March 28, 2017

Week 3: Long Time Gone Sew Along | Crosses of the UK Blocks

Most of you know that Jen Kingwell is from Australia, one of the commonwealth nations. How neat for her to design and include this block. The From Marti Michell tool we'll be using to make these blocks is the 6-1/2 inch Squaring Up Ruler.

Fabric Selection

Remember the pile of fabrics I pulled before we started?

Think of making a scrappy quilt like this as producing and directing a movie. Selecting your pile of fabric was the open call for casting. Even though you have picked a theme, it isn’t until you start cutting and sewing that certain fabrics begin to excel. Some become stars, others get small speaking parts, a few are extras and others get put away to wait their turn in another quilt. As the director, you have the opportunity to audition the same fabric as a lead in one design and only a speaking part in the next. And it is practically a rule to introduce new cast members in each scene.

Because I had cut extra 1- and 1-1/2 inch strips from all of the fabrics I’ve already used, I was able to select fabrics for the Crosses of the UK strips from my strip stockpile and just needed to cut them to length.

I did that and cut the 2-1/4 inch squares I needed with the 6-1/2 inch Squaring Up Ruler. Later, when it was time to trim the pieced squares to 2 inches square, it was so easy to center the diagonal line of the ruler on the diagonal strip. 

Making the Blocks

Just follow the instructions in Jen Kingwell's pattern. Don’t let the illustration of the block on page 7 confuse you, just cut pieces the sizes given. The measurements and instructions result in finished blocks that look like the picture of the quilt blocks. In real life and in the quilt, the vertical and horizontal strips are much chunkier than the illustration in the book.

I love the idea of teaming a few fabrics I have used in the first two blocks with new fabrics being cut for the first time. For this this block I chose to cut and chain piece 3 blocks at a time. Here is one group of squares being trimmed to size.

Sets of three blocks are used in two different places in the quilt so while I expect them to look good together, I have not sewn them together yet.

More Strategy for Cutting Extra Strips

I’ve made a little chart that lists what size strips are needed for each block and in the finishing. (Click here to download the PDF.) Because they are all scrappy, it will be much easier to get variety if you cut extra strips every time you have fabric on your cutting table. Most blocks need approximately the same amount of both light and dark fabrics. However in the checkerboards used in the final assembly, Jen used the solid gray for all of the light fabric squares. This chart is intended as a helpful guide for more efficient cutting. Actual directions are with each tutorial as they are posted here on the blog.

Now Let's Do a Bit on the Pineapple Blocks

You should be able to start adding a round or two to your 16 Pineapple blocks. To get the same look as Jen’s, make sure that the first round of trapezoids (numbers 6, 7, 8 & 9 in the diagram on page 40) are dark fabrics. (See page 5 in the 1/2-inch Pineapple Templates instruction book for diagrams that show how different the blocks look when the first round starts out light.)

Naturally, the engineered corners on the Pineapple strips are the “magic” that makes this so easy to piece with no scraps and no trimming. But please don’t miss the tip mentioned first on page 14 and illustrated on page 18 of the template booklet, where we like to use the standard double-blunt cut on the first two trapezoid pieces being added to the Square Within a Square center.

I’m working on my Pineapple blocks in sets of four, a round or two at a time. That way there will always be new fabrics in the strip stockpile and I can maximize the variety of fabrics in the Pineapple Blocks. You can see they are at different stages of completion, but looking so cute!

More About the Crosses of the UK Section

Visit these other Long Time Gone Sew Along blogs, too, for tutorials, contests and other info:

Use the hash tag #LongTimeGoneSAL to share photos on Instagram.

Long Time Gone by Jen Kingwell. Copyright 2016 by Jen Kingwell Designs. Available on From Marti Michell website,


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