Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Tips: Steam Punk Quilt

That little flower scrap from Flights of Fancy by Paula Prass makes me happy today!

The process of making these blocks is so satisfying.  I like choosing the fabrics for each one, carefully cutting out the pieces, slowing down an pinning those curves and stopping to press as I go.  Each step holds my attention and I am consciously making each block.

If you don't sew curves often, this pattern can be challenging.  I'm learning what works for me as I go and each block is getting easier and faster to make.  Here are some of my tips:

1) Starch
Spray starch is your friend.  Spray the fabric before you cut it, and another light spray to help the assembled block behave.  Since there are a lot of curves and bias edges, things can get stretched out fast.  The starch adds a temporary stiffness that makes it easier to handle your fabric.

2) Dry Iron
Set your iron to no steam.  The steam relaxes and distorts your fabric and it effects the way the pieces fit together.  Use spray starch, a dry iron and remember to press (lift and press down) and don't iron (back and forth).

3) Fabric Grips
I use a couple of these sandpaper dots on the back of my templates to keep them from sliding around.  They make for safer and more accurate cutting.  

4) Circle Cutter
I am terrible a cutting out circles with a template and even worse cutting them out with scissors.  Mine end up looking like an ameoba!  If you have something to help you cut out those circles, use it.

5) Scant 1/4"
These blocks fit together so much better if you use a scant 1/4" seam.  You want it just a little under 1/4" to allow the fabric to bend around the seam when pressed.  On my Janome Horizon I set the stitch width to 4.3 and I use 1/4" foot. Test your settings on some scraps and find your own sweet spot.

6) Instagram
This is the best tool of all!  These blocks are intense and it really helps to be able to take a break and see what your friends are up to.  Also, getting positive feedback on your blocks will help you get to the next one, and the next, and the next. #steampunkquilt or find me at Little Bluebell on Instagram.

Images from Amazon: Starch, Iron, Fabric Grips, Easy Circle Cut Ruler, Janome 1/4" Seam Foot

There is even more helpful advice, tips, and questions in the Steam Punk Quilt flickr group.
Quilt Pattern: Steam Punk by Jen Kingwell Designs
Read more about this project here


  1. Oh man! I'm gonna have to steam punk now! Yours is looking fab.u.lous

  2. these look gorgeous, thanks for the tips.

  3. With every block you put on Instagram I am that one step closer to starting this quit. Thank you for the inspiration. hugs

  4. Adrianne, I've got to be careful about visiting your blog. Every time I come here I seem some gorgeous quilt design and I've got to do it.

    Last time, it was the scrappy trip-a-long, now it's this really cool steampunk thingie.

    sigh ... I'm hooked

  5. You are so funny about the amoeba. That is exactly what my circles look like...

  6. I have seen many quilts but these are best of all thanks for the sharing and just keep up the good work.

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  7. These are beautiful!! I saw this pattern at my LQS this weekend and picked it up, but carefully put it back. I'm a wee bit intimidated! But your's are so lovely!



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