This month's Island Batik ambassador quilt is sponsored by Accuquilt! I have never had an accuquilt, so I was very excited to use it and see how easy (or hard) it would be. We were given the North Carolina Star block to incorporate into our design. I was so nervous about this because it has a ton of points, as we can see in the example block:
This month I wanted to use either a Halloween or Fall themed but once I went through all the fabric, I saw this 10 inch Layer cake and it was meant to be.
This layer cake is called Brilliant Blues and the coordinating fabric I grabbed was Coconut, a soft white with circular grey dashes on it. This was not saying fall or Halloween, but it was giving winter vibes. My best friend is living in Colorado and just had the first snow of the year and these fabrics played well into snow, cold and winter. Don't you think? So, let's make some winter themed North Carolina Star blocks, shall we.
I pulled out the accuquilt, which I love because it folds up, has a bag it can go in to protect it and the foam and cutting mat all have plastic bags I can put them back in. (I love to keep things in plastic because I do use starch and spray basting in my sewing space and that stuff goes everywhere.)
Once the accuquilt is out, I separated out the fabrics from dark, mediums and lights. This way I can then divide the accuquilt pieces up for the colored fabrics. The die comes with lettered pieces, and that coordinates to the finished block pieces. This makes it a lot easier to decide how you want to lay out the fabrics, and which ones you want to cut in what colors. I decided on a dark to light style block; the center would be the darkest fabric and the outer parts would be the lightest fabrics.
I used the 10 inch blocks, and was able to fold them a few times to get the 4 or 8 pieces of each letter piece. I think the only thing I didn't love was how much wasted fabric there was. My main go-to is foundation paper piecing, as most of you know; and with fpp you can literally use every little scrap. The accuquilt did have some waste with the outer pieces, so that made me really try to fold the fabric or cut the pieces as close to the size I needed. The benefit of this cutter I found was that if someone has a hard time cutting a lot of pieces, this tool can do a lot in a matter of minutes. I was shocked how easy it was to use, but also how quick it was to get one block cut. I ended up cutting 5 blocks at once (which took a few passes through the machine, and a lot of folding of fabric) but I was able to get all the pieces cut out, and another pro is they are precise.
I did love how the dog ears are all cut off so it makes it easier to line up most of the pieces, when you start sewing them together. The accuquilt packaging shows you how to sew the block together, but you can also go to their website and watch the tutorial and other videos that are amazingly helpful. If you want to check out the North Carolina Star info its all here.
I started to put the blocks together and I was so excited when I saw this:
Now, if you have been following along this year you probably know how horrible I am at getting those points, but look at that! The accuquilt has a precise cut and it makes it easier to align so I was able to get this perfect point. Now on to the rest of the block.
The first block had all its points and they were beautiful! I was so excited to finally have a traditionally pieced block turn out so amazing! I now want to try all the blocks in the accuquilt when I need a more traditional block. We did get the 8" mix and match block set and I have a feeling I will be using that when I need to whip up a baby quilt real quick. I will definitely be showing that off in the future when I get a chance.
Once I had one block done and pieced, I started to chain piece the rest of the blocks. The only tricky piece that I struggled with was the C section. They are the lightest blue and the darkest blue long triangles that are along the outer edge of the block.
I struggled to figure out how to line them up, but I was able to figure it out by the time I had made all the blocks. It also takes time because my 1/4 inch seam allowance on my machine might not be exactly what's used on the accquilt machine. I did eventually use a scant 1/4 inch seam allowance and it worked out perfectly.
After all the chain piecing and the ironing, I finally had 5 North Carolina Blocks. I was so happy with how they turned out and when I was laying them out I came up with the idea of shooting stars. I could see where the stars kind of bursted off and then shot through the "sky". I decided to add some curves and connect the 5 star blocks from the sides. This made a really cool chain like link through all 5 stars.
I used EQ8 to design just the simple curved block stencils so I could cut out the curved sections.
I then use the folded method for the curves, and sew from the center of the curve to the edge, then flip and do that again. This is how I get the best curved blocks that I know how to. I also made the blocks slightly larger so that I could trim them down to the 12 inch block size. If you have ever done curves you know that sometimes you can get the pieces perfectly lined up and other times you get them just slightly off. By making the blocks 12.5 it gives me that 1/4 inch seam around the edge to fudge a little if needed.
I then laid out all the pieces to see what I had. Once I realized the two blocks on the edges were just not completed I decided to add the ends.
For the end pieces I cut out a curved triangle and then cut out the same in some interface. I then sew the interface to the fabric curved triangles.
I left the bottom open so I could flip it inside out.
This now turns the interface glue edge out so that it can be ironed to the background fabric. To center them I ironed a center on the background, and pinched it on the curved triangle, then laid those centers on top of each other.
I then give it a really good press with the iron and this secures it to the background piece until I can top stitch the piece down.
The finished block turned out great. I did this for all 4 end pieces.
I then laid out all the blocks and decided on the finished placement. I moved a few of the curves around to see what I liked the most and ended up with this:
I know what you are thinking: "Gosh Sarah why don't you vacuum your sewing room", and to you I say; I will just give me a few days to make a mess first. I am joking, I know you are not thinking that. You are probably wondering why the curves are sticking out and if I am going to add more fabric or leave it or trim it. Well, to help me create a perfectly straight table runner, I leave the extra fabric on and trim it away when I have finished assembling the entire thing and then can starch it a lot.
To start assembling the runner I just sew the diagonal rows together.
Then I sewed the rows together to complete the runner top.
I then ironed and starched the runner really well. I wanted to get it as flat as I could and as straight as I could. I then take my 12 inch ruler and my long ruler to trim the runner.
I find this to be the best way for me to trim up really long runners, and you will see at the end that I do this often and why.
My next step is getting the runner sandwiched and ready to quilt.
I am using the basic white batik fabric on the back and the Hobbs 80/20 bleached cotton batting, as I wanted to be as white as possible. I also took the extra time to remove any loose threads I found as those could show through once washed and or quilted.
I decided to stitch around the shooting stars/North Carolina Star blocks and then free motion quilted only in the white fabric areas. I did not want to quilt on the stars because of the change in blues and just couldn't decide on a thread to use. If in the future I pick up a variegated blue thread that matches, I might go back and add some quilting to it.
I free motion quilted with my White Aurifil thread and it was a perfect match. It blended well and sat beautifully in the batting as well. I had no issues with bearding or anything. I have really enjoyed using auriful thread this year and it has become my go to thread.
Went with the matching fabric of the white for the binding and I was so happy with how it all came together. Now, shall I show you the amazing finished table runner and why I use the 12 inch square ruler and my long ruler to trim the table runners (and why it always comes out perfect).
If you haven't figured it out, it's the 100 inch table that I absolutely love to place runners on. I almost have a runner for all the seasons, and some holidays. I plan to get them all done soon. Anyways, this is my finished winter themed North Carolina Star block using my Accuquilt cutter with Hobbs batting and aurifil thread. This runner finished at about 82 inches by about 16 inches.
I want to again thank Accuquilt for sending us the North Carolina Star block and the machine. I am absolutely over the moon with it and will absolutely be recommending it to others. If you are thinking about buying one and hate cutting or have trouble getting those perfect points I would say go grab one. This has made making traditional blocks so much easier and I actually got the perfect points that I have never had before. This is also great for anyone who has any pain in their hands, or struggles to do lots of cutting. This is a simple handle that you crank and the mat runs through (they also have an electric one now and oh my goodness it looks so nice). Thank you again Accuquilt.
I hope you all have enjoyed this month's Island Batiks falling for Accuquilt and all the quilts, blocks, and runners that the ambassadors have made. I have been so inspired by so many of my fellow ambassadors and the gorgeous colors and fabrics. Be sure to check out all the other ambassadors and check your local quilt store for the Island Batik fabrics today.
Stay safe, stay healthy and be kind.