Updated: Sep 6
YIPPEE! The 16 beautiful heart blocks for your Nothing but Love sampler quilt top are finished! So it's time to trim them so we can put the top together. In Quilt-ish this is called "squaring up" the blocks.
For the Nothing but Love Quilt Along all of the blocks were sandwiched and quilted separately, and now it is time to get rid of the extra batting/backing before the blocks can be joined together. However, with QAYG the quilting usually alters the size of your unfinished blocks slightly depending on your basting method and quilting design choice(s). So I am going to review how to complete this process, so that all of your blocks measure the same.
Block Trimming - Traditional vs QAYG
With traditional quilt piecing, the completed blocks are 1/2" bigger than the "finished" size which is typically provided in patterns. For this quilt that means 12.5" for each block. Any trimming done is typically just to fix the shape (if needed) for piecing errors that make the edge un-square. Then the blocks are sewn together, sandwiched, and quilted as a whole.
With the quilt as you go method, the blocks are sandwiched and quilted before assembly into a top. The addition of the quilting changes the dimensions slightly and the batting definitely requires trimming before assembly. With some QAYG methods and patterns it is not necessary for the blocks to be the same size, so the requirements are simply to remove the excess batting and backing fabric and achieve a square quilt block.
However, due to the fabulous border being added to the Nothing but Love quilt, it is better that the quilt blocks are the same size. We actually need the specific block size for your blocks in order to trim the border blocks before sewing them together. So gather together your cutting mat, rotary cutter, blocks, and rulers and let's get down to business!
It's Hip to be Square
I really like using a 12.5" square ruler for squaring up these blocks, but you can also do it with a regular long ruler (like 6" x 18" or 9" x 24").
This may seem complicated, but it really isn't too bad because the actual variance between blocks is not that much. The majority of the blocks in this quilt along are nine-patches with a few oddball four-patches and one single patch thrown in. The seam lines between the patches give us a reference line for making the blocks straight and square.
To start choose a block with a center seam like Infatuation, Hopeful, Adoration, or Patience.
Put the "zero" edge on the center seam line and determine where your block fabric is ending. I check all 4 sides before cutting. It should be between 6" and 6.25" so not a big difference.
Once you have decided the smallest measurement away from the center (for me that was 6-1/8"), then align your ruler with THAT line on the center seam and the "zero" at the outer edge.
Make sure your ruler is (mostly) straight with the seam line and trim off the excess batting and backing fabric with your rotary cutter.
Repeat on all sides so that the block is now square with each edge equidistant from the center seam. (Can you tell I taught Math?! - apologies)
IMPORTANT - What was your increment from the center? Wright it down on the handout sheet, so that all the blocks are trimmed to the same size. (And you don't forget!) You will need this number for your border blocks as well.
*The process is similar with a square ruler except that you are looking at 2 center lines and 2 edges at the same time, so your measuring lines make crosses or corners. You can also trim 2 sides before moving the ruler.
Now choose a nine patch and repeat the steps. You will notice that this time instead of aligning the "zero" edge of your ruler on the center seam, it goes on the middle of the center block. As you can see in the photos below the center blocks are not all the same size, but if you look closely you can see that a measurement line (1", 2", or 3") is on the actual seam line for the center unit.
**TIP: You want this block to be the same size as the previous, so trim it to the same increment from the center on all 4 sides.
This method will apply to all of your blocks, the only one that will seem different is the Smitten block that we appliqued on one piece of fabric. There are no seams except for the petals. So I use the heart as my guide for center, but your "eyeballing it" is fine. There is no wrong way to trim it as long as you have a square of fabric that is the same size as the other blocks.
Now I'm sure some of your blocks lost fabric, but the key thing is that all the blocks have fabric all the way to the edge of the batting or nearly so. You do not want to have a space between the fabric and edge of the trimmed block that is more than 1/4". If you have this space on a couple spots, you can add fabric as shown on the Hopeful Block post (#16). But if you have gaps on many of your blocks than you need to trim them to a slightly smaller size.
It is important that when you join the blocks together you have more than 1/8" seam allowances or your quilts will not withstand use and washing.
Click the link below for a handout with the trimming steps and diagrams plus the note-taking spaces needed for keeping your blocks consistent and helping trim the border:
If you have any questions or issues with downloading please ask here or on the contact page.
There will be a final blog post to finish putting the border blocks together this week, then quilting will finish up next week, and then we put it all together to make a finished quilt!
If you are just joining in - WELCOME! Here is the quilt along schedule (with links for you to catch up anytime):
Nothing but Love Schedule
December 20, 2021 - Quilt Along Intro & Details
January 10, 2022 – Get Ready: Prep the Fabrics & Batting
January 17 – Affection
January 31 – Refuge
February 14 – Joyful
February 28 – Adoration
March 14 – Devotion
March 28 – Inspiration
April 11 – Besotted
April 25 – Admiration
May 9 – Infatuation
May 23 – Faithful
May 27 – BONUS Cross My Heart Border Unit
June 6 – Smitten
June 20 – Cherish
July 6 – Patience
July 8 – BONUS Stitched Together Border Unit
July 19 – Comfort
August 1 – Grateful
August 15 – Hopeful
August 29 – Enamored – Love Knot & put together Bonuses
September 12 - Sashing It All Together & Finishing Details
**Each “between block” Monday there will be a post for quilting the blocks:
January 24, February 7 & 21, March 7 & 21, April 4 & 18, May 2 & 16 & 30, June 13 & 27, July 11 & 25, August 8 & 22, September 5
Enjoy your trimming!
Be blessed my friends,