Join the September Sapphire Sew-Along!
Make the September Sapphire block, designed by MJ Kinman, and comment below with your process, tips and/or finished result to participate in this month’s sew-along.
This September Sapphire block pattern is a paper-piecing pattern that comes preprinted onto freezer paper. The paper is fusible yet leaves no residue, and is easily repositioned and removed. If you want to make multiples of these blocks, you can transfer the key, also included, onto Sulky Paper Solvy.
The finished block measures 17″ square and can be combined with other MJ Birthstone blocks to make a stunning quilt or mini quilt, which is what I’m making! Ultimately I will have three mini quilts to represent birthstones for each month of the year.
This is the fourth installment of the Birthstone Block Sew-Along, so there are eight more to go! These posts are meant to give you tips for working with the patterns and sewing tricky areas (like convex and concave curves), and to instill self confidence as you navigate through your blocks.
We’ve covered June, July and August and are onto the September Sapphire block! Conveniently, Sulky has curated some kits to make it easy to gather all the supplies you need for this block. There are a LOT of fabrics involved, so it’s nice to get them in a neat little bundle. And the six-pack of threads you need for piecing and quilting is also packaged, perfectly matched to the fabrics. Your best bet is to get the kit, which includes the pattern, fabric bundle and thread pack, IMO. Also available is a MEGA kit that includes all twelve patterns for each birthstone, each fabric bundle and all the threads you need in a nice Slimline storage box.
Fusing & Cutting
As with all of the blocks, the first step is to cut apart the pattern (NOT the key!). The pattern has a shiny side, so make sure to cut that one and leave the key next to you for reference.
Then each piece is separated according to MJ’s code system. It may sound confusing at first, and I’ll admit the more you do the easier it is to understand. Just keep referring to the pattern and you’ll get there!
Make sure to leave adequate room around each piece when fusing to the fabric to ensure you have enough seam allowance. I use a combo of a large and small ruler for the cutting, swapping for each piece depending on size. The cutting takes some time–just know that going in. Put on some music and zen out until all the pieces are cut.
If the cutting takes a bit longer than expected and you find that the pieces aren’t fused to the fabric as much as you like, add a bit of KK 2000 Temporary Spray Adhesive to the fabric and reposition the piece(s) in question. I did that a few times for the September Sapphire block. (I also needed to do this during the sewing, as I sewed in spurts and went back to it over the course of several days.) Keep in mind that the KK 2000 will also dissipate after some time, so you may need to reapply.
Piecing the Block
If you’ve never tried paper piecing before, there are a few different ways to approach the technique. This pattern directs you to sew from the right side of the fabric, with the paper on top. So, yes, you will place the pattern pieces on the fabric RIGHT side for cutting and piecing. This pattern is cut apart, as I mentioned. Other paper piecing patterns direct you to keep the pattern intact. Keep that in mind.
Here’s a great starter tutorial for beginner paper piecers. This is foundation paper piecing, BTW.
Sew, Sew, Sew
Follow the pattern key to place each piece correctly, matching the notches and markings on each piece.
Phew! This one is a DOOZIE, my friends! Like I said, I did the sewing in spurts. I completed each “quadrant” on different days and then stitched them together, making sure my center points matched perfectly.
Quilting the September Block with June, July & August
Once the September block was finished (YAY!), I sewed borders and joined the June, July and August blocks.
Then, I made the quilt sandwich using KK 2000, batting and backing.
There are a number of ways to quilt this guy and of course you can choose your favorite! But I wanted to use each and every Sulky rayon thread spool to perfectly match the fabrics in each block.
I started with the blue hues and worked from the center fo the quilt outward, switching spools as I finished each facet color.
To quilt, I did a meandering free-motion stipple stitch, making sure to lower the feed dogs of the sewing machine and use a 90/14 quilting needle.
If free-motion quilting is new to you, a good “cheat” is to draw your squiggly, wavy or meandering lines onto Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy and then stick it to the right side of the quilt top. Then stitch over the lines through all layers. When quilting is complete, wash away all traces of the Fabri-Solvy. The result is super professional!
However you choose to quilt your block, or mini quilt, I’m sure it will look fabulous! You can either leave your quilt top as-is and wait until we finish the remaining eight blocks before creating a large Birthstone Quilt, or bind a mini quilt like me.
I feel super accomplished and like a quilting pro after completing this project. I’m looking forward to the October block: the Pink Tourmaline! Grab your kit before they sell out and get ready to sew along with me.