Make a 3D Tumbling Blocks Quilt with Rob!


One of the very first quilt designs that caught
my eye was the tumbling blocks quilt. I thought it was super cool. But boy have I been afraid
to try those Y seams. And as a matter of fact I still am. We won’t do them today. Let’s
get started. Let’s not be afraid of Y seams our entire
life but we’re just not going to tackle them today. I’m still a very, very beginning
quilter with a lot of experience. How does that sound? What we’re going to use today
to create the tumbling blocks quilt is some basic strips and a 60 degree triangle ruler.
And I have to tell you, thank you to all of the other educators out there. I spent a lot
of time on the internet looking at everybody else’s approaches to how to make tumbling
blocks quilts. And I saw a couple different artists putting strips together to create
a very three dimensional tumbling blocks. And I thought terrific so I wanted to give
you an approach that way. But we’re going to use a pre cut today. I have a Tuscona Fabric
by Northcott. It’s a really cool fabric line. If you look here at the gray version,
you can see it’s very mottled very light so it reads like a solid. Now this particular
2 ½ inch wide strip we’re going to use the whole darn thing. But one of the keys
to it is it actually only has one of each color. So there’s 40 different colors in
here. And as a matter of fact everytime I touch this thing it gets all over me so I’m
just going to kind of there load myself up so I”m ready for the rest of the day. That
way I am properly quilted, right? Ok so we don’t have to worry about the fuzz anymore,
we got that out of the way. I want you to get about four yards of your neutral or your
background of the gray. I used it in all the strips. I used it in the binding. I used it
on the borders and all of the backing. And of course you just need one of these. Now with the fact that we have one of these
we’re also going to be making pairs of strips. So our first thing we’re going to do before
we cut it is we’re going to organize it by our colors. A lot of times when I teach
workshops I find folks get very concerned when I start talking color theory. So please
raise your right hand if you’re like me and you have failed color theory at home.
Ok all of you are probably sitting out there, at least most of you, with your hand ups.
That’s awesome. I don’t know a thing about color theory so I say. But what I will say
is I have a strong opinion and I do know what I like. Now what I want you to do today is
just look through your strip pack as you unpack it. And we’re going to choose 13 fabrics
for each family. The light family, the medium family and the dark family. And in this project
it’s all relative. So for example this one here is a very light blue so I”m going to
build it there for now. And later on I’m going to find that this one right here is
obviously much darker so that’s going to be a dark blue. Maybe somewhere in the middle
I’ll call this one the medium blue.I’m going to go through all of the colors, the
purples, the greens, the blues, the pinks and do this with all of my strips so I have
13 light, 13 medium and 13 dark. And funny enough I think this is the one color that
I did actually end up leaving out on my project because I had 40 pieces and you only need
39. I said you’d use the whole thing and I guess I was fibbing a little bit wasn’t
I? Now I want to show you how to construct. So
let’s get this color management out of the way. I want you to remember do your best.
Colors are only relative to each other, ok? Now in order to build these I am going to
grab one light, one medium, and one dark from that pile. And I’m really trying to keep
the saturation levels the same. Let me show you in the quilt. Up in this area, I have
the lightest of my lights, the lightest of my mediums and the lightest of my darks. Down
on the very bottom corner, you may not even be able to see it, but down in here I’m
going to have the darkest of the lights, the darkest of the mediums and the darkest of
the dark. So they’re going to travel in saturation like that together. So what you’re
looking at right here are the three last of my darkest fabrics but I have my dark, I have
my medium and I have my light all represented. I need 22 inch long strips of these so that
I can have two strips for each color because I need to work in pairs. So I”m going to
quickly stack these up so that that folded end is right there. Then I’m just going
to use a ruler and a rotary cutter and I’m going to trim about ⅛ or a ¼ inch off.
I’m just cutting the folds out of everything. Yep I did, I cut all the folds out of everything
so that I now have two of each color. Then what I’m going to do is I”m going to refer
to these, oh and I forgot to point out, there is a printable in the description below that
will show you how to follow this sorting as well. So let’s call this fabric real quick
A. So I’m going to set A here. I’m going to set the other half of A aside for now.
Now I’m going to put B here. I’m going to put B in a second pile there. I’m going
to put C here, right? And I’m going to take C and build a new pile. With C I had one leftover
A, it comes right back. And if you look carefully you have three sets on the table all from
those strips. And you have companions. And then what we’re going to do, I pre cut down
some of that yardage into one inch wide strips of my gray. So I”m going to now join in
here a gray strip between the two colors. And all of my sewing is going to happen from
this top straight edge. That way we have a really good clean starting point and we’re
going to sew down this way. Let me show you here at the machine. Oh and before I run over
there I’m going to start my iron getting nice and hot because we want to do a really
good job when we’re sewing our straight lines especially if we’re going to be cutting
them with a triangle later on. We want to make sure that we get all of our lines really
nicely sewn and pressed so let’s get our iron hot. We’re going to go right sides together here.
It doesn’t matter which one you start on. And when I use a pinked or a hills and valleys
if you don’t know that term pinked. These edges are precut. I include that pre cut edge
up in my seam allowance . You can do a backstitch but we’re going to cut it off in a second
anyway because we’re going to make triangles, remember. So I’m going to sew one strip
here. I’ve got a nice even pace. I’m just guiding those. I’m looking at both strips
going against the seam guide together nicely. And the ends down here, the selvedges may
or may not line up. It’s ok. We’re going to have leftovers. And maybe look behind me
over my left shoulder here while I”m sewing and look at the quilt. See those borders.
The leftovers are used in the borders. And I’ll talk to you on how to make those today
too. Now one of the keys though to good craftsmanship in quilting is to take the time to press after
each seam. So as I bring this over to my ironing station I held the right sides still together.
I’m going to come in here with a hot iron and I”m going to start to lift on that little
gray strip. I’m putting the bed of the iron up against that thread and then I’m just
going to push it right over. Just like that. Now I’m going to grab the other fabric that
was meant for this strip. I’m going to stitch it on as well. And go ahead and do that for
all of your piles. You’ll have 13 different piles. Build them all out and then we can
go back and do our cutting of our triangles.Ok so then again I would come to the ironing
board. I have the new added on piece up there so I’m going to do the exact same technique.
But as we cut and build our triangles for the actual tumbling block units what I want
to do is I want to keep working all from the same families. So instead of taking the time
right now to sew together the last of my dark families let’s go ahead and just organize
these up for later. We can always sew those back together. And let’s go ahead and grab
one of our other family groupings so that you can see this all come together, right?
This will be fun, I like this one a lot because I like that bright green in there. Now I just safety pinned them together to
get them through the TSA security checkpoint. I tell you they love my suitcase when I come
through. We’re going to cut these one at a time now. Ok I don’t want you to try to
cut these all at the same time. Accuracy is pretty important in this project. It’s not
complicated but accuracy does really help. Ok so the first thing I want to do now is
whenever I’m cutting with my triangle ruler is I’m looking at a couple of different
things. First of all I want my tip of my ruler up along the tip up here. But any of these
lines I can see I want them running as parallel as possible to the seam allowances I’ve
created, right? So I’ve got a seam allowance here and if this strip is constructed correctly
or at least the way my seam allowance works, right down here at the bottom is basically
5 ¼ inches. And that’s important to know because we might need some gray strips for
our border later. Those would also be that same width which for me is 5 ¼. Now the first
cut I’m going to make right now is I’m going to slice right off of here from that
edge. I want you to get four triangles out of each family set. If you are comfortable
with your left hand you can flip this over. I’m not real comfortable so I’m going
to do is anyway and try and go real slow like yay. And then what would be easier is if I
bring this this way and then keep my other cuts. Now I am flipping the triangle over,
you probably noticed. And again I’m lining the short point up up there because I want
these triangles to be as accurate as possible. And what we’re going for please is we need
two different triangles. So a light green tip, a dark blue tip there as you see. And
just to speed things up to build the actual tumbling block unit you’re going to need
one of each structure from each strip. So we need those two for that family. I need
two more here so let’s just cut these nice and quick. And go over some of the rules.
Look at your lines, cut straight, cut safe. Spin your pieces, right? Move your work not
your ladder. No I’m kidding. You know I used to work construction. They sure like
to tease you if they know you’re a quilter on a job site, I tell you what. Oh and another
thing, don’t do what I was doing. I had my triangles below the strips I was cutting.
I had no idea what I was cutting through. That was not good management. And as I said
earlier looking at those borders. You want to save these and leave that angle on there.
You can see where I’m going with that. Ok and here’s our last strip. So let’s get
this cut real quick. And then I’m going to show you the magic of the way these come
together. Ok so those of you who are really nervous about that left handed cut we just
do it this way. And anytime I’ve moved my ruler or template I always take a second to
really realign. And sewing these triangles together is really easy as well. Super fun.
Ok like I’ve said I’ve got my border side set aside. I have two of each of the triangles.
And now we need to build the blocks. I don’t have a great recipe for what’s
the dark side or the light side or the medium side goes to because as you can see with this
particular square I’ve got my darkest and my lightest together. But what I can tell
you is I need the common colors to touch. So if this is the dark on that side then I’m
going to bring this dark over here to touch. . Now I bring this blue in to touch that blue.
It’s one touch, two of the same colors touching, then two of the same colors touching. Ok so
then I have to get, because those two blues are touching, I’m going to get my green
out here to touch now, ok? Now that those two greens have touched I’m going for the
dark blue. The dark blue comes around and then the last one would be that fill in. So
I’ve probably explained that in about the most complicated manner possible. But what
we’re looking for is that box in a box. And when you’re looking at these on the
table they’re really on point like this. So that’s what you’re looking at right
there and please go ahead and take the time to put in all of your rows, all of your triangles
in your quilt as you go because when we build our construction we’re not actually sewing
them in this direction to put them together. But we’re going to build columns. So in
the middle of the quilt is probably the easiest way for you to see. But there’s a long seam
allowance that comes right through those, right? So all of these are built in these
wonderful long skinny strips. So we’re just mounting together the sides of the triangles. Before I show you how to sew let’s talk
about the all over layout here too real quick. Because this quilt can really change sizes
easy within the same amount of yardage. I did three, we’re going to call them hexagons
at the moment because they really are hexagons. One, two, three, and then I dropped the next
one. This one and this one are the same. I dropped it right over here. One, two, three,
so it’s like three and a stagger, three. You could have gone four and a stagger, four
and it would have been more of a square quilt. I played with that as well. But I wanted to
show you these fun borders. So there’s a couple more little things we did on the side.
So this was the completed hexagon here and this was the completed hexagon here. So I
had a couple of pieces leftover that I was able to use here to carry the color. But that’s
where I dropped in that gray piece. That’s why knowing that 5 ¼ was important. So I
could actually make straight gray triangles to fill in the sides so that I had the look
of the point. On my graph paper I really liked this point to come together because I thought
the three dimensionality really came together fun. So do all of your design work so that
you can make your sewing really really simple. Now back to what I was saying. This here is
that major seam allowance of the columns that we’re going to put together. So if I was
sewing two of these triangles together right here I am simply going to look at the way
they match up. I’m going to flip them right sides together, ok? And I’m going to go
right over to my sewing machine. For me it’s that really cool skinny gray strip that helps
bring that three dimensionality together. So as I’m approaching the machine I’m
going ahead and I’m just marrying those little seams or nesting those seams together
like that. You’re on the bias so I don’t want you to push or pull and please do lock
your seams together for these. It makes life so much easier. We’re going to sew with
an accurate quarter inch seam allowance through there. And then my method was to go ahead
and to cut that. I would return over to my board. I would press it like yay. And then
I drop it back into where it was in the column. And I grab my next triangle. I lay it on here
like this. I’m double checking my seams in there to make sure those grays look great.
And then again I’m going to my sewing machine. I have a real strong feel for trying to keep
the body or the bulk of the quilt on the feed dogs. So if you noticed I flipped this over
so that the new piece is the piece on top. It keeps the lighter weight that way and allows
my feed dogs to do my work when I’m doing this bias sewing. Ok so your construction
is just really wonderful. Straight lines as you go through for the rest of the quilt.
It’s a very enjoyable process. And I have to say I’m incredibly excited about the
way that the whole three dimension look came together. Now I want to give you a few more moments
of instruction on the borders before I let you go to your sewing rooms today. So let’s
see, it might be easiest if you can see it right here over by my dear friend Jerry Garcia.
In the borders I tried to keep the colors similar to each other in the location. A couple
of the border pieces are some of the leftover strips from the colors I was using. And one
of them is an all new color introduction. I want to say that maybe this color down here
isn’t seen in the rest of the quilt. It was another strip I made but it didn’t fall
into my layout. So I really did use almost everything when it comes to that 2 ½ wide
pre cut packet. But anyway as you look through here, oh gosh that’s going to be confusing.
Let’s look at it this way. Let’s just move this out of the way and make it really
easy for you all to understand at home. As I was using my scrap pieces I also had some
scraps that were leftover from those one inch strips. So to make it all consistent what
I really did is I took one, my first strip I stitch on here I’m going to do it really
raw or loose because I’m dealing with this when I flip this open I’m going to have
this new seam allowance direction. So what I’m doing for this one is I’m going to
leave it long. I’m going to go to the machine and I’m going to sew this on real quick.
It’s kind of like my slice a block trick. But this one we’re going to want to be a
little bit more accurate because we want those strips to be the same width on the borders.
So as that’s made like that, I would press it. But after it’s been pressed I want to
trim it so I know where to line up for the next time. So I come here using the outside
edge but I’m also looking at this inside line because everytime I can make sure I’m
cutting as square and straight as possible, the more chances of having an accurate looking
quilt when I’m done. Notice I said chances. I’ll tell you though I’ve been making
quilts like mad this last couple of years and my accuracy is definitely improving with
each project I do, ok. So let’s get this last piece on here for you. Now this is going
to come together just like this. And I will tell you the first time I did it I missed
it. I just, this is a hard seam for me to always remember. What is really is is when
we start to fold this over is it’s like it cheats. If I line it up perfect edge to
edge, you might not even be able to see that gray on the cutting board, sorry about that.
But if I line those tips up perfect when it opens it’s off my a quarter. So I’ve had
to learn to kind of cheat about a quarter of an inch in both directions. Now I’m going
to go over to the sewing machine and stitch this together. While I’m doing this if you
would say a quick prayer for me that it comes down nicely I would really appreciate that
because I’m trying to remember exactly how I did this and I think it was the quarter
of an inch cheat that I did. Again don’t pull on these because they’re on the bias.
Let it go through nice and even. And amen, and let’s see how it worked. So we lay it
open, oh yes. And if I hit that with an iron it would actually look terrific. So that is the work and yes it is a quarter
of an inch cheat that will make those line up and then all you have to do is just cut
them into the right length so that you can position them to fill in the two sides of
your super cool 3-D tumbling blocks quilt. Wow. Ok now I thought that was going to be
an easy one and it really is easy construction. But there were a lot of steps so just take
it slow. That’s why we love YouTube here. You can hit pause. You can hit rewind. And
as a matter of fact what I’d like to hear from all of you, I would like to hear in the
comments below today, what was the first quilt pattern that you fell in love with but were
also afraid to try? And we will see you next time right here at Man Sewing. Thanks for being a Man Sewing fan. It’s
great to have you out there encouraging me to create fantastic new content. If you’ve
missed any of the videos we’ve got links for you here and here. And when you’re checking
those out make sure you’re subscribed. We don’t want you to miss any of the action.