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Awash With Color Mystery Sampler -- Block 8

Well, we are down to the last block pattern for our skill-building Awash With Color Mystery Sampler and it continues to get a great response from our readers. In this update you will find the block pattern and tutorial for Block No. 8, Bird's Nest, our final block before the big reveal. Even though this is the last block it's not too late to play catch-up if you would like to make this mystery sampler quilt. You can find all the past block patterns on the Quilter's World website in the past updates. Just click on the "Select an Issue" pull-down menu at the top of this page and select the update issue(s) you need. I designed this mystery sampler, Awash With Color, not only as a fun project but also to be a great scrap and stash buster. So, I hope you'll play along with us, build up your skills and, in the process, use some of your favorite fabrics, all the while making a lovely quilt.

Let me introduce myself: I'm Carolyn Vagts, editor of Quilter's World magazine and writer of this update. That's my day job, and at night, I'm an addicted quilter. I tend to eat, breathe and sometimes sleep with my quilting. I have a beautiful studio with my work space right in it. How convenient, since I work at and with quilting. As editor, I am very hands-on with every issue. I'm also very hands-on with this update. I love to share my thoughts, inspiration and my experiences with other quilters in hopes to inspire them on to another project. 

With each update I select a book or pattern to accompany it. While we've been working on the Awash With Color Mystery Sampler for the last few months, I have tried to find you patterns and/or books to coordinate with each block pattern to further encourage you to continue with some of the piecing skills we have been working on. These patterns and books will help you if you're looking for a particular technique or possibly a project that will enable you to continue to work on a certain skill you have enjoyed along the way. This time I'm suggesting the Bermuda Sunrise quilt pattern. It's a great project to use and plan out each block with scraps and stash. It's one of those take-your-time kind of projects.

Bermuda Sunrise
The Bermuda Sunrise quilt pattern can be purchased at AnniesCraftStore.com.

For the eighth block in this mystery sampler series, Bird's Nest, you will need your chosen background fabric (mine is black), plus another main fabric (mine is red), and for the rest of the fabrics my suggestion would be to pull out all the scraps leftover from what you've used throughout this series to sort of pull all the blocks together. Besides, using scraps is so much fun when you decide to just go with it. I know that's a hard thing for some quilters to do. It took me a long time to appreciate my scraps and use them, and if I'm honest, I still do a controlled scrappy. It's just not in me to throw all the scraps in a bag and reach in and use the next piece I pull out. I've tried to do that, and I find myself putting them back in the bag until I pick the "right" one. I know what you're thinking: That's cheating. Well, it probably is, but for some of us that's as good as it gets.

Keep in mind that for this particular block you will be making a total of five blocks. I'm using the same fabrics for all five of my Bird's Nest blocks, but you can change up the colors and make them different if you wish. After all, this is your quilt. This is your last block before the finishing instructions that will be forthcoming in the next update, so you may want to lay out all the blocks you've already made and see what you have in the way of colors. You may decide you want to add more of a certain color or maybe add more colors altogether.

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Diagram of Block No. 8 -- Bird's Nest. Make five blocks.

Cutting List for Block No. 8 -- Bird Nest

(Makes five blocks)

From the background (black) fabric cut:
  • 30 (3 3/8-inch) A squares, then cut once diagonally (HST)
  • 20 (3 1/4-inch) B squares, then cut twice diagonally (QST)
  • 30 (1 7/8-inch) D squares, then cut once diagonally (HST)

From red cut:

  • 10 (3 3/8-inch) A squares, then cut once diagonally (HST)
  • 5 (5 7/8-inch) C squares, then cut twice diagonally (QST)

From assorted scraps cut:

  • 5 (3 1/4-inch) B squares, then cut twice diagonally (QST)
  • 45 (1 7/8-inch) E squares
Notes: You can easily substitute your color choices. The only one I would suggest you should keep the same all the way through the Mystery Sampler is the background fabric. All the rest can and should be pulled from your stash if possible.

HST is the abbreviation for Half-Square Triangle. QST is the abbreviation for Quarter-Square Triangle.

Saving all your scrap pieces from each of the blocks is a really good idea. You may want to use those pieces in one of the upcoming blocks to help pull all the colors in the quilt together, or you might possibly use them in a border or binding.

Once I had all my fabrics selected, I cut out all the pieces needed to make my five Bird's Nest blocks. Now this block is a bit more challenging than the past blocks, but isn't that what skill builders are all about? The blocks for this quilt have been all about getting you to take your quilting to the next level, slowing down, and making you think about the construction and how best to stitch the pieces together.

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My chosen fabrics for Block No. 8, Bird's Nest, and cutting out the pieces for my five blocks.

The Bird's Nest block, like most blocks, can be broken down into sections. I like to separate my units and chain-piece each like section. I tend to make fewer mistakes and can concentrate on accuracy. I laid out one entire block to both audition my fabric choices and to get a sense of how best to assemble my blocks (Photo 1). Once I had laid an entire block out, I decided to start with the red-and-black corner pieces (Photo 2). Each block has four corner units so with five blocks I need to make a total of 20 corner units.

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The pieces laid out as they will be placed in one of the blocks (Photo 1) and just the pieces I'll need to make the corner units (Photo 2).

I was off to my sewing machine and began by constructing the corner units, first making the black and red half-square triangle pieced units. First I stitched one each black and red A HST together (Photo 3). I pressed each unit open and trimmed off all the dog ears. Then I placed one black A HST on the top, stitched it into place, pressed and then added another black A HST to the left side as shown, and stitched and pressed it also (Photo 2). This made the pieced half of my corner units (Photo 3). I then stitched one red C QST to each of the pieced units and pressed again.

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Carefully putting together the pieced units for each corner unit (Photos 3-5).

Once all 20 of the corner units were pieced, trimmed and pressed, I placed them back into my block layout (Photo 6) and went to the next unit to piece.

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Corner units pieced, pressed and placed back into the block layout (Photo 6).

Again breaking the piecing down into units, I decided the next unit to tackle would be the center square-in-a-square unit, of which I would need five. I laid out the pieces needed, using a different-color E square for each block and four black D HSTs for one unit (Photo 7). I stitched first one black D HST to the top and bottom of the E square and then pressed them open. Then I stitched two more black D HSTs to both sides and pressed them open (Photo 8). I should mention that I don't trim off the dog ears when making these small units until I've stitched all the HSTs into place, mainly because I find it much easier to square up the unit after they are in place. I made five center units.

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Laying out (Photo 7) and piecing (Photo 8) the center units for all five blocks.

With the corner and the center units completed, I moved on to the cross units. These units are made with four black B QSTs, one assorted-color B QST, two black D HSTs and two assorted E squares (Photo 9). I laid them out and planned how best to piece these together. These are pieced on the diagonal, so I broke them down into diagonal rows. I stitched each diagonal row together and then placed them back in the layout (Photo 10) as I went so as not to mess up the placement or to stitch the wrong pieces together. It's easy to make a mistake when you're working on multiple pieces of similar sizes and colors. On these units I found it easier to work on a few at a time, double-checking the color combinations and the placement. I wanted my colors to be well disbursed throughout my blocks. Not to mention that, since I was working with small pieces, I needed to slow down and think about accuracy.

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The cross units laid out (Photo 9) and then the diagonal rows stitched together (Photo 10).

Once the rows were stitched together and back in place, I stitched each of the diagonal rows together (Photos 11-13). I made a total of 20 cross units.

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Stitching the diagonal rows together to make the cross units (Photos 11-13).

I laid the cross units back into the block layout (Photo 14). Then I stitched the units into rows (Photo 15).

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All of my units stitched and laid out (Photo 14) and then stitched into rows (Photo 15).

And last, I stitched my rows together, taking my time and making sure all the points stayed intact. Once I was satisfied with how they turned out, I squared up each block to 12 1/2 inches, pressed each block once more, and added the finished Bird's Nest blocks to the rest of the blocks for this quilt.

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Pressed and ready for finishing the quilt! (Photo 16).

I love how my blocks look. I've taken my time and paid close attention to the construction of each and every block. I really worked on color placement. In the next update, I'll present the finishing steps for this quilt. See you next time for the unveiling of the Awash With Color Mystery Sampler!

Please let me know how you feel about participating or if you have any suggestions for how to present the instructions. I'd love to hear from you at Editor@QuiltersWorld.com.

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