Monday, April 13, 2015

mariner's compass - what a challenge!

Well, it has been two weeks since my last post. Time has flown by, and I have hardly gotten any sewing done, so it seems. I think I managed to post a couple of sneak peeks of my last block from the Advanced Sampler on Instagram, but that was it! The kids had two weeks off for Easter vacation, and I took two weeks right along with them! You only live once! We enjoyed sleeping in late, staying up, playing outside (when it wasn't raining) and just enjoying the free time.

Let me tell you what I was working on in my free minutes of stolen sewing time. I decided to add this stunning 12" Notched Mariner's Compass to my Advanced Sampler quilt. I originally wanted to make it paper or foundation pieced, but wanted to give myself a challenge and work with templates. I printed out the necessary templates from EQ7 and traced over them onto a clear plastic sheet. I didn't really think about the added seam allowance of a self-made template in the beginning. You see, when you trace around the original template, you add just a little bit to the shape. When you cut out the template, you add again, just a little bit. And then when you trace the template onto your fabric, you add, yet again, a little bit. In the end, this added 1/2 to a 12" block! I didn't realize this until all four quarters of the block were made. Each corner block should have measured 6.5" instead of 6.75". I thought I could shrink the block down by soaking in water for an hour and throwing it in the dryer. Absolutely didn't work. It was the same size in the end 13 inches!

Time to come up with Plan B! I could reduce the size (height) of the notches (outer ring) by either cutting them back and piecing a quarter circle around them meaning I would have to separate the four quarter of the compass again OR reverse applique a 12" circle around the notched compass. I decided to go with the second. And, yet again....another skill builder. I have only used this method one other time on another mariner's compass.

I traced a quarter of a 12" circle onto a 14" white square of fabric with my awesome Frixion pen making sure my square was perfectly folded in half twice. This way, you only need to trace a 6" quarter circle. It is faster and saves paper!! Then I cut a whole about 3/8 in front of the circle line.  I notched the circle making sure NOT to cut into the line. I got out my normal glue stick and glued the white notched fabric down making sure they touched the outer ring. I measured it out with my ruler to really make sure I had a 12" notched mariner's compass and adjusted as needed. After it all was glued and pinned, I sewed around the white outer edge to secure or applique in place. Voila!

My block is now the right size! I reduced the total size from 13" to 12 1/2" inches by reducing the outer ring size by 1/2" and I used reverse appliqué - building more skills in the process. I actually think it is better to use this technique of applique rather than piecing four squares to the four segments, because you can "trick" the circle to really be round.

I am almost finished with all 12 blocks for my sampler. It has been in the works now for three+ years and am ready to finish it up. Would you like to see what it will look like in the end? Stay tuned. ;-)

What did I learn this week? Be careful when you use self-made templates and trim up your blocks before proceeding to the next step! What is your experience with templates? We would like to hear from you.


  1. It is a stunning block and most defintiely a skill builder. You have defintiely learned a lot from the whole process. I think your method of fixing the block size was defintiely a great one to use, as you say it has the added benefit of making sure you have a really good finished circle. I'm looking forward to seeing all of your blocks coming together.

    When it comes to making your own templates I do work alot with my own for EPP projects, and yes you certainly need to take into account the degree of error that will introduce into a project. If for example I am using triangular papers I can't print them in a strip and then just cut apart, each triangle must be printed and cut seperately or it introduces a small sizing error. Similarly the fabric choice will have a similar effect and I much prefer to use lightweight lawns in a lot of my designs for that reason.

  2. Wow - great work! I really like it. And a super clever solution for the half inch :-)
    I have never worked with templates, yet. There are likely to be a lot sources of error...
    I will maybe start with PP first ;-)

  3. Dieser Block ist sehr schön geworden und er wird gut zu den Anderen passen. Du machst Dir immer so viel Mühe, Du willst es eben perfekt haben!

  4. Truly gorgeous block! I am impressed by your reverse applique solution to the size problem. It looks just wonderful!

  5. Fabulous solution! It looks great. Always learning new skills is the way to go!

  6. Good Morning dear Karen!
    WOW - was für ein frischer und fröhlicher Kompass - looks great!
    Herzlichst, Deborah

  7. Tolle Arbeit Karen,
    Liebe Gruessle,

  8. I must admit I never dared doing something so much complicated. I'm impressed. Congrats !

  9. What an awesome block! So wonderful! I'm sure, this is going to be a fantastic sampler quilt!


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