Kaleidoscope Quilt

Welcome to SewVeryEasy, my name is Laura. Kaleidoscope blocks are very versatile and they are a lot of fun to make. They’re not as complicated as they look because they’re just made up with a bunch of triangles. The fabric I’m using today is from Timeless Treasures. What I’m looking for is fabric with a little bit of movement in it but still reads more of a tone on tone, so at a glance you will have an impact. When we look at the block it does look like a pie shape. We have all of these sections. We have four dark pieces of the pie, and four of the medium pieces of the pie. I have a dark which is going to extend the look of the one arm and a light beige. When the block is put together, I’m going to have dark and light on opposite sides. For the two pie shapes we start with a piece that is cut at 6⅛”. That extra ⅛” is going to give us room for trimming. We need both pie shapes cut in that size. For the corner pieces we need strips cut at 3″. We will be able to get three, almost four, blocks from one strip of each of these four fabrics. So depending on how large you want to make your quilt will depend on how many strips you want to cut. So from one strip of each we will get three, maybe even four blocks, depending on how wide that fabric is. On the darkest pie piece I’m going to sew a strip of that 3″ light and a strip of the 3″ dark. I have those two strips sewn right on to the fabric. By having those 3″ pieces sewn onto this main piece we can cut the pie and the ends all at the same time. There are a few important things that are going to make this go together very easy. The first thing is to have your fabric pressed well, even before you cut out your strips. I do recommend starching them. The starch is going to help stabilize it so it doesn’t stretch on the bias. Once I have the two strips sewn on I like to take this to the iron and press it. I’m not pressing the seams open; I’m just going to press them flat. They’re going to be cut in this shape. I do like to put a little bit of the spray starch on either side and press them gently. Make sure that the fabrics do not wrinkle and we keep them nice and straight. By having the strip’s sewn onto the main piece and starched it’s going to make this go together really easy and the cutting is also very quick. In the description I’ll put a link to this handout. This is the shape that we want to cut the pies. The bottom is 4⅞” and that height is matching that strip of fabric at 6⅛”. If you have a triangular ruler you can compare it to this size, make marks, and use that ruler. If not, you can cut this piece out of a cardboard or something, draw the lines for cutting, and then cut them out. My preferred method is to go to my local glass cutter. There they can cut acrylic plastic. I’ll be able to use the rotary cutter and not have to draw the lines. On the backside of the ruler I do like to put something to prevent the ruler from slipping. For this particular project I am using TrueGrips/ It helps secure the ruler so it doesn’t move. Once we have that strip set sewn and pressed we’re going to be able to cut these two strips together at the same time. You do not need to cut off the selvages because we can cut those off and trim them all at the same time. I’m going to take my one long strip, place it down, and place my pieced strip right over top, matching up the edges and the selvage. I match up the entire piece making sure it lays flat and there’s no wrinkle in the center. Most fabric You’ll be able to see the difference of the selvages to the regular fabric from the back of the fabric, but if not you can always make a mark so you’re not cutting into this selvage. From here we’re going to be able to just put that template down and draw lines and then cut along those lines. Or, if we have a plastic template cut out we’re going to be able to just use the template. To maximize my fabric I find it’s easier if you always start with the same fabric color on the bottom. It won’t matter which; we just need to choose one. Template plastic is fun to work with but it’s very clear. I’m going to color the edges so that you can see it. You might also want to do that for yourself, depending on how well you can see the plastic on the fabric. I’m going to take a Sharpie marker and just color the edgesA, and then be sure to let that dry before you put it up to your fabric. If you do have plastic templates cut for you I would recommend asking for a straight cut edge, not a beveled edge. A beveled edge is a little bit round and we want that straight edge like a normal ruler. We just don’t want it sharp. We’re not following the seam. We’re going to follow the bottom of the fabric. With that bottom line matched up I can cut this shape. The most important thing is to keep the bottom straight. I have the one edge off. From here I get to cut the second edge. We rotate that ruler, lining it it up to the second edge. Cut that next edge. Turn the ruler and cut. You’re going to be able to continue twisting this ruler as you go all the way down the fabric. As we cut our triangular pieces out we’re going to have a piece at the end that we will not be able to use and a piece at the other end. Depending on how long your fabric is, you’ll get either fifteen or sixteen of these little pie shapes. From here we get to remove fabric. Those top little triangles will just come right off. This technique does use more fabric and there is more waste, however, it is very accurate and very quick. We can take these little pieces and sew them together and I’ll show you this after. We’re going to have a pile of these different shapes. By cutting those pieces together we’ll already have the companion cut. I’ll take my pieces and put them all in little stacks. This is definitely a quick way of making these little pie shapes. Having that fabric well-pressed is going to help us not have to do any ironing, so we can put our iron away until all of the blocks are made. I have my little pieces I can put aside for another project and I have all of my piles facing up. We’re going to have two piles that have the ends attached to them. We’re going to finger-press these. I like to take the lightest one and press that fabric towards the darker triangle, and I’m only going to finger-press it. The starch is going to leave that seam in the position that we want. The darker ends I’ll press away from the triangle. Just finger-pressing this is going to go quick and easy. I now have all of my shapes ready to go. We’re going to be able to take this to the machine and sew them all together at the same time, and we’re going to chain-piece them. Make sure all of the fabrics are facing up. We can put our two stacks together The single triangle will be stitched towards the other. Take these two piles to the sewing machine. I recommend putting a new needle in your machine Something that is a little bit lightweight like an 8, a 9, even a 10. We’ll be stitching along the bias so we don’t want any pulling or snagging. A good sharp needle will work out fine. I’m going to start and end always sewing on a scrap piece of fabric. This will help those bias seams not be pulled to the bottom of the machine and will keep the threads nice and clean. It will not matter where you stitch on that scrap. We’re just stitching on it to hold the thread and we’re going to come off about two or three stitches. This little piece of fabric will not get under the needle because it’s already passed the needle. Now we get to sew our triangles together. The triangle points are going to match. I would recommend starting sewing at the tip and coming off, so I like to have my fabric set up at the machine just the way I’m going to be sewing it. Pieces from my left pile are going to go on the bottom. Pieces from my right pile are going to get flipped over. The points and edges are going to get matched up. Now I’m going to be able to sew on this side. I already have that thread secured and out of the way and my needle position is down. I can take that fabric and move it right up so that the needle is touching the edge. I want the fabric edge to be at ¼”, and that needle will line right up. We get to push that right in. I’m going to stitch coming right off the end. I’ll be able to just start sewing. Let the machine do all the work. Don’t push or pull the fabric. We’re going to be able to just stitch right down and come off that fabric point. We’ll be able to come and stitch right off that fabric. Leave the fabric in the machine and do a couple of stitches so you have a little bit of room for your thread. Pick up a bottom piece, flip over a top piece, have that point run right up to that needle, put the foot down, follow that edge and start sewing. Come right off that end. We’re going to always leave that last piece of fabric on. Just pick up our pieces, match and stitch. It’s important that you do all the seams in the same direction. If you twist them, when you open them up the triangles are going to be opposite. That’s why it’s really easy if we bring them to the machine in these piles. We can do all of the blocks at the same time. We’re going to make one long chain. When we’ve finished the last piece I’m going to need another piece of fabric to stitch on. I can take my first piece off and use that or use the second. This time I’m going to stitch on that fabric and stop somewhere in the center, and I’m going to leave the needle in the down position so that fabric is going to stay there. It’ll be ready for my next seam From here I’ll be able to cut all these pieces apart. Keep them all in the same direction as you cut. After we’ve trimmed those pieces apart, we’ll have two different piles, even though they were together. One pile will have one colored end; one pile will have another color. We still do not need to iron. We can finger-press right at the machine. Keep one pile to your left and the other pile to your right. The left pile: The seam allowance is going to be pressed towards the dark fabric. The piece on the right: The seam allowance is also being pressed towards that darker larger piece. I’m going to press as I do each piece. The two pieces are the same shape. The only difference is those bottom pieces. The points are going to go together up at the top. The seams are going to match up. You’ll be able to feel that those seams have been nestled together. At the top we’ll have two little dog ears poking out. The needle is going to start on the lefthand side of the dog ears. We’re going to be able to stitch all the way down that one edge. I’m going to stitch off of that piece of fabric a couple of stitches. My needle position is down. I’m going to drive that fabric right up until it hits the needle, and my fabric is going to run right along the edge of my ¼” foot. Foot down, and start sewing, coming right off of that end. Right at the machine I’m going to finger-press the left piece and the right piece. Flip my pieces so they match and then just drive that right back to that needle and stitch. I’m going to be able to do all of the pieces like this so I’ll have another long chain. We now have half of the block already sewn together. I’m going to take those and stack them all. By chain-piecing and keeping them all in the same direction, this will go together very quick and easy. When we turn it over we’re going to see the seams are going to want to go in the same direction and that’s what we’re going to continue pressing. You’ll be able to press it from the front side, but by looking from the back, you’ll know which way to finger-press it. All pieces are finger-pressed in the same direction. Both sides are the same. We’re going to be able to take one side, flip it over, and put it on the top. Those seams are gonna nestle into that center We’re going to be able to start on one end and stitch all the way down. I’m going to be able to do all of my blocks like this, one right after another. Before we press this I would recommend taking some of the threads apart right here in the center. I just want to take out a couple of those threads. I’m not going to go past that last row of stitching; I’m just going to go up to it. As you take out those stitches you’re going to find that that will want to lay flat. You will see that all of the seams are going to go in one direction. With the little finger-pressing that will lay really flat. Once these are all pressed up, we can square them up. The block can be squared up to approximately 10½”. Depending on your seam allowance, you might be able to get a little more or a little less. If this is 10½”, from the center point over we need 5¼”. I’m using a 12″ ruler and I’ve marked my 5¼” on all four of my measurements. I’ve even put a little center mark so I know exactly where I’m going to cut. You can put as many markings on your ruler as you need to keep yourself straight. We want a straight line going from center to center. We can mark that on the ruler so then every block is going to be the same. And we can trim these off. We now have a finished kaleidoscope block. We can now sew these together in rows. You can put them together so that the light and dark triangles are matching up. If you match up your light to light and dark to dark, you’re going to have a big block in the center. I’m going to sew them together so I have light and dark. The quilt looks quite different once you put all those blocks together. If we had all the same blocks done in the center, it would change the look of that block. We would have darks together and lights together. Depending on how you want to put the blocks together, the look is going to be very different. You can keep adding to this or you can put borders on it or even make it scrappy. Just keep in mind that each strip set is going to give you three blocks and maybe a half a block, depending on the width. And those little pieces? We can sew those little triangles together and make a little kaleidoscope. They would look really cute on the back of the quilt. It’s very easy to change the look of the block. We can change those corner pieces to be all the same or all different. We can even have them matching the arm. We can also have each of those triangle pieces a different color so it would be a great scrap buster. After all, we’re only sewing with a triangle and a ¼” seam allowance. I do hope you give it a try. Thank you for joining me today on SewVeryEasy. Feel free to subscribe and, as always, come on back. Let’s see what we’re sewing next time
in the sewing room. Bye for now!