It's hard to believe that a year ago exactly, I was frantically sewing my block for The Splendid Sampler in order to meet the deadline. And here it is ... 12 calendar pages later and it's my turn to show you Block #83! Pat and Jane have created this wonderful quilting community through the Splendid Sampler and it's been amazing seeing how differently each block looks. I love it when people load them up to the Facebook Splendid Sampler group . If you haven't joined the group, get over there pronto!! I can't wait to see what you do with Minnesota Maze!
Minnesota Maze came about because of this guy ^^^ ... my Grandpa Waldoch. Grandpa had a full time job as a lithographer and another full time job as a farmer. This photo of him is etched in the minds of all of my cousins, and the aunts and uncles who remain. It's how we remember Grandpa. My cousins run Waldoch Farms now and as a tribute to him last year, designed their corn maze off of this photo.
This amazing maze was on my mind as I was working on my Splendid Sampler block. As I was twisting and turning the pieces, I was thinking "this block is like a maze" while I shuffled them into the right places.
This is how it always starts for me ... on full size graph paper ... 1" grids ... so I can make sure the measurements are correct. Light, medium, and dark fabrics.
Then a little bit of playing around to see what happens when you switch some of the colors. In this case, I made the triangles around the center square to match the adjoining pieces instead of using the background fabric ... the results gave a different look. I sent the block that I did first off to Pat Sloan and then watched the Splendid Sampler come to life.
Those of you who follow me on Instagram know what happened next! As time spun out from last year to now, I've been busy making things for Quilts and More, Sizzix, and something else that I can't reveal yet. All of it was stitched by hand. I didn't touch my sewing machine until a few weeks ago when I decided to make a few more Minnesota Maze blocks. 12 months. Yikes ... I couldn't remember how to use it! I had to call the sewing center to find out how to move the needle so I could get my 1/4" seam allowance. Talk about panic! Because I was getting ready for my quilt retreat too and was short on time, I decided that I would do what Huckleberry Finn did ... get my friends to help 'paint the fence'.
I asked my guests at the retreat to make some blocks ... it was all top secret of course because the pattern wasn't out yet but I knew they wouldn't tell. I let them choose from 10" layer cakes I had gotten from Moda. I can't wait to see what their blocks look like! A few finished them at the retreat and the results were so different ... part of the charm of the Splendid Sampler. There's no right way to make them.
It's fabulous to get tips from others, too ... like this lovely bunch of Splendid Sampler designers who were there for the group photo at Quilt Market. They've compiled a list of piecing tips that you can rely on to make your blocks come out just right. Here are some more, too.
Keep your pages organized. My friend Chris used a three-ring binder with page protectors. She slid her cut pieces and finished blocks together with the instructions into the protectors. It was fun to flip through her book to see the finished blocks. Use the appropriate rotary cutters ... a larger one when you cut bigger pieces and a small one for paper piecing. An Add-A-Quarter is is another great tool for the paper piecing blocks. My favorite tool of all times is the Folded Corner Clipper for any blocks that have you drawing a line to do a corner flip. I'm terrible at getting them to turn out right so I use the Corner Clipper to trim the corner before I sew ... it allows for the 1/4" seam and trims the dog ears. It was a lifesaver on Minnesota Maze when I was using 1 1/2" squares.
More tips. When you make the Flying Geese units, press the first seam toward the goose and the second seam away or towards the sky. It eliminates bulky intersections. And while I don't usually press seams open, I did for the last few in order to make the block lie flatter. A few squirts of Best Press at the end and you're done.
Don't forget ... time is flying and the free blocks won't be available forever. After Block #100 they'll be retired and Martingale will publish them all in a beautiful book with layout options and even more tips! We can't wait to get it in our hands!!