places from one unit to the next. There is also a photo of what my pinning looks like in the pattern. I run a straight pin on and through the solid, black seaming line of one unit and match it up at the exact point on the other unit. I'll match several pins running straight through the pieces before I'll readjust them in order to sew.

Alright, this makes more sense watching it, so here's a very quick gif showing what I mean. 

 If you'd like to see the regular speed version of this along with the verbal play-by-play,  check out this video  (at the 2:25 mark).

If you'd like to see the regular speed version of this along with the verbal play-by-play, check out this video (at the 2:25 mark).

Removing papers: I used to wait until a top was all assembled before removing papers because I liked using the solid black lines to expertly assemble a whole quilt top in the most precise manner. But now, I trust in the accuracy of my 1/4" seam allowance without having to sew on the line and papers are a lot easier to remove in a 8", 12" and 16" square rather than having the weight and bulk of a whole twin-sized top in your lap. So go ahead and remove your papers after you complete each block, I think you'll be glad you did!

Press: After papers are removed, give each block a good pressing. I tend to let the seams fall to the side they want to go. 

Hop on over to my closed Facebook group to join the discussion, share pictures, ask questions, get encouragement. We are a community and we'd love to help you out!