Why make a sample block?

Sample block from Scrappiness is Happiness book by Lori Holt

Happy mail arrived this week from the Fat Quarter Shop – Lori Holt’s newest book! This one may surpass Vintage Christmas as my fave book from her. In case you’re interested, Fat Quarter Shop features a video preview of the book on its YouTube channel. Tutorials of several of the blocks can also be found on Lori Holt’s YouTube channel, as well.

I was itching to try out a 6-1/2″ block, so I chose the Grandma’s Donut Block and dug into my stash. While cute, this practice block is not one I would include in a quilt (see #4 & #5 below). I’ll turn my sample into a potholder as a thank-you gift for a friend.

Here are my notes to self moving forward:

  1. Remember to press seams OPEN on 6-1/2″ blocks.
  2. Set stitch length for 1.8 – 2.0 & backstitch so seams don’t come open when joining rows.
  3. Folded corner trimmer ruler speeds up the process!
  4. More contrast is needed in center economy block. Solid, mid-dark fabrics on outer triangles would be a better choice. White on white fabric for center and corners if making an entire quilt perhaps?
  5. Pay closer attention to match points on center economy block.
  6. Good candidate for die-cutting multiple blocks.
  7. Perfect project for FW or Elna STAR.

In summary, you take the time to make a sample block, so you can “practice” before cutting into your “good” fabric. This allows you to check seam allowances, cut measurements, fabric selections, sewing sequence and tools required before you get started on the “real” project.

  1. Die-cutting pieces will require slightly more fabric.
  2. No need to draw lines on back of squares for triangles if using folded corner trimmer.
  3. Due to amount of cross-seams in the block, use FW or small Janome machine. The 1/4″ foot on those machines has an easier time going over the thick seams.
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