2020 #focuscuttingsewalong group quilt – the ‘Floating Orbs’ quilt

Here it is! The idea for the 2020 #focuscuttingsewalong group quilt. If you’ve taken part in the 2020 #focuscuttingsewalong at any point (from 1 week through to all the weeks) and you’d like to make a block for our group quilt then I would absolutely love it if you took part. This year, there is a new optional extra to the group quilt and I’ve made a YouTube video explaining the block, the written (optional) extra and how to make your own templates if you’d like to. Please, please watch this video as it covers some of the key points! The video can be found here: https://youtu.be/eAT2htDi1B0

There is absolutely NO pressure to take part in the group quilt – it is completely optional and it won’t impact your participation in the sewalong in any way. I also want to say that I won’t share any photos of your writing or of your block unless I’ve got your permission to do so as this is your work.

Ideally, please could they arrive before the end of December 2020 at the very latest. I will let you know when your block arrives and share update photos of the quilt coming together. If you’re sending it to me from abroad then please could you mark the block as a ‘gift’ on customs with a value of less than £10 otherwise I get stung by customs. Please do know that I value your time and effort and that I know your time and effort is worth a lot more than £10.

So excited to see how this quilt progresses!

Some housekeeping points:

  • Please take the time to watch the YouTube video that I made in relation to this block. That video can be found here: https://youtu.be/eAT2htDi1B0
  • Please make sure you use a minimum of 3/8″ seam allowance on your houses and half square triangles. This is a really big help to me to make sure it can withstand the handling as I stitch it all together.
  • Please can you thread baste your houses and your half square triangles. I’ve got a YouTube video exploring how to thread baste these shapes which can be found here: https://youtu.be/N7sQH1BUXzw
  • We’re going to focus cut blue fabric for the houses, we’re going to use low-volume fabric for the half-square triangles, we’re going to embroider, in orange thread a word that represents the sewalong to you (this may be your overall reflections, what it has meant to you, what it has been like to be part of the sewalong this year or another word related to the sewalong entirely) and a word to represent your location, and we’re also doing an optional extra of writing down a bit about your block so that I can make a memory album to keep alongside our quilt. I talk about this memory album in the YouTube video so I’d really recommend watching the video as well as reading the instructions on this page (which also covers the memory album).

The 2020 group quilt ‘Floating Orbs’ block:

The block for the 2020 group quilt uses 2″ houses and 2″ half square triangles. In the YouTube video I show you how to make these shapes using a pencil, ruler, scissors and a sheet of 160gsm. Please do take the time to watch the video as this helps to make sure the blocks are all the same size which makes it much easier to sew together. The video is available here: https://youtu.be/eAT2htDi1B0 I’d really recommend watching the video for making the templates and ensuring they’re the correct size for the block as this makes it much easier for me to be able to stitch the blocks together.

Making the templates for the ‘Floating Orbs’ 2020 group quilt block:

  1. Take a sheet of 160gsm card (if you prefer a different weight card then that’s absolutely okay, use what is to hand and what works for you). I’ve used an A4 sheet.

2. Along the longest edge of the card (this is the top of my A4 sheet), make a pencil mark every 2 inches from 2-6″. This should give you three pencil marks in total.

3. Along the opposite longest edge of the card (this is the bottom of my A4 sheet), repeat these 3 pencil marks every 2 inches from 2-6″ (to give you a further three pencil marks) so that they’re opposite your three pencil marks from step 2. Then, use your ruler to draw straight lines to connect these marks.

4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 on the two unmarked sides of your card (these are the left and right sides of my A4 sheet) and then, using your ruler, connect these marks together so that you’ve made a grid of 9 squares with each square measuring 2″. If you’re using an A4 sheet, you may have some marked off card left over so I find it helpful to draw a cross through it so I know that isn’t the piece to cut and/or use!

5. Now we need to make the points for your house blocks. Using your ruler, you’re going to draw a cross in that centre square. Place your ruler across that centre square so that it is joining the opposite, diagonal corners. Use your pencil to draw that line into place.

6. Repeat step 5 so that you draw a line into place joining the other 2 opposite, diagonal corners.

7. You can then either use an eraser to rub out (like I do in the video), or scribble out, the 4 lines of your square that are surrounding that centre cross. This helps to remind you not to cut those lines.

8. Using a pair of scissors, cut out the lines of your block so that you have four houses and four half-square triangles.

Embroidering your words for your ‘Floating Orbs’ 2020 group quilt block:

  1. Take two of the half-square triangles. Make sure that the longest edge of both of the half square triangles is at the top. This bit is really, really important because it means your writing will all face the same way on the quilt.
  2. Using a pencil (or a black fineliner), write a word on one of the triangles that represents the sewalong to you and, on the 2nd triangle, write a word that represents your location.

3. Once the block is pieced, your written words will face in to the centre of your block like this:

4. Place your low-volume fabric over the top of your half-square triangle and you should be able to see your writing on your triangle.

5. Copy out your written word onto your fabric. I’ve used a pencil for writing onto the fabric but you can use a fabric pen (just remember to erase the pen after the embroidery).

6. Pop your fabric into an embroidery hoop (don’t cut it out yet, the hoop helps to keep the tension when you embroider) and use an orange embroidery thread to embroider your word. I used 4 strands of a 6 stranded cotton and I embroidered the word using backstitch with the following tutorial: https://www.embroidery.rocksea.org/stitch/back-stitch/back-stitch/
You can use any stitch that you’d like! If you’d like a tutorial on different embroidery stitches then I really recommend the following website: https://www.embroidery.rocksea.org/stitch/

7. Once the word is embroidered, don’t forget to secure your thread (I use a knot) before removing it from the hoop. Then, using your half square triangle template, cut the fabric with a 3/8″ seam allowance.

8. Thread baste the half-square triangle. Thread basting really helps me when piecing the quilt together and I look at how to thread baste in this YouTube tutorial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7sQH1BUXzw&feature=youtu.be

9. Repeat this process to embroidery, cut and baste your half-square triangle for your location.

10. Cut and baste the low-volume fabric for your remaining 2 half-square triangles and put all 4 half-square triangles to one side.

Focus cutting your houses for the ‘Floating Orbs’ 2020 group quilt block

  1. Choose a blue fabric to focus cut for your houses (this doesn’t have to be entirely blue, just so long as a majority of it is blue then it is fabulous and helps to bring all the blocks together). The focus cutting is a big part of this group quilt because focus cutting is the foundation of our sewalong! I chose to focus cut these Art Gallery Fabrics windows to represent how windows have been such a big part of 2020 (I’ll explain more further down the page). It is completely up to you whether to focus cut stripes, whole motifs, mystery sections, kaleidoscope sections, motifs that represent this year for you or the sewalong for you, a fabric you love or another reason entirely – this is your block and it is your chance to make your voice and your style seen and heard!

2. I joined my houses by stitching them into two pairs.

3. I then joined these two pairs together. The YouTube video also looks at how to stitch the houses if this is something you’d like a refresher on: https://youtu.be/N7sQH1BUXzw

4. Once the houses are joined, you can then join your half square triangles into each of the four corners! Please make sure your 2 embroidered half square triangles are opposite one another.

5. Then, ta-da! Your ‘Floating Orbs’ 2020 group quilt block is made! If you’d like to read about the accompanying memory album (which is optional) then keep reading. If you don’t want to do the memory album part then please drop me a message on Instagram for my postal address to send your block to so that I can stitch them together into our 2020 ‘Floating Orbs’ group quilt!

The ‘Floating Orbs’ 2020 Group Quilt Memory Album

This part is completely optional! You can make the block and not do this written part and that’s absolutely okay! I thought it would be really good to make a memory album to keep alongside our group quilt. This is the chance to write down something about your block and this could be writing down a bit about the word that you chose or the fabric that you chose, it might be reflections on the #focuscuttingsewalong (previously the #fussycuttingsewalong) this year, your experiences of being part of the sewalong overall, it might be a combination of all of these factors or another #focuscuttingsewalong piece of writing entirely. It can be as long or as short as you’d like it to be. This is your voice, your words and your text to capture your experiences and your block however you’d like to. The plan is to keep this writing alongside our quilt as its legacy of both the quilt itself and of the stitchers who’ve made it possible. I won’t share any photos of your writing or of your block unless I’ve got your permission to do so as this is your work.

For my writing, I explained a little bit about why I stitched the word ‘constancy’. This year has felt so ever-changing and the constancy of the sewalong has been my rock. I know our themes have changed and our shapes are different from previous years, but the foundations of the sewalong (in terms of the focus cutting, the positive and supportive camaraderie, the humour, the understanding and the creativity) have stayed the same. I also wrote a little bit about why I chose to focus cut windows. Here in the UK, many households crafted rainbows and displayed them in their windows to show support for the NHS keyworkers, to display bunting for VE day, to display balloons and banners when people celebrated their birthdays in lockdown…they became our home-galleries. The window felt like a really important motif for me personally to focus cut for the 2020 so I wanted to record that alongside my block.

Again, I want to stress that you do not have to do this. You may have chosen a fabric because you love it and for no other reason than ‘just because’ and that is a fabulous reason in and of itself! This is your block and you can make it for whatever reason you’d like to with no explanation necessary. This writing part is only an extra if you’d like to do it and I will be guided by you!

Please do drop me a message if there’s anything I’ve missed out!