Lately I’ve been playing catch-up after losing my favorite sewing machine and then my childhood one as well I’ve been stuck in a bit of a rut. I was ahead on my Sweet Treats QAL blocks and while it helped to keep things going even when I didn’t have a sewing machine, I’m now behind but will be posting the next one soon so don’t fret. I’m also a day over 39 weeks pregnant and feeling all that comes along with this phase of pregnancy while trying to make special memories with our kids before she arrives and much of the focus is on baby girl. (Very ready to have her here and to start recovering!).
In the meantime, though, I’ll hopefully have the energy to get some things posted that have been in the making for a while now. First up, the Moon Shine Block!
This block is a sister block to the Starry Sky Block so make sure and check that one out, too. Turns out it’s more of a pain to duplicate and edit an existing pattern than it is to just write a new one (for me at least). I’m not sure how many revised versions I sent out to my testers over silly mistakes but thank God they all kept with me!
On a side note- if anyone is interested in pattern testing for me, please submit a form under the Contact Me page with your email so I can contact you when I’m ready. I love working with new people and making new quilty friends, so don’t think you aren’t qualified! Anyone and everyone is welcome).
Adding curves to a foundation paper piecing pattern may seem intimidating at first, but trust me when I say it’s simple and painless. I did realize, though, that it requires some pictures to help explain the process. This pattern is available in a 12″, 6″ and 2.5″ sized block. Take advantage of the coloring page to plan your quilt out! For this tutorial, I will be making the 6 inch block so that it’s easy to photograph.
What You Need:
- Carol Doak’s Foundation Paper (I’m out and regular printer paper tends to pull out stitches, so either works but just be careful)
- Background fabric
- Star points fabric
- Moon fabric
- Star center fabric
- Thread, I like to use Aurifil
- Fabric scissors, I use Tula Pink Fabric Shears
- Sewing machine, seam ripper, paper scissors, pencil or fabric marker
- Free pattern download HERE
- Good music in the background… I’ll be playing Find You Here by Ellie Holcomb over and over and over because it’s my favorite right now.
This tutorial forced me to clean my table off :). It was long overdue! Print the whole pattern or just the pages you need for the block size you’ll be making. You can find the block sizes on the title page where the page numbers are listed for each one. Make sure you print at 100% and check scale if needed. I’m making the 6 inch block, so I printed pages 8-9. On page 8, you’ll find the curved pieces which we will be working with first. Cut them out and set page 9 aside uncut for now.
Make sure you do not cut off the 1/4″ seam allowance. Choose your fabric, I forgot to grab a star center for the picture but you can see my choices below:
Place A1: Piece 1 right side up on the moon fabric, and A1: Piece 2 right side up on the front of your background fabric. Trace and cut. Fussy cut and pay attention to fabric direction if applicable.
Chop chop. Tadaaaaa! Love my Tula scissors 🙂
Now, to keep your curved piecing accurate but still flexible to work with while running it through the machine, we are going to pin it in three places. My curves are never ever perfect; I try hard but don’t freak out when things are a little off. We are only human anyway, so don’t be hard on yourself here if you’re new to curves.
Fold both pieces in half and crease in the very center, right where the seam is that we will be sewing. I use my fingernail to make the crease, only about 1/4″ to 1/2″ long.
Below are the creases. Open the pieces back up and align the creases.
Flip the background piece over right side down on top of the moon fabric. Align creases and place one pin as shown below. This is the best way to pin for curved piecing.
Now, twist the inner corner of the background fabric around so that it aligns with the moon corner. This will not lie flat and will probably take some wiggling and readjusting to keep it from shifting.
Repeat for the other side, too. It’ll look like this when it’s ready to be sewn:
Tighten things up and change to your 1/4″ foot if you have one. If you don’t, I’d recommend using some cute washi or just regular old painter’s tape to mark where the 1/4″ seam will be so you’ve got an easy-to-see guide. I’ve marked with a Sharpie before so just do what works for you. This will let you give more focus to manipulating the fabric as you’re sewing.
You’ll be seeing lots of up-close pics of my nubby nail-biter fingernails from here on out. I at least painted them so I feel pretty in the hospital, but who knows if it’ll last that long! They feel so long after a day or two even though normal people think they’re super short. How can you even scratch and itch?! lol.
Begin your seam with the moon fabric on the bottom and the back side of the background fabric on top. See the pic below if that’s confusing. Our moon is our convex curve (the curve moves outward toward the background) and our background curve is our concave curve (it has a cutout like a cave for the convex curve to hide in). Always keep the convex curve on the bottom.
Remove that first pin once your foot and needle is down. Use your fingers to gently pull the curved edges of the fabric a little more straight than it wants to be, aligning the edges and holding in place like shown. Sew slowly to the center pin.
It’s a good habit to put your needle down every time you stop but I forget a lot! Adjust the remaining fabric along the seam as you did for the first half, then remove the center pin.
Keep edges aligned using your fingers, and realize that there will be lumps (like you can see between my fingertips). As you go around the curve, pull the seam straight and you’ll keep from sewing puckers into your curve. In motion, that means my pointer finger (closest in the photo) will be pushing the curve toward my right so that the seam appears to be a straight edge. Keep pressure on the fabric with all fingers and keep your thumb out of the way.
Trim your threads and we are ready to carefully press our curve! (See pics for front and back views of what your curve should look like right now).
Place the moon fabric back side down on your ironing board (or towel if you can’t get up and down like me 🙂 ). Oh, and as I was about to sew this block, I found that my iron had also kicked the bucket so I ran to my parent’s house and borrowed theirs. As much fun as it is to buy new stuff, it isn’t fun to buy it all at once. Lol. Hopefully they don’t need it soon!
I don’t recommend using steam for this. A dry, hot iron is best. I’m the steam queen, which is probably what did my iron in since we have hard water. I know how hard it is not to steam things when you really weirdly love to steam all. the. quilt. blocks. but please just dump the water and back away from sink. You’ll thank me. Yeah I know it smells good. It’ll be okay. 😉 Bahaha! Surely there are other steam queens out there who know what I mean.
Put the nose of your iron under the background fabric. Using a back and forth motion and medium (NOT heavy) pressure, poke your way back and forth from the center of the block to the outer edge of the seam. Go back to the center and repeat, moving outward to the other outer edge of the seam.
Once you’ve poked the seam allowance so that it begins to stand up a bit, it’s safe to slowly press that background piece flat.
Done! When I first began curves, I always had background fabric hanging over the edge to trim away. If you’re dealing with that, just trim it and keep moving. You get better the more you do it! Now my curves look like this before any trimming:
It’s time to cut out the foundation paper piecing parts of the block. Yay! Make sure you keep the 1/4″ seam allowances in tact on this one, too. They are crazy important.
Crease on every line that you’ll be sewing a seam on. I use my nail to make the creased areas extra weak when I’m using regular printer paper because it’ll rip your stitches when you remove the papers if you don’t.
You don’t need to write anything on your paper, I just did to help you understand what you’re looking at in the picture. Feel free to label if you need to, though.
We will be attaching the curved piece to section A1. Flip section A over so that the printed side is down. Use a glue stick or pin to keep curved piece in place, making sure the curved piece is attached to the paper with its right side up. It needs to line up with the outer three edges of paper piece A1, meaning it’ll stick up a 1/4″ into section A2 for the seam you’ll be sewing.
Sorry, you’ll have to turn your head to see this picture right. There’s a glitch that won’t allow me to rotate it and I’ve tried for two days, so I guess it’s stuck!
Now, this won’t be a really in-depth tutorial for foundation paper piecing at this point. I’m sure you know how to do it, so I’ll show you pics of my progression through the block. No, I don’t go in alphabetical order for the sections because I’m a rebel like that. Not saying you should follow my example, but it’s not always a big deal.
With your paper still face down and the curved fabric face up (see below) lay the star point fabric down right sides together with the curve. Flip the whole thing over carefully and make sure no fabric is folded and tucked under the foot of the sewing machine. Sew the seam using short stitches if your machine allows you to adjust stitch length. (Mine doesn’t, it’s just a cheap temporary machine while I save up for my dream machine so don’t worry if you’re in the same boat as me. We just have to be careful when it comes time to rip!).
Completed Section A
Flip it over and trim. It’s best to try with a rotary cutter, ruler and mat but I use my scissors.
All trimmed and -yeah- not perfect. But still good!
When piecing section C, make sure you stop and backstitch where the line ends as shown below.
Piece it all together! Use the back of your seam ripper point to score the lines of the seams without snagging or breaking your thread. This will help the papers come out easier.
Press and lay a stack of fabric or a book on top for a few minutes while it cools to keep it nice and flat. You’re done! (Seam allowances aren’t shown in this pic, but they’re there).
I hope you like this block as much as I do! If I had time I’d make a whole quilt of it. Here’s how a 24″ mini quilt made from 16 total 6″ blocks would sort of look:
And if I didn’t have a love/hate relationship with foundation paper piecing, I would definitely make this quilt! But FPP is my frenemy, so probably not happening.
A huge thank you to everyone who helped me out by testing the pattern and making gorgeous sample blocks! Check them out:
You are all so talented and giving! I can’t thank you enough for all the time and effort you each spent with this block. The pattern writing process was the messiest it’s ever been for me and you all stuck with it! Thanks to everyone for written revisions and block samples alike. You are the bomb!