Rock Around the Block

There is a story behind every quilt I make…today’s story is about how Rock Around the Block came about….

Rock Around the Block

My quilt pattern Rock Around the Block is up!

Rock Around the Block is fun to make. You start out by making 9 patches, easy right? Of course it is. Trim to the correct size and next is where the magic begins. The picture below is NOT my block, this is the traditional version…Keep reading

Over 7 years ago I wanted to make a Jack’s Chain blockThis image is from Quilter’s Cache

But most quilters want to avoid the Y seam, right? Y seams are really not that difficult, they just take a little extra effort.

What did I do to make this block doable for everyone?

I started redesigning Jack’s Chain block because I really wanted to make this block. I love the movement when all the blocks are sewn together to create the quilt. Crazy movement! Its like an S curve happens all over the quilt.

Look at the original block again. See the hexagon in the middle? In order to create the hexagon in the middle of the block, all the angles have to be worked out … meaning Math!

I tried to design the block in my EQ software program. I could not figure out how to. So, I did it the hard way. I cut fabric! Cut all kinds of triangles with different angles.  That did not work…epic fail…I put the fabric and idea away for a while a LONG while.

One day (or should I say months later) I came across the bin that I had placed my work in for this block/quilt. Time to try this again, let’s see if I can figure this out.  I was determined!

Next step:  I drew the block on graph paper (why did I not do that first!?), cut out the triangle I drew on the graph paper. Aligned it on my fabric, added a quarter inch all the way around and well the rest is history. It worked!!

Afterwards, I had to make several of these blocks. 1 and done ummm nope, …it was more like make 5 blocks later. I had to check the math over and over again.  Next, I needed to figure out a way to make the template…I had to digitally make the template so that I could offer the quilt to the public.

When you first glance at the block and look at the 9-patches, you might think…I can just surround the 9-patches with rectangles and then trim each to the correct size. Well…there is more to it then just that. You know why? I tried that method myself.  See, I think just like some of you do, LOL.  I could not get the hexagon to happen and the bias now gets placed on the outside of the block. The angles have to be just right or the hexagon will not form and the corners will not come together to create the shape. It will be off.

I love this quilt.

It is cute, adorable and full of happy fabrics!

The blocks create motion all over the quilt.

Your eyes just keep moving!

You can make the 9-patches out of batiks, traditional cottons, modern prints! It does not matter! Make it scrappy scrappy or control the color combination. It is Fat Quarter friendly. Great project to take on retreat!

You can choose to make the alternate design, which are the little churn dash blocks, or not. Can you find the red churn dash blocks?

You can find Rock Around the Block in my store:

http://nancymcnallyquilts.com/product/rock-around-the-block/

 

Time to get quilting!

Nancy McNally

What is in this bag?

You know, sometimes you just need to leave that bag alone..the one that is sitting up high on the shelf that you can’t reach. Well that bag was calling to me. I knew not to touch it. I just had too! So what was in that bag? This was! I dumped the contents onto my table work mat.

What a HOT MESS!!

I dove in! I remember this project! Why in the world would I shove into this bag without organizing it first?

As I began digging I found a pin…the hard way, “OUCH”! Dug some more to find the pin and that is how all of this happened. I took each section that was pinned (I did kind of sorta organize it some what…kind of), unpinned and placed all the sections across my longarm machine. Next I brought my regular size ironing board out and set it up. I attacked!

I ironed each section, spray starched as I worked on each one. I had decided I was going to take the time to iron, and fold neatly to place the sections into Ziplock bags. Thanks to my assistant and friend Cheri, I’m really enjoying these ZipLock bags. It took a good while to iron this pile. Not all the pile was ironed. Some of the pile was scraps. I chose to put the scraps into their own Ziplock bags. So here is how far I had gotten with this quilt. Now, I don’t have everything lined up perfectly on my design wall, so no judging.

The picture with the X blocks, there will only be 1 row of these blocks surrounding the quilt. There is also a skiny border to separate the body of the quilt from these X Blocks.

After all the dust settles from our move, I believe I’m going to put this one on my list of MUST FINISH NOW projects.

I folded all of the sections, pieces and parts nicely. Placed all in LARGE Ziplock bags and tucked away again.

By the way, I designed this pattern. Let’s hope I can finish this one. I can see some amazing quilting designs that need to be stitched.

As of today, March 7, 2018 I have to remove my design wall from my sewing room. Why? It looks extremely tacky for the listing of our home (my home is for sale as of today). Can’t wait to move into the new one!

I will have to have my quilting friends over for a day of sewing!

Happy quilting everyone!

Nancy McNally

The Quarterly Divide…lol

This morning as I sit here at my laptop thinking about my next design and how to put it all together, I came across a note I had written to myself “The Quarterly Divide”. Okay, what was I thinking about when I wrote that?

Hmmm

Oh yes! I know!

Would you like to know? Of course you would 🙂

The Quarterly Divide is what I refer to when piecing the entire quilt together. I divide and conquer. I used to piece all my blocks into rows, long rows. Especially if the quilt was a king size that had maybe 12+ blocks per row. You have the task of matching & nesting all the seams from each block together, pressing whether it is to the left/right or eek gasp OPEN! What was that designer thinking when it comes to pressing open! I can hear the complaints now! I’m one of those complainers. Once you have pieced your rows the next task is connecting or sewing…aligning all of those seams together. Well, let’s try maybe an easier way.

Let’s divide the quilt body into quarters, maybe thirds and see if it is easier to piece. Maybe, just maybe it will make that task a little more enjoyable. Let me show you a couple of examples.

I will start with one of my designs:

This quilt I named Midnight Flower (new design, not publishing yet) . I colored in only 3 colors and will change later. I begin with basic colors to see what type of design I can come up with…then begin changing. Let’s start with the entire quilt, then I will break it up into quadrants.

Midnight Flower

I took Midnight Flower and divided the body of the quilt into quarters. Doing what I can to prevent as many Y seams or partial seams as possible. The long skinny points in the top left hand corner, I will probably change that block design to make it easier. Even if those two sections were paper pieced it would be easy. So, study the design, do you see how things can be changed to make them a little easier to piece. Now I will give you this, this is a difficult quilt layout to piece. It is NOT for a beginner!

Let’s do an easier quilt, My Cross Rails pattern

I chose to divide this quilt into 3rds! Made this quilt much easier to piece 🙂

Below is the top row, and the center.

Can you see how I divided the quilt into sections of 3 for the top row? You can do this also with your quilts. Handling sections that are smaller may help you in your piecing. Instead of piecing long rows of blocks together, I chose to divide the quilt into thirds. Each third consisted of 4 blocks. In the end there were only 2 long seams to deal with when sewing the body of the quilt together. Next step was to measure and add borders.

In my thought process, I will stare at a quilt and look to see if there is an easier way to piece/connect the blocks into rows. Sometimes it can’t be done, and sometimes! YES! WOO-HOO!

My Cross Rails pattern is still written as a “blog post” I have not changed it into pattern format. If you are interested in this pattern, you can purchase it from my store.

http://nancymcnallyquilts.com/product/cross-rails-mystery-quilt/

So next time you are going to begin a new quilt project, study the final layout and see if you can try the Quarterly Divide and Conquer!

Happy Quilting!

Nancy McNally