Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Four-Lily Block Tutorial - Part 1

This is the first part of a tutorial for making the Four-Lily Block, inspired by a quilt top made by my grandmother, Lillian, sometime in the late 1960s or so.  I described finding this quilt top back in October 2012 (blogged here).

During the recent Blogger's Quilt Festival, I featured a new quilt based on this block, made possible with the design assistance of Sandi at Piecemeal Quilts.

We have collaborated on a pattern for this quilt, called "Thoroughly Modern Lily," which will be available for sale very soon.  In the meantime, I thought I would show you, step by step, how this block is put together and invite you to make one along with me!
Four-Lily Block
For a limited time, the templates to make this block will be available for download (link below).  Then in a couple weeks, when the pattern is for sale, the free PDF will no longer be available.  I hope you will take the opportunity to grab the templates and try this block!

Okay, I've said it a few times now, the T-word: Templates.  Or perhaps you are looking at the block and thinking of the C-word: Curves.  Are you cringing at the thought?  Not to worry!  There's no need to be intimidated.  I'm here to tell you that if I can do it, anybody can—and I am happy to show you how!

So let's get started.
This block consists of three fabrics: A light background (I used Kona Snow), and two other fabrics.  You'll want some contrast and variety between the other two fabrics (light/dark; larger scale print/smaller scale).  You don't need much fabric for one block; a quarter yard or fat quarter of each fabric will do.  The block measures 16-1/2 inches square, unfinished.

Download the Four-Lily Block PDF. (Edit:  The Thoroughly Modern Lily quilt pattern contains the templates used in this block.  Click the link to request the pattern and download.)

After downloading, open the file in a PDF reader, like Adobe Reader or PDF Complete.  Print out the pages at 100% (no scaling/actual size).  Check for correct size after printing by measuring Piece F.  It should measure 1-7/8 inches square, including the seam allowances (or maybe a tiny bit less, call it a scant 1-7/8 inches).

Assuming that's all good, go ahead and cut out all six pieces along the outermost lines (the light gray lines), which includes the seam allowances.  Notice the way those light gray outer lines are shaped a little differently at the pointy ends of Pieces B and C?  Cut them out just as they're shown.  It really makes life easier.

Now we're going to use more of those skills honed in elementary school as we trace these paper shapes onto card stock.  A cereal box or other lightweight cardboard will work fine.  After tracing, cut out your cardboard templates for Pieces A through F.

Press all your fabric.  Use spray starch, if you like (optional).

Next, we are going to trace the templates onto the fabric. But first, some things to note:
  • I used a Pilot Frixion pen (found at big box or office supply stores) for tracing onto fabric and also later when marking points used to match pieces before sewing.  The ball point marks smoothly and the lines are clearly visible.  With this type of pen, the ink disappears with heat, like that of an iron, so by the time you've pressed your block, the marks are gone.  I highly recommend the Frixion pen for this job, but feel free to use a different fabric marker, if you desire.
  • When I made the quilt and was cutting multiple pieces, I found it easiest to sub-cut the yardage into smaller width of fabric (WOF) strips and then trace the templates on those strips.  I've applied that method to making this one block as well.  If you're using a FQ, it will be just a little different, but the same principle applies, as explained below.
  • For example, for Pieces A and B, I cut an 8-1/2-inch WOF strip from the background fabric.  Keeping it folded selvage to selvage (double layer of fabric), I then traced Pieces A and B onto the background fabric.  If you're using FQs instead of yardage for this block, the same method applies, but you would fold your piece in half so it measures about 9 x 20 with the fold along the longer edge.  By tracing the pieces as shown, I could use my quilt ruler and standard rotary cutter to cut along some of the straight edges and cut the pieces apart.  Once the pieces are roughly separated, you can then use a scissors to cut out the remainder of the shapes. 
(Pieces A and B traced onto fabric - click to enlarge)
(Cut along straight edges to separate, then scissor cut)
  • When you are cutting your template pieces from a double layer of fabric, take care that the fabrics don't shift as you're cutting, especially when cutting curves.  You  may wish to pin along the edges of the pieces after you've rough-cut them apart from each other.  I did that at first, but then I found that if I just took my time and handled the pieces carefully, it wasn't a problem (and I didn't need to pin).
Okay, let's continue.  You will need a total of 4 of Piece A and 4 of Piece B from your background fabric.  Again, above is how I arranged those templates and traced them.  Since my fabric was doubled, tracing each piece twice yielded the 4 pieces needed for each A and B.

Next, you will need a total of 4 of Piece C and 4 of Piece D from your outer print fabric (the lily shaped pieces and the arcs that join them).  Here's how I traced those onto my fabric, along with Piece F.  You can see that I alternated the orientation of the pieces (up and down) for efficient use of the fabric.  If you're using FQs, you will probably need to trace Pieces D and F off to the side instead of above Piece C.
(Pieces C, D, and F traced onto fabric - click to enlarge)
(Alternating orientation of pieces)
The fabric is doubled, so tracing each piece twice yields the 4 pieces of each C and D needed.  You only need 1 Piece F square per block.
(Take care when cutting double fabric layers, pin if needed)
The above photo shows where I've pinned along the edges on the uncut pieces on the right side (click to enlarge) to prevent the double layer of fabric shifting as the pieces are cut out.

Finally, you will need a total of 4 of Piece E from your inner print fabric.  Here's how I traced that:
(Piece E traced onto fabric - alternating orientation)
You'll see that I utilized the straight upper and lower edges as I alternated placement of Piece E (one less edge to trace/cut).  Again, the doubled fabric yields 4 pieces.

That's it - the cutting part is over!  You have all the pieces you need to make a block.

Next in Part 2:  Sewing together the four Corner Units.  (Hint: We'll be "Thinking of U!")

Make sense so far?  Let me know in the comments, and if you have any questions I'll do my best to answer and clarify. 


Sharon said...

Wow! What a fantastic block! I am definitely going to do this

Sara said...

I truly excited for you P.!! How wonderful to have it as a pattern now:):):):)

Lorna McMahon said...

This is a great tutorial and I will be following along with parts 2, 3, etc. Great block - love the curves! When you've done curves once, you're over the fear and want to do more. Fabulous design!

Karen said...

Yay! Fabulous tutorial :) This block is awesome

Anonymous said...

You cannot imagine my delight & surprise when I followed a link from Piecemeal Quilts' Blog and discovered you Block/Tutorial. This is IT! This is the block I have been looking for since 2007! My Mother-in-Law had made 2 quilts (and one quilt top) using this block. Ever since I saw them I have been searching every pattern/block book, Internet site and Quilt Show for any information and have never found it. It is awesome that these two ladies lived just over 100 miles apart and made this block into quilts at about the same time! I'm looking forward to following your Tutorial.