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  Fabric Shoppers Unite!


TIPS FOR TONGA RHAPSODY

You are welcome to follow me while I create the queen-size quilt,

TONGA RHAPSODY by Wing and a Prayer Design.

If you would like to purchase the pattern and/or fabrics, click here to go to my web store.
ORDER HERE:

http://www.sewnatural.net/nli.asp?iid=25691

This is a fabulous quilt.  

It is not a beginner's project.
But an advanced or "experienced" beginner may do fine, with some guidance.  The designers give a lot of information on the first page.  Be sure to read that.

The cutting is not particularly difficult.  Use a good, well marked ruler and a rotary cutter with a new blade. 

The pattern is written in what I call a  "slop & chop" cutting & sewing method that I do not care for, but it is more friendly for those whose sewing skill level isn't yet producing accurately sized blocks.  The instructions are to cut pieces over-sized, stitch them together and then trim them down to the desired size.  

Particularly if you are a more experienced quilt piecer, I feel it is faster to cut the quilt pieces more accurately in the first place, sew together accurately, and be done. 

There are a couple of "glitches" in the pattern.  At least one has been noted on the designers' web site and you should check that for possible other additions.

http://www.wingandaprayerdesign.com/
tips&corrections.htm

I will mention here the other "glitches" I've discovered as I work through this quilt, as well as TIPS I feel strongly about!  So check back periodically to see how I'm doing!

In the text here, if something is underlined, you can usually click on it to see the product I'm referring to in my web store.

Here is some of what I've accomplished so far.

TIP #1

Think of the sampler blocks as 10 INCH FINISHED.

They will measure 10-1/2 inch with seam allowances.
But they will be 10 INCH FINISHED.

This is important so that you understand if a block has 5 equal parts, each part, when stitched, should measure exactly 2 inches.

A square for that unit will be CUT 2-1/2".
A half-square triangle unit, traditionally, would start with 2-7/8" squares, which when sewn together, 1/4" each side of a diagonal center line, will yield two 2-1/2" half-square triangles, which include 1/4" seam allowances and when sewn into the quilt, will be 2" FINISHED.

I mention this, as I like to cut exactly, and accurately, and often use Marti Michell's Perfect Patchwork Templates for cutting sampler block pieces.  

Perfect Patchwork Template Set B will work for cutting all the blocks in this quilt.  Template Set D has the elongated triangle needed for Block 1.  You can also use the EZ Tri-Recs Ruler for that piece, if you have it.

You may also find that a Triangle Ruler, like the Omnigrid 96 is helpful for cutting triangles from strips.  In this case, 2-1/2" strips that yield triangles which sew into 2" finished units.

  

Both these techniques, the Marti Michell Templates & the Triangle Ruler, save fabric by eliminating the "dog ears" from the shapes cut.  When used throughout the cutting of an entire quilt, this can save a fair amount of fabric & time by not having to cut off those little corners of  "waste" fabric.

Tip #2

If you pattern doesn't have one, print an IMAGE KEY and cut and paste these illustrations to your pattern.  If you are a visual person like me, you will find it very difficult to follow the pattern without this.  

The earliest versions of the pattern did not have this.  You can open and print my version of a KEY here:

http://www.sewnatural.net/Guide-TngaRpsdy.pdf

 

 

I've laid some of the sampler blocks, Inset Blocks & Corners together
to start to get a feeling of how this is going to work.  

It is really turning out neat.  I love this design!  Great use for hand-dyed & batik fabrics!

The gap in this series illustrates where the inset block is placed.

These are sampler blocks 1, 2 & 3, but not in position as shown on the pattern cover.

I'm just anxious to start to see how the rows (vertical) are going to go together.

I also wanted to know how the various inset blocks & corners A & B and C & D were going to work. 

I'm glad I did, as I discovered an error on the illustration of Inset Corners C & D.  The top two units in each stack are reversed.  

http://www.wingandaprayerdesign.com/
tips&corrections.htm

On Unit C the Cosmos Blue should be on the left and the green on the right.  On Unit D, the Green should be on the left and the Cosmos on the right.  It just took a minute to unstitch and reverse these, but I'm glad I hadn't trimmed them yet.

Most of the patterns in print do not have this problem.  The designers noticed this mistake and corrected it in later printings.  So don't worry if you look at your pattern and it looks ok, it probably is!

 

TIP # 3

Contrary to what the pattern says, 
I suggest that you 
wait to trim
the INSET BLOCKS & CORNERS 
until after they are sewn to the blocks and you can trim the columns straight all at once.
(See my photo above.  All the fabric is still on these units, waiting to be trimmed.)

 

Tip # 4

Before CUTTING ANY BORDERS, measure your quilt, and double check the figures.

On page 19, I calculated (haven't gotten here yet, so may change my mind) that the center pieces on the sides and top & bottom units should all be cut 1/2" longer than is shown on the pattern.  

i.e. the Outer Border center Cranberry pieces should be cut 36" and 22" respectively, and the Inner Border center Mountain pieces should be cut 56" and 42" respectively.


Inset Blocks B & A

Corner Block C

B & A sewn together.  See my stack of As upper left.


Corner Block D

 

 

Blocks B & A sewn to the bottom or a row, creating the end.  
These all need to be trimmed now.

But I will do that with my ruler, leaving an accurate 1/4 inch seam allowance where needed.

 


 

Tip # 5

There are several different styles of blocks in this quilt.  All are finished 10 inches.

But some are divided into 5 equal parts and some are divided into 4 equal parts, like Block 6 illustrated below.

4 equal parts are each 2-1/2 inches finished, and that means you can use Marti Michell's Perfect Patchwork Template Set Q.

http://www.sewnatural.net/nli.asp?iid=4820

 

Whenever possible it is advantageous to reduce seams.  This means less bulk, and is easier on the quilter.  The booklet that comes with Set Q is full of information and illustrations on how to use the rotary cutting templates to cut shapes needed to reduce seams.

I also used Marti's Flying Geese Ruler, which cuts both parts of the Flying Goose.

http://www.sewnatural.net/nli.asp?iid=28156

 

28-page booklet comes with the Set Q Template Set

Use the template, cut fabrics together, pick up to sew quarter squares.

Make 4 units.

Finished Block 6 with fewer seams.

 

Zig-Zag Sashing


The pattern provides paper templates 
for cutting the A & B units.

If you are like me, you'd prefer to cut them 
with a ruler, to the exact size.

The paper template measures 6-3/16" x 9-1/16".


Tip #6 

At this point I suggest double checking the measurement of your quilt. 

The blocks have been sewn together in rows, 
so measure from point to point of blocks, 
add 1/2" (seam allowances) and this is the measurement of your zig-zag unit. 

Mine measure 8-1/2" so I am going to cut the units 9" including seam allowances. 

The width is then going to be cut 6-1/4".  There is probably a "rule", but I can't explain the math. This is just how wide it ends up when the diagonal seams are in each corner of the rectangle.  

My rectangles are cut 6-1/4" x 9".

This is slightly smaller than the pattern template, but is consistent with my type of sewing.  While striving for accuracy, even stitching 1 thread wider than 1/4" will give you a variance of 1/16th inch in not very many seams!

 

If you look back to the top of the page, the second image is of a row and you can get a better over-all view of what I'm measuring in this next image. 

 
Measure from the tip of a Sampler Block to the tip of the Cosmos Blue square in Inset Block A.  Take several measurements and go with an average.  These should all be within a small fraction of each other, hopefully, close to 8-1/2".  Add 1/2" seam allowances and this is the length your unit needs to be to fit your quilt.  

The width is then going to be cut 6-1/4".  There is probably a "rule", but I can't explain the math. This is just how wide it ends up when the diagonal seams are in each corner of my rectangle.  

 

 


Follow the pattern's instructions to make the zig-zag strip sets with the fig batik on each side of the green batik. The staggered strip is dropped approx. 1-1/4".

You'll need three of the As and two of the Bs as described in the pattern.

You are making mirror images, 5 of each direction. You can get 4 from a strip set and you'll use the 5th strip set (the third A set) to cut one more of each direction.


I made the first cut using my Omnigrid 45-degree triangle ruler (because it was handy, and I really like this ruler and use it a lot).

 

 

TIP #7

I marked my rectangle ruler with a piece of orange
 Q-Tool Cutting Edge 
(great static cling product with just enough thickness to butt nicely against the cut edge of your fabric) at 6-1/4".

 

Cut 4 diamond units from each strip set, mirror images and then the 5th ones from the extra strip set, one each direction. 

My Omnigrip ruler has a 45-degree line on it too, so I used that as a double-check, to make sure my strip set was staying straight and my diamonds came out perfect.

The pattern cuts the Mountain triangles by cutting 4" squares in half diagonally. These are oversize, and then get trimmed later. 

Using the 45-degree triangle ruler to cut them, I could eliminate 3/8 inch dog-ear and cut from a 3-1/2" strip and still have plenty to work with.

You could cut from a 3-3/4" strip and have a little more "cushion" later.

This technique gives each triangle a nice blunt end. Match that end with the long straight edge of the diamond. 

Then stitch the bias edge of the triangle to the non-bias edge of the diamond. Repeat on opposite side. Press the triangle away from the diamond. Repeat this process on all the diamonds.

 

I trimmed off a little bit at each end. Look closely at the image above right and you can see the white line I've drawn before cutting to see what my plan is.



My final units measure 6-1/4 x 9 inches and are ready to be stitched. 

I know they will fit, and I know what points I need to match to which seams of the 
sampler block units. 

Since the edges are all bias, take care not to distort while handling. But they will ease where necessary.

I discourage quilters from pointing out their "mistakes" to innocent on-lookers!  However, to put your minds at ease, I will add some images here of my stitched quilt so you can see that some of my zig-zags are "right on", and some are a bit off.  

Shooting for perfection, and achieving it is satisfying.  The zig-zag rows lie flat and smooth between the rows of blocks as I hoped.

These missed points and uneven line-ups will never be noticed in a finished quilt of such complexity!

     
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