The Splendid Sampler continues with Pat and Jane, and the latest block, Simple Simon, gives me a great opportunity to talk to you about using your dies in a different way.
Let’s be honest here; this kind of sampler quilt doesn’t necessarily show you the power of die cutting when you are only making one block at a time, and small blocks at that. Part of die cutting is about accuracy, but the other part is efficiency. And it’s not the most efficient to cut nine 2-1/2″ squares from 2 or 3 fabrics. I’m going to give you the die chart for this block anyway, because I think it’s a beautiful block to make an entire quilt from, but it may not be the best use of your dies to make just one block.
Die Cutting Chart for Simple Simon
|Fabric||(Qty) EDeN Number|
|A||(5) SQ-2 (I used two prints for this)|
|C||(2) REC-1/2 x 2-3/4 or STR-1/2
(1) REC-1/2 x 6 or STR-6 & STR-1/2
The rectangles may not be in the EDeN Chart yet, but I know the strips are. I’ll get that updated in my spring release; meanwhile, since these are pretty small pieces, I suspect you’ll just cut them by hand. I did. 🙂
Using Dies to Bisect a Block
One thing that our dies can help us with, however, is bisecting a block, as you might do with a disappearing 9-patch, or this block with an inset strip.
The requirement for using a die to bisect a block is that you want to make sure that you have blades separated by at least half of your unfinished block width. So for example, if you want to bisect a block that’s 12-1/2″ unfinished, you need a die with blades at least 6-1/4″ apart.
I usually bisect blocks with square dies (with at least 4 repeats), because I have the Studio, but you can also bisect blocks using strip dies (with at least 2 strips). In the case of Simple Simon, which is a 6-1/2″ unfinished block, I need a die with blades at least 3-1/4″ apart. If you have the GO, you should use either the 3-1/2″ strip die or the 4-1/2″.
Before you start, make sure your block is squared to 6-1/2″, otherwise you will cut something very wonky. 🙂
First, you need to mark the die with registration lines to help you align the block. In this example, I’m using my SQ-6 die, but I also could have used my SQ-3 die.
To mark the first registration line, I line up the 3-1/4″ line on my ruler with the center blade on my die. I draw a line on the outside edge.
Next, I turn the die 90 degrees, and align the 3-1/4″ line on my ruler to create another registration line.
What I end up with is this:
I wrote 6-1/2″ on top of the foam in the corners where the lines meet to indicate these are registration lines for the 6-1/2″ block. I could draw all 4 lines to make a square, but I really only need two lines.
If I were using a strip die for this, I would create the same lines; however, when using a strip die, it takes two passes of the cutter for you to bisect a block, where with a square die you only need 1.
Just in case you couldn’t tell where I was aligning my ruler in the previous photos, here is a better shot. Note that the 3-1/4″ mark is to the inside of the silver line.
Next, take your squared block and align it with the registration lines you drew. Make sure it lines up to the inside of the silver line, not the outside.
Place your mat carefully over the block and roll it through the cutter. If your mat has a tendency to lift during this process, hold it down to keep the block in place.
And there it is! A bisected block in one pass. If I had multiple blocks, I would probably only cut 2 of them at a time with this method, just because the bulky seams might cause some distortion.
Speaking of seams, this is how my Simple Simon block is pressed; I’ve swirled where possible to reduce bulk in the seam allowances.
I hope this gives you lots of ideas for how you can use your dies to cut up your blocks in fun ways! You can also use this same technique for slicing blocks on the diagonal; just take 1/2 of the diagonal measurement, and make sure the blades on the die you want to use are farther apart than that.