A Story & Some Magic!

The Story

When I'd wanted to learn how to piece quilt blocks, I took a sampler class at our local quilt shop. Thanks to Margaret's guidance, the work I did in class turned out pretty well.

The sampler featured six blocks. Unfortunately I'd had to miss the "card trick" class.

This complex block was beyond my skill level at the time, but being game to learn, and hoping to finish my project, I'd tackled it on my own.

Having had no experience with traditional piecing, I didn't know what details needed attention. I knew my goal, but not how to get there.

My sad card trick block, with missing points
(either sewn into the seam allowances, or soon to be)
Pretty rough.
Disappointed, I'd stuck the project in a cupboard. I didn't want to ruin my quilt by including sub-par work.

Fast forward to 2014.

This forgotten project came to my attention as I tidied up some of the messes in my sewing space last week.

Suddenly, cleaning could wait!

My skills have grown considerably since the early days, so my new card trick block turned out beautifully.

All points accounted for!
Six blocks, ready to go.

The class was about the piecing, not a finished quilt, so no pattern was available. Not having had any design experience, I remember going back to the store to see what to do with the blocks.

Chris, the store owner, helped me "guesstimate" how much fabric I might need to make a quilt like the class sample. I penciled a few notes on a scrap of paper so I'd remember the plan, and bought everything I would need to finish the project.

Thank goodness!

Since I have all the materials on hand, I've been able to make quick work of finishing this little top, making a backing, and preparing a binding.

Custom quilting fun ahead!

The Magic!

Transforming blocks of various sizes into blocks of the same size - without losing any points into seam allowances - is a bit of a trick, but it's not difficult once you know how.

Two of the blocks I'd made in class were almost a quarter of an inch smaller than the rest. AND their edges were a bit rough, jogging in an out here and there, so they were not perfectly square.

Now that I know what I'm doing, I can fix things to give the illusion of perfection.

What to do:
  1. Flip the too-small block face down on the table
  2. Place a large, square ruler on top. The ruler must be larger than the block.
  3. Based on the FINISHED size of the block, center the ruler.
    I wanted the finished block to be 12" square, so I placed the spot where the 6" lines on the ruler intersect in the center of the block.
  4. Pivot and align the lines on the ruler with any piecing lines that make sense, keeping the ruler centered as you do this.
  5. The ruler will cover one corner and two sides of the block leaving the opposite corner and sides sticking out beyond the ruler.
  6. Use a marking pen and draw the seam line along the edges of the ruler where the fabric sticks out. This will be the SEWING line.
  7. Rotate the block and mark the opposite corner in the same manner.

Sewing line marked all the way around the block, and one seam sewn.

Be aware of points. You may need to adjust your ruler if you are "cutting off" points on one edge...see if there's wiggle room on the opposite edge of the block and adjust accordingly. Sometimes minute adjustments make all the difference. Remember to redraw the sewing lines wherever you have adjusted.

See the line drawn across the yellow fabric where the seams intersect and make a point?
This line guides me just outside the tip, so it's okay. Any further in would have "cut off" my point.
Point intact
Next steps:

  1. Mark a sewing line on the WRONG side of the sashing (or whatever you are joining to the block).
  2. Place the block face down on top of the sashing piece.
  3. Align the pieces and pin carefully through BOTH the line marked on the block, AND the line marked on the sashing.
You can see how the pins are positioned, shown here on the WRONG side of the sashing.
Finish the Illusion:

Sew on the lines!
I like to have the "short" fabric on top so I can ensure accuracy.
The bottom fabric is the desired size.
I can tell all is well because it is aligned with my quarter inch foot.

This "illusion" is a skill transferred over from my days of sewing garments and stuffed animals.

I have found there is always a way to make things work if you Try, Learn, & Grow!



  1. I remember that quilt but you are sew amazing I can't remember you EVER being a beginner! What a great road you have traveled since then grasshopper.

  2. Ha ha! Thanks! I sure remember being a beginner. Fortunately I was already an avid seamstress, and had been for some time, so the transition wasn't too painful. Just needed to be pointed in the right direction from time to time!


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