- Print out of this PDF template for the seahorse appliqué
- Fusible web, such as Soft Fuse or Wonder Under
- Fabric marking pen or pencil
- Pencil or pen for tracing on fusible web (my favorite is a Staedtler lead holder)
- Fat eighths of Fabri-Quilt‘s Chartreuse, Turquoise, Coral, Aqua, Lapis Blue, and White solids*
- Thread of your preference for appliquéing Lapis Blue seahorse, either matching or contrast
- Recommended: Mary Ellen’s Best Press (or your favorite starch)
- Recommended: tear away stabilizer
- Recommended: Appliqué presser foot and 1/4″ presser foot
- Optional: Quilter’s Magic Wand
- General sewing instruments such as rulers, scissors, rotary cutter, cutting mat, sewing machine, iron, needle and thread for piecing
*While I don’t normally pre-wash my quilting cottons, I do recommend pre-washing these dyed cottons with like colors to avoid color bleed
Before cutting, I recommend spraying your fabric liberally with Best Press (or similar). Let it dry thoroughly, and then press with steam. The steam will activate the starch and your fabric will be nice and crisp. This will help stabilize it, as this block will end up with a lot of bias in it.
- (2) 2″ x WOF strips; subcut into (8) 2″ x 3.5″ rectangles and (4) 2″ squares
- (2) 2-7/8″ squares
- Chartreuse: (same as white)
- (2) 2″ x WOF strips; subcut into (8) 2″ x 3.5″ rectangles and (4) 2″ squares
- (2) 2-7/8″ squares
- Coral – (1) 2″ x WOF strip; subcut into (8) 2″ squares
- Turquoise – (3) 2″ x WOF strips; subcut into (4) 2″ x 3.5″ rectangles and (20) 2″ squares
- Aqua – (1) 7″ square (or more… will be trimmed to 6.5″ after appliquéing the seahorse)
- Lapis Blue – set aside for the moment, this will be used for the sea horse
- Seam allowance is 1/4″
- Block finishes to 12″ (that means it is really 12.5″)
- Material for this block was provided by Fabri-Quilt as part of the “Fabri-Quilt New Block Blog Hop 2015”
Applique Center Block:
Print the PDF pattern for the seahorse. Set scale to 100%, or turn scaling off. Make sure the printed design is the correct size by measuring the reference square; it should be 1″ on all sides. If your print out is a bit off, it should be okay as long as the seahorse itself is no more than about 5.5″ from top to bottom.
Trace the seahorse onto the smooth side of the fusible web, it has already been reversed for you. Don’t worry, your tracing doesn’t have to be exact! You can make up for crooked lines while you are cutting him out. Don’t cut it out just yet though!
To reduce stiffness in the finished block, cut out some of the fusible web from the center of the seahorse. Be sure to leave at least 1/4″ of fusible webbing inside the traced lines. Again, don’t cut the seahorse out yet!
Rough-cut the seahorse shape out of the fusible so that we don’t waste any more than is necessary. Some products have a tendency to shed their paper backing if they are jostled too much while cutting out the shapes though, so make sure to leave a good margin around the outside. We need the paper backing to stay on so that we have a line to cut on.
Iron the fusible web to the wrong side of your fabric; since we are using solids though, there really isn’t a wrong side here. Follow the instructions provided for your fusible, as they are all a bit different. Be sure the rough side of the fusible web is against the fabric before you iron, you don’t want the glue gunking up your iron! (if you have an accident though, dryer sheets work great for getting the goop off your hot iron)
Now you can finally cut the little guy out. Cut directly on the line you traced onto the fusible web’s paper. Leave the paper on until you are ready to fuse him to the background material.
You don’t really have to cut your Aqua fabric if you don’t want to. As long as you have at least a 7″ square it is fine. Just center your little seahorse with enough room that you can trim the block down to 6.5″ when you are done. Depending on the type of stitch you are using, the fabric may shrink up a bit in the stitching process… so we don’t want to trim it to size until the appliqué is complete.
Now it is time to stitch! Play around with stitches and stitch length on some scrap first, and try out stitching with and without stabilizer to see the difference. With all these points on Mr. Seahorse, you will probably want to just do a straight stitch close to the edge of the fabric. I did a straight stitch, and set my length to 1.5. You can use any stitch you want though, blanket, straight, satin… it’s up to you! I highly suggest using a tear away stabilizer, especially if you want to use a heavier stitch (like satin stitching) to keep your stitches looking nice. Without stabilizer, the thread will pull the fabric and cause puckering and bunching. Even with a straight stitch, stabilizer really helps the stitches look better on lighter weight fabrics.
Now that he is all done, it is time to trim the block to 6.5″. Be sure the seahorse is centered! If you want to know where the center point of the seahorse is, just fold your pattern in half, and then in half again. You can then poke a pencil through the center to mark a dot, and use that to align your ruler. (my little guy ended up slightly higher than center because of carelessness… don’t make my mistakes)
Tip: If your machine has a “needle down” function, you should enable it. This will let you easily pivot your fabric without breaking your stitching line. If your machine lacks this feature, you will have to do this manually. Never turn/move your fabric with the needle up!
Tip: Most importantly, go slow! Speed will follow accuracy, but accuracy seldom follows speed. For the tighter turns you will find your self taking one stitch, pivoting, one more stitch, pivoting…
Tip: An appliqué presser foot is very beneficial. These feet are open-toed to give you a good view of what you are doing. The foot for my machine is metal, and has a few markings at the center and corners to help your eye follow the shape you are stitching.
On the wrong side of the fabric, draw a diagonal line from one corner to the opposite corner on 16 of the turquoise 2″ squares and all of the white, coral, and chartreuse 2″ squares.
Chain Piecing Tip: To make piecing go faster, group your fabric pieces together for each of the units that make up the border (there will be four pieces of fabric in each stack).
Start by placing a white square on top of a chartreuse (green) rectangle. Align it with the top of the rectangle, with the drawn line running from from lower left to upper right as seen in the photo. Stitch along the drawn line, and then trim the seam allowance to 1/4″ with either scissors or a rotary cutter. I find it faster to use scissors and just eyeball the 1/4″. If it isn’t exact, it doesn’t matter. Press towards the green fabric.
Tip: Don’t start stitching at the corner, as the point could be sucked down into your needle plate. This is true when stitching triangles too! Always start at a blunt edge if you can. A straight-stitch needle plate is also helpful.
Next, add a turquoise square to the bottom of the green rectangle, with the drawn stitching line running parallel to the first. Once again, stitch along the diagonal line and then trim the seam allowance to 1/4″. Press the seam towards the green fabric.
Repeat this process, creating four each of the four units as seen in the photos. To make piecing go faster, you can chain piece everything before stopping to trim off the corners, but you will need to hold the first square out of the way while stitching the second. Don’t worry, it is easy! If you choose to trim after stitching both squares, this is what your unit will look like before trimming.
Important: Press all seams towards the green center fabric and away from the white center fabric. This is important as we will want the seams to interlock when we stitch them together.
Once all of the units have been completed, we stitch the units together in pairs. Put the left two units right sides together, and then slide the seams against one another between your fingers until you feel them lock into place. You will know when it happens, as the seam will suddenly smooth out between your fingertips.
Place a pin to hold the seam in place and then repeat this for the second seam. If we were doing this with two straight seams we would place the pin at an angle across the seams, but since these seams are already at an angle you can just put the pin perpendicular to the edge of the fabric. If your fabric isn’t completely smooth after pinning, don’t worry about it. As you can see in this photo, the white fabric wasn’t exactly laying flat against the green. When stitching, you can pull the fabric taught to cure this.
Time to stitch! Switch to your 1/4″ presser foot now if you have one.
Align the two turquoise (blue) corners, and start stitching from that end. Doing this will allow you to gently pull the fabric taught, taking care of any gaps like the one in the picture above. Repeat this for all units, stitching them into left and right pairs. You will end up with four each of the units pictured below. Press the seams open between the units.
Now, repeat this process again to stitch those two units together. This time though, you will start stitching from the coral (red) end instead of the blue. Press the seams open between the units. You will end of with four of the units below.
Gather up your remaining four 2″ turquoise squares, your turquoise rectangles, and the four 2-7/8″ squares. First we will be making half square triangles out of the green and white squares. To do this, we need to once again mark lines for stitching. This time however, our stitches will not be along the center diagonal like before. Instead we will need to stitch two lines, both 1/4″ from the center line.
Note: You will only need to mark two of the squares. I chose to mark the white squares for ease of visibility, but it is up to you which set you mark.
There are a few different ways to go about making this mark. There are lots of speciality rulers out there to help you, but my favorite is the Quilter’s Magic Wand. It is fairly inexpensive, as it runs about $5. I highly suggest picking one up if you need to make a lot of markings like this. With this ruler you simply need to line up the etched line with the two points of the square, and then make marks on either side of the ruler. Easy!
If you don’t have this handy tool there are a couple ways to do this. You can make a single mark from point to point just like we did before, and then either use your presser foot to measure 1/4″ to either side while stitching or use a ruler to make a couple more marks to stitch along.
Now that you have your two 2-7/8″ squares marked, position the marked white square on top of the unmarked green square (or vice versa if you marked the other way around.) Stitch along the marked lines and then use a ruler to cut down the middle of the two stitched lines. This will turn your two squares into four triangles. Once they are cut apart, press the seams towards the green (so they don’t show through the white) and then trim them down to 2 inches.
To trim them squarely, simply line up the seam along a 45 degree mark on your ruler. Square up one corner, and then flip the half square triangle (HST) around and line that trimmed corner up with the 2″ marks on your ruler. Once it is lined up with both the corner and the 45 degree line, trim the remaining two sides.
Side Note: My preferred rulers are Creative Grids’ square rulers, as I just find them easier to read than the Omnigrids/Omnigrips. The ruler I used to cut the squares in half was an Omnigrip… you can see the difference in the markings. Although if you are making HSTs in one-inch increments that are 1.5″ to 6.5″, June Tailor’s ‘Perfect Half-Square and Quarter-Square Triangles’ ruler is pretty awesome. If you have the ruler, you can use it for these 2″ HST, but the measurements are a little weird since there are no 2″ slots.
Now it is time to put the corner units together. First, stitch one HST to one turquoise square. Press the seam towards the turquoise. Then, stitch this unit to a turquoise rectangle. Use the photos below for orientation, it will be easier than me trying to explain it and make sense. 🙂 Pay close attention to which way you have the pieces turned… as you can probably see from my photos, I messed up the first time around and had to pick stitches!
Now, Let’s Put It All Together
Stitch two of the corner units to either end of one of the chevron units we completed earlier. Now do the same once more. You will end up with units like the ones pictured below.
Next it is time to stitch the side pieces onto the seahorse block. With all of this bias, there is a pretty good chance your chevrons will appear to be a little smaller than the 6.5″ seahorse block. Line up and pin at each end, then stretch gently as you stitch. It will all work out. When you are done, press the seams towards the seahorse.
Almost done! We will be dealing with some stretch again, so start by pinning both ends of the top piece to the center. Aligning the corner piece with the center chevron unit is a tiny bit tricky because the seams were pressed open on the top piece, and pressed towards the seahorse on the center piece. Remember the trick of nesting seams though? Temporarily flip the open seam away from the seahorse, just long enough to get a pin in place. Since these seams are straight, put the pin at an angle to hold everything in place.
Now that you have pins at both ends and pins holding the seams aligned at the corners of the seahorse block, hold the inner pins while gently stretching the block out. Walk a finger over to the middle to hold things in place before letting go, and add another pin in the center of the seahorse block. This will help keep everything nice and smooth while you are stitching. Be sure to gently stretch the block as you stitch to keep all that bias from bunching up.
Repeat for the bottom, and you are done!!