Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Kaleidoscope Tutorial

I've received quite a few comments on the various kaleidoscope blocks and projects that I have shown, so I thought I might try to write a tutorial.
The first thing I recommend is to purchase Bethany Reynolds' book, "Magic Stack-n-Whack Quilts", and read it carefully.  These projects are fun, but they do require a quilter who is willing to spend the time in careful preparation, sewing and pressing.

1.  Bethany does not suggest pre-washing your fabric, but all my fabric goes into the wash before it resides in my sewing room.  To make up for the sizing that is washed away, I use spray starch on the yardage, being very careful to keep the grain straight in both directions.  I usually starch the background fabric as well.  You could also use spray sizing or the "best pressed" product.  Adding one of these makes working with all the bias edges much easier.

2.  Put a new blade in your rotary cutter!  Bethany suggests using a 60mm size cutter, but I have cut 8 layers with my favourite 45mm cutter and a brand new blade.

3. Pressing is done with a hot dry iron - no steam!  You want to press just enough to flatten the seam, but not to distort the shape.  Remember bias can curve and stretch, so be extra careful.

4.  I don't pin very often, when piecing quilt blocks, but these blocks do require careful pinning in several areas.

My favourite patterns from the book are 60 degree Triangle Magic, and Half Square Triangle Magic, which is the one I will demonstrate. 

  I don't intend to provide a pattern, yardage or measurements for this project. You will find those in the book.  You can find a link to Bethany's site here, and to a chart showing how to cut smaller kaleidoscope pinwheel blocks here.

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