By Margaret J. Miller
Simply Stunning AnglePlay™ Blocks:
How to Make Them, What to Do With Them!
In this class you will learn to create pieced blocks using AnglePlay™ templates, which make the long triangle easy to use in patchwork. You also will learn cutting shortcuts, piecing techniques for perfect piecing results, and many ideas for planning innovative quilts using these gorgeous blocks.
Approximate Class Time:
Student Skill Level:
All levels, as long as students are comfortable with rotary cutting equipment, and can sew a consistent quarter-inch seam.
What Each Student Will Get:
You will leave class with up to four pieced quilt blocks, plus a familiarity with working with the long triangle shape, cutting it and designing with it. You’ll have a new view of four-patch blocks and how to rotate quadrants to create new blocks.
What Each Student Will Learn:
- How to cut the long triangle shape, in small and large numbers
- How to cut and sew the pieced triangle
- Piecing tips:
- Establishing an accurate seam allowance
- Joining triangles
- Joining sections with perfect piecing results
- Required text: Stunning AnglePlay Quilts by Margaret J. Miller
- Rotary cutter with sharp blades
- Rotary cutting mat:
- Large mat for cutting strip of fabric selvage to fold
- (Optional, but highly recommended) Smaller Olfa Spinning cutting mat as well. This mat facilitates the rotary cutting of the triangle, which has four sides to trim. Accuracy is of the essence in AnglePlay™, and using the spinning mat means you don’t have to disturb the half-cut fabrics, or the carefully placed template atop them!
- 6 1/2" square Omnigrip ruler. The Omnigrip square has wonderful 1/8" shadowing around each inch line, making it easy to cut a 4-7/8" square, to create two 4" half square triangles, for instance!
- AnglePlay Templates, Set One, or whichever templates are needed for the blocks you will feature in this class. Available from www.millerquilts.com, wholesale or retail. Your students can make their own templates using the drawings on pages 57-61 of the book before they come to class. However, making plastic templates involves one more step in the block making process, i.e. tracing around the plastic template before cutting it. And the range of accuracy among students making their own templates is legendary...
- Sewing machine in good running condition.
- Fabrics: An assortment that the student would like to use to make a set of blocks. Have students bring at least 6 fabrics, with at least a fat quarter of each fabric. They should bring lights, mediums, and darks, with prints of various scales and related colors. Students may choose one fabric with multiple colors in it, and "key" all their fabric choices to that print. At least one stripe would be fun to work with.
- Handouts: make a sheet of suggested blocks for each category of piecing (see below). Students can use the piecing diagrams and charts from Chapter 3 of Stunning AnglePlay™ Quilts.
- A series of blocks made in different color ways. If you can assemble them into a sampler quilt, so much the better!
- A couple of blocks in which you have reversed the positioning of the darks and lights.
- At least 2-3 four-patch blocks. Any of these would be good choices, but there are many more in the book:
Sew together the four patches, but do not assemble them into a completed block, so that during class, you can rotate each quadrant 1/4 turn clockwise on the design wall to produce a different block. Keep rotating the quadrants, one turn at a time, until you have seen four versions of the block. This exercise brings gasps from the class. Often, students elect to sew their four patch block together in a different configuration from that in the book.
- Formal Dance, page 12
- Marigold, page 13
- Prop Plane, page 13
- Reserve Energy, page 13
- Sparkler, page 13
- At least a couple of sample quilts that use the blocks the students will make in the class. These could be as small as table runners or small wall hangings with one block as a medallion center.
- Distribute the handouts of block possibilities. The page number for the cutting guide for each block appears in parentheses. (Note: the blocks which require only Set One of the AnglePlay™ Templates appear in bold below. The rest require additional templates as well; adjust your supply sheet accordingly)
Prop Plane (17)
Stars Over Seattle (17)
Formal Dance (17)
No Bed of Roses (18)
Bun Warmer (20)
Centrifugal Star (21)
Baby Birds (22)
Braided Bounds (22)
Double Star (23)
Nestled In (240)
Argyle Socks (26)
Boxed In (26)
Swallow's Turning (24)
Who's Starry Now? (25)
Reserve Energy (18)
Peep Hole (19)
Half & Half (19)
Prickly Pear (20)
Gypsy Rose (20)
Park Place (22)
Scout's Star (22)
Show Lights (23)
Star Search (23)
Sparkle Plenty (24)
Neatly Folded (24)
Spinning Wheel (25)
Around the World (26)
Moving Boxes (27)
- Review the symbols used in cutting charts (page 16). Refresh students' memory on how to cut half-square and quarter-square triangles.
- Explain the numbers on the cutting charts. The numbers at the edges of the shade diagram are the sizes of the respective units. In the middle diagrams, the numbers are "patch numbers" that refer to the cutting diagram on the right.
- Throughout the day: if students choose a 4-patch block, tell them not to sew the final N-S-E-W seams which will join the four quadrants of the block together, until you (or the student) can demonstrate how the block changes when you rotate each quadrant, one quarter-turn at a time. (See Advance Preparations, above.) You will have to watch for such blocks. The students often have too much on their minds to remember this!
- Demonstrate how to cut whole triangles (pages 6-7 of Stunning AnglePlay™ Quilts,) reminding students to be alert to whether they need right-facing or left-facing triangles. Show how to cut multiples of the same triangle (pages 6-7.) Point out that some patterns require both right-facing and left-facing triangles of the same template (for example, Baby Birds, page 22, Topsy-Turvy, page 27, and others.) In this case, the triangle can be cut just as it comes from the bolt: with some of the fabric right side up and some wrong side up.
- Have students choose a block, and cut.
- Before students start sewing, have them check their seam allowance guide with a template under the presser foot (page 9.)
- Review "piecing order" (page 9.)
- Advise students to press seams open. Pressing seams to one side is acceptable, but most students get better results pressing them open. When students have sewn their first triangles into rectangles, have them press the seam open, and measure the resulting rectangle, to make sure their seam allowances are accurate.
- Review the piecing tips on page 11.
- Demonstrate how to cut a half-size triangle (page 7.)
- Have students choose a pattern that includes a half-size triangle and piece it.
- Demonstrate how to make a pieced triangle (pages 7-8.)
- Have students choose a pattern that includes a pieced triangle, and piece it. It is very important that students complete at least one pieced triangle, even though they don’t get to the point of making a whole block that includes such a triangle. This is a technique that they must try themselves before they really "get it." So encourage everyone to complete at least one pieced triangle; you will be looking over many shoulders as they do this, and many students will also be looking on, needing several demonstrations before they feel comfortable with this technique.
- Some students may choose a block that requires partial seam construction, such as Peep Hole (page 19), Cheerleader (page 17,) Prickly Pear (page 20,) Centrifugal Star (page 21,) and others. If so, demonstrate this piecing procedure using the student’s block as an example. Or, if no one chooses such a block, bring one of your own, in pieces to demonstrate partial piecing, using guidelines on page 10.
- As students complete their blocks during the day, have them put their blocks up on the design wall, so that at the end of the day there is a huge selection of blocks and colors for students to photograph.
- Show your own quilts and share other ideas for ways to use the blocks, such as:
- Combining blocks that camouflage where one block stops and its neighbor begins (Fourth of July, page 42.)
- Choose one complex block and make other versions of it. In each version, drop out one or more seam lines from the original block (City Lights, page 52.)
- Choose one block and rotate it in place to create different patterns throughout the quilt (Desert Stars, page 38.)
- Start with a six-inch unit (which could be one-fourth of any of the four-patch blocks in the book). Make multiples and rotate them in place to create different patterns in a wall hanging or table runner format (Midnight Sun, page 35.)
- Choose your favorite blocks and set them off in a "stunning" sampler! See my book, Smashing Sets: Exciting Ways to Arrange Quilt Blocks, for many ideas for this option! (The book is available at www.millerquilts.com)
Then, send your students on their way with their heads brimming with new block ideas, having played with the next classic shape in patchwork, the long triangle! Encourage them to send you photos of their work... and then share them with me, too!
Best Wishes, Margaret J. Miller