Let's Sew the Fancy Fox!
We had our second session of the Fancy Forest Quilt Along here at Fabric Depot and spent several hours working on our foxes. We're starting with this block since it is the easiest and it sets the stage for nailing some skills that will help you along the way with the other blocks.
For those making the large quilt, you’ll be making 16 of these cute little guys. You’ll make just four of them for the small quilt.
This is the time to practice those 45-degree seams, plus we will also practice chain-piecing, pressing, trimming and accurate ¼” seams.
We're continuing with our method of cutting the pieces larger, but there are two pieces here that can be cut to their size in the pattern. Those are the background with the ears and the forehead piece. They can be cut to the size listed in Elizabeth Hartman's Fancy Forest Quilt pattern.
You don't have to cut all your pieces larger like we are, though. You can cut to the sizes in the pattern and if you are very careful with both your cutting and your seam allowances, you'll be successful. We've simply added in a little wiggle room to trim for accuracy.
Since we will be doing a lot of trimming off the corners of blocks with this quilt, a Quick Quarter Ruler will come in very handy! You'll also see on this block why the 6 1/2" x 12 1/2" ruler comes in so handy!
Before you start piecing, please check your seam allowance
and make sure you are getting a scant ¼” seam allowance.
It's a good idea to make one complete fox before tackling them all, just to see how it goes together. Take each step slowly. Start by piecing the background/ears, then trimming to the right size. Then sew on the forehead piece. Sew the eyes, then trim. Sew them to the cheeks, trim. Sew the nose, trim. Press all these pieces, with seams open, and then stitch them together.
Stitch, press, trim is our motto. If you aren't overcutting, simply stitch and press, stitch and press. Soon enough you'll have the entire face done!
Once you have made a whole Fox you can see how it goes together, where you’re struggling for accuracy (if at all) and the next will be easier to assemble. For the remaining, you can go ahead and chain piece it. This simply means that you will do each step for all the blocks in a row. For example. You will mark the middle lines on all your C (ear) blocks, then pin them all down, then stitch them all, then trim them all and, finally, press them all.
There are a few reasons to do this: it conserves your energy, makes it progress faster, keeps your starts from being eaten by the machine and saves time.
To make it a little easier for both construction and speed, I’d suggest you use a leader/ender. They are also called spiders, spiderwebs, bridges, mice and thread bunnies. This is simply a small swatch of fabric that you sew onto before you start stitching pieces together. You can then clip that off and sew onto it when you are finished piecing. It stays there until you start sewing the next step. It will make your starts/stops much easier because the corners tend to get sucked into the machine at the beginning of the seam and this prevents it.
As we progress, you can use your extra trimmed triangles as leaders/enders and construct HSTs as you go.
It is a good idea to press after each stitching to set the seam. This helps to blend thread and fiber, making your seams more precise and neater. You can set the seam by giving the fabric a little spritz or using a steam iron on the seam and pressing. Keeping a small iron nearby will make this easier. If you are chain-piecing, it will save you lots of time by doing all your pressing for each step at once.
When you are trimming, make sure that you are keeping your cuts at 90-degrees by lining up a line on your ruler rather than the edge of your ruler.
If your ruler is sliding a lot, there are several products that will add some grip to it including True Grips.
You can also use Glow Line Tape on your ruler to mark lines that you are commonly using (2 1/2" is the primary measurement for the Fox block). You can also put a length of tape on your side with the extra 1/2" so it's easy to tell which is which at a glance!